April 5, 2012
An article on the Strengthening Influenza Sentinel Surveillance in Africa (SISA) project—implemented by AMP in close collaboration with WHO—has just been published. The paper, entitled “Improving influenza surveillance in sub-Saharan Africa,” provides an overview of the project approach, lessons learned, and results.
The primary objective of the SISA project was to develop or strengthen influenza sentinel surveillance and reporting capacities in eight sub-Saharan African countries (Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Zambia).
The project consisted of two main phases: 1) assessing current influenza activities, shortcomings, and challenges, and making recommendations; and 2) providing technical support to surveillance staff in sentinel sites and health ministries to implement improvements through the development of country-specific protocols and standard operating procedures.
While much work remains to be done, SISA achieved many of its objectives. Data collection began where none existed; national influenza plans were developed; a new vision of more accurate and limited data collection was promoted; more countries adopted WHO global influenza surveillance databases FluNet and FluID; and countries expressed greater interest in influenza and respiratory disease surveillance in general.
Overall, SISA demonstrated that targeted external field support can help countries to create or strengthen influenza surveillance systems. The challenge moving forward is ensuring the long-term sustainability of surveillance activities in Africa.
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