According to influenza expert Dr Atef Soliman, the main concerns for the Middle East with regards to pandemic influenza is that there are several subtypes of influenza including the H5N1 (highly pathogenic avian influenza) and, with the potential of reassortment between these subtypes, new strains may emerge for a new pandemic crisis.
Dr Soliman is scientific advisor at the Viral & Zoonotic Diseases Research Program, U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit 3, (NAMRU-3), in Caro Egypt, and he will be speaking at the 7th Middle East Healthcare-Associated Infections Conference.
Organised by Informa Exhibitions, the 7th Middle East Healthcare-Associated Infections Conference will take place as part the Abu Dhabi Medical Congress (ADMC), from 23-25 October, 2011, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). The three-day event will address specific needs and issues related to the challenges of working in infection prevention and control, and will cover topics such as national surveillance, hygiene education, epidemiology of MRSA, device-related infection, as well as pandemic influenza.
“Although the recorded mortality rate for pandemic influenza in the Middle East was lower than in Europe and the Americas, the relatively high morbidity in the Middle East is still a concern, particularly as we are still limited in terms of availability of the influenza vaccination,”
When looking at the preparedness for the next round of pandemic influenza, Dr Soliman feels that the awareness of officials and medical staff about the seriousness of pandemic is relatively high compared to the period before the 2009 pandemic.
“Preparedness plans were implemented to a great extent in some Middle Eastern countries and valuable insight on how to deal with a real situation has been gained. Biosafety and biosecurity should be enhanced and focused on in the upcoming period,” adds Dr Soliman.
To minimise the risk of such outbreaks in the future, Dr Soliman says that awareness of vaccination efficiency in the protection against the current circulating viruses including the pandemic strain should be emphasised.
“Preparedness including sustained influenza surveillance for the early detection of mutant or reasserted strains or the detection of unexpected more severe symptoms or mortality rates should be on the priority list,” he says.
The Abu Dhabi Medical Congress is the fastest growing healthcare event in the region, attracting more than 5,000 healthcare professionals in 2010, a growth of 19% compared to 2009. ADMC continues to attract an audience of high-level decision makers, a comprehensive and targeted conference programme across four sectors (Primary Healthcare, Emergency, Rehabilitation as well as Patient Safety) and local government support from the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi.
Running for the second time at ADMC, the three-day Nursing Conference will focus on providing nurses with an educational event to highlight the importance of nurses in each healthcare facility department following the theme 'Valuing the Role of the Nurse in the UAE'.
For information about the ADMC, please call +971 3365161 or visit www.abudhabimed.com.
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