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Study Visit on Influenza Surveillance in Romania, 18-20 March 2014

From 18th to 20th of March 2014 a study visit on influenza surveillance took place in Romania. This was an activity planned in the framework of “Surveillance and Response to Avian and pandemic Influenza by National Health Authorities of Countries of South East Europe” Project.

The Republic of Macedonia and Serbia were participatory countries involved in this study visit; Macedonia team was composed by Dr. Golubinka Bosevska, Dr. Gordana Kumanovska and Dr. Kristina Stavridis and Serbia team was composed by Dr. Dragana Dimitrijevic and Dr. Slavica Rakic Adrovic.

The aim of the visit was to overview and increase the knowledge on the organization and implementation of Influenza Surveillance.

The objectives were: to understand and increase the knowledge about the organization and implementation of ILI/ARI/SARI surveillance in Romania; to learn more about the role of sentinel doctors, health facilities and hospitals and their collaboration with public health structures within the framework of Influenza Surveillance in Romania; to increase the knowledge about the role of laboratory and collaboration of the lab with epidemiological structures and sentinel doctors; to learn more about laboratory techniques used for Influenza or other respiratory viruses diagnosis and surveillance and the operational aspects related to sample collection and transportation from patient to the lab and biosafety; to learn more about the coordination of Influenza surveillance and the role of different structure during the implementation process in Romania; to increase the knowledge about the communication and feedback of Influenza data among different partners.

On the 18th March at Ministry of Health a meeting was organized with Deputy Director of the department for strategies and policies in Health-Dr. Amalija Sherman and canceller for European affairs, epidemiologist-Dr. Laurentiu Zolotusca. The discussions were about the role and activities of the Ministry of Health regarding influenza surveillance – routine and sentinel: the legislation and regulations; process of coordination among different ministries and organizations on state level; coordination of strategies and methodologies; weekly influenza report to the Minister of health (comparison of the national report from the Institute of Public Health with ECDC report).

Then, the visitors had meeting at Institute of Public Health with the Director- Dr Adriana Pistol, Rodica Popeskcu – focal point for  ARI/ILI surveillance, Dr. Odette Popovici – focal point for  SARI surveillance, Dr. Florin Popovici – Representative of the Advisory Forum, Medical chief of the Regional public health center in Bucharest and Dr. Laurentiu Zolotusca.

The surveillance system of ILI/ARI and SARI were presented and there were discussions about implementation, organization, coordination, role of sentinel doctors, health facilities and hospitals and their collaboration with public health structures, communication and feedback of influenza data among different partners.

On the 19th March a visit to Cantacuzino Institute took place. The meeting was opened by director of the Cantacuzino Institute, head of NIC – Dr. Alexandrescu Viorel and Dr. Emilia Lupulescu–head of the reference laboratory for influenza and respiratory viruses.

Dr. Emilia Lupulescu and her team presented the structure and staff, main activities and role of the lab in the influenza surveillance  systems (routine and sentinel), collaboration of the lab with epidemiological structures and sentinel doctors,  biosafety level 3 laboratory, biosafety and biosecurity practices in the lab,  laboratory techniques used for influenza or other respiratory viruses diagnosis and surveillance, sample collection and transportation from the patient to the lab, lab protocols for detection of influenza and SOPs, testing algorithm, external quality assessements programmes, internal and external trainings.

All microbiological labs in Cantacuzino Institute (bacteriological and virological) including BSL3 lab, were visited.

On the 20th March at Institute of Public Health during the meeting with Dr. Adrijana Pistol and Rodica Popeskcu closure remarks of lessons learned from the visit were highlighted. After working on Annex 3 and Annex 4 of WHO and filling them out for Romania sentinel surveillance, a comparison was made with the sentinel surveillance system in Macedonia and Serbia and discussions were made on how to better use them in Macedonia and Serbia.

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