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UAE expands passive and active surveillance against health crises

Article-UAE expands passive and active surveillance against health crises

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The country conducts healthcare surveillance to prepare against influenza and a wider panel of respiratory diseases.

The UAE is working with various stakeholders to strengthen its health surveillance system to ensure preparedness against the next pandemic and other communicable diseases, said Dr. Farida Al Hosani, Infectious Disease Expert and Executive Director of Infectious Diseases, Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, at the Medlab Middle East Congress 2023, held in Dubai between February 6 and 9.

“We are automating and further developing our electronic notification system to be more integrated with the public and private hospitals. We are also expanding our passive and active surveillance for influenza and a wider panel of respiratory diseases that we would like to keep a close eye on. We want to identify any risks that might emerge from, say, MERS, RSV, adenoviruses, and other panels of respiratory diseases. These are part of our routine surveillance. We want to evaluate the priorities of the coverage and distribution of a vaccine. The availability of vaccine and treatment advocacy is important to lower the burden of infectious diseases,” said Dr. Al Hosani while discussing the ‘Current status of COVID-19 and Monkeypox in the region.” 

The pandemic is at an inflection point, as per the World Health Organisation, which means high levels of immunity to the virus SARS-CoV-2 are beginning to limit its impact and reach. As of February 7, 2023, the WHO dashboard reported 75,000 new cases in the previous 24 hours. Over 750 million people have been infected globally and over 6.8 million lives have been lost since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in late 2019. “Both figures, however, seem to be underreported as the burden of disease was way high.”   

Talking about influenza, Dr. Al Hosani mentioned that the UAE is closely monitoring the changes in the virus. “Globally, there have been reports of Tamiflu-resistant strains, which makes the disease more severe. Having new modes of treatment, and participating in different clinical trials to identify new treatments is, therefore, very important at this stage. The public awareness campaign is part of our overall continuous strategy to engage with the audience. The higher the trust we develop, the more effective our strategy in controlling infectious diseases will be.” 

The UAE health authorities routinely conduct risk assessments of diseases that can pose threats to public health on a periodic basis. It has recently finished risk assessment for this year to gain a wider scope of understanding on where its focus should be this year. 

Visit Medlab Middle East 2023 to attend thought-provoking sessions led by industry experts from across the globe.


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