NIH holds awareness seminar on seasonal influenza

ISLAMABAD: National Institute of Health (NIH) in collaboration with Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) on Wednesday organized a day-long awareness seminar on seasonal influenza for healthcare professionals in wake of increasing cases of disease in different parts of the country.

The purpose of the seminar was to provide updated influenza information on epidemiology, current situation in Pakistan and global scenario as well.

Infectious Disease Physician PIMS Dr Naseem Akhtar briefed the participants about the objectives of the seminar.

Administrator of PIMS Dr Altaf Hussain thanked NIH for arranging this seminar in a critical time when there is media hype about this disease. He said that such type of awareness seminars can be helpful to control any disease and PIMS was available to support such activities in future.

Other speakers provided technical guidance on different aspects of influenza including management, treatment, vaccination, laboratory diagnostics and prevention and control.

They also informed on global perspective of Influenza and highlighted the epidemiology of seasonal Influenza and emergence of pandemic influenza viruses.

They briefed about control and preventive strategies and emphasized on everyday practice like hand washing, cough etiquettes and use of disinfectants for the prevention in influenza virus.

They also explained about the high risk groups, availability and use of anti-viral medicines and recommendations for the use of vaccination.

Senior Scientific Officer NIH Dr Mumtaz Ali Khan highlighted the role of NIH, and told that regular advisories regarding prevention, control, diagnosis and management of influenza are being issued by NIH.

Seasonal Awareness and Alert Letters (SAAL) are also circulated for sensitizing against epidemic prone disease including Influenza while updated guidelines have also been posted on website.

He informed that the NIH has established a countrywide laboratory based seasonal influenza surveillance network at seven sites across Pakistan which can provide baseline knowledge on circulating influenza viruses in the country and provide support for laboratory detection of novel influenza strains when they emerge.

Surveillance Coordinator, NIH Dr Uzma Bashir and Dr Ambreen Chaudhry shared experience about current influenza situation and gave recommendations regarding preventive measures.

At the end,  health professional’s panel including, Dr Najeeb Durrani, DHO, ICT Islamabad, Dr Mumtaz Ali Khan, NIH, Nazish Badar, NIH Dr Rubeena from PIMS, Dr Naseem Akhtar from PIMS and Dr Uzma Aamer from WHO answered the audience queries. Awareness pamphlets were also distributed among the participants.