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ARI & EMARIS Conference Kick Off Today

ARI & EMARIS Conference Kick Off Today

ARI & EMARIS Conference Kick Off Today



The 3rd Scientific Conference on Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) and the 6th Meeting of the Eastern Mediterranean Acute Respiratory Infection Surveillance (EMARIS) Network, hosted by the Sultanate of Oman, kicked off today (Monday) at the Kempinski Hotel Al Mouj.

In cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Eastern Mediterranean organizes the three-day EMARIS Conference.

The Scientific Meeting and Conference were opened under the patronage of H.E. Dr. Saeed bin Hareb Al Lamki, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health for Health Affairs, in the presence of several senior officials from the Ministry, WHO, and the Eastern Mediterranean countries.

H.E. Dr. Saeed bin Hareb Al Lamki, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health for Health Affairs stated that: Over the past three years, the Covid-19 pandemic has triggered an enormous scope of research, studies and scientific publications, which allowed us to be in a better position than we were before the pandemic. However, there is still more to be done, especially in our region and we hope that many of success stories, good practices and experiences will be shared in this conference".

He added: in Oman, many lessons were learned through pandemic years and investment made in such as upgrading ARI surveillance to web base for timely notification and act as an early warning system and introduce molecular surveillance to support tracking emerging viruses.

He stressed strengthening surveillance, moving towards integration, investing in effective vaccination and research, and adopting one health approach that is the way forward in the competition.

Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, Director of the World Health Organization for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, indicated that in 2022, more than 55 outbreaks were reported compared with 31 in 2021 and 14 in 2020, many of which are attributed to respiratory infections. These outbreaks have reportedly resulted in more than 7 million cases and nearly 1,400 associated deaths.

He added: SARS, in particular, is a major cause of morbidity and death in the Region, and has a significant impact on health and economic development.

He explained, “In our meeting this year, we seek to enhance prevention, preparedness, detection, and response to respiratory diseases. We urge all countries to focus on the following priorities: Strengthening integrated systems and structures for respiratory disease surveillance within the framework of an action program or supporting integrated disease surveillance at the community level and building capacity to detect, prevent and control respiratory diseases, including seasonal influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, the Middle East respiratory syndrome and other vaccine-preventable respiratory diseases, expanding and rolling out seasonal influenza vaccination, facilitating research to fill knowledge gaps and guide public health policy, linking global efforts to country priorities, facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration on influenza and other respiratory diseases, and promoting One Health.

The opening program, on its first day, included visual presentations on  the ARI Surveillance Network Conference for the Eastern Mediterranean 2023, genomic monitoring of SARS epidemic strains circulating in France during six waves of the pandemic, estimation of hospitalization rates associated with influenza using accurate surveillance data, and estimation of the direct medical cost of entry hospitals in Oman.

The meeting and conference cover several topics, including enhancing preparedness, detection and response to respiratory diseases from country to region to the world (lessons learned from the Corona pandemic), the global COVID-19 pandemic, how to eliminate the epidemic and prepare for the next pandemic, respiratory infections in the Middle East region after the Corona pandemic - Challenges and Opportunities for Better Control and Prevention, Influenza during the Corona virus Pandemic, a global Perspective for Surveillance, Preparedness and Response to future Influenza Pandemic, Integrated Surveillance for Influenza and other Respiratory Viruses with Epidemic and Pandemic Potential (Progress and Challenges in Saudi Arabia).

In addition, the meeting and conference touch upon the Epidemiological Surveillance for Influenza, MERS and ORV, Integrated Surveillance, Genomic Surveillance (lessons learned from the Corona pandemic), strengthening information sharing and management for outbreak response in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, an assessment of the current epidemiological and laboratory capacities for influenza–like illnesses and severe acute respiratory infection Surveillance.

The meeting and EMARIS highlight the WHO support to Member States during the Corona pandemic – the outcome of an independent evaluation, surveillance and characterization of human influenza viruses, which is central to pandemic preparedness,  the role of the Central Public Health Laboratory in promoting integrated surveillance of respiratory diseases, regional and global threats to seasonal, avian and other new influenza viruses, Preparing for Future Epidemics: CDC Strategies and Priorities For MERS-COV and Other Respiratory Viruses.

The scientific meeting and conference aims to review progress, achievements, challenges, and lessons learned specifically related to acute respiratory infections in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, taking into account lessons learned from COVID-19, exchanging best practices that had emerged in the region to assess the severities, and detect outbreaks during normal the flu season and amid influenza pandemic, as well as utilizing surveillance data to develop prevention policies and strategies.