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EpiSouth: a new voice in communicable disease epidemiology in the Mediterranean and Balkans

Abstract number: P1889

Riccardo F., Alfonsi V., Fabiani M., Dente M.G., Declich S.

Objective: A country's response to a major outbreak and its capacity to limit the spread of disease across international borders are dependant on the international exchange of information and expertise. Although countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea share concerns in the field of communicable disease epidemiology (CDE), they spread across different continents, 3 WHO regions, and are only partially covered by European networks for infectious disease surveillance and control. Local political tensions and conflicts further limit cooperation in the field of public health (PH). The EpiSouth project aims to create a solid information sharing network among these countries.

Methods: The EpiSouth project started among 5 EU countries: Italy, Spain, France, Greece and Bulgaria. Today it includes 26 countries embracing Southern Europe, the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle-East, and a roster of international organizations (EU, ECDC, and WHO) (Figure 1). In the past three years, through its dedicated web-based platform, this peer-to-peer network of epidemiologists studied several aspects of CDE, including vaccine-preventable disease and emerging zoonosis, developed a cross-border epidemic intelligence platform, directories of PH institutions and veterinary/human PH officers, and established a CDE training programme. All the project outputs are freely available on the web (www.episouth.org). EpiSouth produces two regular bulletins and thematic notes on regionally relevant CD issues including Influenza A H1N1.

Results: As of the 3rd of November 2009, recipients from 59 different countries (Europe 64%, Balkans 20%, North Africa 4%, Middle East 7% and Other 5%) had subscribed to the EpiSouth Bulletin, with a 41% increase in number since the first issue, released in September 2007. 13% of recipients come from countries not included in the EpiSouth region, denoting a growing interest in the network also from other countries. Access to the public website increased dramatically during the past three years, with 15,664 different users counted in September 2009.

Conclusions: With its extended geographical reach, highly committed participants and it's accessibility, Episouth has become a leading voice on the epidemiology of CD in the Balkans and Mediterranean Basin. It created cohesion and concrete collaboration among 26 countries with common PH problems and is now an internet resource providing information to hundreds of users inside and outside the EpiSouth region.

Session Details

Date: 10/04/2010
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: Abstracts 20th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Subject:
Location: Vienna, Austria, 10 - 13 April 2010
Presentation type:
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