Vaccine Preventable Diseases
Several demographic, structural, and environmental factors, such as armed conflict, political instability, hard to reach populations, high birth rates and population density, inadequate sanitation infrastructure, high enteric disease burden and diarrheal incidence, and poor routine health services, negatively affect vaccination efforts in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR). In addition, vaccine coverage in the EMR is weakened by the lack of trained, committed local leaders who can lead the public health workforce in both routine and targeted vaccination campaigns, as well as the prevalence of inhibitory beliefs and cultural practices.
With the belief that immunization efforts will be more effective when utilizing service providers from local areas that speak the local languages, EMPHNET focuses on immunization efforts through training and technical consultation and assistance to improve surveillance and work toward eradication of vaccine-preventable communicable diseases. These efforts also aim at decreasing the EMR’s public health burden and improving the population’s livelihood by reducing morbidity and mortality rates.
Communicable diseases remain a significant public health burden in the EMR. The region faces many challenges in controlling the spread of these diseases, largely resulting from insufficient infrastructure and inadequate capacities of health care workers, technologies, and systems (e.g. public health surveillance systems and response capacities). Food-, water-, and vector-borne diseases; vaccine preventable diseases; emerging and re-emerging infections; and diseases from antimicrobial resistance are prevalent in the region. EMPHNET’s guiding principal is to build capacities and support vulnerable areas in a culturally-sensitive and timely manner. Specifically, EMPHNET is actively involved in areas related to: (a) immunizations and vaccine preventable diseases, such as polio, (b) emerging and re-emerging diseases, such as Ebola and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), (c) brucellosis, and (d) the surveillance of severe acute respiratory-tract infections (SARIs).
The Communicable Diseases and Emergency Division (CDED) at EMPHNET is involved in a range of activities to control infectious diseases and to improve health security in the region. The CDED is working to improve rapid disease detection, assessment, investigation, and response; to increase risk communication; and to support emergency preparedness and response. Importantly, the CDED uses these opportunities to strengthen health systems at the national, sub-regional, and regional levels and to maximize the skills of Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) graduates and the regional public health work force.
EMPHNET works and collaborates with Ministries of Health of the EMR member states, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Biosecurity Engagement Program (BEP), and other national and international organizations.
BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). Communicable Disease Control annual. http://www.bccdc.ca/dis-cond/comm-manual/default.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/
World Health Organization (WHO). Communicable disease in the Eastern Mediterranean Region prevention and control 2010-2011. http://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/116803
WHO. Global Alert and Response (GAR): Coronavirus infections. http://www.who.int/csr/disease/coronavirus_infections/en/