Influenza: A Global Health Problem

Seasonal influenza is a serious public health problem that causes an estimated 3 to 5 million cases and 250,000 deaths worldwide every year.

The Need for Disease Burden Data

In order to determine priority public health interventions, such as vaccination programs or awareness campaigns, governments need accurate data on influenza epidemiology and disease burden. Yet, this information is hard to come by in sub-Saharan Africa due, among other things, to poor surveillance systems. 

Limited evidence suggests that influenza circulates widely on the African continent and might be a significant cause of respiratory disease, notably in children.

AMP's Contribution to Improving Surveillance

A first step to improving influenza surveillance is to determine existing national capacity to detect and monitor the disease. From February 2009 to May 2010, AMP conducted an on-site situation analysis of influenza surveillance systems in 12 sub-Saharan African countries (contracted by the WHO Global Influenza Program, GIP).

This activity was followed up from December 2010 to December 2011 with the “Strengthening Influenza Sentinel Surveillance in Africa” (SISA) project, in close collaboration with ministries of health (MOHs) and WHO (the project funder).

SISA Results

SISA aimed to improve influenza surveillance and reporting capacities in eight sub-Saharan African countries (Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Zambia). While much work remains, SISA achieved many of its objectives related to improved influenza surveillance.

These include:

Additionally, it has served to catalyze national interest in influenza and more generally respiratory disease surveillance and to begin the process of implementing more rigorous surveillance methodologies.

Overall, SISA has demonstrated that targeted external field support can successfully help to start new or reinvigorate existing influenza surveillance systems.

SISA flyer June 2011.pdf526.5 KB
Article_Improving influenza surveillance in sub-Saharan Africa.pdf894.44 KB