Africa Flu Alliance

The Africa Flu Alliance has developed a road map of strategic themes which will facilitate the implementation of influenza projects in Africa.

Influenza epidemiology in Africa

The impact of influenza infection in Africa is not very well documented. However, the information we do have shows that influenza has a significant impact on morbidity and mortality. In the region, influenza viruses are important respiratory pathogens, and acute respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia, are a major cause of death, particularly among children. For example, in 2002 an influenza outbreak in Madagascar had a case-fatality rate of 3% as compared to <0.1% in other influenza pandemics. The majority of deaths occurred in young children. Similarly high (3.5%) case-fatality rates among children <5 years of age were observed during an influenza outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2002. More recently, the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 has also been circulating in poultry in Africa and has caused a significant number of human infections, especially in Egypt.

A number of African countries have provided regular updates to WHO on the spread of influenza A (H1N1) 2009. However, the impact of the pandemic on the African continent is not apparent, which indicates a need to strengthen surveillance systems to assess the effect of the pandemic and monitor the impact of influenza in general .

The need for collaborative actions in Africa

The absence of adequate information, lack of awareness of the disease and competing public health needs, has meant that no specific interventions have been developed to reduce the impact of influenza in Africa. Surveillance capacity in Africa needs to be strengthened and strategically focused with operational clarity and geared towards rapid response and public health guidance. This could take the form of regular active surveillance activities for influenza to define seasons and infecting virus types, while updated epidemiological information can be linked to the WHO system of influenza surveillance in a more coherent and robust manner.

Research activities in the region are also needed to support the development of evidence necessary to strengthen public health guidance and actions essential for limiting the impact of pandemic, zoonotic, and seasonal influenza on individuals and populations in the region. The research activities should also strive to facilitate discussion, coordination, and interaction among researchers, donors/funding agencies, and public health professionals in the region and worldwide.

Goal of the Africa Flu Alliance

The Africa Flu Alliance aims to provide a forum for discussion between health authorities, health partners, and international agencies to fill gaps in our knowledge of influenza and to facilitate the implementation of projects on the African continent. It is open to any organization or agency interested in promoting public health in Africa.

The goals of the Alliance are to promote collaboration and exchange of information between various stakeholders in order to:

  • contribute to reducing the burden of influenza and other respiratory infections in Africa;
  • strengthen influenza surveillance and better understand disease dynamics and their impact in Africa;
  • enhance synergies in the implementation of public health interventions to combat all forms of influenza; and
  • accelerate the process of evidence gathering and sharing to provide the best advice to national health authorities.

Strategic themes

The strategic themes of the Africa Flu Alliance are to:

  • gather and organize existing knowledge on influenza in the region through assessing existing surveillance data and establishment of communication platforms for national and international stakeholders to exchange information;
  • establish and adapt surveillance strategies and research programs to the African context in order to advance understanding of influenza epidemiology, prevention and control;
  • improve patient care through better access to healthcare, trained healthcare staff and health worker resources; and
  • introduce and adapt prevention and control policies tailored to the African context.

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