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4.
BMJ Glob Health ; 7(Suppl 4)2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1909729

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: A global reduction in influenza virus activity during the COVID-19 pandemic has been observed, including in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR). However, these changes have not been thoroughly evaluated scientifically in the EMR. OBJECTIVE: We aim to present data on seasonal influenza activity during the pre-pandemic period (2016-2019) and compare it to the pandemic period (2020-2021) in EM countries. METHODS: Epidemiological and virological influenza surveillance data were retrieved from both WHO FluNet and EMFLU networks. Four pre-pandemic analytical periods were used in the comparative analysis. We compiled and calculated weekly aggregated epidemiological data on the number of enrolled patients, number of tested specimens and number of positive influenza specimens. RESULTS: 19 out of the 22 countries of the EMR have functioning sentinel influenza surveillance systems, and these countries report the influenza data to WHO through FluNet and EMFLU. The number of enrolled patients and tested specimens increased gradually from 51 384 and 50 672, respectively, in 2016-2017 analytical period to 194 049 enrolled patients and 124 697 tested specimens in 2019-2020. A decrease has been witnessed in both enrolled patients and tested specimens in 2020-2021 'pandemic period' (166 576 and 44 764, respectively). By comparing influenza activity of analytical period 2020-2021 with that of 2016-2019 analytical periods, we found that there has been a decrease in influenza positivity rate in the EMR by 89%. CONCLUSION: The implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions to control the COVID-19 pandemic may have also impacted the spread of influenza viruses. The low circulation of influenza viruses during 2020-2021 and the associated potential immunity gap may result in increased transmission and severity of post-pandemic influenza seasons. This necessitates high vigilance to continuous data and virus sharing to monitor circulating viruses in a timely fashion to reduce the intensity and severity of future influenza epidemics.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Influenza, Human , Humans , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , Pandemics , Sentinel Surveillance
5.
East Mediterr Health J ; 28(3): 242-243, 2022 03 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1812016
7.
East Mediterr Health J ; 28(1): 3-4, 2022 Jan 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1744416

ABSTRACT

The United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, as a more detailed and ambitious follow-up to the Millennium Developments Goals (MDGs). Health and wellbeing of all, at all ages, is addressed by the third SDG (SDG3) and health-related targets of other SDGs. However, progress to date on the health-related SDGs in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) is not on track. Although there was progress in over half of the 50 health-related SDG targets and indicators between 2015 and 2019, there is still a long way to go. Progress is required, among others, in reducing maternal, child and neonatal mortality; increasing vaccination coverage; reducing the number of cases of malaria and HIV; and in tackling the increase in mortality rates due to noncommunicable diseases. Much progress is needed in many health-related SDGs considered as important social, economic and environmental determinants of health.


Subject(s)
Insurance Pools , Sustainable Development , Child , Global Health , Humans , Infant, Newborn , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , United Nations
8.
East Mediterr Health J ; 28(2): 130-143, 2022 Feb 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1743178

ABSTRACT

Background: COVID-19 is the first pandemic during which innovative technologies are being used to keep people connected, safe, and productive while being physically and socially apart. Aims: This study aimed to map health innovations in response to the pandemic in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Methods: Health innovations are defined as novel methods, models, processes, products, services, or a combination that produce notable public health impact in people, families, and communities at large. We used two approaches: an online survey using a specially designed data collection tool and a review of publicly available literature using PubMed, IMEMR, Google Scholar, Google, and INSERM search engines. Data collection was conducted between September 2020 and February 2021. Results: We describe 80 innovations in this region, of which 13 were identified through the online survey and 76 via literature review. For the purposes of this paper, we subclassified two-thirds of these innovations (n = 52; 65%) as "digital health innovations", including telehealth and telemedicine, surveillance, and contact tracing. The rest were classified as "non-digital health innovations", including prevention and clinical management. Conclusion: This mapping exercise provides baseline information on response to the pandemic by the public and private sectors, innovation hubs within and outside the region, as well as by entrepreneurs and innovators. In-depth studies measuring the impact of health innovations will likely only become available when the pandemic is under better control and experts are able to assess the replicability, sustainability and scalability of the health innovations introduced.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Arabs , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , Pandemics/prevention & control , Public Health
9.
East Mediterr Health J ; 27(11): 1031-1033, 2021 Dec 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1595705

ABSTRACT

The Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) faces massive challenges that threaten people's livelihood and health due to multiple factors, including socioeconomic disparities, conflicts and emergencies in many countries of the Region. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these challenges and significantly disrupted access to essential health services. As highlighted in recent flagship reports, the region is unlikely to achieve health-related Sustainable Development Goals, unless crucial changes are made in the way the goals are pursued. Effective implementation of digital health technologies could provide opportunities to enhance the response to the pandemic, as well as improve the access to health services and develop stronger and more resilient health systems.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Humans , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2
10.
East Mediterr Health J ; 27(10): 945-946, 2021 Oct 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1498320

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic remains a major concern in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. At time of writing, nearly 300 000 deaths from the disease have been reported, and that figure almost certainly understates the reality. The Region is facing another wave of infection; the Delta variant is widespread; and while some countries have achieved impressively high vaccination rates, overall coverage in the Region is far too low at around 15%. Ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccine across all 22 countries and territories in the Region is an urgent priority.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , Immunization Programs , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2 , World Health Organization
13.
Gene ; 801: 145843, 2021 Oct 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1313121

ABSTRACT

As the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread in all countries, there is a growing interest in monitoring and understanding the impact of emerging strains on virus transmission and disease severity. Here, we analyzed SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences reported in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) countries, as of 1 January 2021. The majority (~75%) of these sequences originated from three out of 22 EMR countries, and 65.8% of all sequences belonged to GISAID clades GR, GH, G and GV. A delay ranging between 30 and 150 days from sample collection to sequence submission was observed across all countries, limiting the utility of such data in informing public health policies. We identified ten common non-synonymous mutations represented among SARS-CoV-2 in the EMR and several country-specific ones. Two substitutions, spike_D614G and NSP12_P323L, were predominantly concurrent in most countries. While the single incidence of NSP12_P323L was positively correlated with higher case fatality rates in EMR, no such association was established for the double (spike_D614G and NSP12_P323L) concurrent variant across the region. Our study identified critical data gaps in EMR highlighting the importance of enhancing surveillance and sequencing capacities in the region.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19/virology , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adolescent , Adult , Child , Child, Preschool , Female , Genome, Viral , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Male , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , Middle Aged , Young Adult
15.
East Mediterr Health J ; 27(5): 431-432, 2021 May 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1257543

ABSTRACT

New estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that about 1 in 3 women globally will face gender-based violence in their lifetime. The WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region has the third-highest prevalence of violence against women worldwide, with 31% of everpartnered women experiencing physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence at some point in their lives. Specific groups of women and girls, such as migrants and undocumented workers, women with disabilities, and women affected by armed conflict or in emergency settings are more vulnerable and may experience multiple forms of violence. Health emergencies, as demonstrated during the current COVID-19 pandemic, may also increase the risk of violence against women.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Female , Humans , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , Prevalence , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2 , Violence
17.
J Infect Dev Ctries ; 15(4): 478-479, 2021 04 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1218640

ABSTRACT

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic have been driven by epidemiology, health system characteristics and control measures in form of social/physical distancing. Guidance, information and best practices have been characterized by territorial thinking with concentration on national health system and social contexts. Information was to a large extent provided from global entities such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others. This bipolar response mechanism came to the detriment of regional and sub-regional levels. The development of the global pandemic was evaluated in terms of the performance of single countries without trying to reflect on possible regional or sub-regional results of similar characteristics in health system and social contexts. To have a clearer view of the issue of sub-regional similarities, we examined the WHO, Eastern Mediterranean Region. When examining the development of confirmed cases for countries in the region, we identified four different sub-groups similar in the development of the pandemic and the social distancing measure implemented. Despite the complicated situation, these groups gave space for thinking outside the box of traditional outbreaks or pandemic response. We think that this sub-regional approach could be very effective in addressing more characteristics and not geographically based analysis. Furthermore, this can be an area of additional conceptual approaches, modelling and concrete platforms for information and lessons learned exchange.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Infection Control/methods , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Humans , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , Physical Distancing , World Health Organization
19.
BMJ Glob Health ; 6(3)2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1150225

ABSTRACT

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office recognised the importance of epidemiological modelling to forecast the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic to support decisions guiding the implementation of response measures. We established a modelling support team to facilitate the application of epidemiological modelling analyses in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) countries. Here, we present an innovative, stepwise approach to participatory modelling of the COVID-19 pandemic that engaged decision-makers and public health professionals from countries throughout all stages of the modelling process. Our approach consisted of first identifying the relevant policy questions, collecting country-specific data and interpreting model findings from a decision-maker's perspective, as well as communicating model uncertainty. We used a simple modelling methodology that was adaptable to the shortage of epidemiological data, and the limited modelling capacity, in our region. We discuss the benefits of using models to produce rapid decision-making guidance for COVID-19 control in the WHO EMR, as well as challenges that we have experienced regarding conveying uncertainty associated with model results, synthesising and comparing results across multiple modelling approaches, and modelling fragile and conflict-affected states.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control/organization & administration , Decision Making , Epidemiologic Methods , Public Health , Humans , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
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