Washington D.C., September 9, 2009 (PAHO) - Dr. Jarbas Barbosa da Silva Jr., Area Manager of Health Surveillance and Disease Prevention and Control at the Pan American Health Organization, today conducted a virtual presentation on the current situation of the Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza in the Americas. The presentation at PAHO headquarters in Washington, D.C. was attended by dozens of participants, plus over 400 virtual participants from all parts of the Hemisphere.

Photo by Sonia Mey-Schmidt (PAHO/WHO)

Dr. Barbosa da Silva presented a retrospective of Pandemic (H1N1) Influenza in the region of the Americas, and revealed the latest statistics and epidemiological reports. The specialist also reminded participants of the availability of new information services such as the @influenza e-list that have made the dissemination and exchange of information about Influenza easier than ever.

Dr. Barbosa said that since 2004 PAHO has worked with the countries of the Western Hemisphere on pandemic preparedness and on the International Health Regulations. The Organization is tracking the regional situation and advising countries on surveillance and on laboratory and infection control measures required to identify and treat cases and trace contacts.

PAHO has mobilized experts to several countries of the Region in epidemiology, virology, laboratory analysis, infection control, emergency response, logistics, risk communication, including the actualization of treatment guidelines, according to Barbosa, who added that the Organization has distributed laboratory diagnostic kits through Collaborating Centers to National Influenza Centers.

In addition to that, PAHO

  • Has deployed a stockpile of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) to countries in the Region;
  • Is conducting weekly teleconferences with Ministries of Health and Epidemiology Chiefs of all countries in the Region;
  • Provides risk communication support to countries;
  • Publishes weekly regional updates, including qualitative indicators;
  • Is developing technical guidelines and is translating, publishing and disseminating WHO materials;
  • Is mobilizing additional resources.

Dr. Jarbas Barbosa issued some recommendations to the countries of the Americas and the Caribbean. They should:

  • Adapt plans and interventions to the current pandemic, which is assessed as moderate;
  • Calibrate their response to the current severity assessment;
  • Implement public health measures based on the epidemiological situation;
  • Continue monitoring for increases in severity, genetic changes and strengthening health systems to ensure continuity and rapid adjustments.

The PowerPoint presentation shown by Dr. Barbosa is available for download.

The audio recording of the Virtual Presentation can be accessed here.