MWI becomes the National Influenza Center

Influenza is still a worldwide burden, targeting 5-15% of the population worldwide, primarily in the high risk groups (very young children, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions). The Medical Scientific Institute (MWI) has been performing laboratory testing for the national Influenza program since 2009. On 23 September 2015, the Ministry of Health designated MWI as the National Influenza Center (NIC) for Suriname with Prof. Dr. Malti R. Adhin als NIC Coordinator. MWI as NIC will serve as link between the WHO and the country of origin in all questions relating to virological and epidemiological surveillance of Influenza and other respiratory viruses.

The Influenza surveillance in Suriname consists of surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Viruses (SARI) and will in 2016 also include surveillance for Influenza Like Illnesses (ILI). The SARI sentinel sites are: ‘s Lands Hospitaal (LH), Lachmipersad Mungra Streekziekenhuis Nickerie (LMSZN) and the Intensive Care Unit of the Academisch Ziekenhuis Paramaribo (ICU-AZP). The ILI sentinel sites will be the private practice of drs. A. Voigt in the capitol Paramaribo, the regional health centres (RGD) in urban, rural districts Commewijne and Wanica (Lelydorp). MWI as NIC will continue to test clinical samples from the national surveillances for Severe Acute Respiratory Viruses (SARI) and will also test the samples from the surveillance for Influenza Like Illnesses (ILI).

Besides detecting and subtyping Influenza viruses for all surveillance samples, MWI will also implement molecular testing for six other respiratory viruses (ORV); Para-influenza 1, 2, 3, Human Metapneumovirus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and Adenovirus. Regular analysis and reporting through the WHO web-based online systems WHO FluNet and WHOFluID, will provide influenza specialists worldwide with continuous information on the activity of Influenza and Influenza like illnesses in Suriname and will also enable timely responses on outbreaks or circulation of unusual viruses.

A third function of the NIC is the virus isolation of locally collected clinical specimens. This technique, which is new for Suriname will be set up in collaboration with the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and in the future, isolated virus samples will be shipped to CDC. The timely provision of influenza virus isolates offers the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance Network the option to include isolates circulating in Suriname in the influenza virus composition of influenza vaccine for the next influenza season. MWI as NIC Suriname will thus contribute to improve national and global influenza prevention and response measures.