Surveillance and control of communicable diseases
Through the assistance of three EU projects, the national capacity and legal framework for the surveillance and control of communicable diseases in Turkey was brought into line with EU directives. The projects laid the foundations for a national field epidemiology training programme and a sustainable laboratory training programme through the large-scale training of staff in the notification, investigation and laboratory diagnosis of infectious diseases. These needed to be strengthened in order to establish an early warning and response system in Turkey.
The aims of the project and its core activities
The aim of the project was to support the government in its efforts to develop an early warning and response (EWR) system to detect, assess, report and respond to health events and public health risks (infectious, chemical, radio-nuclear or other hazards) in line with the requirements of the EU’s communicable disease surveillance system and the World Health Organisation’s International Health Regulations (IHR).
By building on earlier projects conducted in this field, the project contributed to the establishment of the required administrative structures within the Ministry of Health. National capacity was strengthened and extended through the establishment of a dedicated EWR team within the ministry’s Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Response Unit. Provincial EWR units were established in five selected provinces and these will be rolled out to the remaining 76 provinces gradually. The system required training the required personnel, developing operating and reporting guidelines, and providing a communications system to enable information management, integration and access to all necessary players.
A national field epidemiology training programme (FETP) and a sustainable laboratory training programme have been designed and put in place to ensure continuing education in diseases control.
Existing capacity in microbiology laboratories and their role in the early warning and response system were also enhanced. This improvement was achieved by developing the assessment of laboratories and establishing bio-safety and national microbiology standards, creating a performance monitoring system and setting up an internet-based information exchange system.
In addition, a national microbiological laboratory training programme was developed, which was attended by at least 3,000 specialists and technical staff.