The impact of the TA is decreased incidence of communicable diseases in participating Central Asian countries, in particular of HIV/AIDS in key population groups at risk and of vaccine-preventable diseases. The outcome of the TA is strengthened core capacity for surveillance and response to communicable diseases in pilot countries in line with the IHR. Strengthening the IHR was identified as the best way to strengthen national and regional health systems in order to improve HIV/AIDS and communicable disease surveillance and control.
Output 1: Mapping of communicable disease vulnerability and response conducted in each participating country. Effective control of communicable diseases requires information and evidence on the vulnerability of its population and geographic hot spots of disease incidence and prevalence. WHO supports member states in mapping potential hazards and vulnerabilities, which allows for development of focused preparedness activities to reduce the impact of crises, and thus prevent them from developing into full-scale disasters. One of the activities in this field has been the development of a disaster vulnerability mapping e-atlas to encourage ministries of health and other stakeholders within the health community to develop and improve their disaster management capacities. This e-atlas will be used as a framework for HIV/AIDS and communicable disease vulnerability mapping in each target country, including mapping of vaccination coverage for measles, rubella, and polio. This will allow the provision of sex-disaggregated and analyzed data for decision making for Central Asian governments and facilitate regional dialogue about cross-border risks from communicable diseases.
Output 2: Improved and standardized communicable disease surveillance and control in participating countries. Central Asian countries endorsed the European Action Plan for HIV/AIDS, 2012 2015, which aims to reduce the number of new HIV infections. However, because of the limited access to and low uptake of HIV testing and counseling services, it is estimated that up to 60% of people living with HIV in Central Asian countries are unaware of being infected. Evidence-informed prevention strategies need to be more widely adopted to control the growing burden of HIV in Central Asia. This output will conduct assessments in each participating country on vulnerabilities of populations at risk to access services, which is a critical hurdle for many HIV/AIDS-infected people. Moreover, the implementation of standard operating procedures for implementation of core interventions such as needle and syringe programs and HIV testing and counseling will be supported under this output. Capacity development events to strengthen implementation of the European Action Plan for HIV/AIDS will be conducted and will also serve as platforms for knowledge exchange across the region.
In line with the approach of strengthening health systems rather than working on single diseases, the output will strengthen surveillance and control of vaccine-preventable diseases. This TA will support implementation and strengthening of case-based surveillance, and support establishment and capacity development of a national verification commission for measles and rubella elimination in each participating country.
Output 3: Improved coordination and collaboration among participating countries and development partners in planning for and responding to communicable diseases. The IHR provides an excellent framework to strengthen coordination and collaboration across sectors within the region and among development partners. One of the key principles promoted through the IHR is that public health surveillance and response should not interfere with international traffic and trade (Art. 2 IHR). To be able to reach this goal, countries are requested to develop and strengthen certain health system capacities for surveillance and response, especially at ports, airports, and ground crossings. The IHR also provides instruments to assess cross-border public health risks in a standardized manner and encourages bilateral and regional collaboration, regional disease surveillance initiatives, coordinated disaster management, and harmonization of legal and regulatory frameworks for transport.
TA activities under output 3 include training national public health experts, improved coordinated surveillance systems, increased cross-sector collaboration, and development of cross-border standards and procedures at border crossings. The TA will strengthen awareness and advocacy efforts on the importance of the IHR beyond the health sector, particularly in the transport and trade sector. The TA will also provide guidance notes in local languages. Multisector coordination and coordination between points of entry and the national level will be improved through awareness-raising activities for senior officials within the health sector and beyond, in order to increase political commitment to IHR implementation. Regional features on IHR core capacity development reported by WHO European member states through the 2011 self-assessment questionnaire will be taken into account in the capacity development activities under this TA.