The regional epidemiologists met at the Karelian Republic Centre of State Sanitary Surveillance and Control (SEC) on September 17th, 2003. This was the third in a series of meetings during which leading epidemiologists from seven Northwest Russian regions and Norway met to discuss topics of common interest and to make plans for further co-operation. The following representatives were present: Hans Blystad (NIPH), Ludmila Lialina (Pasteur Institute), Andrei Tulisov (Arkhangelsk SEC), Oleg Parkov (St. Petersburg SEC), Elena Timofeeva (St. Petersburg SEC), Vadim Zhavoronkov (Leningrad region SEC), Lubov Spiridonova (Leningrad region SEC), Tatiana Gordienko (Arkhangelsk SEC), Irina Tashkinova (Kaliningrad SEC), Anatolij Kovalenko (Karelia SEC), Ludmila Rubis (Karelia SEC), Stein Andresen (NIPH), Vibeke R. Gundersen (NIPH), Vladimir Massiouk (Karelia SEC), and Alan Parkinson (observer, CDC Alaska) .
Some highlights from the discussions:
Dr. Gordienko gave a presentation concerning the epidemic situation in the Arkhangelsk region. The significance of the viral hepatitis problem, the incidence level and the severe outcome of chronic forms was emphasised. Dr. Gordienko answered a great number of questions concerning the incidence of pertussis, rubella, syphilis, HIV-infection and rubella-vaccination tactics.
Dr. Tashkinova talked about the HIV-situation in Kaliningrad region and the efforts taken to reduce the incidence of new infections. Dr. Tashkinova remarked that drug-users no longer fear HIV-infection. During the discussion, Dr. Parkov emphasised that HIV-infection has now spread outside the drug-user community in St. Petersburg.
Dr. Blystad presented a report on the situation regarding sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in Western Europe. The increase in antibiotic-resistance in gonorrhoea is of concern. At present, the incidence of STDs among homosexuals in Western Europe is increasing and many individuals have several concurrent STDs. However, the loss of state control and incomplete registration of STDs by specialists at private clinics does not allow for an objective assessment of the situation. At the same time, there is an increase in STD-morbidity among tourists returning from Thailand. Specialists as well as politicians are concerned by the ongoing outbreaks of syphilis in large European cities.
Dr. Matsievskaya explained that among the authorities attitudes toward harm-reduction programmes and information-work on HIV are changing. The Murmansk region has the 4th greatest HIV-morbidity in Northwest Russia.
Dr. Andresen described the existing projects and planned common activities concerning the prevention of infectious diseases in Northwest Russia. The Nordic Council of Ministers will provide approximately 100 000 USD to these efforts in 2004. The Council is especially interested in co-operation with the Kaliningrad region. Andresen said that there is hope of receiving approximately 100 000 USD for the procurement of vaccines from the Barents Health Programme. An application for 350 000 EURO (now granted) to finance an extension of the EpiNorth project in 2004-2006 has been submitted to the European Commission.
All those present agreed that it was necessary to continue the meetings, preferably twice a year, for the regional epidemiologists. At future meetings, more attention should be given to questions relating to preventive and anti-epidemic measures.
Dr. Kovalenko presented a short description of the social and economic situation in the Karelian republic and discussed the relevance of these aspects to the current epidemiology of infectious diseases in the area.