Name: Jurijs Perevoscikovs
Background: medical doctor, epidemiologist, the Leningrad Medical Institute of Hygiene and Sanitation (now Saint Petersburg State Medical Academy named after I. I.
Title: Head of the Department of Epidemiological Surveillance of Infectious Diseases and Immunization
Organization: State Agency “Infectology Centre of Latvia”, Riga, Latvia
Specialization: epidemiology of infectious diseases
Hobby: local history, photography
What are your responsibilities at the State Agency "Infectology Centre of Latvia"?
I am in charge of my department that includes 8 epidemiologists and assistants. We are not a big department but are responsible for epidemiological surveillance of infectious diseases at the national level. An excellent tool known as the State Infectious Diseases Surveillance and Monitoring System has been developed to modernize our work. It is an online-based computerized system that enables us to collate and analyze epidemiological data. But of course good management of the system should be in place. The second important responsibility is the coordination of the National Immunization Programme. All data on vaccines and immunizations goes through our department. We are involved in vaccine distribution and are responsible for vaccination coverage analysis. Other responsibilities include elaboration of proposals for improvement of regulatory and legislative acts, development of guidelines and recommendations, collaboration with ECDC, WHO and other international organizations, training and consultations, and working with mass media.
What motivated you to devote yourself to infectious disease epidemiology?
Epidemiology is a very unusual and interesting discipline because it is based not only on medical and public heath knowledge but also exact science (math), justice (legislation) and geography (travel medicine). And a little bit of criminal skills and thinking is also involved when investigating outbreaks.
Which of your professional achievements brings you the most satisfaction?
Contribution to the development of the surveillance system and the legislative basis for control of infectious diseases in the country.
What was your most difficult professional moment?
It happened about ten years ago. A big outbreak of shigellosis linked to the production of one local enterprise was in the centre of attention of all mass media. We had to use all our knowledge and skills to manage the situation and to handle the pressure from diff erent sides. But of course it was a good experience too.
What do you think are the most important achievements in infectious disease epidemiology so far?
Effective control of vaccine preventable diseases has been achieved.
How did you start collaborating in the EpiNorth project?
I remember the first meeting. It seems that it was so long ago. A lot of new ideas. Very enthusiastic participants. New colleagues and friends. Since then many things have changed. Many initiatives have been completed, but Epi-North continues because experience has shown the importance and usefulness of this collaboration.
What do you find the most interesting aspect of the EpiNorth project?
The whole professional community of epidemiologists working in the region. Despite differences in surveillance systems and approaches to solutions of practical tasks, epidemiologists often face the same problems and have similar professional interests. They shouldn’t work alone with their challenges. I think EpiNorth is a kind of bridge between specialists from different countries. The project really helps to increase the capacity for control and prevention of infectious diseases in the region.
What do you consider the most important achievement of the Epi-North project?
Improving knowledge and skills in the field of epidemiology of infectious diseases and creation of the network of specialists and institutions for effective collaboration.
What is your favourite book and why?
Not so easy to answer. People grow up, get older and their preferences change. Before I liked a fantasy, adventures, detectives, and then the psychological literature. Now I prefer classics and the historical literature.
Aside from your professional career, what is your greatest ambition in life?
To write the book concerning the study of local lore, using collected materials and small publications.
What would be your wishes for the younger colleagues in the field of epidemiology?
To read professional literature as much as possible, to be active, to participate in projects and research, to develop recommendations and guidelines, to gain experience of oral presentations.