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Euro Surveill. 2009 Feb 5;14(5). pii: 19113.

EpiSouth: a network for communicable disease control in the Mediterranean region and the Balkans.

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National Institute of Health, National Centre for Epidemiology, Surveillance and Health Promotion, Rome, Italy.


The countries around the Mediterranean Sea share epidemiological characteristics and public health problems. In 2006 the EpiSouth Project was started as a framework for collaboration for communicable diseases surveillance and training in the Mediterranean Basin. As of December 2008, 26 countries from southern Europe, the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle-East are members of EpiSouth and several international organisations and institutions collaborate: the European Commission (EC), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the Italian Ministry of Work, Health and Social Policies and the World Health Organization (WHO). The project is coordinated by the Italian national public health institute and three work packages (WPs) Cross-border epidemic intelligence, vaccine preventable diseases and migrants and Cross-border emerging zoonoses are operated by the national institutes of France, Bulgaria and Greece. These WPs constitute technical pillars on which the project develops. Networking and Training are WPs dedicated to capacity building and are run by the Padua Teaching Hospital (Italy) and the Spanish national public health institute. A steering committee guides EpiSouth's activities while all countries collaborate through WP steering teams and focal points. A number of outcomes have been accomplished and documents with results are available from the EpiSouth website which hosts a public website and a restricted area for direct sharing of information among the participants. Five electronic bulletins were published, two trainings for 63 participants performed, national epidemic intelligence systems were evaluated, a preliminary survey on vaccine-preventable diseases and migrants performed, and a list of priorities for emerging zoonoses in the Mediterranean area was selected. Overall the network succeeded in creating cohesion, mutual trust and concrete collaboration on cross-border public health issues in a geographical area that is not addressed as a whole by any other initiative or organisation.

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