MoHAP officially launches national seasonal influenza awareness campaign

Published Tuesday, 19 September 2023

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has officially launched the annual national seasonal influenza awareness campaign under the theme, "Protect Yourself... Protect Your Community."

The campaign seeks to achieve a set of objectives, which include bolstering health consciousness throughout society and promoting the critical importance of seasonal influenza vaccination. It also aims to impart knowledge to healthcare professionals regarding international best practices for influenza prevention, and ensure vaccines are readily accessible to target demographics while boosting vaccination rates.

The initiative was unveiled at a press conference held by MoHAP in Dubai, in the presence of HE Mattar Saeed Al Nuaimi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, and HE Dr Farida Al Hosani, Executive Director of Infectious Diseases at the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre. Also present were Dr Nada Al Marzouqi, Director of the Department of Public Health and Prevention at MoHAP, Dr Shamsa Lootah, Director of Public Health Services Department at Emirates Health Services (EHS) and Dr. Hend Al Awadhi, Head of Health Promotion at Dubai Health Authority (DHA). This is in addition to representatives from numerous media outlets and private health sector representatives.

The campaign targets a broad spectrum of society, with top priority given to pregnant women, individuals aged 50 and above, those with chronic medical conditions, children under 5 years old, and healthcare workers. To ensure widespread awareness, the initiative will be promoted through various channels, including social media platforms, newspapers, websites, television, and radio. Furthermore, visual awareness content will be distributed through television channels and news websites to reinforce the campaign's message.

Universal health coverage 

HE Dr. Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for the Public Health Sector, stressed the importance of the campaign, stating that not only does it serve to advance the UAE’s health system's responsiveness to respiratory diseases, but it also strengthens the vital surveillance mechanisms in place.

"Our concerted efforts seeking to enhance awareness and promote vaccination are not just measures but a testament to our commitment to nurturing a more sustainable, healthy society.

Aligning with the Ministry's forward-looking strategy, we are keen to improve public health standards and foster a community deeply ingrained with awareness and a firm commitment to preventive health protocols. Through well-thought-out community health campaigns, we envision a nation marked by a superior quality of health and vitality. Together, we embark on this promising path, shaping a future where the well-being of every citizen is not just a priority but a reality," Al Rand added.

His Excellency noted that the campaign's success will be even greater as national efforts and collaboration increase within the national health system to implement the national immunization policy. This policy has become a national framework for combating communicable diseases, including seasonal influenza, helping minimize their adverse impacts on individuals and the community at large.

He urged the community to back the government's national initiatives by committing to vaccination and adopting appropriate preventive practices, curbing the proliferation of seasonal influenza, thus enhancing the community's overall preventive health.

"United, we stand in our efforts to reinforce the national health system, carefully implementing our national immunization policy, which stands as a beacon in the fight against communicable diseases, including seasonal influenza," Al Rand added.

"It is with unyielding determination and confidence that we strive to protect the health of our community members from various ailments. I call upon each community member to play their part in this national endeavor by receiving the vaccine and adopting healthy habits to curtail the spread of seasonal influenza, thereby uplifting the collective health and well-being of our community," he further said.

Effective vaccinations

For her part, Meanwhile, HE Dr Farida Al Hosany, Executive Director of Infectious Disease Sector at Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, stated: "At the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC), we ensure the adoption of proactive measures that seek to preserve the health and safety of members of our community and protect them from infectious diseases, including seasonal influenza. Today, we are pleased to be part of the national efforts as permanent strategic partners and participate in the endeavors aimed at raising awareness of seasonal influenza and the importance of vaccination. This aligns with our commitment to establishing a culture where prevention is considered the best medicine.”

She added, "We collaborate with our partners to ensure the availability of the vaccine to all target groups while conducting awareness campaigns targeting individuals and healthcare professionals. We call on members of our community to support these efforts by receiving the seasonal influenza vaccine as soon as possible as it takes up to two weeks for the body to build sufficient immunity for protection against the disease."

Dr. Nada Hassan Al Marzouqi emphasized that proactive health programs, focusing on influenza prevention and promoting the significance of vaccination, constitute a vital facet of preventative healthcare. Through collaborative endeavors, we look forward to ensuring the provision of safe and effective vaccinations in an approachable and accessible format across various health facilities, aiming to mitigate the disease's complications. She highlighted that the ministry is keen to offer seasonal flu vaccinations to health workers, underscoring their pivotal role in safeguarding community health.

Furthermore, Dr Shamsa Lootah, Director of Public Health Services Department at EHS, reaffirmed the readiness of hospitals and health centers to extend comprehensive preventive and therapeutic services to all social categories.

She encouraged the public to get vaccinated and adhere to precautionary measures to reduce the spread of the virus, thereby safeguarding their own well-being and that of the broader community and averting potential complications arising from influenza infections.

Lootah added that the establishment has demonstrated significant achievements in this domain, upgrading the standards of preventive and therapeutic services and enhancing the proficiency of healthcare personnel. Consequently, the Emirates Health Services urges community members to get vaccinated and adhere to precautionary protocols, in order to curb the spread of seasonal influenza, thus improving the overall health security of the community.

Dr. Hend Al Awadhi, Head of Health Promotion at Dubai Health Authority (DHA), said that the unified endeavors of every health stakeholder in the nation play a pivotal role in strengthening the cohesive care system for community members, particularly focusing on preventative measures. It is from this collaborative spirit that the national campaign to promote awareness about seasonal influenza takes flight, encompassing numerous similar annual campaigns and initiatives."

Al Awadhi underscored the DHA's commitment to fostering extensive and productive collaboration with its strategic partners, aiming to ensure the utmost levels of health security for everyone.

Seasonal influenza is highly contagious, primarily spreading through the inhalation of droplets dispersed into the air when an infected individual coughs, sneezes, or talks. Transmission can also occur through contact with surfaces or materials contaminated with the influenza virus, followed by touching the face, specifically the mouth, nose, or eyes.

Hence, it's vital to cultivate habits that hinder the proliferation of the infection, such as covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, regular handwashing, and the routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and implements. Individuals from the age of six months onward are encouraged to receive the vaccine, bearing in mind that it takes approximately two weeks for the body to develop immunity against the disease.

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