Name: Oleg Parkov
Background: Medical Doctor
Title: Head of the Epidemiological Surveillance Department
Organization: Directorate of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being (Rospotrebnadzor) in the City of St. Petersburg
Hobby: fishing, stamp collecting
What are your responsibilities at the Epidemiological Surveillance Department of the Directorate of Rospotrebnadzor in the City of St. Petersburg?
Since 2005, the organization where I am employed is called the Directorate for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being in the City of St.Petersburg (in Russian, it is abbreviated to Rospotrebnadzor). This institution was established as a result of a reorganization of the Centres for State Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance (abbreviated to Gossanepidnadzor) to provide epidemiological control and surveillance and thus to ensure compliance with the sanitary legislation.
My primary responsibility is to address various problems concerning the surveillance of infectious and parasitic diseases. In our city the most important issue is the prevention of influenza, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, acute gastrointestinal infections, tick-borne encephalitis and HIV infection. My routine work also includes participating in the National Health Programme that covers additional immunization of the population, prevention of HIV infection, viral hepatitis B and C. In addition, our organization actively interacts with the population to prevent infectious and parasitic diseases.
What motivated you to devote yourself to infectious disease epidemiology?
Many years ago, when I entered Leningrad Sanitary Hygiene Medical Institute (now it is Saint Petersburg State Medical Academy named named after I. Mechnikov), I had a very vague idea of my future profession. As I started to study various aspects of hygiene, infectious and parasitic diseases as well as epidemiology and history of medicine, I understood that epidemiology is closely connected with all branches of medicine. I was particularly interested in the epidemiology of infectious diseases and became a medical epidemiologist. I have been working in this field since graduation and have never, not even for a single moment, regretted having selected this profession.
Which of your professional achievements brings you the most satisfaction?
Of course, the utmost satisfaction is achieved when you see positive results of your work. I am happy to have participated in programmes for the elimination of smallpox and poliomyelitis. These infections have been successfully eradicated.
In the early 90s, the city and the country faced a high incidence rate of diphtheria. We had to work hard to reduce the morbidity and mortality.
At present, I take an active part in the programme for the elimination of measles as well as in programmes for prevention of infectious diseases controlled by means of vaccine prophylaxis. The programmes have already brought some positive results: cases of measles have become sporadic and the incidence rates of viral hepatitis B and mumps have declined.
What was your most difficult professional moment?
At present, we know quite a lot about how to cope with bacterial infections. However, we have to deal with new nosological entities, like avian flu and the highly pathogenic influenza A (H1N1), the prevention of which is difficult at the moment due to the lack of effective treatment methods.
What do you think are the most important achievements in infectious disease epidemiology so far?
Development and implementation of special treatment methods for the targeted prevention of various infections.
How did you start collaborating in the EpiNorth project?
The starting point of the collaboration was my department’s joint project with Finland for the prevention of diphtheria. This project gradually evolved into my participation in the EpiNorth project.
What do you find the most interesting aspect of the EpiNorth project?
Information exchange and publication of articles on practical epidemiology.
What do you consider the most important achievement of the EpiNorth project?
Regular meetings with colleagues and interchange of practical experience.
What is your favourite book and why?
I like all sorts of books about the history of my city, my country and about ancient history. The book I am reading now is “The Gulag Archipelago” by A. Solzhenitsyn.
Aside from your professional career, what is your greatest ambition in life?
It is self-improvement, both physical and spiritual. I like travelling very much. And I am always glad to spend some time fishing on a river bank. I am a keen sportsman and an avid reader.
What would be your wishes for the younger colleagues in the field of epidemiology?
I would encourage them to constantly improve their professional skills and to participate in epidemiological research and practice.