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Nigeria Biopreparedness Initiative Launches with Training Event and Site Assessment

September 15, 2017

Earlier this week, a multinational group of infectious disease physicians and laboratory experts, including those from Walter Reed Program-Nigeria (WRP-N) and the Nigerian Ministry of Defence’s Health Implementation Program (NMOD-HIP), visited the 68th Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Yaba, Lagos, to assess the hospital’s capacity to handle highly contagious infectious diseases and conduct training on laboratory handling of especially dangerous pathogens, such as Ebola.

These activities, which were supported by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), mark the launch of the Nigeria Biopreparedness Initiative (NBI). NBI collaborators aim to build a global consortium of infectious disease trainers and biocontainment facilities that can be leveraged to respond to outbreaks of highly communicable, dangerous infectious diseases in Nigeria and the sub-region.

The hospital assessment evaluated the facility’s capacity for laboratory processing of highly contagious specimens and patient care during illness with dangerous infectious diseases. Findings will drive modifications in training and provide guidance to staff in diagnosing and treating patients.

Military and civilian clinicians also led a training modeled on the National Ebola Training and Education Curricula, modified for low-resource environments. The training team consists of experts from the University of Nebraska, Tan Tok Singh Hospital in Singapore, the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in the United States, who have all provided care in the context of a variety of infectious diseases in different biocontaintment settings.

The NBI aims to develop resources to improve Nigeria’s ability to identify, contain and treat emerging, highly communicable, dangerous infectious diseases. Identifying new threats early and implementing a well-informed response are critical to limiting disease impact. 

NBI activities will contribute to Nigeria’s abilities to interrupt transmission of emerging pathogens through early, high-performance isolation care. Clinician training and disease surveillance activities will improve clinical design, practices and procedures, and inform and promote regional and local stabilization activities.

It is hoped that the success of this week’s assessment and training event will expand into an integrated, resourced, mentored and sustained clinical bioresponse program. Future goals include establishing a referral biological containment center for suspected and confirmed patients within the existing 68th Nigeria Army Reference Hospital, expanding capacity for increased case-load needed for patient isolation care at or near the referral center and developing mobile biological containment capacity to extend isolation care to areas remote from the referral center.

NBI partners have a long history of working in the region to improve health and respond to emerging pathogens:
•    Nigerian Ministry of Defence Health Implementation Programme (NMOD/HIP) has collaborated with the U.S. Walter Reed Program-Nigeria (WRP-N) on a range of infectious disease research and response in Lagos, Abuja and elsewhere
•    The Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) is WRP-N’s parent organization and has extensive Ebola virus vaccine trialexperience, as well as health program implementation success across Africa
•    The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), with its National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI), is a principal training center of excellence with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for dangerous pathogen clinical preparedness, biocontainment, and training for clinical infectious disease practices
•    The Naval Medical Research Center’s (NMRC) Austere Consortium for Enhanced Sepsis Outcomes (ACESO) is a leader of DoD biodefense-related sepsis research

These partners also collaborate in the Joint West Africa Research Group, a U.S. DoD-led initiative to strengthen biopreparedness in West Africa through the conduct of high quality science. JWARG currently is executing research in Nigeria, Liberia and Ghana and is leveraged in this effort.