The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), has launched a groundbreaking research project on Mpox formerly known as Monkey Pox in the country.
The Director General, of NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, who made the disclosure at the launch on Monday in Abuja, said that it would pave the way for a healthier future.
Adetifa emphasised the importance of knowledge, unity, and determination in tackling the challenges posed by pox.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that Mpox, is the most important global human orthopoxvirus infection since smallpox was eradicated in 1979.
Since the virus re-emerged in Nigeria in 2017, we have continued to experience annual outbreaks of the virus.
From 2017 till date, we have recorded 2,668 suspected cases, 975 confirmed cases and 14 deaths with Lagos and Rivers States accounting for the highest burden of the disease.
Adetifa said that the project, which involved collaboration with dedicated researchers and institutions, aimed to unravel the unknowns of mpox and bridge the gap between clinical and One Health studies.
He said that this marks a significant step forward in mpox research and demonstrates the NCDC’s unwavering commitment to protecting the health of Nigerians and the world at large.
The DG highlighted the power of research and the strength of collaboration in combating infectious diseases.
“By working together, we can move closer to a world free from the threat of mpox and ensure the wellbeing of future generations.
“This research project represents a significant milestone in Nigeria’s efforts to address public health challenges.
“It serves as a testament to the country’s commitment to leveraging scientific knowledge and partnerships to safeguard the health of its citizens and contribute to global health security,” he said.
As the project progresses, he said, it was expected to generate valuable insights into mpox, paving the way for improved prevention, diagnosis, and treatment strategies.
“With the dedication of the NCDC and its partners, a brighter and healthier future free from the threat of mpox is within reach,” he said.
He said that the research project would be completed over two years and would cover thematic areas namely;
The clinical characteristics and natural history of mpox disease, the essential epidemiological parameters and factors associated with infection and transmission.
“The experience of people infected with mpox and those close to them.
To address the thematic areas identified, two studies on mpox will be done.
“The Clinical Study which will help address knowledge gaps in the clinical understanding of the virus and the natural history of infection.
“The One Health Study would help to increase understanding of the dynamics of infection and transmission in the Nigerian context,” he said.
Dr Adaeze Chidinma Oreh, Commissioner for Health, Rivers State, said that the launch marked a significant milestone in the country’s mission to improve its understanding and provide evidence to strengthen mpox outbreak prevention, response and control in the country.
Oreh said that similar endemic settings of the mpox virus through the research project titled “Epidemiological and clinical investigation of mpox in Nigeria: A multi-disciplinary research project to inform case management and outbreak prevention and control” was commendable.
Prof. Gwenda Hughes, co-project lead, Deputy Director for Research, UK-Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST), said the team was delighted to be part of the collaboration between NCDC and other partners to better understand the clinical characteristics, a pattern of infection and spread of mpox in Nigeria.
Hughes, who is also Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said that MPOX disease has greatly affected Nigerian communities, especially in recent years.
“The UK-PHRST will support Nigerian colleagues to answer important scientific questions through this extensive research programme and will also help deliver training of local laboratory staff and field teams.
“Our microbiology specialists have already provided lab equipment and shared expertise to help build local diagnostic capabilities for mpox.
“Ultimately, through co-creation and by taking a partner-led approach with our Nigerian colleagues, we aim to support improved case and contact management and inform the development of effective control measures for mpox both in Nigeria and globally,” he said.
Dr Alao Mitchell, Veterinary Officer, a representative from Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, called for the equipment of relevant agencies to carry out their functions efficiently.
He said it would help in mapping out wildlife disease hotspots, organizing the sale of bushmeat and wildlife artefacts, formulating effective policies, enforcement of existing wildlife laws and even making new ones where they were necessary.
Mitchell, however, said that the battle to prevent and control Mpox was on, and all hands must be on deck to achieve success.
“The government cannot achieve these laudable plans by itself, and many in this room, including other partners, will have to support in the spirit of collaboration, which is very evident here today,” he said.
Dr Chinwe Lucia Ochu, co-project lead from the NCDC said, “The mpox outbreak in Nigeria had a profound impact on lives, particularly among key populations, emphasizing the vulnerability of marginalized communities.
Ochu said that the NCDC played a pivotal role in mitigating this crisis.
“This collaboration underscores the critical importance of surveillance and understanding transmission within the One Health space, where collaboration across human, animal, and environmental health is imperative to protect our global well-being,” she said.
She said that the 2022 global outbreak which affected over 100 countries, coincided with the country’s largest outbreak with 762 confirmed and over 2000 suspected cases.
“Though the increase is likely attributed to improved reporting and testing capacities, there remain important gaps in clinical and epidemiological knowledge of mpox in the Nigerian context,.
“These include the loss of protection from routine smallpox vaccine, that has hampered the development of effective control measures and led to annual outbreaks,” she explained.
NAN, recalled that the 2022 global outbreak of the virus, NCDC, the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), the Pandemic Sciences Institute at the University of Oxford, UK-PHRST
An innovative partnership between the UK Health Security Agency and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, funded with UK aid by the UK Department of Health and Social Care),
Amongst others were stakeholders in Lagos and Rivers States agreed to collaborate on a multi-disciplinary research project aimed at addressing knowledge gaps on mpox that would improve the public health response to the virus in Nigeria and beyond. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Source: News Agency of Nigeria