KIT makes important contribution to combat future virus outbreaks

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Dutch Embassy Ghana starts consortium on a Trade Mission West Africa

From July 5th until July 8th a Dutch trade mission headed by Minister Lilianne Ploumen visits Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the countries affected by Ebola. KIT’s CEO Mark Schneiders signs on July 7th during this mission the start of the ‘Post-Ebola Resilience project’, a project by a consortium of Dutch and international partners to help those countries to be better prepared for future outbreaks of serious infectious diseases. Commissioned by the Dutch embassy in Ghana, a consortium was created to formulate this program, with support from the Dutch government. Hans Docter, Dutch Ebola envoy: ‘Cooperation between the countries, supported by African experts, is essential to halt further outbreaks earlier. Netherlands is investing in knowledge and expertise on the spot.’ Although the Ebola crisis in the region appears to be almost over, the risk of a new Ebola outbreak continues to exist just as those of other emerging infectious diseases. Minister Ploumen: ‘The Ebola virus itself must be eliminated. To restore the impressive economic growth before the outbreak, communities and their economic structures need to be rebuilt.’

Combating the risk of outbreaks of Ebola and other emerging infectious diseases

It is crucial that countries themselves are sufficiently prepared for this type of outbreaks to effectively cope in the future. Cross-border cooperation will play an important role. It is also necessary restoration of public confidence in local health care.

The ‘Post-Ebola Resilience project’ in Sierra Leone and Guinea will make a constructive contribution to the prevention of risks and reduce the consequences of outbreaks of Ebola and other infectious diseases in the next two years. KIT will lead a consortium of partners from five countries: the Netherlands (KIT and Wageningen University), Sierra Leone (Njala University), Guinea (Sinfonia University Health Focus), Rwanda (HDP) and Ghana (Noguchi Memorial Research Institute).

Earlier detection and tackling diseases through innovative approaches

The trilateral approach makes this project innovative: local organisations are supported by African experts from Rwanda and Ghana who in turn get advice from Dutch professionals from KIT and the University of Wageningen. Through cross-border cooperation especially in the field of Community Surveillance – which involves community leaders – the countries concerned will receive information about new cases faster.

Through cooperation between among others human and veterinary health disciplines the project finds a multidisciplinary form: the OneHealth approach. This approach is important because many diseases are increasingly caused by the interaction between people, animals and their environment. The purpose of this innovative approach is to tackle and identify future outbreaks of infectious diseases at a much earlier stage to identify.

In this program, the Ghana Memorial Research Institute, contributes to the capacity building of the laboratory of the Community Health Department of the Njala University. HDP from Rwanda provides technical advice on setting up a Result Based Financing Program in Guinee.

Resilience and trust

Juriën Toonen, one of the experts involved of KIT Health: “The Dutch embassy in Ghana has asked us how we can help these countries to become more resilient against infectious diseases that have high potential causing outbreaks. This requires close collaboration between various disciplines and organisations. KIT has a lot of experience and an extensive network in this region. When we combine our knowledge with the expertise of our partners in the Netherlands and Africa, this project has great added value: it promotes South-South cooperation “.

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