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NCDC launches research project to improve monkeypox response

Test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive" are seen in this illustration taken May 22, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has launched a research project to improve response to mpox, also known as monkeypox.

According to a statement on Monday signed by Ifedayo Adetifa, NCDC director-general, the research project is titled “Epidemiological and clinical investigation of mpox in Nigeria: A multi-disciplinary research project to inform case management and outbreak prevention and control”.

Adetifa said the 2022 global outbreak which affected over 100 countries, coincided with Nigeria’s largest infection with 762 confirmed from more than 2000 suspected cases.

He said while the increase was attributed to improved surveillance, there were gaps in clinical and epidemiological knowledge of mpox in Nigeria which have hampered the development and deployment of effective control measures.

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Adetifa said before the global mpox outbreak, the NCDC, National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), the Pandemic Sciences Institute at the University of Oxford, the United Kingdom public health rapid support team (UK-PHRST) and stakeholders in Lagos and Rivers agreed to collaborate on a multi-disciplinary research project aimed at addressing mpox knowledge gaps that would improve the public health response to the virus in Nigeria.

“Today, 16th October 2023, marks a significant milestone in our mission to improve our understanding and provide evidence to strengthen mpox outbreak prevention, response and control in Nigeria and similar endemic settings of the mpox virus through the research project,” the statement reads.

The NCDC said the research project would be completed over two years and would cover the clinical characteristics and natural history of mpox, the essential epidemiological parameters and factors associated with transmission and the experience of people infected with the virus.

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The project will comprise a clinical study aimed at helping address knowledge gaps in the clinical understanding of the virus and a one-health study designed to increase understanding of the dynamics of infection and transmission in the Nigerian context.

Speaking about the research launch, Jake Dunning, co-project lead of the clinical characterisation study and senior research fellow at the Pandemic Sciences Institute, said the research collaboration would not only inform mpox prevention and response efforts in Nigeria but will be of benefit to global health.

“This extends to academic partnerships and opportunities, and I’m pleased that I will be co-supervising a DPhil (PhD) student who, once appointed, will work on these exciting and important mpox studies in Nigeria,” the statement quoted him as saying.

“Understanding the features of an emerging infectious disease and how it spreads within a population is essential to controlling it and to optimising the care of patients with the infection.”

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