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Zoonotic infections
New and re-emerging infectious disease outbreaks, continue to cause much human suffering and loss of life worldwide. Many new and re-emerging infectious diseases are zoonoses, (diseases transmitted from animals to humans). The Central and East African region is particularly vulnerable to spill over of pathogens from wild animals since it harbours two rich ecological systems with high animal and human interactions, the Rift Valley and Congo Basin. Since Africa has experienced repeated outbreaks of zoonotic infections, an important need exists to improve capacities to identify and respond to zoonotic outbreaks. A more inclusive and strategic partnership across the human and animal health sectors is required if we are to be able to address emergent zoonotic threats effectively. Many infections with epidemic potential require completely different approaches to bringing the epidemic under control. Our PANDORA-ID-NET consortium partners’ ongoing work is focussed on pathogens with pandemic potential such as, Ebola virus, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERSCoV), influenza viruses], Rift Valley fever virus, Arboviral infections, Lujo virus, multi-drug-resistant TB, and pan-antibiotic resistant bacterial infections, among others. In light of the Ebola epidemic in west Africa and concerns over MERS-CoV spreading to sub-Saharan African countries, we have emphasized the urgent need for building sustainable rapid diagnostics laboratory capacities, and establishment of an multidisciplinary consortium which is able to provide accelerated research evidence for the optimal clinical management of patients, and for guiding an effective public health response to any severe infectious outbreak. Our ‘human-animal’ ONE HEALTH consortium are using our ethos and track record of building equitable Africa-Europe R&D partnerships, to build effective epidemic outbreak response capacities, aligned closely to research and training, across all geographical regions in sub-Saharan Africa. Our overall objective is to strengthen, regional and pan-African capacities and systems for enabling rapid and effective response to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases threats arising from within Africa, or those imported from overseas. We aim to build laboratory, public health and clinical trials capacity for the rapid investigation of outbreaks at source. Laboratory systems will be made capable of safely and accurately detecting all pathogens with minimal biohazard risk. Capacities will also be built to perform multi-site clinical trials (evaluating rapid diagnostics, biomarkers, a range of treatments, vaccines and operational research studies) in response to emerging infectious diseases threats. This will include obtaining accelerated evidence for optimal clinical management of patients, infection control measures, surveillance, public health response and vector control programs, during outbreaks caused by pathogens (including antimicrobial-resistant pathogens) with epidemic potential.
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