Improved control of viral haemorrhagic fever epidemics
Title: Improved control of viral haemorrhagic fever epidemics in five African countries by training health workers in the safe use of a new, high quality and easy-to-use diagnostic test for viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF field diagnosis)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2011 to 2013
Incidences of viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) outbreaks in developing countries in Africa have increased considerably in recent years, and their number is expected to rise still further in the future. The early detection of, and alerts to these outbreaks are critically important if they are to be effectively controlled and appropriate responses delivered. However, many African countries lack VHF diagnostic tools that are both widely available and easy to use and interpret.
With the wider distribution of point-of-care diagnostics (POCD), VHF outbreaks are identified more quickly and controlled more effectively. The response time has fallen to one week or less. Thus, mortality and morbidity rates have also decreased.
The Göttingen University Medical Centre and the Arbovirus and Haemorrhagic Fever Viruses Unit of the Pasteur Institute in Dakar (IPD), Senegal coordinate a network of laboratories in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is devoted to developing new viral haemorrhagic fever diagnostic tools.
The first step of the project is to design the POCD tools. These will then be tested under field conditions in a pilot phase involving 24 regional hospitals in the five countries. To this end, nurses will attend a workshop in Dakar to learn how to use the POCDs in their local hospitals. Thirdly, the remote health care centres involved in the evaluation will also carry out quality assurance measures. The criteria for evaluating the suitability of the POCD for use in such health centres include the price per test and the ease and rapidity with which they can be applied. To help improve the tests, the technicians who perform them give their feedback on aspects such as the clarity of the kit instructions, and kit and reagent packaging and labelling.
On behalf of BMZ, the project is supported by the German Pandemic Preparedness Initiative of GIZ.