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Improving Bioprepardness in West Africa
Released: 9/12/2017

From Naval Medical Research Center Public Affairs

A Navy Commander from the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit. No. 3 – Cairo (NAMRU-3) Ghana Detachment presented a poster highlighting capacity building in Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia at the Military Health System Research Symposium (MHSRS), August 27 – 30. 


KISSIMMEE, Florida – A Navy Commander from the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit. No. 3 – Cairo (NAMRU-3) Ghana Detachment presented a poster highlighting capacity building in Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia at the Military Health System Research Symposium (MHSRS), August 27 – 30. 

The team also includes collaborators from NAMRU-3 in Cairo and the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Maryland as well as other military, government, and academic intuitions.

The collaborators formed the Joint West Africa Research Group (JWARG) to help bridge a gap that was highlighted by the 2014 Ebola epidemic by building on established local relationships, as well as partnerships in academia.

“The poster highlights work done to improve the ability of Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria to detect and deter infectious disease threats,” said Cmdr. Andrew Letizia, Officer in Charge, Ghana Detachment, NAMRU-3. “This is accomplished through training of personnel, capacity building and the implementation of two research projects.  A study examining what causes fever and a second study currently ongoing that examines what makes patients very sick in West Africa and how we can better treat them.” 

The group implemented two studies in the region on sepsis and severe febrile illness.  They built a network of nine clinical sites working with regional referral laboratories and also conduct training to develop research capabilities required for study execution. JWARG collaborators are developing a data integration system to facilitate communication of research data on regional infectious disease threats to local partners and regional combatant and component commands.

The JWARG sepsis study, known as Austere environments Consortium for Enhanced Sepsis Outcomes (ACESO), has begun enrollment at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana. The study’s goal is to understand how to best diagnose, prognose, and care for severely ill patients with sepsis through early recognition, diagnosis, and evidence-based clinical management.

The JWARG febrile illness study, also known as RV466, is rolling out at military and civilian cities in Nigeria with a focus on Lagos and sites in the Lassa belt. 

JWARG established the first functioning microbiology lab in Liberia in over 40 years and has trained a local group in basic laboratory methods, microbiology, genomics, clinical management of infectious diseases, and good clinical practice.

“By conducting studies relevant to local infectious disease threats, JWARG is strengthening research, as well as basic laboratory and clinical capabilities in the region,” said Letizia. “These efforts are improving our understanding of infectious disease threats in West Africa and developing a platform for evaluating medical countermeasures against these threats.” 
 
MHSRS is the Department of Defense's (DoD) premier scientific meeting; a unique collaborative opportunity for military medical care providers, DoD scientists, academia and industry to exchange information on research advancements and health care developments in the areas of combat casualty care, military operational medicine, clinical and rehabilitative medicine and military infectious disease research program.

NMRC’s eight laboratories, including NAMRU-3 and the NAMRU-3 Ghana Detachment, are engaged in a broad spectrum of activity from basic science in the laboratory to field studies at sites in austere and remote areas of the world to operational environments. In support of the Navy, Marine Corps, and joint U.S. warfighters, researchers study infectious diseases; biological warfare detection and defense; combat casualty care; environmental health concerns; aerospace and undersea medicine; medical modeling, simulation and operational mission support; and epidemiology and behavioral sciences.

NMRC and the laboratories deliver high-value, high-impact research products to support and protect today's deployed warfighters. At the same time researchers are focused on the readiness and well-being of future forces.
Naval Medical Research and Development