Nigeria and Canada collaborate to combat Mpox

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The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, and other stakeholders in the country have announced the establishment of the Canada-Africa Mpox Partnership, CAMP.

The event aimed to reduce the spread of Mpox and investigate the mechanics of its transmission from person to human.

The project also includes the University of Ilorin, the Slum and Rural Health Initiative Network, the Institute of Human Virology in Nigeria, and the Maryland Global Initiative Corporation.

The initiative is a collaboration between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the International Development Research Centre.

Prof. Babatunde Salako, Director-General of NIMR, stated at the occasion on Wednesday that the Nigeria consortium would collaborate with its Canadian counterparts to help guide the clinical and public health response to the local and worldwide Mpox epidemic.

Salako stated that 68 researchers with multidisciplinary skills from Canada, Nigeria, the United States, and the United Kingdom will work on the project, which would begin with community engagements.

“The good thing about this project is that it will provide the needed information for stakeholders in the project to understand transmission dynamics and evaluate medical counter-measures of Mpox in Nigeria and Canada.

“The stakeholders include not just researchers but also the communities who will be participating in the project.

“If at the end of the project there is a very useful result, this can be translated in the communities to improve their health status,” he said.

The D-G, on the other hand, emphasized the importance of establishing a medical research council to fund research projects unique to Nigeria.

He said: “Many nations have agencies that fund health research directly but we don’t have that here in Nigeria and that is why health research appears to have been funded poorly.

“The body funding the CAMP project is the Canadian Institute of Health Research; if we have such body, we will be able to fund research on health issues that affect us directly.”

Prof. Rosemary Audu, Principal Investigator of CAMP Nigeria, stated that the project would focus on three areas addressing Mpox transmission, treatment, and vaccinations across varied epidemiological, geo-social, and health system contexts.

Audi, who is also the Director of Research at NIMR, stated that the CAMP project’s two core components were multi-directional capacity building and community participation.

“In the first sub-project, CAMP researchers will work to understand transmission from multiple angles and the second sub-project will involve conducting a random contrail trial to access the safety and effectiveness of the smallpox drug tecovirimat as treatment for the disease.

“The third sub-project which is the last, will focus on evaluating the role of imvamune vaccine to prevent Mpox infection in humans.

“We have also received ethical clearance from the National Health Insurance Ethics, NHREC, to commence field operation from April for 12 months period and we comment the Canadian institute for funding the project,” she said.

During the event, Dr Evaezi Okpokoro, a public health physician specializing in infectious diseases, also presented the project work plan.

Okpokoro, who is also a researcher at the Institute of Human Virology, stated that the researchers would look into the method of transmission in comparison to the Canadian group.

He went on to say that the CAMP Nigeria team would collaborate to build regional capability in the areas of quick clinical trials, biostatistics, and mathematical modeling, which would be useful in responding to future infectious disease concerns.

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