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Strengthening response capacity to African infectious disease outbreaks

The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, with Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone severely hit by this crisis. The World Health Organization called the epidemic the most severe acute public health emergency since the discovery of HIV. In addition, this humanitarian disaster has had collateral impact on local economies, health care systems, and regional security.

Although the Ebola epidemic ended in January 2016, the risk of future outbreaks remains in the region. Recent assessments of countries in this region have found limited capacity for disease investigation, surveillance, and rapid research and response capacity for emerging infectious threats. Improving these deficiencies is paramount to preventing and limiting future infectious disease outbreaks.

Lessons can be learned from countries like Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have been able to effectively control Ebola cases with remarkable speed. Their successes are largely due to their robust surveillance and response infrastructure, supported by a strong network of laboratories, hospitals and disease control centres.
Led by an expert team of Canadian collaborators from Laval University and partners in West and Central Africa, this project will undertake a regional needs assessment of public health capacities in Central and West Africa to respond to emerging pandemic agents, and will be complemented by local training and capacity building in surveillance, diagnostics, biosecurity, and communication.

By the end of this work, this project will deliver a regional assessment of the research, training, and infrastructure needed to build a Central and West African network of public health actors that can effectively and rapidly respond to infectious disease threats. It will also lay the foundations for a research and training agenda on infectious pathogens of regional priority, in partnership with local and international collaborators.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
7 months
IDRC Officer
Zee Leung
Total Funding
CA$ 279,286.00
South of Sahara
Food, Environment, and Health
Food, Environment, and Health
Institution Country
Project Leader
Gary Kobinger
Université Laval