By Iyemah David
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), has launched a groundbreaking research project on Mpox formerly known as Monkey Pox in the country.
The Director General, of NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, who made the disclosure at the launch on Monday in Abuja, said that it would pave the way for a healthier future.
Adetifa emphasised the importance of knowledge, unity, and determination in tackling the challenges posed by pox.
The Mpox, is the most important global human orthopoxvirus infection since smallpox was eradicated in 1979.
Since the virus re-emerged in Nigeria in 2017, we have continued to experience annual outbreaks of the virus.
From 2017 till date, we have recorded 2,668 suspected cases, 975 confirmed cases and 14 deaths with Lagos and Rivers States accounting for the highest burden of the disease.
Dr Adetifa said that the project, which involved collaboration with dedicated researchers and institutions, aimed to unravel the unknowns of mpox and bridge the gap between clinical and One Health studies.
He said that this marks a significant step forward in mpox research and demonstrates the NCDC’s unwavering commitment to protecting the health of Nigerians and the world at large.
The DG highlighted the power of research and the strength of collaboration in combating infectious diseases.
“By working together, we can move closer to a world free from the threat of mpox and ensure the wellbeing of future generations.
“This research project represents a significant milestone in Nigeria’s efforts to address public health challenges.
“It serves as a testament to the country’s commitment to leveraging scientific knowledge and partnerships to safeguard the health of its citizens and contribute to global health security,” he said.
As the project progresses, he said, it was expected to generate valuable insights into mpox, paving the way for improved prevention, diagnosis, and treatment strategies.
“With the dedication of the NCDC and its partners, a brighter and healthier future free from the threat of mpox is within reach,” he said.
He said that the research project would be completed over two years and would cover thematic areas namely;
The clinical characteristics and natural history of mpox disease, the essential epidemiological parameters and factors associated with infection and transmission.
“The experience of people infected with mpox and those close to them.
To address the thematic areas identified, two studies on mpox will be done.
“The Clinical Study which will help address knowledge gaps in the clinical understanding of the virus and the natural history of infection.
“The One Health Study would help to increase understanding of the dynamics of infection and transmission in the Nigerian context,” he said.
Prof. Gwenda Hughes, co-project lead, Deputy Director for Research, UK-Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST), said the team was delighted to be part of the collaboration between NCDC and other partners to better understand the clinical characteristics, a pattern of infection and spread of mpox in Nigeria.
Hughes, who is also Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said that MPOX disease has greatly affected Nigerian communities, especially in recent years.