The Joint West Africa Research Group (JWARG) began a study today designed to identify cases of suspected severe infectious disease at medical centers in West Africa. The study is being led by the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
The multi-site study opened today at the 68th Nigeria Army Reference Hospital in Yaba, Lagos, to be followed by three more sites in Nigeria. JWARG plans to expand this research activity into Liberia and Ghana in the coming months.
The study will enroll adult volunteers who present as severely ill with a suspected infectious source. In addition to receiving the usual care for their illness, they will be asked to provide samples for laboratory analysis and to complete a brief questionnaire that captures basic clinical, demographic and exposure data.
Several severe acute infectious diseases are endemic to West Africa, including malaria, yellow fever, Lassa fever and dengue. Others like Ebola virus have caused outbreaks in the region. By identifying and monitoring emerging cases, researchers will be able to characterize and compare patterns of illness and describe epidemiologic patterns of infection, associated exposures and patient outcomes.
"Identifying new threats early and implementing a well-informed response are critical to limiting disease impact, " said Dr. David Brett-Major, protocol chair and Network Associate Director for Clinical Research for MHRP. "Findings from this study will help clinicians better understand regional disease threats and inform response to future outbreaks."
JWARG is a U.S. Department of Defense funded, collaborative initiative that leverages existing research platforms and relationships to improve biopreparedness by strengthening research capabilities in West Africa.
JWARG aims to improve laboratory and clinical research capabilities in West Africa to enable the development of effective infectious diseases countermeasures including diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. The initiative has already completed several laboratory and clinical training courses, and sepsis study is currently under way in Ghana led by the Austere Environment Consortium for Enhanced Sepsis Outcomes at the Naval Medical Research Center.
The Joint West African Research Group is a collaboration between government, military, academic and non-governmental organizations in the U.S. and Africa, led by the Austere Environment Consortium for Enhanced Sepsis Outcomes (ACESO) at the Naval Medical Research Center, U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Naval Medical Research Unit 3, and the Walter Reed Program-Nigeria. Support for JWARG is provided by the Defense Health Program. Research administration is provided by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine.