Lassa Fever Would Be Eradicated Through New Consortium -Experts

By Alice Etuka, Abuja

There seems to be an end in sight to the perennial Lassa Fever outbreaks recorded in the country as Nigeria sets to unveil the National Genomic Sequencing Consortium.

This was disclosed at the Stakeholders’ Engagement Meeting for Genomic Strategy Development held on Thursday, May 30, 2024 in Abuja.

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Speaking at the meeting, Director General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Jide Idris stated that the inauguration of the National Genomic Sequencing Consortium was an essential initiative that would significantly enhance the nation’s public health infrastructure.

It would also, “fortify our health security being the mandate of NCDC and position Nigeria as a genomic research hub in the global south”.

Dr. Idris explained that, “the contributions of genomic sequencing to health security range from rapid identification and characterisation of pathogens, disease surveillance and outbreak detection and patterns of transmission.

“Genomic sequencing enhances our ability to respond to health threats by providing detailed insights into the underpinnings of diseases, enabling more precise and effective public health interventions”.

He added that the urgency of implementing genomics sequencing became evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, “effective management of genomic sequencing is now recognized as a matter of national security, with profound economic and diplomatic implications”, he said.

On his part, Director, Centre of Excellence for Zoonotic and Human Virology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Prof. Sunday Omilabu explained that before the advent of genomic sequencing, they were using conventional techniques which took a long time before getting results and also did not give precise results.

Citing some of the advantages of the new consortium, Prof. Omilabu said, “we are familiar with Lassa, Lassa has been with us for over 60 years and yet we still have problem of lassa year in year out, with this, what we are trying to establish today the problem of persistent Lassa should have been well established, vaccine developed and antiviral drugs well developed because the information would be made available from genomic sequencing”.

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