FG, UK Begin Research to End Mpox Pandemic

The Federal Government through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) and its partners in the United Kingdom has commenced research to end Mpox pandemic, and strengthen prevention, response and control in Nigeria.
The research project is titled: “Epidemiological and clinical investigation of mpox in Nigeria: A multi-disciplinary research project to inform case management and outbreak prevention and control.”
Mpox virus, formerly known as Monkeypox, causes the most important global human orthopoxvirus disease since smallpox was eradicated in 1979.
Already, the pandemic has killed 14 persons in Lagos and Rivers States. There has been 2668 suspected cases and 975 confirmed cases since the virus re-emerged in Nigeria in 2017.
The research, expected to be completed within two years, will cover the clinical characteristics and natural history of mpox disease, essential epidemiological parameters and factors associated with infection and transmission, as well as experience of people infected with mpox and those close to them.
Speaking on the research, Director General of NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa said that with dedicated researchers and institutions, that NCDC would unravel the circumstances surrounding mpox virus through bridging clinical and One Health studies.
“This project symbolises our unwavering commitment to protecting the health of Nigerians, and in turn the world, embracing the power of research, and the strength of collaboration. As we work together, may we move closer to a world free from the threat of mpox that ensures the wellbeing of generations to come”, he added.
The co-project lead from the NCDC, Dr Chinwe Lucia Ochu lamented that mpox outbreak in Nigeria had impacted on marginalised communities, adding that NCDC played a pivotal role in mitigating the crisis.
She noted that the collaboration underscored the importance of surveillance and understanding transmission within the One Health space, adding that the partnership is crucial to protect humans, animals, and the environment.
Deputy Director for Research from the UK-Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST), Prof. Gwenda Hughes was delighted to be part of the research team that would unravel the clinical characteristics, pattern of infection and spread of mpox in Nigeria.
Hughes, who is also the Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) lamented that Mpox has greatly affected Nigerian communities, especially in recent years.
He assured that the UK-PHRST would support Nigeria to answer important scientific questions through the extensive research programme and would also assist in training local laboratory staff and field teams.
“Our microbiology specialists have already provided lab equipment and shared expertise to help build local diagnostic capabilities for mpox.
“Through co-creation and by taking a partner-led approach with our Nigerian colleagues, our aim is to support improved case, contact management, and inform the development of effective control measures for mpox both in Nigeria and globally, ” Hughes said.
Senior research fellow at the Pandemic Sciences Institute within the University of Oxford, Dr Jake Dunning informed that Nigerian scientists have done much in mitigating the spread of Mpox in the past six years.
Dunning, who is also the co-project lead of the clinical characterisation study, hinted that understanding the features of an emerging infectious disease and how it spreads within a population is essential to controlling it and optimising the care of patients with the infection.
“This research collaboration will not only inform mpox prevention and response efforts in Nigeria but will be of benefit to global health too, as mpox is not one country’s problem and we are likely to be more successful when we work together,” Dunning added.
Before the 2022 global Mpox outbreak, the NCDC, National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), Pandemic Sciences Institute at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST and stakeholders in Lagos and Rivers states agreed to collaborate on a multi-disciplinary research project aimed at addressing mpox knowledge gaps that would improve the public health response to the virus in Nigeria and beyond.
Findings from the research project would play a key role in strengthening detection, prevention, response, and control in Nigeria.

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