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Joint West Africa Research Group
Heightened surveillance and enhanced clinical capabilities will play a key role in detecting and responding to known and unknown pathogens that cause severe illness in areas—such as West Africa—where infectious disease outbreaks havea high risk for wide and rapid spread.
The West African Ebola outbreak in 2014-15 highlighted gaps in the global public health response and a lack of countermeasures. In response, the U.S. DoD invested in a strategic initiative called the Joint West Africa Research Group (JWARG) to leverage existing research platforms and relationships to improve biopreparedness in the region.
JWARG was initiated in late 2015. Partners include:
- U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research
- Walter Reed Program-Nigeria
- Austere Environment Consortium for Enhanced Sepsis Outcomes (ACESO) at the Naval Medical Research Center
- Naval Medical Research Unit 3-Ghana Detachment
- African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID)
- The Sabeti lab at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT
- HJF, and other military, government and academic institutions
Lab and Clinical Training
JWARG partners build upon existing programs in Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia with initiatives focused on lab and clinical strengthening, biosurveillance and countermeasure development. Within the first six months, the program quickly and successfully conducted expansive training programs in the U.S. and West Africa on clinical management of topical diseases, project management, Good Clinical and Laboratory Practices (GCLP), genomics, diagnostics, chemistry, hematology and Quality Assurance (QA).
In July 2016, a new observational study of patients with sepsis began at Komfo Anoyke Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, Ghana. This was the first patient enrolled in a JWARG study.
Prior to initiation of this Navy-led protocol, the ACESO team trained 58 members of the KATH study team on the diagnosis and management of sepsis, microbiology for clinicians, biosafety and biosecurity and the regulatory aspects of clinical research. The study utilized the recently renovated microbiology laboratory.
ACESO aims to improve survival for patients with sepsis in resource-limited settings through early recognition, diagnosis and evidence-based clinical management.
Acute Febrile Illness Study
A new MHRP led study will explore severe acute febrile illness prevalence and incidence at medical centers in Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia. Through this study, JWARG will build scientific capabilities, provide an important surveillance mechanism and also broaden understanding of the epidemiology, immunology and genetics of severe acute infectious diseases.