IANPHI Supports COVID-19 Responses in Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Cambodia

IANPHI is supporting COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts in Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Cambodia as part of IANPHI’s five-year, 17 million USD cooperative agreement with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bolster public health around the world.

The aims of the cooperative agreement are to build and strengthen national public health institutes (NPHIs). In most of the countries we collaborate with, IANPHI supports capacity building for emergency preparedness and response activities, surveillance, and laboratory and other facets of public health that support a strong system for responding to outbreaks. In addition to these efforts, IANPHI supports COVID-19-specific response projects in several countries.

With U.S. CDC support, the Instituto Nacional de Saúde (INS) of Mozambique has been working to establish an early surveillance and warning system that collects information on the disease to trigger prompt public health interventions. As of June 7, it reported 424 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two deaths. INS was also able to build its capacity for investigation of COVID-19 suspect cases and contact tracing. Both are critical components in its strategy to contain the spread of the virus. 

Resources from U.S. CDC provided through IANPHI also support training of local surveillance staff, as well as field epidemiologists and laboratory experts’ activities at districts level; the creation of communication material and video spots for community engagement during the implementation of community-based surveillance; the purchase of reagents and consumables for samples collection, management and testing for COVID-19; and the expansion of INS’s COVID-19 testing capacity to two additional provinces.

Burkina Faso’s Institut de Santé publique (INSP) was established in July 2018. It is focused on producing scientific evidence and generating research data to assist decision makers in this public health emergency. Burkina Faso reported 889 confirmed cases and 53 deaths as of June 8, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In May INSP conducted a Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) survey of the general population and health workers to measure the acceptance of the government’s recommendations for COVID-19. IANPHI and U.S. CDC will support INSP on how to best present the KAP survey findings to decision-makers and to the population. The institute will then work to develop key messages and channels to convey those messages with the goal of improving communications on COVID-19. 

In Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reported 12,486 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 354 deaths as of June 8. Established in 2011, NCDC plays a key role in emergency preparedness and response to disease outbreaks including cholera, Lassa fever, and now COVID-19. With funding support from US CDC and IANPHI, NCDC strengthened its laboratory function by improving collection, transportation and field testing of samples, and improving testing confirmation, outbreak management and emergency response through targeted staff capacity development, and establishment of Rapid Response Teams, and risk communication capacity. Increased capacity in these areas are supporting the current COVID-19 response. The institute plans to utilize IANPHI funding to curate COVID-19 materials using an electronic archives management system in the NCDC Library. 

In Cambodia, the Cambodia National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) reported 126 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of June 8. NIPH has been working on improving its capacity with IANPHI since 2016 through funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. CDC. As a national reference laboratory with ISO accreditation certificate, NIPH laboratory is playing a crucial role in supporting the Ministry of Health in surveillance and control of infectious diseases. 

In the current outbreak of COVID-19, NIPH is providing training and technical support to collect specimens tested at the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge. IANPHI and U.S. CDC supported NIPH’s training sessions for local laboratory staff, which covered the use of personal protection equipment (PPE), and how to handle specimen collection, packaging and transportation. NIPH was also recently asked to prepare to become a national testing center for COVID-19. In order to perform testing, the institute is also receiving support to purchase standard test kits, additional reagents, materials and consumables. 

“The IANPHI U.S. office has been working with these national public health institutes since 2015, and we have witnessed remarkable progress in their capacity to protect their populations’ health,” says Ellen Whitney, director of the IANPHI U.S. Office.” We are particularly proud of the work they are doing contributing to the national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful to the U.S. CDC for providing IANPHI with the financial resources to support these NPHIs in this difficult time.”

Dr. Ilesh Jani, director general of Mozambique’s INS, said: “As Mozambique is facing a rapid evolution in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in recent days, we are deeply aware of the importance to further strengthen the INS’ outbreak surveillance and response capacity in the long term, while also leveraging other essential functions such as public health research, laboratory diagnosis and communication. We have made substantial progress since 2017 with the support of IANPHI and U.S. CDC, and we welcome their targeted support during this pandemic.”

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