The first Lassa fever international conference will be hosted by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on the 16th and 17th of January in Abuja, Nigeria.
This was made known in statement made available to the newsmen by Chief Executive Officer, NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu.
The conference that will be organised in partnership with other stakeholders is to mark 50 years since the Lassa fever virus was first isolated in a town in Nigeria, according to Ihekweazu.
“The opportunity created by the ‘anniversary’ of the discovery of the virus, is being used to bring researchers and practitioners from across the world.”
“The researchers and practitioners will share and appraise global efforts towards the control of the Lassa fever virus disease,” Ihekweazu said.
He highlighted that the conference (LFIC) will be an opportunity to increase global health focus on the disease, which was found mostly in West Africa.
According to him, this has created an increased sense of urgency for the global health community to do more through better prevention, disease detection, control and case management efforts.
“In 2018, the World Health Organisation launched its Research and Development blueprint, highlighting the potential of Lassa fever and a selected list of diseases to lead to public health emergencies.”
“This plan highlights the absence of efficacious drugs and vaccines, and further highlights the urgent need for accelerated research and development,” he said.
Ihekweazu further said that the conference would afford the global audience to learn about efforts towards new strategies to prevent transmission of the virus from rodents to human.
He explained that the new approaches to mitigating hospital transmission of the disease as well as new insights into the social context of Lassa transmission would be known.
“The current efforts on new Lassa fever vaccines, therapeutics and clinical treatment approaches would also be key highlights at the conference.”
”To prepare for the conference, NCDC called for scientific efforts into prevention, detection and control efforts to be showcased at the conference.”
”This yielded more 500 abstracts from which 160 top quality papers were selected. In addition, travel scholarships were granted to 80 researchers from across Nigeria and West Africa.”
”With this, NCDC will work with partners to develop a strong reform agenda for Lassa fever control in Nigeria and globally,” he added.
The conference is said to bring stakeholder together for a meeting full of learning and exchange of ideas.