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AMP Receives Grant From the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Support Cholera Surveillance in Africa  
1/14/2010 11:32:27 AM

PARIS, January 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The Agence de Medecine Preventive (AMP) has received a three-year grant of $4.9 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create a consortium supporting cholera prevention and control in Africa.

AMP and the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) will be the core members of the consortium, which will include several other leading health organizations from around the world. The consortium will establish an African Cholera Surveillance Network (AFRICHOL) to strengthen cholera surveillance and outbreak response in at least eight African countries.

Cholera is an acute, diarrheal disease that can cause death if untreated. Transmission occurs primarily through ingesting contaminated food or water. Although the incidence of the illness has declined dramatically in most parts of the world, outbreaks continue to occur with alarming frequency in Africa. The continent accounts for more than 90% of reported cases worldwide, approximately 15% of which result in mortality. The prevalence of the disease is largely attributed to the region's poor water and sanitation facilities, large-scale population displacement, and weak health services.

The provision of safe water and the establishment of sanitation systems constitute the best long-term strategy to prevent cholera. However, these interventions cannot be fully implemented in the near future in most cholera-endemic areas. In these settings, new-generation vaccines offer the greatest potential to control the disease in the medium term.

To determine if cholera vaccination is suitable for a given population, accurate data on disease burden is needed. Yet, due to poor surveillance systems and frequent under-reporting, the actual number of cases is largely underestimated throughout Africa.

"Our goal is to assess the burden of disease so that countries and donors can decide whether to focus on cholera prevention - be it vaccines or improved water and sanitation - or alternative health issues," said Dr. Brad Gessner, AFRICHOL principle investigator and AMP scientific director.

The new grant will help AMP greatly expand cholera surveillance by actively mobilizing regional and international organizations. A key partner will be AFENET, which will be responsible for overseeing project implementation in several countries.

"AMP will rely on its extensive global network to bring to the table the most important organizations working on cholera prevention in resource-poor settings," said Alfred da Silva, executive director of AMP. "It is only through such a collective effort that we will be able to establish the true burden of disease in sub-Saharan Africa."

The project will consist of several steps over three years. First, a consortium of international organizations will be established to provide technical and material support to the network. Second, participating countries will be identified based on objective criteria. Third, surveillance activities will be conducted over a period of two years. Finally, the last six months will be devoted to evaluating and interpreting data, as well as meeting with health ministers, WHO officials, and representatives of donor agencies to assess the most appropriate next steps.

About AMP - Founded in 1972, AMP is a nonprofit organization with headquarters at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and offices in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, and Senegal. AMP's mission is to promote preventive medicine and public health by developing expertise and applied research in vaccinology; offering training in epidemiology and health program management; organizing scientific and technical meetings; and disseminating information on vaccinology and other health-related fields. For more information, please visit: http://www.aamp.org/

About AFENET - The mission of AFENET is to improve the health of people in Africa by strengthening their own applied epidemiology and laboratory capacity. Established in 2005 as a nonprofit organization, AFENET is active in 15 GAVI-eligible African countries as well as in South Africa. It works in partnership with ministries of health, non-governmental organizations, international agencies, private sector companies, and public health agencies. The AFENET secretariat is located in Kampala, Uganda. For more information, please visit: http://www.afenet.net/

For more information, please contact Agence de Medecine Preventive: amp@aamp.org

CONTACT: Contact: Sabrina Gaber, AMP, Tel: +33(0)1-5386-8924,
sgaber@aamp.org


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