2. Support affected countries to be better prepared for outbreaks
Infectious diseases can jump borders, but the country at the epicentre of an outbreak needs to lead the research and response strategies for these to be effective. International collaboration and expertise should help to build that local capacity.
This is why we’ve supported the African coaLition for Epidemic Research, Response and Training (ALERRT) to help strengthen research response to epidemics in countries across sub-Saharan Africa.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an Ebola clinical trial on therapeutics – a breakthrough in the fight against Ebola – was rolled out last year. Through ALERRT, Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale in Kinshasa is helping deliver local training to make the trial happen.
Nigeria faced the largest Lassa fever outbreak last year. With JIREP support, ALERRT is helping to support clinical research in the country, and the WHO is strengthening the country’s research response.
3. Integrate social science research in epidemics response
Understanding issues around practices, beliefs or geo-politics are crucial to prevent and control disease outbreaks. Social science research needs to be integrated in epidemic responses and we want to help that happen.
Through the JIREP we’ve supported researchers at the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform to develop a network of social science advisers in the areas affected by the Ebola outbreak. They’ve been shaping the epidemics response on the ground with evidence-based timely briefings.
4. Link evidence with policy
Ultimately, research creates evidence about what works or could work – and for this evidence to be put into practice, it needs to reach national, regional and global policy makers.
Through the projects we fund, we want to create more evidence that translates into better policies.
The Brazilian Ministry of Health launched a massive yellow fever vaccination campaign in 2018 using fractional dosing, based on research evidence that this approach works. It means that when an outbreak occurs, more people can be protected using a limited supply of vaccine. One of the research projects we funded – led by Fiocruz in Brazil – showed that fractional dosing of the yellow fever vaccine can provide longer lasting immunity than was previously known.
Through the Joint Initiative on Research in Epidemic Preparedness and Response we want to support more collaborative research across the world. But as the threat of epidemics continues to grow, funders, governments and international organisations need to work together as a global community.