BSL-3 Lab – Zaria Nigeria Press Release

The Newest Strategy in Africa for Global Health Security
Critical Outpost Deployed to Front Lines of Emerging Diseases

ZARIA, NIGERIA; ORMOND BEACH, FL. –June 13th, 2010 – An unprecedented achievement within the complex arena of global health security will be unveiled in Zaria, Nigeria on June 14th. The new approach deploys high containment laboratories directly to the affected region. This provides researchers with all critical resources needed to work with highly pathogenic agents. Researchers on the ground can now provide an immediate, local response, thus containing an emerging threat before it spreads within the area of origin or to other areas of the world.

The facility, to be visited Monday by the U.S. CDC Director, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, and key Nigerian leaders, allows researchers to safely work with dangerous pathogens such as MDR-TB (Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis). For the first time, researchers in the region can work within a ‘BSL-3’ (Biological Safety Level-3) Lab to contain these highly infectious diseases. The lab protects the researchers while ensuring that a new deadly strain cannot escape from the facility and into the environment.

The new facility, funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was manufactured in modules in Ormond Beach, Florida. The units were made for sustainable operability in the harshest of local conditions, ranging from unpredictable power to the severe sub-Saharan dust storms, known as ‘the Harmattan’.

“Should there be an outbreak like the one in South Africa, Nigeria now has the capability to control such an outbreak.” according to Dr. Alash’le Abimiku, the virologist at the Institute of Human Virology in Maryland that orchestrated the bi-national project. A key focus at the lab is the connection between HIV and MDR-TB. “One cannot deal with the isolation of a resistant pattern without a BSL-3 facility.” according to Dr. Abimiku. “This project is very significant for Sub-Saharan Africa that is totally devastated by HIV and AIDS.”

“Essentially what’s been provided here is a world class laboratory that’s supporting the people in the trenches fighting the disease.” says Stan Duarte, a bio-safety specialist at Morehouse School of Medicine, who provided on-site operational training for the project in Zaria.

“We built a very advanced high-containment facility in our factory in Florida, then disassembled, shipped and reassembled it in a remote region of Africa and set it up to begin handling high risk pathogens – and under some of the most adverse environmental conditions” says Keith Landy, President of Germfree, the manufacturer of the lab. “This kind of thing has never been done before.”

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Additional Info/Press Release Backgrounder [Issued June 13th, 2010]

Alash’le Abimiku-Lorentzen, M.Sc. PhD; Exec. Dir. BSL-3 lab in Zaria, co.-P.I. IHV-Nigeria; Assistant Professor, Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Institute of Human Virology, Baltimore, MD. Born, Nigeria; According to The Institute of Human Virology, “It was Abimiku, in fact, who first isolated, then scientifically analyzed and characterized the HIV strain most prevalent in Nigeria and the rest of West Africa and now recognized as the second leading cause of HIV infection worldwide.”

Additional quotes from Dr. Abimiku related to the Press Release:

“Now that they have this lab, the Nigerian Government’s priority is an optimal TB national survey because for the first time we have the capacity to actually culture it and within a very controlled area. Should there be an outbreak like the one in South Africa, Nigeria now has the capability to control such an outbreak. We didn’t have that capability before in terms of looking at the isolates – looking at the kind of resistant path and then knowing how to appropriately treat patients.”

“We know that in developing countries one of the biggest challenges for HIV infected individuals is opportunistic infections – that’s really what kills them — and the biggest killer among those secondary infections of HIV infected individuals is TB. The treatment is pretty complex and must be undergone for an extended duration. It is that much worse on individuals already compromised as a result of HIV infection or with TB that’s resistant to multiple drugs. This project is very significant for Sub-Saharan Africa that is totally devastated by HIV and AIDS.”

“As far as we know and as far as international safety guidelines go, the ability to look at the infecting TB Mycobacterium and look at the pattern of drug resistance that is being developed is totally dependent on having a BSL-3 facility. In an area where drug resistance is a potential and is a problem – one cannot deal with the isolation of a resistant pattern without a BSL-3 facility. Without that I don’t think the Nigerian government would be able to rule out second line TB drugs or even be able to manage patients that are infected with multi-resistant TB.”

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH: According to the CDC website he “became Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in June 2009. Dr. Frieden has worked to control both communicable and non-communicable diseases in the United States and around the world. From 1992-1996, he led New York City’s program that rapidly controlled tuberculosis, including reducing cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis by 80 percent. He then worked in India for five years where he assisted with national tuberculosis control efforts. The program in India has treated more than 10 million patients and has saved more than one million lives.” SOURCE: www.cdc.gov/about/leadership/leaders/Frieden.htm

Recent Quotes from the CDC Director Frieden, relevant to content of the Press Release, particularly‘global health security’ – CSIS, Washington, DC, May 5th, 2010:

“Our lives depend on good global surveillance. And that’s going to require strengthening ministries of health in public health emergency response and also in the establishment and maintenance of surveillance and strategic information systems, critically important.” [Transcribed from Video – link below – quote at minutes: seconds:

“Clearly we are all connected by the air we breathe and there is a lot that we need to do together. Weak surveillance in any country is a risk to all of us. We need coordinated systems to detect and respond to infectious diseases and we need quicker identification.”

“Hand in hand with epidemiological capacity, is strengthening global laboratory capacity. This is one of the most concrete useful aspects of health system strengthening…having competent laboratories that can diagnose cases at the national, referral and clinical levels is critically important.”

“The first component is political commitment. There is a need to link public health action and policy change to build public health capacity in developing countries.”

Quote SOURCE: http://csis.org/event/cdcs-global-health-agenda-partnering-rapid-progress-global-public-health Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies ‘CDC’s Global Health Agenda: Partnering for Rapid Progress in Global Public Health’

CSIS- Center for Strategic and International Studies – Global Health Policy Center: “Bridging the foreign policy and public health communities by creating a strategy for U.S. engagement on global health.”
http://csis.org/category/topics/global-health

PEPFAR – The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief: According to organization: “PEPFAR holds a place in history as the largest effort by any nation to combat a single disease.” Focus on Local Sustainability: “Sustainable programs must be country-owned and country-driven. Given that the AIDS epidemic represents a shared global burden among nations, the next phase of PEPFAR represents an opportunity for the United States to support shared responsibility with partner countries. To seize this opportunity, PEPFAR is supporting countries in taking leadership of the responses to their epidemics. In addition, to support an expanded collective impact at the country level, PEPFAR is increasing collaboration with multilateral organizations. “ SOURCE: http://www.pepfar.gov/about/index.htm

Institute for Human Virology, Baltimore, MD: According to the organization: “The Institute of Human Virology is the first center in the United States — perhaps the world — to combine the disciplines of basic research, epidemiology and clinical research in a concerted effort to speed the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide variety of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders – most notably the HIV virus that causes AIDS.” Source:http://www.ihv.org/about/index.html

HIV, TB and Drug-resistant TB: According to WHO (The World Health Organization): “HIV and TB form a lethal combination, each speeding the other’s progress. HIV weakens the immune system. Someone who is HIV-positive and infected with TB bacilli is many times more likely to become sick with TB than someone infected with TB bacilli who is HIV-negative. TB is a leading cause of death among people who are HIV-positive. In Africa, HIV is the single most important factor contributing to the increase in the incidence of TB since 1990.”

“Until 50 years ago, there were no medicines to cure TB. Now, strains that are resistant to a single drug have been documented in every country surveyed; what is more, strains of TB resistant to all major anti-TB drugs have emerged. Drug-resistant TB is caused by inconsistent or partial treatment, when patients do not take all their medicines regularly for the required period because they start to feel better, because doctors and health workers prescribe the wrong treatment regimens, or because the drug supply is unreliable. A particularly dangerous form of drug-resistant TB is multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), which is defined as the disease caused by TB bacilli resistant to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful anti-TB drugs.” SOURCE: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs104/en/

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