05 Jun EpiGen Project: Preparing Ethiopia for the next epidemic
When COVID-19 became a pandemic, it unearthed deep uncertainties surrounding the strength of our social systems and the ways in which we respond to biological threats like viruses and bacteria. In the time since, we’ve shifted our understanding of epidemics and are continually finding more techniques on how we can effectively identify, monitor, and combat highly infectious diseases like COVID, Ebola, and SARS. We are proud to take part in a larger global effort to study, possibly predict, and strategize around the next epidemic.
The EpiGen Project
The EpiGen project, led by AIGHD Senior Fellow Prof. Tobias Rinke de Wit and Mount Sinai Researcher Dr. Dawit Wolday, aims to strengthen Ethiopian infectious disease monitoring systems through a variety of innovative and community-involved methods within and beyond the laboratory. The project is built on lofty but achievable goals. These include robust clinical data collection and analysis systems, enhanced local capacity and capability for genomic sequencing, the development of a new digital diagnostic platform which is updated near real-time to help inform public health decision-makers, and to build communities of practice and knowledge exchange within Africa.
The overarching mission of the project is to develop a national genomic-informed surveillance for infectious diseases which will contribute towards disease prevention and control programs within and beyond Ethiopia. Tobias sums up these thoughts neatly below:
“We need strong and resilient health systems that can detect, respond, and eventually prevent infectious disease threats, wherever they occur in the world. EpiGen will contribute to this in Ethiopia.”
– Tobias Rinke de Wit.
EpiGen is being led by AIGHD together with European partners PharmAccess International, Heinrich-Heine University Dusseldorf, and The Barcelona Institute for Global Health and Ethiopian partners Ethiopian Public Health Institute, Amhauer Hansen Research Institute, Arsi University, Jimma University, , Ministry of Health Ethiopia, Bahir Dar University, St Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College and Hawassa University College of Medicine and Health Science.
EpiGen is directly sharing its data with the worldwide Genomic Epidemiology Network, as supported by Gates Foundation.
We will be launching a website for EpiGen soon – so stay tuned and check back for updates.
This project is supported by the Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking and its members. The EDCTP programme is supported under Horizon Europe, the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.