The first international conference on Lassa fever is billed to hold at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Nigeria, starting from 16 to 17 January 2019.
The conference, organised by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), is themed: “50 years of Lassa fever: Rising to the challenge”, and will be facilitated by renowned international scientists among whom are: Dr Pierre Formenty, team lead – VHF, WHO; Prof. Stephan Gunther, HOD Virology, Bernard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Germany.
Other speakers at the conference include: Prof. William Kwabena Ampofo, HOD Virology, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana; Prof. Daniel Bausch, Director, UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, United Kingdom; Prof. Christian Happi, director, Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, Reedemers University, Nigeria; Prof. Oyewale Tomori, Chair, National Lassa fever Steering Committee, Nigeria; Prof. Sylvanus Okogbenin, CMD, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irrua, Nigeria, and Richard J. Hatchett, MD, Chief Executive Officer of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
Addressing journalists on the essence of the first-ever Lassa fever international conference, the National Coordinator, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Chikwe Ihekweazu said the conference would mark 50 years of discovering the virus in Nigeria.
He further explained that the bringing together of various health experts, researchers and scientists from all parts of the world, who have been working on the Lassa fever disease, will put Nigeria in leadership light in the control of Lassa fever globally.
Mr Ihekweazu also noted that the conference will afford experts opportunity to share knowledge and suggest ways to curb the disease, while discussion will also centre on the level of vaccine production for the disease.
“We have done a lot of work but we know we can do more, and we will do more. At the conference, we will be exchanging ideas, listening to new thoughts, and making new friends. From these, new scientific collaborations will commence”, he stated.
It will be recalled that in 2018, Nigeria experienced the largest reported outbreak of Lassa fever with 21 of 36 States in the country affected.
NCDC coordinator said the 50th year of discovery of the Lassa fever is an opportunity for the scientific community to reflect on what is known, describe gaps that exist and prioritise the research agenda for the future.
He highlighted some of the thematic areas of the conference to include:
- Epidemiology and Surveillance of Lassa and other VHFs
- Case management of Lassa and other VHFs
- Laboratory diagnosis of Lassa and other VHFs
- Risk communication for Lassa and other VHFs
- Community engagement for Lassa and other VHFs
- Infection Prevention Control (IPC) of Lassa and other VHFs