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November 17, 2014

UK grants new funding for five Ebola research projects in West Africa

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Wellcome Trust are providing £1.34m from a joint fund for five research projects, to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

UK

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Wellcome Trust are providing £1.34m from a joint fund for five research projects, to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The projects, carried out by British and international researchers, will focus on developing improved diagnostic tools to strengthen surveillance and protect health workers.

DFID secretary Justine Greening said: "The first of six British-built treatment centres is now open and British funding is trebling the number of treatment beds, supporting burial teams, researching a vaccine and providing vital supplies for thousands of health workers."

The projects will be managed by Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA), which is funded from an existing £6.5m research initiative, Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC).

The first project includes the development of a portable device, EbolaCheck, in order to provide rapid and safe diagnostic tests suitable for use in the field. It will be carried by the research team led by Dr Sterghios Moschos from University of Westminster .

Led by University of Oxford professors Simon Hay and Dr Nick Golding, the second project will predict the geographic spread of theEbola virus disease in West Africa.

Research will make predictions about how the disease spreads, using data on human mobility, population density and transport infrastructure.

"The first project includes the development of a portable device, EbolaCheck, in order to provide rapid and safe diagnostic tests suitable for use in the field."

Dr Lara Ho of the International Rescue Committee will lead the third project, which will focus on behaviour changes to help prevent infection and control the disease. It will be carried out in Sierra Leone, analysing the levels of knowledge and risk perceptions amongst health workers.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine professor John Edmunds will work on the fourth project, modelling the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

The research will use statistical modelling to analyse data collected by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in West Africa to look at how many cases and deaths from Ebola might be expected in the future.

Dr Melissa Parker from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will lead the fifth project, Ebola Response Anthropology Platform. The project will develop locally-appropriate interventions and provide practical advice on how to engage more effectively with affected populations.


Image: The UK is supporting five research projects to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Photo: courtesy of UK Department for International Development .

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