New consortium aims to better diagnose, monitor and clinically manage current and future epidemics in Africa
Berlin, Germany – September 08, 2023
Over the next four years the newly launched project GenPath Africa (“Genomic Surveillance to control pathogen infections in Africa”) will receive five million EUR from the European Union under its Research and Innovation Programme Horizon Europe. The project is supported by the Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking and is one of six projects that form a newly created Genomic Epidemiology Network to advance the impact of genomic surveillance in Africa and globally.
GenPath Africa is coordinated by Prof Tulio de Oliveira from Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The consortium of epidemiologists, clinicians, bioinformaticians, immunologists, and virologists aims to use genomic epidemiology to address important public health issues in South Africa, Kenya and Mozambique such as HIV-1, Tuberculosis, and antimicrobial resistance. The project will also quickly survey and respond to epidemics that are being amplified by climate change such as Rift Valley Fever. Through its project activities, GenPath Africa will strengthen capacities to combat drug resistant HIV-1 and TB through precision medicine and use genomic epidemiology to guide the public health response. As part of its One Health approach the project will also conduct early warning in wastewater and animal surveillance to detect emerging pathogens.
“Despite the rapid expansion of genomic sequencing capacity and increased genomic surveillance during the Covid-19 pandemic, the global response to SARS-CoV-2 illuminated the barriers that prevent the world from having readily available, reliable, and comprehensive genomic data to aid public health decision making. Specifically, the ability to rapidly analyse and interpret the data for public health impact is severely limited,” says De Oliveira.
“We need to plan for future pandemics by increasing genomic surveillance to other pathogens in Africa to be able to quickly detect new emergent epidemics. The GenPath Africa team are well-placed to apply genomic epidemiology to impact on current and emerging epidemics in southern and eastern Africa.”
Other members of the consortium include the National Institute of Health of Mozambique, the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya, the Global Health Institute at the University of Antwerp in Belgium and LINQ.
In its mission to advance the impact of genomic surveillance, GenPath Africa has strong partners by its side. It is one of six projects that were created to form a Genomic Epidemiology Network in Sub-Saharan Africa. Together, this powerful new partnership aims to:
1. Increase the use of genomic epidemiology across Africa to answer critical public health questions.
2. Create data platforms through which integrated epidemiologic, clinical, and genomic data can be collected and combined.
3. Implement selected pilot projects that apply genomic epidemiology to specific disease areas and use the results to inform public health decision-making and product development.
4. Establish a community of practice, training programmes, and fellowship opportunities in genomic epidemiology on the continent.
About GenPath Africa
GenPath Africa is a 48-month project funded by the European Union under its Research and Innovation Programme Horizon Europe. It is supported by the Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking, which builds on the first and second European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) programmes. This new joint undertaking is a partnership between the EU and the EDCTP Association, whose members are several European and African countries. The partnership will deliver new solutions for reducing the burden of infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa and strengthen research capacities to prepare and respond to re-emerging infectious diseases in this region and across the world.
Learn more about GenPath Africa on the project website.