LAGOS – A medical researcher, Dr Bamidele Iwalokun, on Thursday the urged Federal Government to scale up its commitment in containing the spread of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) by partnering with international organisations.
Iwalokun, who is a molecular biologist at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
According to him, there is need to partner with international organisations to fast-track the availability of “ZMapp” drug in the country.
“We should start by partnering with international organisations like African Union to advocate for more funding to scale up the ZMapp production and its refinement where appropriate.”
NAN reports that ZMapp is an experimental biopharmaceutical drug comprising three monoclonal antibodies produced from tobacco plant for the treatment of EVD.
The drug has been found effective in monkeys infected with the virus and was first tested in August on two American health workers that contracted the disease in Liberia.
Iwalokun said: “The level of public awareness on the virus has without doubt risen.
“The government has done much in sensitising the public on the causes, mode of transmission, symptoms and preventive measures of the virus.
“However, the government needs to go beyond awareness and take drastic steps to contain this biological insurgency”.
Iwalokun said that access to treatment with ZMapp should be pursued by the government to sustain public trust in the current efforts against the spread of the virus.
According to him, evidence that ZMapp can avert death due to Ebola infection should be used to overwhelm its safety concern.
“For now, the medicine available to tackle Ebola virus is the experimental drug and infected Nigerian patients should have access to it.
“The need to strengthen the research institutes and scientific community in the country with the knowledge of ZMapp becomes urgent.
“Our healthcare has suffered several infection outbreaks over the years and now is the time to tackle this problem.[eap_ad_2]
“As a continent, we are two steps backward in terms of preparedness and capacity to tackle Ebola virus that has been with us for over 30 years.
“It is imperative to strengthen our research institutes and our scientific community on the knowledge of ZMapp.
“This will enable us to understand and analyse the safety and efficacy of the drug. We also need to develop our medical intelligence and surveillance system,” he said.
The researcher said that increasing the production of the drug for commercial human use would ensure equity and justice in the care of Ebola patients and contacts.
“We need to know what characteristics of the vaccine were improved during its transition from MB003 to ZMapp.
“If this is also an intellectual property on the part of the pharmaceutical company, we still must be informed on how to shorten the roadmap currently set for ZMapp from its present status of clinical trial to market stage.
“This will facilitate the availability of the experimental drug to enable affected countries to benefit from its clinical trial,” he said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on Tuesday authorised the use of the experimental drug to fight Ebola virus as the death toll increased to no fewer than 1,000.
According to a panel of ethicists convened by the WHO, it is ethical to use the drug given the size of the outbreak and the challenges of controlling it.
“In the special circumstances of this Ebola outbreak, it is ethical to offer unregistered interventions as potential treatments or prevention,” WHO said.
NAN reports that the Federal Government had on Wednesday said a total of 198 persons were being quarantined for the Ebola virus to contain further spread of the disease.
It said that 177 were being quarantined in Lagos where the index case was reported, 21 others were being attended to in Enugu. (NAN)[eap_ad_3]