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Clinical research network for epidemics ALERRT launched

12 March 2018

A new clinical research and response network for epidemic infections has been launched in sub-Saharan Africa with the support of a €10 million grant from the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). The African coaLition for Epidemic Research, Response and Training (ALERRT) aims to reduce the health and socio-economic impact of disease outbreaks in sub-Saharan Africa.

The coalition will contribute to this challenge by building a sustainable clinical and laboratory research preparedness and response network, with the operational readiness to rapidly implement clinical and laboratory research in support of outbreak control efforts.

“People who are suffering from epidemic infectious disease deserve to benefit from the fruits of clinical research as much as any other patient, yet the broader benefits of such clinical research are even greater in the context of outbreaks. We want to deliver the evidence that is needed to improve patient care, including the evaluation of new diagnostics and treatment, but also the evidence to improve the control of outbreaks.”

Professor Peter Horby of the University of Oxford’s Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health

ALERRT combines the strengths of 21 leading African and European partner organisations from 9 African and 4 European countries. The partners have established a network of centres and clinics stretching across sub-Saharan Africa which will conduct research on epidemic-prone infectious disease and which will respond quickly to outbreaks.

“Enhancing preparedness for tackling epidemic threats attributed to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases is a global health priority. The launch of ALERRT demonstrates the true value of a joint programming initiative. The political will of several EDCTP member countries in Europe and Africa brings together financial means and matching funds from the European Union to address a societal challenge. Through joint programming countries can achieve much more than by trying to tackle these issues individually.”

Dr Michael Makanga, EDCTP Executive Director

ALERRT held its launch meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 10-11 March 2018, just prior to the International Conference of (Re-)Emerging Infectious Diseases organised by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union. EDCTP was represented at both meetings by its High Representative South, Dr Leonardo Simão, and the EDCTP Project Officer for the ALERRT grant, Jean Marie Vianney Habarugira.

Left to Right: Dr Leonardo Simão (EDCTP High Representative South), Prof. Peter Horby (ALERRT coordinator, EDCTP project officer Jean Marie Vianney Habarugira
Left to right: Dr Leonardo Simão, Prof. Peter Horby, and EDCTP Project Officer Jean Marie Vianney Habarugira (Photo: courtesy of ALERRT; photographer: Yemane Medhin, Addis Ababa)

The launch will be followed by a joint ALERRT-WHO workshop on “Ethics preparedness”: Facilitating Ethics Review During Outbreaks” in Dakar, Senegal on 20-21 March 2018.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is very vulnerable to outbreaks of severe infectious diseases and we need to be much more agile and responsive if we are to gather the evidence we need to save lives and control outbreaks. We will work closely with key partners such as the WHO Regional Office for Africa and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that ALERRT is a dependable ally in the fight against outbreaks.”

Professor Amadou Sall, Director of the Institute Pasteur Dakar, Senegal

More information

  • Go to the ALERRT website
  • See also the ALERRT press release on the website of Oxford University
  • FundingALERRT (grant agreement RIA2016E-1612) is part of the EDCTP2 programme supported under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Participating institutions

  • The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Institut de Recherche en Santé de Surveillance Epidémiologique et de Formation, (IRESSEF), Senegal
  • Uganda National Health Research Organization (UNHRO)/Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI)
  • University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon
  • Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom
  • Institut Pasteur Paris, France
  • London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom
  • Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium
  • Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine, Ghana
  • Institut Pasteur de Dakar, Senegal
  • Centre Pasteur du Cameroun, Cameroon
  • Institut Pasteur de Madagascar, Madagascar
  • Institut Pasteur de Bangui, Central African Republic
  • Institut Pasteur de Cote d’Ivoire, Cote d’Ivoire
  • The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, United Kingdom
  • The Alliance for International Medical Action, France
  • Bernhard-Nocht-Institut für Tropenmedizin, Germany
  • Université Paris Descartes, France
  • Association pour le Développement de l’Enseignement et de la Recherche auprès des universités, des centres de recherche et des entreprises d’Aquitaine, France
  • PACCI, ANRS research center in Côte d’Ivoire, Côte d’Ivoire
  • Institut Nationale de Recherche Biomedicale, Democratic Republic of the Congo


Please note: This news item is closely based on the original ALERRT press release