On 28th June 2018, the Minister of Cooperation and Humanitarian Action, Mr Romain Schneider, signed an agreement with LIH and other partners for a new operational research and capacity building programme called CARES. The ambitious project that will run from 2018 to 2022 aims at improving the health status of the population in West Africa regarding sexually transmitted diseases.
The main objective of CARES, standing for “Casamance Research-programme on HIV-Resistance and Sexual Health”, is the qualitative management, in the Ziguinchor region of Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, of infections with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV), the latter being involved in the development of cervical cancer. CARES will improve access to diagnosis and treatment of infected people, thereby reducing HIV, HBV and HPV-related mortality in the targeted regions. Training of health professionals is planned on site and during internships in Luxembourg. The project is perfectly aligned with objectives set by the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.
At the signing during a press conference, Minister Schneider recalled that ‘Luxembourg remains firmly committed to the fight against communicable diseases’, while highlighting ‘the partnership and multidisciplinary approach that guided the development of the CARES project from its very beginning’. Prof Markus Ollert, Director of LIH’s Department of Infection and Immunity outlined the role and contribution of each actor in the multiparty project.
LIH will ensure the overall coordination of the CARES project on the research and training components, while operational coordination with the health structures and associative partners in Ziguinchor and Guinea-Bissau will be entrusted to the international NGO ENDA Santé. The “Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg”, the “Laboratoire national de santé” and the AIDS Research Foundation will be involved in the research, training and support aspects of universities and hospitals in Ziguinchor and Guinea-Bissau. The Luxembourg NGO Stop Aids Now / Access (SAN/ACCESS) shall focus on the effects of stigma and discrimination in access to healthcare in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
Dr Carole Devaux, the CARES project leader explains in more detail the specific role of LIH: ‘The institute has recognized expertise in managing projects focused on biomedical research, knowledge transfer and capacity building in the field of infectious diseases in Europe, Africa and Asia. Therefore we are able to take a leading role in the CARES programme. We will train the African healthcare professionals in virology, antiviral treatment, molecular testing and statistical analysis. In addition, we will analyse blood samples from patients from both West African sites to exploit epidemiological, surveillance and drug response data.’
This article is based on a press release by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs/Directorate of Cooperation and Humanitarian Action.
Signing ceremony for the CARES project. Project leader Dr Carole Devaux (LIH) is standing is the first row with Minister Romain Schneider on her right and Prof Markus Ollert (LIH) on her left.
Left photo: Minister Romain Schneider (left) with Prof Markus Ollert, Director of LIH’s Department of Infection and Immunity (right).