Saturday, August 9, 2014

NIH Did Not Renew Funding for Critical Sierra Leone Project

We've heard some devastating news for those battling Ebola in Sierra Leone. The Thomas Reuters Foundation published an article indicating that the NIH has not renewed funding for a project run by Tulane University whose original funding contract expires in November. NIH funded projects are renewed through a process of proposal submission, review and scoring. Reviewers reading the proposal may not have been aware of the importance of the project to the current Ebola outbreak.

The Tulane run facility in Kenema was originally set up to help study Lassa Fever, an acute viral illness that can progress to hemorrhagic disease, caused by an arenavirus. According to "crude" estimates by the CDC, "The number of Lassa infections  per year in West Africa is between 100,000 to 300,000, with ~5000 deaths." Kenema, in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone has the highest incidence of Lassa Fever in the world. Now the facility is being used to treat Ebola patients and they have lost more than 20 health care workers to Ebola including the Chief Physician and facility Director - Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, the Chief Nurse - Mbalu Sankoh and Senior Nurse - Alex Moigboi.

NIH proposals that are not funded can be resubmitted with changes made to address reviewer concerns. Hopefully they will be able to resubmit and get that funding.




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