The work plan comprises six work packages (WP) that will be implemented through collaboration of highly experienced institutions, three from Africa (one from Burkina Faso and two from Benin) and two from Europe (France and Spain), all under leadership of WP1, coordinated by the Institut de Recherche Clinique du Bénin (IRCB). The work will be conducted during an 18-month period.
- Strengthening epidemiological surveillance in Benin and Burkina Faso for an effective response to COVID-19Project descriptionThe COVID-19 pandemic has shown that a delayed detection of cases and clusters, a lack of awareness of the rate of spread, a high spatial extent of the pandemic, and a too weak response during the alert phase weigh heavily on the evolution of the pandemic. Sub-Saharan African countries need to generate data on COVID-19 dynamics, on the demand for care in primary health facilities and hospitals, and on the needs for health care and protective equipment and therapeutics in order to establish adequate measures. As part of the health systems set up by Benin and Burkina Faso's health authorities, the project will develop with intended users an epidemic surveillance and response system that will be effective, sensitive, coordinated and adapted to a low-resource context. The epidemic surveillance system will be able to produce and process the ongoing information needed to execute early alerts and to control the health system's response. The information system will be based on field epidemiological investigations, virological tests and indicators that track action, monitoring adaptation to the epidemic and control the response capabilities of health structures. The analysis of the data collected will bring knowledge useful for a better understanding of the epidemic dynamics. Finally, the project will promote African and European research collaboration and strengthen the capacity of African institutions to conduct an epidemic surveillance system.
Work packages description
The WP1 will ensure a good harmonization among the different WP. The overall goal of the WP1 is to oversee the implementation and progress of the project activities on time and according to the budget. WP1 is coordinated by Prof. Achille Massougbodji (IRCB, Benin) and co-led by Dr. Gilles Cottrell (IRD, France). The WP objectives are:
- To coordinate the implementation and progress of the project activities.
- To ensure identification of risks and correction measures for their mitigation.
- To facilitate an effective communication among partners.
- To guarantee that all research activities meet national and international ethical and safety procedures.
The WP2 is led by Dr. Gilles Cottrell (IRD) and co-led by Dr. Emmanuel Bonnet (IRD). WP2 activities represent all the field activities, including the preparation phase, the active surveillance (in hospitals, Benin) and clinical surveillance (in health centers in Benin and in the community in Burkina Faso). WP2 will supervise the harmonization of each study site and will train the local staff.
The work package objectives are:
- To set up a COVID-19 monitoring system for virological and clinical screening, as well as tracing the contacts of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19.
- To monitor the availability of protective equipment for health workers in hospitals and health centers, as well as the emergence of symptoms of COVID-19, and identify the appearance of clusters of COVID-19 cases in order to propose a rapid response to contain the spread of the epidemic.
- To study the perception of the COVID-19 pandemic by populations and health workers in the study sites of Benin and Burkina Faso.
The WP3 is led by Dr. Anges Yadouleton (Laboratoire national des Fièvres Hémorragiques, Bénin) and co-led by Dr. Nadine Fievet (IRD). As part of the active surveillance in Benin, WP3 ensures a proper collection, transport and processing of samples from individuals suspected to be infected with SARS-CoV-2. Throat swab samples from the three designated referral centres in Benin (Allada, Ouidah and Parakou) will be collected and transported observing appropriate safety procedures and according to a defined schedule in order to ensure timely receipt of samples at the diagnostic laboratory in Cotonou.
The Work Package 4 is led by Dr. Jean Gaudart and co-led by Dr. Emmanuel Bonnet (IRD). This WP will apply advanced methods adapted specifically for the analysis of infectious diseases to characterize the epidemic curve of SARS-CoV-2. The objectives of this work package are:
- To analyze the dynamics of COVID-19 spread in low-resource communities and identify ongoing transmission foci.
- To identify specific transmission patterns based on active (Benin) and clinical surveillance (Benin and Burkina Faso).
- To analyze factors associated with transmission in order to assess transmission patterns in broader populations and to estimate the efficacy of response measures.
The work package 5 is led by Dr. Gilles Cottrell and co-lead by Dr. Jean Gaudart (IRD). This WP will set up an effective digital data collection and information system. Data management activities will be horizontal and will occur internally among partners. The objectives of this WP are:
- To ensure an effective digital data collection system in the field.
- To perform quality control and daily dashboards.
- To produce project databases for data visualization and analysis.
- To set up a digital information system for epidemiological surveillance in Benin and Burkina Faso.
The WP6 is led by Dr. Raquel González (ISGlobal). This WP will contribute to achieving the project objectives through collaboration between the European and African partners involved, but also with those stakeholders participating in other COVID-19 studies. Networking activities will be horizontal and will occur internally among project partners and externally with other COVID-19 consortia. The objectives of this WP include:
- To establish a network between European and African research institutions to address urgent gaps in knowledge of COVID-19 epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa.
- To promote the exchange of relevant information with institutions involved in the broader emerging diseases, surveillance and epidemics.
- To improve interaction between scientists, institutions and health policy makers for effective translation of evidence-based relevant findings into policy and practice.
- To design and implement communication tools and processes that will be needed to implement the plan.
- To disseminate electronic materials in order to ensure clear messaging to a wider scientific audience in relation to progress of the project.