Nigeria: Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo State
Since 2007, the Department of Virology has maintained a close collaboration with the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) in Irrua, Nigeria. The main focus of the joint research program is on Lassa fever as ISTH is localized within a Lassa endemic region. A cooperation agreement (Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)) to support the creation of a laboratory for molecular Lassa virus diagnostics was established in 2008. Since then, more than 3,000 suspected samples are tested every year, of which about 20% are positive for Lassa virus. New laboratory wings were built in 2014 and 2018 and equipped with modern, state-of-the-art equipment for conducting in-country surveillance activities and research projects on not only Lassa fever but also other viral hemorrhagic fevers and COVID-19. Since 2021, a new Lassa fever ward is being built, which, linked with the clinical trial and research training center laboratory, will offer a unique setup for the conduct of clinical trials. Regular staff exchanges from/to BNITM and ISTH happen every year to carry out projects and reinforce capacities. The activities in Nigeria are supported by the German Federal Foreign Office, the German Research Foundation (DFG), the German Ministry of Health, and the European Union.