Molecular SURVeillance of INfectious diseases in São Tomé and Príncipe

Project Lead and Contact:  Dr. Kathrin Schuldt

Project Team: Doris Winter, Theresa Habermann, Dr. Ralf Krumkamp, Dr. Dewi Ismajani Puradiredja

The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe (STP) is an Island state in Sub-Saharan Africa with approximately 200,000 inhabitants. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the need for larger capacities for laboratories in many countries, including STP. Since 2020, the Department Infectious Disease Epidemiology at BNITM has supported the country’s national reference laboratory for tuberculosis and emerging diseases (Laboratório Nacional de Referência da Tuberculose, LNRTB) as part of the Ministry of Health in implementing laboratory diagnostics of SARS-CoV-2.
Nevertheless, laboratory diagnostics are still improvable as molecular surveillance is only assured for SARS-CoV-2, leaving the potential to address other pathogens that can cause life-threatening infections and have epidemic or pandemic potential. This became especially clear in April 2022 when the first suspected cases of Dengue fever were reported on the island of São Tomé: It showed the need to upgrade laboratory infrastructure and staff to support São Tomé and Príncipe to be better prepared for and respond to future outbreaks and epidemics. Hence, the project builds on its predecessor project and expands its existing cooperation of working together with laboratory and surveillance staff, and laboratory technicians. In particular, methods which have been established for surveillance of SARS-CoV-2, among others, whole genome sequencing and wastewater-based surveillance of viruses, will be used and adapted for high priority pathogens in the country.

Staff of the LNR-TB in São Tomé  Das Foto zeigt sechzehn Sao Tome und Principe Mitarbeiter:innen des Laboratório Nacional de Referência da Tuberculose zusammen mit zwei Mitarbeitern des BNITM vor dem Laborgebäude in São Tomé und Príncipe. Die Gruppe steht vor einer Hasuwand, auf der der Schriftzug "Laboratório Nacional de Referência da Tuberculose" zu sehen ist.
Staff of the LNR-TB in São Tomé   ©BNITM | Kathrin Schuldt
Das Foto zeigt eine Laborexpertin, die an einem Labortisch sitzt. Sie pipettiert eine Flüssigkeit mit einer Mikropipette in ein Sequenziergerät.
Application of the sequencing library into the sequencing device.   ©BNITM | Kathrin Schuldt
Eine Person, die einen Laborkittel und eine Gesichtsmaske trägt, befragt eine Frau, die eine Gesichtsmaske trägt und auf einer Bank sitzt.
Patient interview   ©BNITM | Kathrin Schuldt

The objective:
Strengthening local capacities of laboratories in the areas of molecular diagnostics and genome sequencing for pathogens with epidemic or pandemic potential, including the surveillance of community wastewater for the detection of antibiotic resistance.

Partner Laboratório Nacional de Referência da Tuberculose (LNR-TB) and Ministry of Health (MoH), São Tomé and Príncipe in collaboration with Dr. Xavier Fernandez-Cassi, University of Barcelona, Spain.

For further details please visit the SURVIN-STP webpage provided by the GHPP.

Funding Period 05/2023-04/2026
Funding Bodies German Federal Ministry of Health (BMG)
  Global health protection programme (GHPP)

International Teaching and Capacity Building (iTCB)

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