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GLIDE: Vaccination Incentives and Next Generation Sequencing – Two Pakistani Doctors Employ Innovative Techniques to Eradicate Polio

2021年12月13日 PM12:00
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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates

Dr Jai Das and Dr Muhammad Salman working towards the elimination of polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan, have won a Falcon Award for Disease Elimination. The five winners were announced yesterday by the Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE) during a Universal Health Coverage Day event at EXPO 2020 Dubai.

Dr Jai Das’ project, ‘The Last Mile,’ will be rolled out in Karachi and Pishin, two of 40 Super High-Risk Union Councils identified by the government as hotbeds of vaccine refusals and poliovirus circulation.

His strategy has recently been tested in the rural district of Sindh, where results showed that conditional community-based incentives led to a greater increase in the fully immunised child coverage against polio from 20 per cent to 60 per cent in two years.

Pending further successes, there are plans to scale-up Dr Das’ approach in all 40 high-risk areas in Pakistan. It is possible his methods could also be used to control other infectious diseases in the region, including COVID-19.

Commenting on his selection, Dr Das, Assistant Professor for the Division of Women and Child Health and Section Head, Public Health and Epidemiology at Aga Khan University, said: “We all know that the world is very close to achieving polio eradication; only a few areas in Afghanistan and Pakistan are still fighting to eliminate it. With GLIDE’s support, my project will focus on improving polio vaccination coverage in these high-risk areas which will hopefully contribute to eradicating this disease from the world.”

Dr Muhammad Salman, a second Pakistani doctor also a winner of a Falcon Award, will introduce innovative and rapid molecular detection technology and genomic surveillance of poliovirus in Pakistan and Afghanistan, for the first time.

The deep sequencing will enable the detection of low levels of polio present in sewage systems during the eradication phase of polio, which is usually when wild poliovirus strains will be circulating silently or causing inapparent infections in well-immunised communities. The technology will also reduce the timeline of poliovirus testing to reporting from 21 to seven days.

Dr Salman currently serves as the Chief of the Public Health Laboratories Division at the National Institute of Health (NIH), Pakistan. As Director of Pakistan’s National Influenza Centre, he supervised the establishment of the first ever COVID-19 Lab at NIH, which was operational on 1st February 2020.

Dr Salman added: “I am delighted to have been selected as a winner of The Falcon Awards. During 2021, two cases of polio were reported in Pakistan and Afghanistan – the lowest numbers yet. This new partnership with GLIDE will allow us to investigate the high-end resolution of poliovirus transmission using next generation sequencing and locating any remaining reservoirs to help close the immunisation gap to achieve the certification of elimination in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Dr Das and Dr Salman beat 220 applicants across 44 countries to become the first Pakistani winners of the Falcon Awards.

The five winners were selected by a jury of global health experts including Professor Maha Taysir Barakat, Board Chair of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria; Dr Sarthak Das, Chief Executive Officer of the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance; Dr Tunji Funsho, Chair of Rotary’s National PolioPlus Committee; and Dr Katey Owen, Director of Neglected Tropical Diseases at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Simon Bland, Chief Executive Officer of GLIDE, said: Innovation is vital if we want to eliminate ancient diseases of poverty. The quality of applications we received from individuals and organisations based in disease-endemic countries, is testament to the will to consign these diseases to the history books. We just need to act on it. We are immensely grateful to our jury, who took time out of their demanding day jobs to select five winners from our 10 talented finalists. Above all, we look forward to working with the winners over the coming year, bringing their innovative disease elimination strategies to life.”

For more information on The Falcon Awards for Disease Elimination and the winners, please visit: https://glideae.org/awards

For photos of the winners, please click here.

[ENDS]

About GLIDE

GLIDE is a new global health institute, based in Abu Dhabi, focused on accelerating the elimination of four preventable diseases of poverty: currently malaria, polio, lymphatic filariasis, and river blindness, by 2030 and beyond.

Founded in 2019 as the result of a collaboration between His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GLIDE identifies the latest scientific, cultural, and global health knowledge and puts it into action with its partners through programmes, funding, and skills development to support local health care systems and advance global thinking.

For more information, please visit: https://glideae.org/

About the Falcon Awards for Disease Elimination

Launched in April 2021 by GLIDE, the Falcon Awards for Disease Elimination aim to advance the elimination of one or more of GLIDE’s four focus diseases: malaria, polio, lymphatic filariasis, and river blindness.

The Awards invited submissions from organisations in disease-endemic countries whose proposals address cross-border, cross-disease, cross-programme, or cross-sector approaches to disease elimination.

Five winners are selected to receive a grant of up to USD200,000 to implement their proposals, along with technical and advocacy support from GLIDE.

For more information, please visit: https://glideae.org/falcon-awards/

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211212005014/en/

CONTACT

For more information or for interviews with the winners, please contact:

Sara Viglione

Gong Communications

E: GLIDE@gongcommunications.com

T: +44 7794 988752

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