GET Africa in brief...
The Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium (GET) was established in 2014 as a direct response to the 2014-16 Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa and ongoing outbreaks of Lassa Fever, Meningitis, Multidrug resistance (MDR) enteric fevers and Yellow Fever across the sub region. There was clearly a need to create an African-led multidisciplinary forum of experts capable of working together with international partners to strengthen Africa’s preparedness and resilience in tackling such infectious disease outbreaks caused by emerging pathogens, public health emergencies and pandemics. GET now operates firmly in the African Biosecurity and pandemic preparedness, space and functions as a think tank, providing high level advocacy and operational and necessary expertise to support Countries and communities achieve improved resources to combat outbreaks and other public health emergencies that can threaten stability, peace and security thereby undermining economic growth and well being.
From the Principal Investigator
The Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium or GET, was set up in response to the West African Ebola outbreak in 2014. Several experts on the Continent lamented the very limited understanding and capacity to mount a response to a public health threat caused by a high consequence pathogen, let alone how to put measures in place to prevent such scenarios. We quickly became aware of the close synergies that need to exist between medical, logistics and security agencies in preventing and responding to what we now clearly understand as biosecurity threats causing our focus to shift over the years to one of preparedness and support for policy formulation in the African Biosecurity space.
GET found the understanding of biosecurity to be a very underdeveloped area on the continent with clear opportunities for using biosecurity to dramatically improve on capacity for prevention and medical countermeasures during public health crises. We also came to understand the tremendous overlap and inextricable linkages between environment, human, animal and plant health in the one health paradigm. So what is biosecurity? In a nutshell the responsible custodianship of the biosphere. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization define biosecurity in the context of a strategic and integrated approach that encompasses the policy, regulatory frameworks, instruments and activities for analyzing and managing relevant risks to human, animal and plant health, and associated risks to the environment. Biosecurity covers food safety, zoonosis, the introduction of animal and plant diseases and pests, the introduction and release of living modified organisms (LMOs) and their products (genetically modified organisms or GMOs), and the introduction and management of invasive alien species. Thus, biosecurity is a holistic concept of direct relevance to the sustainability of agriculture, and wide-ranging aspects of public health and protection of the environment, including biological diversity. Biosecurity means different things to different disciplines.
GET Africa seeks...
- To anticipate in advance through surveillance and data gathering the possibility of the emergence or entrance of dangerous pathogens on the continent of Africa and make appropriate recommendation to minimize risk.
- To identify conditions that lead to the emergence of dangerous pathogens such as conflict and environmental perturbations and make necessary recommendations to mitigate such risk.
- To assess the capacity both in terms of infrastructure and human capital that is necessary to respond with speed to early warning signs suggestive of the emergence of a dangerous pathogen outbreak.
- To conduct research into preceding and current outbreaks in a harmonized fashion across the continent and disseminate in a timely fashion the findings of research conducted.
- To develop the framework for ethical and community acceptable research and medical interventions that is cognizant of the culture and belief systems of the indigenous people of the continent and which engenders trust.
- To act as a conduit for access to expertise by international respondents in scenarios where outbreaks create state of emergencies and to facilitate collaborative relationships in fashion that does not impose a threat to sovereignty and dignity of the continent.