DRC: ALIMA participates in a new therapeutic clinical trial on Ebola treatments in North Kivu
"Despite all the efforts made by ALIMA teams in the field to care for confirmed Ebola patients, the mortality rate among these patients remains high, above 50%," said Dr. Billy Sivahera, project coordinator of this clinical trial for ALIMA. "Identifying the most effective specific drugs among these four molecules - all very promising in preclinical and Phase I trials - could allow us to offer Ebola patients a greater chance of survival during this and future outbreaks."
Unlike previous Ebola research, which was conducted separately by individual organisations, this trial is organized by an international consortium - coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), and led and funded by the DRC’s National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB), in partnership with the DRC Ministry of Health, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the United States’ National Institutes of Health (NIH), ALIMA and other organisations.
"This clinical trial is unique in its kind: to avoid a repeat of the disjointed clinical research that took place during the major West Africa epidemic of 2014-2016, this time all stakeholders are gathered in a single consortium,” said ALIMA's President, Dr. Richard Kojan. “This will allow faster, more reliable results and therefore provide better care to people affected by Ebola.”
In the city of Beni, the current epicenter of the outbreak, where ALIMA runs a 61-bed treatment center, the humanitarian medical organisation, which is committed to improving access to care for patients during emergencies while improving humanitarian medicine through clinical research, has reinforced its Ebola response team with 7 researchers. The team has already trained more than 60 national staff in collaboration with INRB, including doctors, pharmacists, lab technicians, psychologists and other health workers, on proper research protocol and data collection.
The ongoing violence and fighting that take place within the city of Béni could additional challenges to conduct such a project. It becomes more difficult to send experienced researchers to train national staff because few organizations are allowed to travel in such a context. In addition, patients will have to be followed for 58 days after the onset of the disease, which can be difficult to do given the insecurity.
The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) is a humanitarian medical organization that works in close partnership with a network of national medical organizations to provide quality medical assistance for the most vulnerable, in emergency situations or recurring crises. Based in Dakar, Senegal, ALIMA has treated nearly 3 million patients in 12 countries since it was founded in 2009, and has launched more than a dozen research projects on malnutrition, malaria and the Ebola virus.
ALIMA has been active in DRC since 2011, where ALIMA teams continue to support the Ministry of Health to provide quality medical and nutritional care to local populations, in particular in the Kasai Region, where conflict and insecurity have led to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation.
In addition to ALIMA’s Ebola response in Guinea during the 2014-2016 West Africa outbreak, our teams most recently responded to an outbreak of Ebola in Itipo, in DRC’s Equateur province. In Beni, ALIMA currently operates a 61-bed Ebola Treatment Center, including 9 CUBEs (Biosecure Emergency Care Units for Outbreaks). Since the outbreak in North Kivu province was declared on August 1, our medical teams have admitted nearly 1,000 patients, among which 137 were confirmed. 55 people have been cured and 25 remain under treatment.
*Photo: Jennifer Lazuta / ALIMA