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Outbreak of dengue fever in Sri Lanka: German team of experts supports national laboratories with the improvement of the diagnosis

Trainees with certificates

Trainees with certificates, © RKI - Andreas Nitsche

22.11.2017 - Article

A team of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) initiated “Epidemic Preparedness Team” (SEEG) was active in Colombo in February 2018. The reason: in 2017 Sri Lanka experienced the worst-ever outbreak of dengue fever. In total, 186.000 people got infected of which 400 died. Compared to the previous year, the numbers almost tripled. Since beginning of 2018 already 9000 people got infected and some people died from dengue. Therefore, the Sri-Lankan Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine asked for help at the Robert Koch-Institute (RKI).

With respect to the SEEG-Mission end of February/beginning of March 2018, experts of the RKI, the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the German Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) were on site in order to introduce a modern diagnosis based on molecular biological idicators at the Colombo North Teaching Hospital and the University of Colombo. The team of experts was supported with personnel from the “Global Health Protection Program” (GHPP) of the Federal Ministry of Health, which had already supported national structures in Sri Lanka from 2016 onwards with the building of laboratory capacities aiming for the establishment of a reliable laboratory diagnosis.

Dengue fever is a wide spread viral disease in the tropics. Its pathogens are being carried and transferred mostly by day-active mosquitos. A severe course of disease can lead to death. Up until now there is no protecting vaccination for dengue.

Early intensive medical supervision and treatment can save lives. The prerequisite for this is the timely and accurate detection of a dengue-infection including the serotyping. The SEEG-team therefore educated employees of the Colombo North Hospital and the University of Colombo to identify dengue fever-infections and the different serotypes with the help of molecular methods.

The SEEG had been founded in 2015 by the BMZ as one part of the German commitment for a better and faster reaction towards epidemics.

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