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Joining forces against dengue fever

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology and PT Astra International Tbk are collaborating through a new Centre of Excellence in the field of dengue research.

The Centre of Excellence in Dengue will work to increase the understanding of dengue disease outbreaks in Indonesia, and to develop improved predictions for focused interventions expanding Indonesia’s capacity for preventing dengue disease.

Dengue virus
Dengue virus molecules

Dengue causes the greatest disease burden of any virus transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks or other insects, with an estimated 10,000 deaths and 100 million infections per year, according to the World Health Organization.

The Indonesian Health Ministry states that Indonesia ranked first in the number of dengue cases across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with more than 90,000 cases. Many patients infected with dengue are simply sent home for bed rest. But if the dengue proves severe, sufferers may quickly haemorrhage to death unless they are hospitalised and monitored, which reduces mortality from about 20% to less than 2%.

Martin Hibberd, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases at LSHTM, said: “This research collaboration is the actualisation of LSHTM’s mission to improve health and health equity in the UK and worldwide; working in partnership to achieve excellence in public and global health research, education and translation of knowledge into policy and practice.”

Prof Amin Soebandrio, chairman of Eijkman Institute, said: “Infectious disease control is one of the targets for improvement from the Indonesian government in the ‘industry 4.0’ era.  Health-related technological advancements in the digital era need to move forward with the arrival of novel diagnostic technology for infectious disease and outbreak control. The establishment of the Centre of Excellence in Dengue at Eijkman Institute is expected to create a conducive research environment for the development of best practice and cost effective dengue diagnostic tools in Indonesia.”

Riza Deliansyah, Deputy Chief of Corporate Affairs of PT Astra International Tbk, said: “The collaboration is an implementation of the company’s social contribution program targeting four main pillars on health, education, environment, and entrepreneurship. Astra fully supports this collaboration in Dengue research as part of their role in improving the health of the Indonesian community.”

R. Tedjo Sasmono, senior researcher at Eijkman Institute’s Dengue Research Unit, said: “Dengue has long been a national health problem in Indonesia and presents a significant economic burden to the country. Dengue viral infections, in some cases, can manifest into a severe disease that can even cause death. The application of early and accurate dengue diagnostic methods should prevent the occurrence of severe dengue disease and death. Through partnerships with renowned institutes such as LSHTM, Eijkman Institute’s Dengue Research Unit is prepared to contribute in the advancement of knowledge and capacity in dengue diagnostic methods to improve the nation’s health problem.”

“This research collaboration is the actualisation of LSHTM’s mission to improve health and health equity in the UK and worldwide; working in partnership to achieve excellence in public and global health research, education and translation of knowledge into policy and practice.”

Professor Martin Hibberd

Thanks to the generous support of Astra International Tbk, this collaboration has been made possible. Bringing researchers in the field of dengue fever from around the world together will facilitate discovery and implementation. The donation will bring benefits and health equity to many populations and especially those in Indonesia, which has the highest risk of dengue infections.