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Fellow helping to contain the Ebola outbreak in the DRC


20 December UPDATE - Yap Boum reports that the struggle to curb the disease has been very difficult.  He says things are tough. We are now fighting Ebola in a war zone during election time. But, we have also started to assess new therapeutics. It is the worst time and place for an Ebola outbreak.

2017 Tutu Fellow Yap Boum is working with Doctors Without Borders on the first effort to use a vaccine to stop an Ebola outbreak in its initial stages in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The vaccine consists of a harmless livestock virus that has been genetically engineered to display Ebola surface proteins.

It is not yet licensed to use by any country, but can be given as part of a medical trial under what are known as compassionate use regulations.

The international response to health emergencies in sub-Saharan Africa is often maddeningly slow, but this time around, international agencies and the DRC government sprang into action, hoping to quickly extinguish the outbreak

Boum, who lives in Yaoundé, Cameroon, began planning his trip to the DRC as soon as it confirmed on 8 May that two Ebola cases had occurred in the remote Bikoro health district in the Équateur province.

Yap Boum is the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Regional Representative for Africa. In addition to his work with MSF, Yap has advanced degrees in microbiology from several universities in Europe and the US. After serving six years as a director of a research centre in Uganda and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Mbarara University, Yap relocated to Yaoundé where he has set up a research centre. He has since led several research projects in Africa with MSF, Epicentre, Harvard University and The World Health Organization.

After discovering the potential for antibiotics targeting tuberculosis in France, he is now ensuring that the pathway to development of a new drug will take place in Africa through collaboration with the University of Uganda and the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

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Friday, 20 September 2019

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