News01/15/2019
As the world prepares to fight Lassa fever, the interests of pregnant women must be part of the planning

In a First Opinion piece published by STAT News, members of the Pregnancy Research Ethics for Vaccines Epidemics, and New Technologies (PREVENT) working group, including CIR Director Dr. Ruth Karron, speak candidly about the re-emergence of Lassa Fever and it’s potential impact on pregnant and lactating women in affected communities.  The piece titled, “As the world prepares to fight Lassa fever, the interests of pregnant women must be part of the planning”, warns strategists to learn from mistakes made during the response to a recent Ebola outbreak in the Congo.

In the piece, Johns Hopkins vaccine, policy and ethics leaders Dr. Karron, Carliegh Krubiner PhD and Ruth Faden, PhD, MPH urge colleagues attending the 1st International Conference on Lassa Fever to consider strategies that include women of child-bearing potential as a part of their initial plans to combat this deadly illness, stating:

This meeting represents a perfect moment for the equity interests of pregnant women and their babies to figure prominently, a perfect moment to set in motion the steps necessary to ensure that what is happening now with Ebola does not happen in the future with Lassa fever.”

The authors, who also wrote, An indefensible decision: not vaccinating pregnant and lactating women in an Ebola outbreakpublished August 27, 2018 in STAT news also participated in the creation of 22 new recommendations that address the ethical inclusion of pregnant women in emerging diseases preparedness, research and response.  According to the authors, several of these recommendations can and should be applied to the plan for Lassa Fever.