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    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.


    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.


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  • Volume 1

Arming the children to combat malaria

By Mbarwa Kivuyo- Tanzania

In an ordinary war, children under five years of age cannot be on the battle field. But in the war against malaria, there is an exception. “Tanzanian children less than five years of age have become courageous fighters,” says Dr. Kafuruki Shubis, the Study Coordinator of the Bagamoyo Research and Training Centre (BRTC), of the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI). These fighters are the children participating in the RTS,S malaria vaccine trials.

RTS,S malaria vaccine candidate , the most clinically advanced of its kind, triggers the immune system to defend itself against the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite as soon as it enters the human host’s bloodstream and/or when the parasite infects liver cells.

In 2008, two separate Phase II trials confirmed that the vaccine provides infants and young children with significant protection against malaria. The large-scale Phase III vaccine efficacy trial was launched in Bagamoyo in May 2009.

      Dr. Kafuruki Shubis, Co-ordinator ,
       Ifakara Health Institute, Bagamoyo

Principal Investigator of the RTS,S Project and Executive Director of IHI, Dr. Salim Abdulla says with optimism that “If this vaccine candidate successfully passes this phase three, the licensing authorities will have concrete evidence for its registration and deployment.”

The promising RTS,S vaccine trials is sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Biologicals while the  Bagamoyo clinical trial site was set up with financial support from INDEPTH Network’s

Malaria Clinical Trials Alliance (MCTA).  

Dr. Abdulla said this is the first time in history a vaccine against human parasites is discovered. Such great advances in science “will put our researchers and our African institutions in the world’s history book.” The journey to find a malaria vaccine is long, but Dr. Abdulla says “We are almost there.”

The war against malaria cannot be fought single-handedly.  The participation of different stakeholders is necessary if the killer disease is to be eliminated. Scientists, charitable organizations, governments and communities are doing their bit although with multiple challenges.

Arming the young ones to fight malaria is an extraordinarily demanding task for parents of vaccine trial participants who, for good reasons, have to relocate outside the catchment area of the study. In fact, stories abound on how rigorous it is for researchers to follow a study participant outside the area of study.

According to the Chief of Field Operations at the Bagamoyo vaccine trial site, Dr.  Omar Juma, “If a participant moves far away from the study area, we normally terminate the child from the study because of the difficulty in following those who relocate.”

It was therefore a great surprise to Dr. Juma himself when he encountered a trial participant’s mother who showed total commitment even after the family moved 62 km away from the study area.

“She never missed her monthly consultation and hospital visits” Dr. Juma emphasized.

When asked why she still comes to the clinic, the mother said she feels obliged to participate in the research for a vaccine to fight malaria “at any cost.” She says the way the Institute’s personnel treat them is exceptionally good. “We access referral services 24-hours. In case of an emergency, we just call the office and the ambulance comes on time for a pick up,” she says.

This determination to see the trial succeed is a marked progress from the days when participants had to be cajoled to remain in a study. In the past when the awareness level was still low, study participants treated such studies with careless abandon, quitting at the drop of a hat.

With the consent of their parents, 340 children were enrolled in July 2006 to participate in the Phase 2B trial of the promising RTS,S malaria vaccine candidate now commonly known as RTS,S. The results of this phase were promising. The positive results of Phase 2B trial became the catalyst for the researchers and the sponsors to fast-track the RTS,S trial into Phase III.

Dr. Shubis says the Phase III vaccine trial of the RTS,S vaccine candidate started in May 2009. And as of March ending 2011, a total of 1705 children aged between six weeks and 17 months have been enrolled in this scheme.

The IHI site in Bagamoyo started operations in 2005 in rented premises within the Bagamoyo District Hospital. Later the clinical trial site was set up with financial support from MCTA.

   Dr Salim Abdulla, IHI Chief Executive Director,
      signing a Memorandum of understanding with
             the Bagamoyo district authorities to
                        launch vaccine trials.

The formation of a Community Advisory Board (CAB) has improved the relationship between IHI researchers and the communities in Bagamoyo. Community leaders attended a series of advocacy and sensitization meetings organized by IHI with the financial support of MCTA.

”Such awareness creation has helped build trust between us and the community,” says Dr. Omar Juma.

He explained that the CAB is used as a channel for giving feedback on the outcomes of the clinical trials. It is also a window through which research scientists can get new research ideas from the people.