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TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    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.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    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.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    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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Building on Success (CENTRE SPREAD)

By Carlton Cofie – Ghana

Some experts are livid at advocates continuing to give alarming statistics on malaria in spite of progress being made in the fight against the disease. Their contention is that such propaganda is misleading and discouraging to those fighting the disease and the sponsors.

Whichever way you analyse this, however, you get the feeling that the advocates may be right in employing hyperboles to send the message across. For, even if malaria claimed a life a day in Africa, that is one life too precious to lose.

This, fortunately, is the philosophy of African scientists and researchers working on the RTS,S vaccine in seven countries south of the Sahara.

And so, at a scheduled final meeting to reflect on achievements and bring down the curtain on INDEPTH Network’s Malaria Clinical Trials Alliance ( MCTA) the scientists resolved instead to amplify their mission through a newly-formed African Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA).

Thus, MCTA, metamorphosed into an African Clinical Trials Alliance to build on the success of the African research network, formed five years ago to boost research into tropical diseases.

Site leaders reports on the level of progress and the number of lives impacted by the work of the MCTA was so moving that the representatives from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Gabon, Kenya Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal and Tanzania decided such a good thing ought only to continue.

Using a simple arithmetic, we infer that the 16,000 children vaccinated with the RTS,S candidate malaria vaccine, in a strong external family system setting across Africa, add up to massive numbers of people being affected by the work of the Alliance.

Even those who did not qualify to participate in the trials, discerned the benefits enjoyed by the study participants, and so rushed to acquire their own insecticide treated nets.

Communities sprang up with their social facilities in areas like Kombewa in Kenya purely as a result of clinical trials taking place there. Lives had been transformed not only for the trial participants, but also the technicians, researchers, scientists and administrators working on the projects.

And all this was expected to come to an end with the abrogation of the Alliance.

This proved to be too much. Scientists who are known to be averse to sentimentalism, were for once very sentimental about the void that would result from such a situation.

The achievement in perpetuating the Alliance was for the obvious reasons of maintaining the powerful network that has been created, the quality infrastructural and human capacity developed and the integrity of the centres of excellence in clinical research that have been established.

    

MCTA Project Manager, Prof Fred Binka

The scene for the 2011 AGM was set by, the Executive Director of INDEPTH Network, Dr Osman Sankoh who expressed the hope that standards attained on the MCTA platform would enable the smaller sites improve their status and become fully-fledged research centres.

The MCTA Board Chair, Dr Pascoal Mocumbi lamented the situation where research results and recommendations are not implemented by governments to improve the lot of the people.

The former Mozambican  Prime Minister, said his decision to chair the board of the Alliance, was simply to turn a perceived impossibility into a possibility, given the fact that some observers thought African scientists and researchers cannot live up to the demands of international standard clinical trials involving 16,000 children.

Dr Mocumbi’s message to the gathering was to maintain the networking and develop stronger links with partners and stakeholders.

Researchers, scientists & journalists in a group picture

Reflecting on what has been learnt over the five years, The Project Manager, Professor Fred Binka,   said through the MCTA’s intervention, the continent can now boast of African scientists leading efforts to eliminate and eradicate malaria and develop new drugs, vaccines and tools against endemic diseases in the region within the framework of Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems (HDSS).

The distinguished epidemiologist had no doubt that MCTA achieved its objectives to facilitate sufficient near-term capacity in Africa to conduct good clinical practice trials for malaria vaccine and drug interventions and to support, strengthen, mentor and network trial sites to expedite their progression towards self-sustaining clinical research centres.

Dr Bernhards Ogutu, Senior Clinical Trialist of the MCTA gave an overview of how the overcrowded, ill-equipped and under-staffed research sites were given a phase-lift by the MCTA to become world-class research entities.

Delivering the keynote address, Professor John Gyapong, Director of the Research and Development Division of the Ghana Health Service, challenged African leaders to honour their promises to support research.

Citing declarations in Abuja, Mexico, Montreal and Accra where support was pledged for research in Africa, Professor Gyapong said if all those promises had been fulfilled, there would be no need to rely on Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund research in Africa.

Professor Gyapong called on researchers and scientists to harness their upgraded resources to carry out phase IV trials to improve health care delivery where it is most needed.

MCTA was launched in 2006 through a 4-year 17 million US$ grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to carry out the ongoing phase III RTS,S malaria vaccine trials, involving 16,000 children at 11 sites in seven African countries.

MCTA upgraded 15 centres to carry out  phase II & III vaccine and drug trials, three of them  acquiring the  capacity for phase I clinical trials. 

The greatest achievement of the 5-year endeavour, was the creation of 15 closely-networked centres using similar SOPs for most of the clinical trials.

This capability is critical to quick initiation and execution of large studies. These centres have now diversified their research portfolios to include TB, HIV, micronutrients, invasive bacterial studies, population & disease surveillance.

They have also expanded their scope of research to cover clinical trials in basic science (immunology, molecular biology, epidemiology, pharmacology).

The meeting brought together other stakeholders from the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.

Dr Kayla Laserson, INDEPTH’s Board Chair

Dr Martha Lemnge, NIMR Korogwe, Tanzania

 

  Dr Pascoal Mocumbi, MCTA's Board Chair

Dr Salim Abdulla, Site Leader, IHI, Tanzania

Dr Seth Owusu-Agyei, KHRC, Ghana

Dr Osman Sankoh, INDEPTH’s Exec. Dir.

Prof Oumar Gaye,  UCAD Senegal

Dr. Ayola Akim AdegnikaAlbert Schweitzer Hospital, Gabon

Dr Halidou Tinto, IRSS, Nanoro, B. Faso

Dr Daniel Ansong, Agogo MVTC, Ghana

 

 Prof Francis  Martinson, UNC Project,  Malawi

Dr Eusebio Machete, CISM, Mozambique

 

'Kenyan Alliance,' Dr Walter Otieno, Dr Simon Kariuki
Dr Bernhards Ogutu & Dr Patrica Njuguna

There is a mythological bird called ‘Phoenix’ which is believed to never bite the dust. It lives for centuries and, just when you thought it has died at last and got burned, rises from its ashes and continues life with the usual panache.

This Alliance of African clinical trial experts may well be the proverbial ‘Phoenix,’ because on account of what they have done to save millions of lives, their names will always live on.

Editions: 
Seventh Edition