Please: Login/Register

The Latest Edition of "Eyes on malaria" magazine will be out very soon!! | CALL FOR ARTICLES: AMMREN is inviting journalists / writers / scientists interested in reporting on malaria to send articles for publication in its international magazine “Eyes on Malaria” and for posting on its website. Please contact the AMMREN Secretariat for more details click here. Enjoy your stay!. Volunteers and interns urgently needed to work with an NGO working in the area of malaria and health. Apply through - ammren1@gmail.com / ammren1@yahoo.com. Journalists interested in reporting on and writing articles on health issues should please reply through this email: ammren1@gmail.com

ANNOUNCEMENTS:::

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.
     

MAGAZINE EDITIONS

  • First Edition

  • Second Edition

  • Third Edition

  • Fourth Edition

  • Fifth Edition

  • Sixth Edition

  • Seventh Edition

  • Eighth Edition

  • Ninth Edition

  • Special Edition

  • INESS Edition

  • Tenth Edition

  • INDEPTH Edition

  • Eleventh Edition

  • Twelfth Edition

  • Special Edition

  • Special Edition

  • Volume 1

Kintampo Children - Africa’s stars in the making

By Eunice Menka, Ghana

Dorcas  Agyei,  Hafizu  Haruna  and  Rachael Asantewaa  are  ordinary  children  growing up in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana, but D their lives may very soon significantly impact on the destinies of other children in the country and across Africa.

These children were among 270 children, all below two years, who were part of an  experiment likely to change  the  public  health  landscape  and  relieve Africa  of  a  major  developmental  problem. The  children  participated  in  an  experiment  the Kintampo  Health  Research  Centre  in  the  Brong Ahafo Region is conducting on a candidate malaria vaccine.

The children have received the vaccine, technically known  as  RTS,S.  This  clinical  trial  was  aimed primarily  at  testing  the  safety  of  the  vaccine. Barring  any  set  back,  scientists  in  Africa  have targeted  2011,  for  the  introduction  of  the  RTS,S vaccine  for  use  to    control  malaria  in  Ghana  and across  Africa  to  control  malaria.  This  would however, depend on further trials, including a phase three clinical trial, and licensing by the regulatory bodies.

But why would any mother or parent in Ghana offer the  child  to  be  used  in  these  clinical  trials?

A 27 year old trader in Kintampo, Dinah Konadu, whose  child,  Rachael  is  participating  in  the  trials, said: "I was always taking my child to the hospital but since my child started receiving the vaccines I now  have  the  peace  to  concentrate  on  my  work."

Mr. Lot Gyamfi, her husband, said they agreed as a couple  to  offer  their  child  for  the  project  as  their contribution  to  efforts  to  control  malaria.

Parents in Kintampo told journalists from the Africa Media and Malaria Research Network(AMMREN), visiting the trial site, that they were not coerced or given  money  to  persuade  them  to  allow  their children  to  be  used  in  the  experiment  as  study children.  They  voluntarily  handed  over  their children  for  the  trial  because  of  their  battles  with malaria.  The  parents  have  not  regretted  their decision  as    they  have  seen  tremendous improvement in the health status of their children. A satisfied Haruna Musah says he   is now the envy of his  friends  because  of  the  good  health  his  child,Hafisu, is enjoying.

Kintampo  has  a  high  malaria  transmission  rate. Some  active  malaria  surveillance  done  in  the  area showed that on average, a child in the area could get about six to seven malaria attacks within a year.

As part of the experiment, not all the 270 children were  on  the  vaccine.  Some  children  received  the experimental  vaccine  while  some  received  rabies vaccine. Until the code is broken after data analysis, neither  parents  nor  scientists  would  know  which child is on the vaccine and how those on the vaccines fared or reacted.

Regular checks were conducted on all the children. Blood samples were analyzed and checks conducted on  their  liver  and  kidney  to  see  the  effects  of  the vaccine on these organs.

During the trial period, field workers who lived in the communities with the children visited them daily to ensure that the children were well. If a child was unwell,  the  fieldworker  called  a  study  ambulance and the child was sent to the hospital for treatment. Researchers  say  a  version  of  RTS,S  vaccine  was tested on 100 adult volunteers in the United States and  85  adults  in  Kenya  and  found  to  be  safe.

Dr  Seth  Owusu-Agyei,  Director  of  the  Kintampo Health Research Centre, said the RTS,S vaccine has already been administered on about 2,000 children aged  one  to  four  years  in  Mozambique.

He  said  results  indicated  that  18  months  after  the children were vaccinated, the risk of getting malaria was  lowered  by  one  third,  and  the  risk  of  severe malaria reduced by about one half.

Dr Sam Newton, a Local Safety Monitor, overseeing safety  and  ethical  issues,  said  scientific  principles were considered before the trials took off in Ghana.

Among some of the considerations that informed the initiation of the vaccine trial were; was to find out if the trial was scientifically sound? Was trial relevant to  the  needs  of  Ghanaians?  Were  subjects  being protected?  Were  the  participating  children  well taken care of? Will it cause any harm to participating children?

Dr  Newton  said  the  ethics  committee,  under  the chairmanship  of  a  reverend  minister,  reviewed everything  including  ethical  issues  related  to  the trials.

The  plans  and  conduct  of  the  trial  in  Ghana  were reviewed and authorized by a number of regulatory authorities  to  ensure  the  safety  of  participating children.

The Kintampo Health Centre is one of eight sites in Africa which researched into the Phase Two stage of the  vaccine.  The  experiment  started  in  Ghana  in  September 2006 and ended in September 2007. The results are being analyzed. The Health Centre which  incidentally  is  located  near  the  spot  said  to  be  the geographic  centre  of  Ghana,  is  strategically positioned to share its success with the whole of the country and the world at large.

The Phase Three stage would see about a thousand more Ghanaian children being recruited to test the efficacy of the vaccine.

The  Centre  has  recruited  about  80  children  aged between six(6) weeks to ten (10)weeks to participate in a trial, which would test the safety of combining the routine Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI)  with  the  malaria  RTS,S  vaccine.  This experiment would serve as a basis for introducing the malaria vaccine into the EPI   programme, where children are protected against major childhood killer diseases  such  as  polio,  whooping  cough  and tuberculosis.

Malaria is the single biggest killer of children under five.  The  resolve  of  African  leaders  to  initiate various  actions,  including  the  strengthening  of  health systems to deal with malaria, remains a dream as children continue to die of the disease.

African  Heads  of  State  are  nowhere  near  cutting down malaria deaths by half by 2010 a dream they had settled on in 2000 at Abuja, Nigeria. It appears Africa's children and scientists participating in the vaccine trials may soon prove to be the true stars of  Africa by providing the Continent with an answer to malaria.   

Editions: 
Second Edition