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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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On The Malaria Trail - In Gabon

Field Supervisor Jean Bosco is undeterred by the inaccessible rainforest region of Gabon, as he pushes himself to meet his recruitment target of participants for the RTS,S malaria vaccine at the Medical Research Unit (MRU) of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital.

Bosco is working with the research site in Lambaréné and has to interact with them, daily or monthly depending on his schedule, recruit or follow-up them up to monitor their participation in the trials.

Speaking about his experiences as a Field Supervisor, Bosco says it can be a tough job visiting participants, especially those in inaccessible areas.

“It is even more frustrating to keep track of participants when they move or travel out of coverage area. However, we do stay in contact with them via phone, direct visits or through friends living in the same area.”

For him, preparation for field work is unpredictable as there are good and bad days, depend sometimes on the type of reception they get. “Overall, the participants’ families receive us in a positive way. With some families we even became friends.”

Of late though, recruitment has not been all that rosy for Bosco and other workers because of the issue of low birth rate in the catchment area.

“In fact the progress is not as expected. Recruitment figures depend on birth rate. And unfortunately, for several months we have been facing low birth rates.”

He is positive however that they will recruit the targeted number of children from the Lambaréné area and beyond.

Lambaréné, with its 20,000 inhabitants, is located in the Moyen Ogooué province of Gabon near the equator in the Central African rain forest. The Malaria Clinical Trials Alliance’s (MCTA) decision to include the Medical Research Unit of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, in the trials has brought joy and promise to this.

Some 50,000 people are served by two hospitals in Lambaréne, with approximately 70 per cent of children treated in the Albert Schweitzer Hospital. The MRU, one of the 11 sites across Africa involved in the trial was established in 1981 to study major causes of tropical diseases in the local population.

Reflecting on the state of the MRU, prior to arrival of the MCTA, Communications Officer, Markus Gmeiner, says clinical trials had been ongoing for about 15 years, so there was basic experience there. However, there were issues of inadequacy of local investigators, specialized study nurses and quality control experts.

“Now, due to RTSS and MCTA activities, we have a number of Gabonese investigators, study nurses, field work supervisors etc. We also have a quality control system that is compatible with strict international standards.”

“Infrastructure-wise, MCTA funds have helped us establish the microbiology laboratory. A semi-digital X-ray machine was purchased and installed. We received funds for the improvement of our IT department and for financial audits. Backup power supply and infrastructural upgrades were also important for us.”

    Working space in the new laboratory built by MCTA

“Standards have been raised considerably in the past years, reflecting the improvement in competency of research centers in Africa. No sponsor would accept a lower standard just because the center is located in Africa. There is increased partnership, but also increased competition among African research centers, so there is that incentive to improve your site,” Mr Gmeiner says.

Touching on the community entry effort to get the support of locals, Mr Gmeiner says due to the long presence of MRU in the community, the reaction of the locals is mainly positive. Some mothers had been in cohort studies themselves 15 years ago.

He is happy to say the site has not had any major emergency since the start of the RTSS trials.

On the future of research activities the Communications Officer says the MRU has expanded the catchment area for the purposes of the study.

“Whereas we used to recruit only subjects from Lambaréné and about 15 km to the north and south of the town, we now recruit from around 75 km north and south.”

“We want to invest in another center, Makouké, and establish it as a satellite site bringing in other research projects. We also want to diversify our research portfolio and undertake studies in other infectious diseases and chronic diseases.”