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.
An interesting dialogue has begun in Kisumu to encourage better interaction among researchers, trial participants and the community.
The dialogue is aimed at developing a mutually-beneficial partnership to help maximize the outcome and sustainability of research work undertaken in the community.
The initiative by Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Walter Reed Project (WRP) has led to a partnership with Kisumu West Community and the formation of a Community Advisory Board (CAB) to help in steering health related activities.
Established in August 2011, the CAB has a goal of engaging the Kisumu west commu- nity in a meaningful relationship that enhances the success of KEMRI/WRP health research activities in malaria and infectious diseases.
Like any other cherished initiative, the Kisumu CAB cements the working relation- ship between the community, researchers and the research participants in the various studies conducted in the region through the Kombewa Clinical Trial Center, which has cut a niche in malaria clinical trials.
This unique community initiative includes making an input into the design and implementation of research protocols that are used by the center, and to inform the community about research objectives as well as helping in creating a supportive environment for the various health research activities going on in the Kisumu West District.
According to Dr. Lucas Otieno, one of the center's researchers, the CAB also has a role in serving as a voice for community and study participants, including relaying concerns to the research teams. This has greatly enhanced the research work as the community feel part of the initiative hence a sense of ownership.
He says preparation of the community members for participation in clinical trials forms another integral role of the CAB as its members understand the region and its people better.
With the improved understanding of the research work being carried out by the center, the community members have become part of some of the decisions made in relation to the research activities.
“Through such interactions we have seen the elimination of negative perceptions by sections of community members who were suspicious about research in the area,” says Dr. Lucas Otieno.
While appreciating the great improvements that the center has had through the CAB, senior researcher Dr. Walter Otieno, said the members of the board act as ambassadors of the community and the research center as well as a direct link between the two.
“The CAB also gives the community members feedback from the researchers about 'their concerns and informs the community about research finding s together with researchers as was the case in the dissemination of results of clinical trials,” says Dr. Walter Otieno, Principal Investiga- tor at the Kombewa Clinical Trial Center.
Noting that health related problems have been a hindrance to development in various aspects in the area, the CAB together with researchers, is promoting awareness of common diseases in the community and control strategies through community activities on World Malaria day and World TB day among others.
The center's community and communications officer, Dr Nekoye Otsyula, says the Board has greatly helped in the smooth communication between the center and community members, adding that the mutual understanding has resulted in a great partnership between KEMRI/WRP and the Kisumu West Community.
So how then does the Board help in achieving its set goals?
Peter Sifuna who receives updates from community members regarding the types of research carried out by the center, says that CAB members are appointed for a period of 5 years and they meet every quarter to review and discuss on-going and upcoming studies at the site.
During these meetings, explains Sifuna, various researchers take the opportunity to present impending studies and the plans they have put in place. In addition, they get updates on the current status of on-going studies, he says.
Sifuna notes that through the CAB the KEMRI-Walter Reed Project hopes to continue the mutually - beneficial partnership with the community and also meet any challenges that may lie ahead.
“The CAB members have undergone training on internationally- accepted standards for research like Good Clinical Practice and Human Subjects Protection. A Standard Operating Procedure with terms of reference for their work has also been developed,” he told Eyes on Malaria.
“The Board has a total of 12 members with diverse backgrounds. The composition of the CAB takes into consideration geographic representation within the Kisumu West District, gender, the youth, persons with disability, clergy and lay persons.”
”The main challenge is financial as we would like to support the CAB in a more sustainable manner to ensure more activities in the community, offer training opportunities and interaction with other CABs with more experience in order to strengthen their role,” says Sifuna.
By Bernard Okebe-Kisumu, Kenya