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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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Promoting science education

An educational outreach project has been launched in Kisumu West District in Kenya to improve the understanding of science among students from schools within the area. The campaign targeted students in secondary schools.   

The project is a joint initiative by Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)and the America’s Walter Reed Project (WRP).

KEMRI Deputy Director of Administration and Finance, Linah Boit, said the idea is to encourage students to embrace science subjects, to boost their performance and enable them to pursue research as a career.

 “These Activities we are promoting are meant to be like a supermarket for education, career and training programs involving schools, colleges and universities hoping that the program will really assist students, parents, teachers and school leavers to know the existing career opportunities in the field of research and career paths at colleges and universities,” she says.

Boit said the programme is also an outreach activity to enable secondary students in Kombewa in Kisumu West District to know why science related subjects are important in the world of scientific research. It was also to provide an opportunity for students to interact with scientists and researchers.

She said the new initiative has now opened up the various research stations involved in clinical trials including the on-going malaria vaccine trials currently being undertaken at the WRP centre.
The Deputy Director commended the partnership between KEMRI and WRP, adding that it is meant to continue strengthening the initiative among the stakeholders involved.

“This, no doubt strengthens the relationship between health research and service and also between researchers, clinicians, policy makers, local leadership, students and the community at large,” Boit adds.

WRP’s new Director Dr Jessica Cowden said the new initiative is meant to stimulate the students’ interests to undertake science related courses while at the institutions of higher learning.

She said students who have interest in becoming bio-medical researchers in future must embrace sciences early enough so as not to have hard times.

The Director said they intend to roll it out in a number of schools within the region as a way of encouraging students to take science subjects seriously.

“We want the students to understand the on-going malaria vaccine trials and other clinical trials as this can greatly help in encouraging the mto take sciences subjects seriously,” Dr. Jessica said.

The scientists led by Dr. Nicoye Otsyula and Dr. Lucas Otieno Tina of the WRP ,of the malaria vaccine trial sites in Kenya, appealed to the students to ensure they take advantage of the new initiative meant to offer encouragement as a result of the collaboration between KEMRI and WRP.
Under the new initiative, about 300 secondary school students from20schools within Kisumu West District visited both the Kenya Medical Research Institute Station in Kisumu’s Kisian and Walter Reed Project Site in Kombewa over a two-week period and had a chance to engage with the scientific researchers on clinical trials and the on-going malaria vaccine trials.
Some of the schools which have so far participated in the new initiative include St. Barnabas Girls, Ngere High School, Bonde, Ndiru Mixed, Diemo, St Alloyce Reru and Rata Mixed Secondary School among others.

The on-going malaria vaccine trials which started in May 2009 is being carried out in 11 sites in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania with 15,460 children and infants enrolled thus making it the largest malaria vaccine trial to date.

The Vaccine known as RTS, S is the world’s most clinically advanced malaria vaccine candidate currently under trials by leading African research institutions in partnership with PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative{MVI} funded by Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

Research experts on malaria say that currently there is no licensed vaccine against malaria, a disease that kills hundreds of thousands of children under the age of five each year most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.

So far results released on the vaccine when tested on children aged 5-17 months showed a fifty per cent protection.

Later results of the vaccine on infants aged 6-12 weeks however showed around 30 per cent protection.  Trials are still on-going to better understand the protection this vaccine offers children.

Experts and stakeholders believe that when the vaccine is fully licensed it will be administered in the Expanded Programme on Immunisation to protect against malaria.

- By Dickson Odhiambo - Kenya

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