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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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RELIGION EMBRACES SCIENCE IN AGOGO

Carlton Cofie - Ghana

The issues of religion and religion are usually avoided by those desperately seeking to have some peace of mind.

But when avoiding the issues is not an option and you have to deal with it. Anyhow, it pays to face the conflict that arises between the two persuasions squarely and not beat about the bush.

Thus, when the Malaria Vaccine Trial Centre (MVTC) in Agogo found within its catchment area a sizeable following of a religious sect, the Saviour Church, it had to conjure a tailor-made idea to rope them into the clinical trials of the RTS,S vaccine.

Being the research unit of Agogo Presbyterian Health Centre in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, proved the centre’s credibility to the church members, but they remained generally incredulous.

Agogo, the location of the vaccine trial centre, happened to be a stronghold of the Savior Church.

Anyone who is familiar with the Savior Church will confirm their aversion to anything entailing bloodletting, especially human blood. They refuse to receive or donate blood, purely on principle.

They believe that blood is a unique embodiment of each human being, so much that even when a child’s life depends on receiving blood, that child will sooner die than live, because not even parents or siblings are allowed the ‘sharing or eating of blood.’

It turned out that when word got round there was going to be a vaccine trial where children will be inoculated against malaria and sometimes their blood drawn to test for the disease, there was a resolve among the congregation to keep the vaccine research team at bay.

But the team of professionals recruited by the Malaria Clinical Trials Alliance (MCTA) to run the centre knew there was a way out of the hornet’s nest.

The situation called for a well-thought-out community entry programme.

As Project Manager John Tanko Bawa said with pride, his team worked hard at this negative perception through interactions with local stakeholders including the chief and his elders, Member of Parliament, Assembly Members and the Information Services Department.

He said it worked like magic when his team demonstrated the whole process and the benefits thereof.

 ‘We explained to them that diseases like polio, measles and a host of childhood killer disease have been controlled or eliminated through the use of vaccines.”

Today, a fair number of the field officers are in fact members of the Saviour Church, who not only encourage their own children to participate in the RTS,S trials, but are also keen campaigners for more people to join in future projects of its kind.

A member of the Saviour Church and field officer in the vaccine trials in Agogo, Stephen Atta Bosumtwi, told EYES ON MALARIA the process of inoculating the children with the RTS,S vaccine is so easy and straightforward, it would be unwise not to patronize it.

Mr Bosumtwi emphasized, “The vaccine trial process has nothing to do with giving or donating blood. The blood sample taken from trial participants is for their own good because it helps to identify malaria parasites or other diseases, leading to early diagnosis and treatment. How can this be wrong?”

The research centre in Agogo, together with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and Bernhard-Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, (BNITM), Hamburg, Germany, form the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR) into tropical medicine.

An Investigator at the site, Dr Daniel Ansong said the community understanding and involvement led to so huge a patronage, that with 4 months to spare, the site recruited 80 percent of participants. Thus, it was clearly running ahead of schedule to cover its target of 1200 children.

Seeing that children enrolled on the vaccine trial looked healthier than their counterparts outside the scheme, parents in Agogo rushed to enroll even more children than the project required. Those unable to enrol their children on the project are acquiring Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN) to enjoy the benefits of a malaria- free life.

Site Co-ordinator, Dr Samuel Kwaku Adjei noted that one main challenge of the research is when participants relocate and have to be followed up to monitor their progress.

Principal Investigator, Professor Tsiri Agbenyegah says his greatest joy about the whole vaccine trial is the involvement of African scientists to solve the problem of malaria.

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