By Dr John O’Donoghue, Senior Lecturer in eHealth & Deputy Director of Imperial’s Global eHealth Unit
The last week has been very busy in Mzuzu, northern Malawi. Scientists there have been packing blood and urine samples collected from 506 children with pneumonia in preparation for shipment to Dublin, Ireland. These samples will travel 12,000km at -80oC with constant monitoring of their temperature and dry ice being packed around them at stops along the journey to ensure they remain frozen in the warm heat of Africa as they travel across the African and European continents.
Over the past twelve months the researchers from the gHealth Research group based in University College Dublin, Queens University Belfast & Imperial College London have been working with colleagues in Malawi to collect these samples.
By Professor Alan Fenwick of Imperial’s Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI)
There are five neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) which are the scourge of Africa, the Indian sub-continent, the Far East and South America. Onchocerciasis is one of these 5 and until the late 20th century caused millions of people to gradually lose their sight and eventually go blind. The parasite is spread by infected Simulium blackflies which when they bite a human, transfer microscopic larvae to the human host, where they develop into adult worms and females produce millions of new larvae during their lifetime. It is these larvae that are the cause of irreversible blindness in as many as 25% of the adult population in several countries in Africa.
By Professor Kathryn Maitland, Director of the IGHI Centre of African Research and Engagement.
First published by the Hippocratic Post on 22/8/16.
‘Back in 2011, my research team published the results of the largest trial of critically ill children ever undertaken in Africa (FEAST trial), a trial that examined fluid resuscitation strategies in children with severe febrile illnesses (including malaria and bacterial sepsis). Contrary to expectation, the trial showed that fluid boluses were associated with an increased mortality compared to no-bolus (control), the greatest effect was in children with the most severe forms of shock. We were delighted when the FEAST trial won the prestigious 2011 BMJ Research Paper of the Year award and expected that doctors around the world would sit up and take notice – and guidelines for management of children suffering from shock due to sepsis would change.
By Professor Kathryn Maitland, Professor of Tropical Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Director of Centre of African Research and Engagement, Imperial College London.
Each year, World Blood Donor Day highlights the importance of blood donations as the transfusion of blood is a life-saving intervention. In any health system, the provision of adequate supplies of safe blood for transfusion is an essential undertaking.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the blood requirement for countries to be in the region of 10 – 20 units per 1000 population per year. Yet in many sub-Saharan African countries, donations are far lower, in some countries as low as 2 units/1000 population/year.
By Dr Michael Templeton, Reader in Public Health Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London
Wednesday, May 25th 2016 marks Africa Day, the 53rd anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, the forerunner of the African Union. There have been so many wonderful developments in Africa in the last 53 years, but sadly the quality of life of many of the poorest people in Africa continues to be limited by the burden of a group of debilitating diseases known collectively as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which have afflicted millions of Africans since ancient times.
By Alice Marks, Agriculture for Impact, Imperial College London
As we celebrate Africa Day 2016, it’s time to reflect on the state of nutrition in Africa and the weighty effect malnutrition has on the continent’s ability to prosper. Progress has been made over the past decades, for example through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to reduce extreme hunger and starvation. However, it is the quality of food that people consume and a lack of variety that is of increasing concern. A few weeks ago, Roger Thurow, a Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, released a new book, The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children—And the World.
By Professor Kathryn Maitland, Professor of Tropical Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Director of IGHI’s new Centre for African Research and Engagement (ICCARE).
Across large parts of sub-Saharan Africa the major rains have got underway; which typically means that in a few weeks, hospitals will witness a seasonal upsurge of admissions into the children’s wards. Most of these will be children suffering a new bout of malaria, with around ten percent of these malaria admissions having life-threatening complications such a coma (cerebral malaria), severe anaemia (requiring urgent life-saving transfusion) and rapid breathing (to try to compensate for the build up of acids in their bodies).
By James Frater, Amos Bursary student
As part of my gap year, with the help of the Amos Bursary and Imperial College London, I was given the opportunity to spend 3 months in The Gambia. I assisted the PROLIFICA (Prevention of Liver Fibrosis and Cancer in Africa) project, where I was able to experience various laboratory procedures and resource-poor healthcare services.
I was given a thorough induction on laboratory etiquette and different laboratory practices, as well as training on how to handle laboratory equipment and the various biomedical samples. This meant I was confidently able to work in and navigate my way around the laboratory with a relatively good level of competence.
By Alison Reynolds and Dr Thomas Churcher from Imperial’s Malaria Modelling Research Group
World Mosquito Day (20th August) commemorates the discovery that mosquitoes transmit the parasite that causes malaria, made in 1897 by British doctor Ronald Ross.
A hundred and eighteen years later this transmission still continues, to some extent unabated. There have been huge successes in malaria control, most notably in recent years, though a child still dies every minute from a disease which continues to ravage large swathes of Africa and Asia. Importantly these deaths are completely avoidable, as we have effective tools to treat malaria and stop people dying.
By soon to be Imperial medical student, Hannah Lewis
I will start my medical course at Imperial in October 2015 and I was lucky enough to spend 5 months in Gambia at the beginning of the year, gaining insight into medical research in resource-poor settings. It is the smallest country in West Africa, and it is where the British Medical Research Council (MRC) has a big research unit. I worked closely with the Prevention of Liver Fibrosis and Cancer in Africa (PROLIFICA) group, who are looking at the link between hepatitis B and liver cancer.
Initially, I was concerned that, with no previous medical training, I would not be able to learn as much from the experience as fully-fledged medical students.