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.
By Imperial Medical Student, Aisha Chaudry
As part of my gap year placement, I was given the opportunity to be involved in the PROLIFICA study at the Medical Research Council Unit (MRC) in The Gambia.
PROLIFICA is an EC funded project investigating liver cancer, which arises because of cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, a chronic condition that can stop the liver from functioning.
Having reached my halfway point of my time abroad, I have decided to write a report about my experience so far.
Whilst being at the MRC, I have been able to experience research in both a clinical and laboratory setting.