Tag Archives: Ghana

Three African Countries Chosen for First Malaria Vaccine Trials

For decades, there has been consistent chatter, research, and hope for a potential malaria vaccine. Now, all three are finally coming to fruition to roll out the world’s first clinical malaria vaccine trials. The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) announced today that Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi have been chosen for the WHO-coordinated pilot implementation program that will make the world’s first malaria vaccine available in 2018.

“The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news. Information gathered in the pilot will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a statement. “Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa,” she added.

Sub-Saharan Africa records 90% of all global malaria cases. Even though the number of cases and deaths have dropped dramatically since 2001, the rate is still astronomically high. In fact, malaria still remains one of the deadliest killers on the African continent, especially for children under the age of five.

To date, the most effective way to curb malaria cases is via the use of bed nets and indoor residual spraying.  Unfortunately, 43% of sub-Saharan Africans are not protected against either and 429,000 people died from malaria in 2015. After spending time with mothers in Tanzania with Malaria No More, I saw this to be true. I met moms standing in long lines to receive new nets, but the ones they had used for years had holes throughout, rendering them virtually worthless.

There is now new hope to curb child deaths with the injectible malaria vaccine targeted to children within five to 17 months called RTS,S. The vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline. Malawi, Kenya, and Ghana were chosen for the following reasons according to the World Health Organization:

  • high coverage of long-lasting insecticidal treated nets (LLINs)
  • well-functioning malaria and immunization programs
  • a high malaria burden even after scale-up of LLINs,
  • and participation in the Phase III RTS,S malaria vaccine trial

The countries themselves will determine the areas in their country where the trials will ultimately take place. The $49.2 million cost of the trials will be taken up by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and UNITAID. The World Health Organization and GlaxoSmithKline will additionally provide complimentary funds for the malaria trial efforts.

Photo: UN Photo/Marie Frechon

Researchers Confirm Labor Pain Anesthesia Can be Administered in Low-Resource Settings

At most hospitals in low-resource settings it is very unlikely that women would receive pain medication during labor. This is a problem, however, when women must receive emergency C-sections. While some administer general (inhaled) anesthesia, the spinal anesthesia poses more risks when there is no adequate training. However, doctors and researchers have shown that spinal anesthesia can be successfully given in low -resource settings with proper training.

Doctors and researchers from the non-profit, Kybele, Inc, have worked at Ridge Regional Hospital in Accra, Ghana,  a regional referral hospital that has an estimated 8,000 births per year, many high-risk deliveries. Kybele, Inc began the MOMS  (Making Obstetric Management Safer) program at Ridge Regional Hospital where they teach nurses practical skills for spinal or epidural anesthesia.

“We demonstrated that spinal labor analgesia can be provided in a low-resource setting with the development of appropriate protocols, staff education, and the availability of a few basic drugs,” write Dr. Adeyami J. Olufolabi of Duke University Hospital and colleagues in Teaching Neuraxial Anesthesia Techniques for Obstetric Care in a Ghanaian Referral Hospital: Achievements and Obstacles (June 2015). They describe their “achievements and obstacles” in working to implement an effective labor analgesia service at a busy hospital in Accra, Ghana.

Continue reading Researchers Confirm Labor Pain Anesthesia Can be Administered in Low-Resource Settings

Ghana Set to Roll Out Two Vaccines Next Week

Starting on April 21 through April 28 the world will celebrate World Immunization Month. It’s a pivotal time for global health to celebrate milestones in the advancement of vaccine awareness and implementation.

On Thursday, April 26 Ghana will roll out two vaccines – pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines –  in order to drastically reduce the number of childhood deaths in their country that can be prevented. With the help of the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF, the WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and various governments Ghana has trained health workers, built cooling facilities to house the vaccines and created a roll-out schedule and plan to begin immunizing its children again diarrhea and pneumonia.