MLW PhD student James Chirombo wins award at GEOMED 2017 conference in Portugal

MALARIA Chirombo PictureJames Chirombo, a 3rd year MLW malaria group PhD student in biostatistics at Lancaster University won the award for the best oral presentation at the Geomed 2017 Conference held in Porto, Portugal between 6-9 September.

Held every two years, Geomed is an interdisciplinary conference on spatial statistics, geographical epidemiology and geographical aspects of public health and brings together researchers from these disciplines among others to discuss methods for spatial analysis of health outcomes.

James’ presentation entitled “Modelling climate and non-climate impacts on malaria in Malawi for effective control interventions” covered his PhD work. The prize included several GIS books and a one-year license for the full ArcGIS software sponsored by Esri Portugal.

James mentioned: “I am so happy with the recognition. It’s a big encouragement and I will continue to strive for excellence”.


MLW Partners with National Efforts to Strengthen Pharmacovigilance in Malawi

Ndeketa September Newsletter PictureDr. Latif Ndeketa, a member of the Malaria Research Group, recently attended the Pharmacovigilance (PV) Stakeholders meeting in Lilongwe. Latif was recently appointed to serve on the National Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) and Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) Review Committee. The committee is a newly formed Technical Working Group that will provide support to the National Pharmacovigilance Centre of the Pharmacy Medicines and Poisons Board (PMPB). The committee will report to the Medicines Committee of the PMPB.

The research group, in collaboration with the College of Medicine, will conduct the GSK sponsored RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine Phase IV set of studies in Malawi and partner in the WHO led pilot implementation programme of the malaria vaccine in Malawi. Latif, being closely involved in both projects, is thus well placed to serve this new Technical Working Group.

The meeting which was titled The enhanced pharmacovigilance capacity building project for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) meeting: Malawi stakeholder meeting, was organised by Ministry of Health (MoH)-PMPB, PATH and Glaxo-Smith-Kline pharmaceuticals plc (GSK). The main objective was to provide an update on the status of this MoH led PV initiative in Malawi to stakeholders, as part of an 18-month pilot conducted in Malawi, Ivory Coast and Democratic Republic of Congo, supported by PATH and GSK.

During its first 7 months, the project team has developed and delivered two PV training packages to support the Extended Programme for Immunisation (EPI). The first, an intensive 2 days training of EOI coordinators (EPI focal points) in Malawian districts, has already been used to train 34 coordinators. The second package, a concise (1 hour) training, has been used to train 182 health care workers from various districts in Malawi.

Despite Malawi's commendable track record of high EPI vaccine coverage, it has a history of low reporting of AEFIs - well below the expected numbers - highlighting the need to strengthen vaccine surveillance. The Pharmacovigilance capacity building project has already yielded positive results with an increased number and quality of AEFIs reported over the past 7 months.

In recent years, Malawi has more than halved its childhood mortality rates, in large parts thanks to the successful introduction and scale-up of effective vaccines within the EPI programme. While this success is to be celebrated, the importance of adverse events monitoring for vaccines and drugs in EPI programmes cannot be overstated as patient safety is paramount to the ongoing and optimal use of any medicinal product.

With the recent introduction of ROTA and pneumococcal vaccines in the Malawi extended programme of immunisation and the upcoming malaria vaccine pilot implementation, it has become even more pertinent that any adverse events of these new vaccines are closely monitored, reported and assessed for causality.


MLW Malaria Research Group Sets the Tone: Building the Next Generation of Malaria Researchers

The Malaria group at MLW has in the 2016 – 2017 Wellcome Trust fiscal year secured a record number of externally funded postgraduate degree training and career development fellowships with a collective value of over £1,000,000.

Group members secured four paid pre-MSc internships, seven MSc fellowships with the Wellcome Trust, Commonwealth and Beit, and two career development fellowships at pre-PhD and PDRA level. The group secured five Wellcome Trust Master’s Fellowships in Public Health and Tropical Medicine in one year (out of 7 submitted applications).

The group’s approach offers promising and talented candidates the opportunity to learn within a multidisciplinary team, and work on or towards a research project under the mentorship and supervision of a senior scientist within an enabling environment. These experiences strengthen the student’s research skills and knowledge in their areas of interest and helps to prepare them for international postgraduate training fellowships. It also recognizes the importance of using ample time to develop strong research projects, and match candidates to supportive local and international team of supervisors and mentors in their research areas of interest.

While much of this success is due to the rigorous personal and team effort by the applicants, key to the group’s success has been a research mentorship programme at MLW piloted by Dr Anja Terlouw, the Malaria group head. Apart from their technical training, students are supported to develop more general academic skills such as leadership, win-win thinking, academic writing and presentation, communication, peer-learning, time management, networking, media engagement and team building.

“I am delighted with the success this year, they’ve all worked really hard and I am confident they will all succeed in their fellowships and in their chosen careers. Importantly, they are also developing as a team of colleagues and friends with complementary expertise. And my bet is that will help them get far in achieving whatever they may set their minds to as a group,” said Terlouw