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MLW Partners with National Efforts to Strengthen Pharmacovigilance in Malawi

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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

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RGsetsThe 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


Wellcome Open Research – New Platform for Open Access Publishing

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Wellcome Open Research


Wellcome Open Research is an open research publishing platform for Wellcome funded researchers that aims to remove the barriers to publication and ensure research findings are quickly discoverable. The platform uses an author-driven approach where authors and their collaborators can rapidly publish any results, from traditional narrative-based articles to incremental findings, methods, protocols, software tools, datasets and negative/null results.


The platform uses a post-publication peer review model, where articles are published first (after it has been checked by an in-house editorial team). Once the authors have finalized the manuscript, the article (with its associated source data) is published within a week, enabling immediate viewing and citation. Expert referees are selected and invited, and their reports and names are published alongside the article, together with the authors' responses and comments from registered users. As reviews come in authors are encouraged to publish revised versions of their article. All versions of an article are linked and independently citable. Articles that pass peer review are then indexed in external databases such as PubMed, Scopus and Google Scholar.

Remarks from the Director Professor Stephen Gordon

“This week we published our first article on the platform that describes the framework for Controlled Human Infection Model (CHIM) studies in Malawi:  My reflection on this process was that it was very fast (a week to publication from submission) and so it offers groups with a publication backlog a real chance to catch up.  Also, publication is critical in grant production – this high-speed method allows your published review to be cited in your grant, even if both are worked up at the same time. 


Finally, there are certain papers that struggle – post-publication review allows you to address those difficult reviewers without the delay and potential career damage.  So, all in all, I strongly encourage you to publish in this way. Another feature of Wellcome Open Research is the opportunity to create dedicated areas on the platform for Wellcome Centres and Institutions called Gateways.  The only example of a Gateway that is currently being used effectively can be seen through the KEMRI centre in Kilifi,  Kenya: The plan here at MLW is to create our own Gateway, and this will happen when collectively there are five articles from MLW published on the platform. So, if you are interested in publishing some of your research please do consider Wellcome Open Research.


 Publication in a Gateway will increase the chance that non-specialists will see your work, and that the wider research community will more fully understand the breadth of MLW’s work.  For the Gateway to be effective, we would like at least one paper from every research group in the very near future.  I look forward to seeing how this grows."