Monday, June 30, 2008

Next Stop: Nairobi

I'm packing now for Kenya. The next phase of the trip will take me to places a lot less familiar.

In East Africa, malaria is the bug to beat. The following is from the WHO site info on malaria:

About 40% of the world’s population, mostly those living in the poorest countries, are at risk of malaria. Of these 2.5 billion people at risk, more than 500 million become severely ill with malaria every year and more than 1 million die from the effects of the disease.

Malaria is especially a serious problem in Africa, where one in every five (20%) childhood deaths is due to the effects of the disease. An African child has on average between 1.6 and 5.4 episodes of malaria fever each year. And every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria.

The ravages of this disease --- heralded by little more than the buzz of a mosquito -- have become one of the new foci of global health. U.S. President George W. Bush's malaria initiative pledges to increase U.S. malaria funding by more than $1.2 billion over five years to reduce deaths due to malaria by 50 percent in 15 African countries, making malaria one of the "hot" diseases for global health workers and funders.

I'm going to be looking at efforts to prepare the ground in coastal Kenya for clinical trials of the RTS,S vaccine protoype, developed by GlaxoSmithKline.

There's a, perhaps Western, science-based, hope that vaccines are the answer to problems like HIV and malaria. The work going on in Africa will tell us if that is the truth.

I'm expecting to have less reliable Internet connectivity over the next few weeks but will post as I can. Don't forget about me!