13 July 2015

Outstanding contributions to research in Tanzania

In March 2015 the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium team visited the Republic of Tanzania, spending a week there as part of the efforts towards developing a new child-friendly orodispersible tablet for treating schistosomiasis.

The visit was arranged for two reasons. First on the agenda was training for site staff at the Rufiji satellite research office in Ikwiriri, where the Praziquantel taste study in children is being conducted. The pleasant taste and the comparatively smaller, soluble tablet should make it easier, especially for small children to take medication that combats the dangerous worm disease. The Merck KGaA Darmstadt, Germany Clinical Team Leader Deon Bezuidenhout, together with study directors Eric Huber and Sandro Schmidlin from Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, spent time showing site personnel study procedures and other protocol requirements, and explaining the technicalities of the study.

Part of the training visit: a pharmacist is trained to crush and dissolve the current Cesol 600 mg tablets, which will be used as comparator.
Dr Kourany-Lefoll interacting with some teachers at the community school, from which study participants will be recruited.













The clinical team was also joined in Ikwiriri by Dr Elly Kourany-Lefoll, the Head of Neglected Tropical Diseases Drug Development from Merck KGaA Darmstadt, Germany– and it was honored by the presence of Dr BT Slingsby, CEO of the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund from Japan. It quickly became apparent that children in the community school (see picture below) are very perceptive. Conversations were very pleasant and informative on both sides, with children asking many questions.


Children at the community school


The visit attracted the interest of local media, and a short article was published in Tanzanian newspaper ‘The Citizen’. This followed a formal meeting held at the Ifakara Health Institute head office, during which aspects of the study as well as the roadmap for future work in Sub-Saharan Africa were discussed. In the article, Dr Mulokozi, Principal Investigator at the Ifakara Health Institute, explained study objectives to journalists in Swahili, the native language in Tanzania.


The article in local paper ‘The Citizen’.
The clinical team discussing the ICU at the Bagomoyo research facility.












The team had also the opportunity to visit a first class research facility situated in Bagomoyo in the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. Here, the clinical team, led by Deon Bezuidenhout and Eric Huber, were able to discuss emergency treatment and studying participants in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the research site.

The visit confirmed the extent to which Sub-Saharan Africa presents great opportunities for the conduct of clinical trials. There are research facilities of outstanding quality, such as the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania – and local doctors and medical staff are highly dedicated and motivated. The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium plans to conduct other trials in Africa over the next few years.