By Oumie Bojang
The Medical Research Council unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has on Tuesday commissioned a new clinical trial building at the Banjulinding Health Centre.
This clinical trial building will be home to several clinical trials/studies to investigate and evaluate new interventions and approaches to provide scientific evidence, supporting health policies to improve health care delivery in The Gambia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Speaking at the inauguration, Dr Magnus Ochoge has said MRC has undertaken nOPV (novel oral polio vaccine) on behalf of the whole world in 2021, and it is the first study they have conducted in the building being inaugurated.
This vaccine is an improvement on the existing oral vaccine.
He said polio has been with humanity for ages and certain peculiarities about it is that, it’s very easy to contract, spread and has far reaching and devastating consequences.
“Fortunately in 1950s we have had vaccines that have been made available worldwide and have brought down polio to almost eradication. In 1988 it has been decided that by 2000 it should have been eliminated globally, this global concerted effort which was yielding fruit raising hopes in everyone waiting to get to the finish line. Unfortunately it’s 22 years today and polio still remains as there are some hard place to reach and some due to conflict.”
Dr Momodou Nyassi, representing the director of health services, said MRC has been contributing to the development of The Gambia and has strengthened the health delivery for many years.
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, MRC was one of the strongest partners in the response for the ministry and the first point of call to conduct COVID-19 test.”
He therefore thanked MRC for their continuous support and contributing human resources and technical assistance to the Ministry including research.
Ms Haddy Badjie, officer in charge Banjulinding health center, said open days are important because it creates avenue for feedback to the study participants and the community at large.
“Inaugurating this magnificent building I would like to inform all parents that MRC is working hand in glove with the Ministry of Health and all their projects are approved by The Gambia government and MRC joint ethics committee before they commence any of these projects.”
Ms Badjie encouraged parents to enroll their children in future MRC projects as they are playing significant role in health research in Africa and the world at large.
“Some of the vaccines our children are receiving at the EPI clinic in the country are being investigated by the MRC in their research projects until they are licensed by the WHO.”
She expressed gratitude over the long standing relationship Banjulinding health has with the MRC over research projects, and commends them for the great achievements in the research domain.
Dr Mariama Janneh, UNICEF representative said recognising the importance of community in achieving the results for children across their strategic plan goal area is importance as a change strategy in the region globally.
“UNICEF still maintains a historical and comparative advantage, especially through its footprint by maintaining its leadership in responding to community needs through community engagement as demonstrated during COVID-19 pandemic.”
She added that UNICEF recently supported the Ministry of Health in the just concluded nOPV (novel oral polio vaccine) and COVID-19 vaccination campaigns which made a significant impact to increase uptake of vaccines with the nOPV coverage rate of 85% and 105% respectively, for COVID-19 vaccinated with any dose from 13.7% to 18.5%