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MRC, partners hold 5-day workshop on NIHR, DIDAHS

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By Olimatou Coker & Fatou Bojang

The Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in collaboration with Imperial College London has held 5 days workshop on National Institute for Health and Care Research Global Health Research Group on Digital Diagnostics for African Health Systems at Ocean Bay Hotel.

The workshop, funded by Research England International Science Partnership Fund (ISPF) 2023/2024 Global Development Hub ODA Project Accelerator, focuses on engaging key stakeholders and patient representatives in co-developing digital diagnostics and enhancing intra- and inter-WP collaborations and cross-country sharing of protocols, emerging findings, and plans for ongoing work.

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The workshop brings together various stakeholders including the Ministry of Health, high-level policymakers, program managers, health workers, laboratory personnel, community representatives, and patient advocates.

The event  presents a unique opportunity for stakeholders to engage with each other and with the NIHR DIDAHS team to co-develop digital diagnostics that meet the needs of African healthcare systems.

Aubrey Cunnington, Professor at Imperial College London, said their vision is to improve diagnostics in Africa using portable devices that can be used anywhere and transfer data easily, that would provide a solution for a better diagnostic system without relying on traditional brick-and-mortar laboratories and power connections, which the stakeholders are collaborating to ensure the right solutions are provided.

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Prof. Umberto D’Alessandro at MRC Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said for the past two years, their mission is to provide some tools to the Ministry of Health in the Gambia, even to other African countries in developing a flexible test that can be used in the Gambia and other countries to eliminate malaria and other pathogens.

Flavia Kaduni Bawa, PhD student at the University of Ghana, said she is trying to find a diagnostic for fever and hope that these devices will make it easier by conducting research to find easy-to-use devices that require minimal resources, with the goal of helping people in rural and remote areas to make accurate diagnoses.

“During the COVID within the first 6 months, we are supposed to have 9,000 deaths and about 181,000 cases but that didn’t happen”,Dr Mustapha Bittaye, Chief Medical Director of EFSTH said.

However the Minister of Health is currently working on catching up on vaccinations in areas where coverage may have been lost, efforts are now being doubled to ensure that vaccinations are administered in these areas and making significant progress in ensuring that vaccinations are being administered where needed, Bittaye added.

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