10 February 2021
The Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, on 3rd February 2021, launched the ETVAX clinical trial in Farafenni, North Bank Region.
The trial aims to evaluate the safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of the ETVAX vaccine in children aged between 6 and 18 months. The widespread use of this vaccine may reduce cases of diarrhoea in children under 5 years, and ultimately reduce under-5 mortality rates.
In her opening remarks at the launch ceremony, the ETVAX Clinical Trial Coordinator Dr Fatou Secka said, “We hope to reduce under-5 mortality in The Gambia and globally. For this study to be successful, we require the support and cooperation of all community members. This project will be a stepping stone, as we are working to protect our children from diseases that affect them”.
Dr Jahangir Hossain, Principal Investigator, gave an overview of the trial, stating, “Diarrhoea is the second most common cause of death in children under 5 years, accounting for about 450,000 deaths in children within this age group, mostly in Africa and Asia. Our study will provide a full picture of the causes of diarrhoea and the consequences of diarrhoeal illnesses”. He added that the MRCG at LSHTM will continue to work with and support the local communities and the Gambia Government to improve child health and prevent diarrhoea.
Speaking on behalf of the CEO of the Farafenni General Hospital, the Principal Nursing Officer Lamin Bondi said, “We are all aware of the significance of this project towards improving health in The Gambia and within the region. It will benefit all of us and we must all come together and support this project because it is for the people of The Gambia, and the impact will be beneficial to all”.
Nyima Camara, Nurse Coordinator of the ETXAV trial, highlighted the importance of consent and participants’ understanding of the procedures and processes before joining the study. “No participant will be coerced or forced to join the study. Willing participants can join the study only after going through the assessment process”, she emphasised.
The representative of the Regional Health Directorate (RHD), Mr Abdoulie Jarjue, talked about the historic relationship between MRCG at LSHTM and the RHD. “Our relationship as a Regional Health Directorate with the MRCG at LSHTM is very cordial. We make sure that there is robust monitoring and supervision of all health activities in the facilities and community. We are grateful to the MRCG at LSHTM for the support they have been providing to the medical facilities over the past years”.
In The Gambia, diarrhoea accounts for about 9% of deaths among children under five years. The largest diarrhoea diseases study was conducted in Asia and Africa, and included trials in Basse and Fulladu West Region of The Gambia.
The ETVAX trial is set to enrol about 4946 children in the North Bank Region, Central River Region and parts of Lower River Region of The Gambia, with main vaccination sites in Kerewan Health Center, Ngayen Sanjal Health Center, Noo-Kunda and Farafenni. The study will last for a duration of two years.