NOPV2 Study Team Engages Healthcare Stakeholders and Community Members in Fajikunda

13 May 2022
The novel Type 2 Oral Polio Vaccine (nOPV2) Project team at the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (MRCG at LSHTM) held an Open Day at the Fajikunda Health Centre on Wednesday 11th May 2022.

The Open Day was held under the theme “MRC, Government & Communities of The Gambia working together for better public health” and provided an opportunity for researchers to share feedback on previous studies with stakeholders and research participant communities.

Dr. Ed Clarke is the Principal Investigator of the nOPV2 study. He expressed his gratitude to the Fajikunda Health Centre, the Ministry of Health, and the community, saying “We have had endless support from the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Health Centre and her team. I also want to thank all the mothers, fathers, families, and communities who have joined these studies that we have conducted, because none of these trials would have been successful without your active participation. We appreciate your role in these trials, and we hope that these studies will ultimately help people in The Gambia, West Africa, and the rest of the world in the future. We have other studies coming along and we hope that we will continue to get your continuous support for the successful implementation of these new trials.”

In his remarks, the Alkalo of Fajikunda, Ebrima Njie said, “Our community is grateful for the continuous support being rendered by the MRCG at LSHTM. Your dedication to improving the healthcare system in this country is highly appreciated. We look forward to many more research projects. We thank you for all that you do for the study participants, their families, and the community.”

Mr Modou Njai is the Director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health. Speaking on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, he said, “It is indeed a pleasure to join a gathering of colleagues in the drive towards delivering quality healthcare. It is exciting when the occasion is aimed at honouring achievements accomplished in pursuit of better health services for the improvement of the lives of people of within our communities. Today we are commemorating scientific research by the MRCG at LSHTM, aimed at reducing the burden of diseases in our communities. It is more gratifying to note that our collaboration has developed into a solid partnership geared towards servicing the people of The Gambia and the subregion. I solicit deeper cooperation and partnership between MRCG at LSHTM and the Gambia Government in providing quality health services in the country.  I urge the communities to participate in further studies undertaken by the MRCG at LSHTM.”

Since 2010, the MRCG at LSHTM has collaborated with the Fajikunda Health Centre to conduct several vaccine trials and studies. The decade-long partnership has led to the successful completion of several clinical trials, with projections to conduct more in the future.

Ramatoulie Camara, the Officer In Charge at the Fajikunda Health Centre said, “Vaccine trials play a vital role in the prevention and spread of contagious and deadly diseases. These vaccine trials will help generate knowledge about which health interventions are safe and effective for children at different developmental stages, thus protecting their health and well-being. Therefore, I urge the community to continue supporting and participating in these trials. The Fajikunda Health Centre will continue to fully support the work of the MRCG at LSHTM in all aspects.”

Dr Kassa Mohammed is the Health Systems Strengthening Advisor at the World Health Organization (WHO) in The Gambia. He spoke about MRCG at LSHTM’s role in informing health policies and the significance of community participation in vaccine trials.

He said, “These clinical trials are important not just for The Gambia but for the whole of humanity because it is informing decision makers behind the scenes. Clinical trials help to answer questions about a vaccine’s safety, immunogenicity and efficacy that follow a strict set of rules and regulations. With the COVID-19 global pandemic, there is no question about the importance of vaccinations and vaccination awareness. Healthcare professionals need to ensure that they are educating their patients about the importance of vaccinations. It is also essential to understand how vaccines are developed and the importance of clinical trials within the vaccine development process. Furthermore, community participation is equally important because without human participants, most of these trials would not take place.”

The Open Day spotlighted five studies recently undertaken by the MRCG at LSHTM at the Fajikunda Health Centre: the nOPV2 study, Men ACYWX study, Pneumosil study, GaPS study and the PROPEL study. The event was attended by community leaders and members, staff from the Fajikunda Health Centre, MRCG at LSHTM staff, as well as cultural and drama groups.