Workshop kick starts School Health Project in Tanzania

Launch of the VLIR TEAM project between NIMR and the Global Health Institute

On Friday 8 September, representatives of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, University of Dar es Salaam, the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and the Global Health Institute of the University of Antwerp gathered in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for a comprehensive workshop on School Health.

The aim of the workshop is to attain better school results for young children aged 5 to 15 in Tanzania via measures that will improve their health.  Thanks to the Belgian Government, via VLIR-UOS funding, the UAntwerp Global Health Institute and NIMR will launch a clinical trial in January 2018 on “the impact of intermittent preventative treatment (IPTsc) strategies in reducing malaria and improving the cognitive ability in school-aged children”. Therefore, it was imperative that the government, represented by the Ministry of Education and Health, was not only aware, but that the trial is in line with the government’s approach and strategy. Two lecturers of the University of Arba Minch (Ethiopia) also attended the workshop to exchange experiences and learn from this Tanzanian approach.

In total 3180 youth from 6 schools in the Muheza Disctrict will be involved in the trail. This part of North East Tanzania is a malaria endemic setting with high, middle and low malaria prevalence. The VLIR-UOS TEAM project’s intervention involves a school health package that will, on the one hand include health education. Impregnated bed nets will be promoted and distributed amongst the school children, in line with the national guidelines. Next to that, a medical intervention will take place where school children will be administered IPTsc drugs and Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) where the impact and effects on malaria and related morbidities will be measured.

Prior to this workshop, Prof. Van geertruyden of the Global Health Institute visited NIMR headquarters in Dar es Salaam and one of the regional field offices in Tanga, where the trial will be coordinated from. Different sites were visited in the region, such several Referral Hospitals and an insectary where insect cultures are being grown and tested on their resistance on insecticides, biting behavior and the effectiveness of impregnated bed nets.