College of Health Sciences Launches Infections Diseases Research Programme

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Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) – an Africa-led, multi-disciplinary research programme – has been launched by the College of Health Sciences at the Mgedula Primary School in Ingwavuma in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

‘The project explores and draws lessons from ways different African health systems tackle infectious diseases,’ said TIBA co-Deputy Director and SA team leader, Professor Moses Chimbari of UKZN’s Discipline of Public Health.

TIBA aims to empower African scientists to effectively and sustainably tackle often neglected tropical diseases such as schistosomiasis, malaria, trypanosomiasis and lymphatic filariasis, and improve preparedness for epidemics such as ebola.

The International project involves nine countries – South Africa (UKZN), Ghana (University of Ghana), Sudan, Kenya (Kenya Medical Research Institute), Tanzania (National institute for Medical Research), Zimbabwe (University of Zimbabwe and the Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe), Botswana (University of Botswana), Rwanda and Uganda.

Chimbari and his team have been working with the Ingwavuma community for the past four years on a project known as Malaria and Bilharzia in Southern Africa (MABISA).

‘TIBA is essentially a successor of MABISA but now deals with a wider spectrum of diseases,’ said Chimbari.

Dr Harvey Vaughan-Williams of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health (DOH) in the uMkhanyakude District commended the project and pledged the support of the DOH. He suggested that the project look at the efficacy of existing drugs.

Mgedula Primary School learners performed a play for guests and the community showcasing their understanding of malaria and bilharzia and how it was usually not possible to treat such diseases using traditional medicine.

Local authorities in the area pledged their support for the project.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini