It was my intention to come to Jinja and work. But life got in the way.
Two hours of sleep isn’t enough to live on, but I mustered myself out of bed and went to the clinic. I hate early mornings anyways (plus it was Saturday), so I showed up a bit later, but all was well.
In brief, CE’s study is testing a gametocytocidal drug (primaquine) that blocks the transmission of malaria from humans to mosquitoes. According to the WHO, this drug can aid in shrinking malaria-endemic regions, but the optimal dose for safety and efficacy has never been determined. So, CE developed a randomized controlled trial of varying doses of primaquine alone, or primaquine plus artemetherlumefantrine (current treatment for uncomplicated falciprum malaria) in children aged 1-10 years. Follow up is 28 days (with 8 visits), after which pharmacokinetic, epidemiological, and safety outcome analyses will be done.
Everyone was eager to let me know what they were doing and it was really amazing to see an idea for a PhD turn into reality. The clinical aspects of this work are profound and it’s attracting me more and more into the clinical field.
Over the course of the week, I learned the process a child goes through to become part of the study (if they qualify). I quickly learned how to map with GPS and how to input children into their study’s system (and I was even able to go out into the field on my own). I saw children that were very sick with uncomplicated malaria, and ones that looked perfectly healthy. The study doctors spoke in at least four different tribal languages (fascinating), and if there was a language they couldn’t speak, English was used.
I saw the lab that was used and learned how to do a diagnosing blood smear for malaria. Even the simple act of staining a thick (or thin) blood smear and reading it is not very well done in local clinics. CE was saying she would never trust a local clinic for a diagnosis. To obtain high quality assessments, lab technicians were taught how to stain/read smears by LSHTM (the school affiliated with the study).
That Saturday evening, I met a bunch of Canadians through CE and we went to the Kingfisher Resort. Oh my… this is a little place of heaven! I regretted not coming earlier in the day (we arrived near sunset) so we could enjoy the pool for longer. It was a chilly yet good swim nonetheless.
We enjoyed dinner by the poolside and decided to call it an early night. I wasn’t able to get back into my hostel, yet again, even after we honked the car horn for a half an hour (the guard was probably off getting drunk somewhere). It was only 11pm, but no guard on duty is bad for business. Thankfully, this was the last time that happened!