U.S. Army Researchers Step Closer to Malaria Vaccine in Kenya

Friday November 20, 2009

What is it?

Soldiers and Army civilians assigned to the U.S. Army Medical Research Unit-Kenya(USAMRU-K)are celebrating 40 years of research in East Africa. The 40th anniversary comes amid one of USAMRU-K's greatest undertakings - a three-year study into what may become the world's first malaria vaccine for children. Known as MAL-55, the study tests the efficacy of the RTS,S vaccine. USAMRU-K has one of 11 sites in seven countries where the study is being conducted. In early November, U.S. Army medical researchers from USAMRU-K and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research also took part in the fifth Multilateral Initiative on Malaria Pan-African Malaria Conference held in Nairobi.

What has U.S. Army Africa done?

Medical initiatives with partner nations are a key component to USARAF engagements on the continent. During Natural Fire 10, a disaster relief and humanitarian aid exercise held recently in Uganda, U.S. Army Africa and East African military leaders worked together to respond to a simulated pandemic influenza scenario. With the establishment of USARAF and U.S. Africa Command, USAMRU-K is coordinating established missions with new initiatives on the continent. Meanwhile, USARAF is seeking new ways to partner with and support USAMRU-K as the unit continues to build medical research capabilities in Africa.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

USAMRU-K was first established in 1969 to study trypanosomiasis, a parasitic disease transmitted by the tsetse fly. In 1973, the Nairobi-based unit partnered with the Kenya Medical Research Institute. USAMRU-K now has 10 U.S. Army Soldiers, two Army civilians and over 400 Kenyan contractors who work together to research, test products and prevent disease. They continue to collaborate with Kenyan health officials, U.S. civilian and military organizations, private companies and universities, plus nongovernmental organizations and non-profit foundations.

Why is this important to the Army?

USAMRU-K laboratory research benefits Soldiers operating in areas where malaria is a risk. Malaria is a parasitic disease that follows one to two weeks following the bite of an infected female anopheles mosquito. Ongoing research also builds capacity within Kenya and neighboring East Africa nations, key to healthy partner nations and regional stability, in support of U.S. strategic objectives. U.S. Army medical experts in East Africa help partner nations face ongoing medical issues and prepare for crisis response to emerging diseases.

Resources:

For more information visit - U.S. Army Africa

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Fort McCoy Noncommissioned Officer Academy leaders honored at retirement ceremony

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