Latest “Medical Research” News

Latest “Medical Research” News

Enhancing HIV Medical Research in Tanzania – Tanzania Clinic – U.S Army Africa – 091005

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DoD: Enhancing HIV Medical Research in Tanzania

In 1986, Congress mandated the U.S Military HIV Research Program (MHRP)—centered at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research—to protect service personnel and serve the global community by reducing the risk of HIV infection. More than 20 years later, MHRP has become a leader in international HIV vaccine development efforts, with five research sites in Africa and Asia.

HIV Research in Tanzania
MHRP initiated HIV/AIDS research activities in Tanzania in 1999 in partnership with the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the GOT and the University of Munich at a research station in Mbeya (Southern Highlands). These activities, supported by funds from both the Army and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), involved fundamental and clinical research to develop a globally effective HIV vaccine. These activities later expanded to partnerships with Muhimbili University and the Karolinska Institute (Sweden).

HIV research activities include cohort development, HIV vaccine Phase I/II trials, co-infection studies with TB and malaria, and a viral subtype recombination study. To enable this research, MHRP developed extensive local research and laboratory infrastructure and capacity, in-country technical expertise, excellent administrative infrastructure, and strong partnerships with local researchers, health care services and non-governmental organizations.

HIV Prevention, Care and Treatment
Since 2004, MHRP has supported military and civilian counterpart organizations in Tanzania to fight HIV/AIDS through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Building on ongoing HIV research programs in the Mbeya Region, these activities have enabled the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to significantly enhance their care and treatment efforts. They now care for a quarter of all US Government-supported patients on ART in Tanzania.

Prevention, care and treatment services are provided through comprehensive engagement with the Tanzanian Peoples Defense Forces (TPDF) at all eight of its medical centers, 26 of its health centers, four mobile centers, 16 training camps, and 14 National Service training camps.

Research Expansion
In August 2008, TPDF requested enhanced medical research and disease control activities. This led to the establishment of pandemic influenza surveillance activities with TPDF, with funding from the DoD Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System (DoD-GEIS). This program will be expanded to include malaria surveillance next year.

These collaborative medical research opportunities have led to several high-level meetings between the U.S. and Tanzania. The TPDF Chief of Medical Services, Major Gen Kohi, engaged WRAIR in January 2009 for expanded research and disease control activities with TPDF and reinforced his commitment on a visit to WRAIR in April 2009. This led to a visit to WRAIR by President Kikwete on 24 May 2009 and a visit by WRAIR HIV and malaria scientists to Tanzania in June 2009 to detail a proposal to realize this vision.

WRAIR’s expertise in malaria diagnostics, along with its engagement with TPDF in HIV/AIDS, will help close the gap in malaria diagnosis and disease control at TPDF sites. This approach has been met with great enthusiasm by the (U.S.) President’s Malaria Initiative, both in the U.S. and in Tanzania (USAID and CDC components). President Kikwete endorsed this way forward at a private dinner at the State House in the presence of the visiting WRAIR team in June 2009 and the U.S. Mission to Dar es Salaam.

About MHRP

The brisk pace of deployments throughout the world requires MHRP to develop products and capabilities with an international scope. From its inception, MHRP has focused on HIV variants that circulate both in the developed (subtype B) and developing (non-subtype B) world. MHRP’s extensive international network and strong collaborative relationships have enabled it to work with affected communities toward a common goal—an effective preventive vaccine.

MHRP is centered at the Division of Retrovirology, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Rockville, MD and encompasses fours sites in Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Nigeria. The three East Africa sites have CAP-certified laboratories and MHRP is currently developing a research infrastructure in Nigeria. MHRP works closely with other military medical researchers, leveraging its capabilities to monitor and study other infectious disease threats including malaria, influenza and hemorrhagic fevers.

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