You are here: HomeNews2003 02 20Article 33113

General News of Thursday, 20 February 2003

Source: DG

Noguchi to develop bilharzia vaccine

THE Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) has initiated work towards the development of a vaccine against schistosomiasis (bilharzia).

The research has so far shown promising results with the identification of antigenes that can destroy the parasites which cause the disease.

A Senior Research Fellow of the NMIMR, Dr Kwabena M. Bosompem, who disclosed this in an interview in Accra, said research is also on-going on the use of molecular, biological and gene cloning techniques to identify potential vaccine candidates for the control of the disease.

He said schistosomiasis is one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases in the country and the parasites can be found in the Volta Lake, the Weija Dam and almost all inland water bodies in the country.

According to him, the disease causes damage to the kidney and the urinary bladder and can reduce fertility in both men and women.

Dr Bosompem said one major breakthrough that the institute has made in the control of the disease is the development of a more sensitive diagnostic technique to ensure the control of the disease.

He explained that the primary requirement for the control of the disease is accurate diagnosis.

Dr Bosompem said hitherto, diagnosis has been done with the use of a microscope which is not sensitive enough and has been found to have detected only 60 per cent of the parasites.

He appealed to the government and health partners to allocate more resources for the control of the disease. Throwing more light on the school-based parasitic control programme, Dr Bosompem said the main objective is to intensify school health education which has improved significantly the health status of children in Japan, for intance.

He said the programme will serve as an entry point to educate children, teachers and parents to lead healthy lifestyles as a means of reducing the disease burden in the country.

Dr Bosompem said model projects which were initiated in some schools in Dangme East have proved successful and will be replicated in schools nationwide.