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Analysis of anti-malarial drug treatment & prevention programs in Uganda


GLOBES/IGERT trainee Becky Miller takes her scientific research studying the genetic basis for drug resistance in parasites that cause malaria to another level by examining government prevention and treatment programs in Uganda in collaboration with the Ford Family Program of the Kellogg Institute at the University of Notre Dame. The GLOBES dialog and collaboration with the Ford Family Program builds on Notre Dame’s partnership with Uganda Martyrs University, the Millennium Villages project, and the people of two Ugandan villages where disease, poverty, illiteracy, environmental degradation and a lack of infrastructure are major challenges.

Miller returns to Nnindye, Uganda, for a second trip during Summer 2009 to undertake two areas of research focus identified during an exploratory assessment trip in June 2008. With the assistance of a GLOBES summer research student, Miller plans to conduct a comprehensive review of original government program and policy documents followed by a survey of local inhabitants of Nnindye on perceptions of malaria treatment programs. This survey, in addition to a survey administered by the Ford Family Program in the Fall of 2008, will lead to an assessment of the program’s outcomes using malaria case numbers, public perception, and successful completion of stated goals. A second undertaking will be to collect antimalarial drug samples from both certified and non-certified private sector drug shops throughout Nnindye, with a goal of sampling every drug shop in Nnindye. The prevalence of non-certified drug shops contributes to a supply of counterfeit anti-malarial drugs that hinder treatment programs. The Ford Family Program’s established relationships in Nnindye will provide the researchers with access to faculty members at Uganda Martyrs University with expertise in Ugandan health care policies as well as assist with interpreters for conducting surveys and access to health care workers, policy makers and local citizens.

Upon return to the states Miller and her assistant plan to conduct extensive testing of the drug samples at Notre Dame’s Center for Environmental Science & Technology in order to assess the quantity and purity of the active compound in the anti-malarial drugs using high performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. The final phase of the project involving data analysis and reporting is planned for completion by the end of August with a goal of creating a better understanding of the efficacy of current drug treatment programs to reduce the incidence and impact of malaria in Nnindye, Uganda.

Address Goals

Miller’s project integrates the multiple skill sets and knowledge advanced by the interdisciplinary approach of the GLOBES training program and applies this training to the real world concern of malaria treatment in underdeveloped countries. The question of successful treatment and prevention of malaria goes beyond answers provided by science alone and includes an integrated approach that looks at social, economic and policy ramifications that influence success rates leading to eradication of the disease. Secondly, the analysis of malaria drug treatment in Nnindye will lead to a better understanding of disease prevention by informing policy-makers, local citizenry, and merchants of the needs for high standards of control and education in managing the disease.