U.S. Soldiers Facilitate Malaria Laboratory Training in Tanzania

A team of U.S. Army instructors from Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa provided malaria microscopy training to 20 Tanzanian medical laboratory technicians, November 23 - December 4, 2009.

The instruction was conducted at the National Reference Laboratory and Quality Assurance Training Center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in cooperation with U.S. Army Medical Research Unit - Kenya (USAMRU-K) and their Kenyan partners, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the U.S. President's Malaria Initiative-Tanzania.

The 20 students, who are professional laboratory technicians, learned what is considered the "gold standard" of malaria diagnostics. Instructors used a train-the-trainer teaching style, encouraging students to serve as future malaria microscopy trainers in Tanzania. USAID and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief built the Tanzanian training center.

"This medical engagement is an excellent example of an interagency approach to meeting the needs of our Tanzanian partners," said U.S. Army Major Eric Wagar, director of USAMRU-K/KEMRI's Malaria Diagnostics and Control Center of Excellence.

A second malaria microscopy training session will be held in January. Tanzanian students from the first training session will serve as instructors for the second course. By training instructors, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), USAMRU-K and KEMRI are assisting the government of Tanzania in its response to future malaria outbreaks.

Malaria is a parasitic disease, transmitted by infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, which causes significant illness and death, mostly in children and in pregnant women, in sub-Saharan Africa according to Wagar.

"Diseases like malaria impose a significant health and economic burden on the people of Africa," said U.S. Army Major Remington Nevin, preventive medicine physician assigned to the 353rd Civil Affairs public health functional specialty team. "By providing training like this malaria microscopy course, we are empowering partner African governments to address issues that contribute to regional instability and human suffering."

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