Child Survival Seed Funding

Lead Research Organisation: MRC Unit, The Gambia


Child Survival is one of three Themes of the Gambian MRC Unit, and is core business for MRC research.
The international community is committed to reducing deaths among children, a commitment reflected in the Millennium Development Goals. Saving children’s lives needs an emphasis on both prevention and treatment of severe childhood disease, and these are the focus of the Child Survival Theme’s work.
Our major current work is on prevention of severe illness in children through vaccination (pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccines), and understanding the causes of severe diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea and treatments for these. Understanding what infections are most responsible for these key diseases helps us know how best to treat them when they occur and also helps guide efforts in developing vaccines. Understanding social, environmental and nutritional causes of severe disease also helps us to know how we might prevent disease and death in ways that complement vaccination.
The Child Survival Theme will be building on its strengths to pursue two major thrusts in coming years: sick child studies (in the context of our contact with and care of sick children) and community preventive studies (in the context of our community work).

Technical Summary

Child Survival is one of three Themes of the Gambian MRC Unit, and encompasses research directed at reducing child mortality.
The Child Survival Theme pursues research on both prevention and treatment of severe childhood disease. Its major current activities are studies of severe pneumonia, pneumococcal disease, Hib disease, and diarrhoeal disease, all leading causes of child mortality. Core strengths in these areas have translated into substantial external funding support.
Severe pneumonia studies focus on risk factors and aetiology of pneumonia, and our strength in this area has led to participation in the Gates-funded Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health (PERCH) seven-country study. A grant from MRC DPFS has recently been won to develop oxygen delivery systems for the treatment of hypoxaemia. Our strength in pneumococcal research has led to a major pneumococcal conjugate vaccine effectiveness study funded by PneumoADIP and the Gates Foundation. Similarly our track record in Hib research has continued with the first long-term Hib vaccine effectiveness study in Africa, funded by GAVI’s Hib Initiative. The Child Survival Theme is also pursuing diarrhoeal research as part of the Gates-funded Global Enterics Multi-Center Study.
The Child Survival Theme continues to direct its efforts into the areas where it can make the most impact. This seed funding supports the development of the Child Survival research agenda, including the securing of further research funding, to promote the impact on child health of MRC’s investment.


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Barger-Kamate B (2016) Pertussis-Associated Pneumonia in Infants and Children From Low- and Middle-Income Countries Participating in the PERCH Study. in Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America

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Hossain MJ (2013) Serogroup W135 meningococcal disease, The Gambia, 2012. in Emerging infectious diseases

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Howie SR (2016) Childhood pneumonia and crowding, bed-sharing and nutrition: a case-control study from The Gambia. in The international journal of tuberculosis and lung disease : the official journal of the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease

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Huang H (2014) Discovery and validation of biomarkers to guide clinical management of pneumonia in African children. in Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America

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Naydenova E (2016) The power of data mining in diagnosis of childhood pneumonia. in Journal of the Royal Society, Interface

Description Gambia Hib vaccine impact
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Description Proteomic Collaboration Oxford 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Design and conduct of epidemiological study to identify diagnostic biomarkers for pneumonia
Collaborator Contribution Design and conduct of proteomic laboratory analyses to identify diagnostic biomarkers for pneumonia
Impact Nil to date. Patent applications pending
Start Year 2009
Description genome-wide gene expression in severe pneumonia 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Department Division of Pathway Medicine
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We designed the clinical and epidemiological aspects of the study
Collaborator Contribution Sharing of skills in bioinformatics
Impact Nil publications as yet
Start Year 2008
Title Oxygen delivery system 
Description A novel oxygen delivery system for use in developing country health facilities is under development. Funding has been secured under the MRC DPFS scheme to pursue this further 
Type Therapeutic Intervention - Medical Devices
Current Stage Of Development Refinement. Non-clinical
Year Development Stage Completed 2012
Development Status Under active development/distribution
Impact This product represents a development from earlier oxygen delivery work that has improved patient care in more than one health facility in The Gambia. The ultimate aim is to contribute to mortality reduction 
Description World Pneumonia Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact MRC supported the Ministry of Health in organising rallies in Banjul, Bansang and Basse to mark the first World Pneumonia Day. MRC staff including SH spoke at the rallies. Subsequent WPDs have been observed similarly, notably 2011 and 2012

These World Pneumonia Day activities were covered by Gambian news media and given wide exposure in the country.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2011,2012