Six international students presented at UKZN’s College of Health Sciences’ Annual Research Symposium.
The presenters, all impressed by the standard of the event, were from Kenya, Tanzania and the Ivory Coast. Their attendance was fully sponsored by the National Research Foundation (NRF).
‘The well organised event was highly informative,’ said Ms Isabella Moraa of Kenya. ‘I enjoyed the presentation on the labour pains reducing herb. It was well organised and very good. I will recommend it to my colleagues back home.’
Ms Mary Simwango of Tanzania said: ‘I will tell everyone back home to attend the next one with me,’ while Ivory Coast national Mr Gbalegba Constant said he was impressed by the level of organisation. ‘The only thing missing was a social event after the Symposium,’ he joked.
About 100 oral and poster presentations were delivered by staff and postgraduate students from various Schools, disciplines and affiliated research centres as well as the international students.
Other international presenters were Mr M’bra K Richard from the Ivory Coast and Ms Anibanki Ngonyoka of Tanzania.
The internationals presented on subjects including trypanosomiasis, schitosomiasis, malaria, tsetse flies and rift valley fever.
Moraa’s study titled: “Distribution and Variability of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) and Malaria Vector Species in Baringo County, Kenya”, identified a total of 26 mosquito species comprising four RVF and three malaria vector species in the Baringo Region.
‘Knowledge on mosquito species distribution and local abundance is vital for effective control of vector borne diseases (VBDs) such as RVF and malaria,’ said Moraa.
Her study investigated the altitudinal distribution and variability of RVF and malaria mosquito vectors in the region.
She surveyed indoor and outdoor mosquitoes monthly between June 2015 and May 2016, using the pyrethrum spray collection method and CDC light traps for indoor and outdoor resting mosquitoes respectively, in four zones based on elevation.
She found that out of 12 204 mosquitoes collected, 49.4% were captured outdoors and 50.6% indoors. Indoor mosquitoes were 80% anophelines and 20% culicines while outdoor resting mosquitoes were 19.4 % anophelines and 80.6% culicines.
According to Moraa, Significant differences were observed in distribution of malaria and RVF vectors across the four zones with the lowland having the highest density of over 80% mosquitoes followed distantly by riverine zone at 15.6% while highlands and midlands had 3.2% and 0.7% respectively.
‘The findings imply greater risk of malaria and RVF outbreaks in the low lying regions of Baringo County thus should guide targeted vector control measures,’ she said.
College Dean of Research and Chair for the Symposium Committee, Professor Moses Chimbari, said the candidates had heard about the Symposium through a network of researchers focusing on vector-borne diseases and applying the ecohealth research approach, which he is a part of.
‘Because the NRF grant required us to bring international students to the Symposium, I contacted the three Principal Investigators of projects in Tanzania, Kenya and the Ivory Coast to recommend students who could attend the Symposium if their abstracts were accepted for presentation,’ said Chimbari.
The students were able to attend the Symposium through the NRF Knowledge Interchange and Collaboration (NRF-KIC) grant.