On Tuesday 20th February 2017 two WHT scholars, Onthatile Serehete and Claire Keene, both medical doctors and MSc International Health and Tropical Medicine students had the rare opportunity to present to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria & NTDs at the Houses of Parliament.
In attendance among others was the APPG group chair MP Jeremy Lefroy. The presentations were based on the policy briefs topics as requested for the Parliamentary Office of in-house Science and Technology (POST) as part of their MSc course. The four POSTnotes delivered by the MSc students were intended to cover the most recent research, background information, and an indication of why the research is relevant to policy makers in the UK at this point in time. The POST-note presentations came on the day the UK APPG Group on Malaria & NTDs were also commemorating the 5th Anniversary of the London declaration on Fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases an event the students also had an opportunity to attend.
MSc in International Health and Tropical Medicine students at Parliament
Onthatile was part of a team that presented on how and where R&D investments in new tools should be directed in order to tackle tuberculosis drug resistance and lethal TB-HIV co-infections. With the UK government being one of the major donors to the Global Strategy to End TB the students recommended policy makers to prioritise diagnostics, vaccines and integrated TB-HIV services. Much can be achieved if drug-resistant TB was effectively prevented with vaccines as well as rapidly and accurately diagnosed, particularly in those co-infected in HIV.
Claire and her team presented on the role played by vaccines in controlling neglected tropical diseases. The current control strategies are inadequate or failing, and new technology is required if the world is to reduce the burden of these diseases. Vaccines offer a potential new tool in the arsenal against NTDs, but a lot more research is needed before they can be a viable option.
Claire Keene (South Africa) is a Louis Dreyfus-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann-Annenberg Scholar and Onthatile Serehete (Botswana) is an Oxford-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann Scholar. They are both studying the MSc in International Health and Tropical Medicine in the academic year 2016/17.