Science/Medicine
3:25 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Gates Foundation gives MSU $5.8 million to combat disease in Africa

Michigan State University will use a $5.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study bacterial diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, the leading cause of death for children in the region.

The AP writes:

The bacterial diseases include pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis and they kill more people in the area than malaria. The Nigeria-based project involves collecting local data on the diseases and promoting the use and development of vaccines.

A press release from MSU quotes the project's research leader Stephen Obaro:

"Nigeria, and many of its neighbors, continues to trail behind the developed world with high infant mortality rates and poor immunization coverage when it comes to these diseases," said Obaro..."The main reason is that the clinical importance of bacterial infections is poorly recognized, with most illnesses causing a fever being attributed to malaria or treated with antibiotics before a firm diagnosis can be made."

"Our goal is to increase the use of currently available but poorly utilized vaccines, stimulate development of new vaccines and monitor the impact of these vaccines or other appropriate preventive strategies," he said.

MSU says the research team will work with the University College Hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria to "establish a population-based surveillance program of 150,000-200,000 people in the southwest region of the nation," along with a hospital-based surveillance program in the country's north-central region.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom