Secondary students tour NMCC
A group of almost 40 secondary school students from Lusaka International Community School (LCIS) recently received a tour of the National Malaria Control Center to learn about malaria and how the Zambian Ministry of Health and its partners are fighting the disease in their country.
“Raise your hand if you or someone you know has had malaria,” said Daniel Bridges, Akros Director of Research. Many hands around the room shot up, the students present all too familiar with the impact the disease can have on an individual. Pupils were then taken through an interactive presentation where they learned about how malaria is spread, how it can be prevented and how it is treated. A couple of the teachers even volunteered to be tested for the parasite (all negative thankfully) so that the students could all see the tests being used for real.
After the presentation the students visited three workstations that Bridges had prepared for the visit. At the molecular station they saw DNA moving through a gel by a process called electrophoresis. At the entomological station the students were able to see a real life insectary where mosquitoes are reared. Students were able to see firsthand all of a mosquito’s lifecycle stages from egg to larvae to pupae and finally to adult.. They were also able to see equipment used to catch mosquitos in the field including a backpack aspirator. The third stop was at the diagnostic station where the group looked at slides of red blood cells containing P. falciparum, the deadliest and most common Plasmodium species in Zambia.
Bridges pointed out that, to him, science is all about trying to understand what is happening in the world around you, something children are always doing anyway. “It’s exciting seeing them grapple and then understand a concept,” said Bridges. “Sparking their imagination to think through what could be happening in an experiment and then seeing it take place is very rewarding.”
“It was great to see the students get excited about the science behind the work that [Akros] does,” said Eileen Murphy, Chemistry teacher at LCIS. “They not only learned more about malaria, but also got to observe how a working laboratory operates.”
Akros is on the leading edge of malaria research and implementation, including a pilot program in which they designed, deployed and scaled an innovative, community-level surveillance platform to assist Zambia in achieving malaria elimination.