Clare Elwell with infant taking part in the BRIGHT study: Image credit Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Since recording the first brain images of babies in Africa, Professor Clare Elwell (Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, UCL) has been leading a pioneering study to increase our understanding of early brain development. Here Clare tells us about bringing a new imaging technology to a remote Gambian village, and how it could help babies suffering from malnutrition reach their full potential.
Before they reach five years of age, one in four children across the globe are malnourished. There’s a lot of research showing the detrimental impact this has on their development. But we know very little about what’s going on inside their brains. Read more
Forming the front line of research operations, fieldworkers carry out a vital role in the work of the MRC’s unit in The Gambia. Ashwin Mehta, from the MRC resilience team, supports training in the field and explains how the work carried out by fieldworkers is fundamental to saving lives and improving health.
A fieldworker talks to a mother at the immunisation clinic
MRC research operations in The Gambia consist of fieldwork in communities and clinical work in hospitals and clinics, which generates samples and data to be used in laboratory research.
As well as interacting with communities to promote the MRC mission and getting consent from communities to conduct medical research, fieldworkers are responsible for a wide range of activities from disseminating health information to collecting data and samples from people in local communities.
The MRC Unit in The Gambia currently employs more than 300 fieldworkers across three main sites in Fajara, Keneba and Basse. Fieldworkers are recruited from the local population with the equivalent of secondary-school education, and trained up on the job. Mafuji Dibba, Fieldworker Training Manager, has been working in the field for 30 years and has worked at all three sites: “Fieldworkers’ experience as they progress gives them a good idea of disease prevention and treatment. This allows them to serve as advisors in their communities. Read more