An important aspect of the freeBILy project is to provide capacity building and training opportunities for both African and European centres in helminth diagnostic techniques, applied epidemiology and mother-child public health interventions. The aim of Workpackage 3 of the project is to deliver the required training measures to implement freeBILy study procedures and laboratory diagnostic methods in a standardized manner that adheres to quality assurance procedures. This workpackage is being led by Dr. Andrea Kreidenweiss of Eberhard Karls University (EKUT) who has a solid track record of training individuals at EKUT as well at freeBILy partner Centre de Recherches Médicales de Lambaréné (CERMEL) in Gabon. FreeBILy also serves as a network between project partners for training and capacity building of health care workers such as clinical teams at antenatal healthcare centres, laboratory personnel and (bio)medical students.

Since the start of the freeBILy project, training of students from CERMEL at EKUT has been under way and involves in-depth immersion into parasite diagnostic techniques that will be implemented during freeBILy field studies in Gabon.

Johanna Griesbaum of EKUT guiding Gédéon Prince Manouana, a PhD student from CERMEL, through parasitic diagnostic techniques as part of training at EKUT

Training of field teams in Madagascar

Training has also been an important component of field preparation activities in Madagascar. Currently, freeBILy partners Professor Raphaël Rakotozandrindrainy of Université d’Antananarivo, Professor Rivo Rakotoarivelo of Université de Fianarantsoa and Dr. Mala Rakoto Andrianarivelo of Centre d’Infectiologie Charles Mérieux Madagascar, have been working closely with partners from Bernhard-Nocht-Institut für Tropenmedizin (BNITM) in the training of staff for field activities. In November 2018, the BNITM coordination team led a successful good clinical practice training course for field staff in Madagascar. In addition, training in general activities such as the assessment of haemoglobin levels in the field has also been performed.

FreeBILy field staff in Madagascar being trained on good clinical practice by Dr. Daniela Fusco of the BNITM coordination team

Group picture of trainers and trainees who participated in freeBILy general training in Ambositra, Madagascar, held 21-28 November 2018

Laboratory technician Marie Dechenaud from BNITM trains freeBILy field staff in Madagascar on how to perform haemoglobin measurements using a point of care HemoCue® device

Certificates ceremony for fieldworkers who participated in freeBILy general training in Ambositra, Madagascar, held 21-28 November 2018

By the end of freeBILy project, it is expected that there will be an infrastructural upgrading of African research centres with state of the art diagnostic methods for the detection of schistosomiasis. It is also anticipated that there will be the implementation of study-specific diagnostic standard operating procedures with quality assurance measures.

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