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Malaria research activities at Uganda's Makerere University have been boosted by grants from the African Malaria Network Trust (AMANET).

The university's medical school has received US$386,000 for a two-year project, launched on 2 August, which will be based at the Mulago Assessment Centre in Kampala, Uganda.

Charles Wanga, communications officer for AMANET told SciDev.Net it will increase the site's capability to conduct malaria vaccine trials.

The project, he said, will improve existing laboratory infrastructure and capacity and enhance general research.

About one million people die from malaria worldwide each year — mostly pregnant mothers and children under five — according to the World Health Organization. Malaria kills over 300 Ugandans per day, according to Wanga.

"If developed, a malaria vaccine will significantly contribute to saving precious lives by complementing current malaria intervention measures which focus on drug treatment and mosquito control," he added.

Parasite resistance is a major barrier to effective drug treatment and methods to control mosquito populations also have limited effectiveness.

AMANET has also given US$50,000 to the Health Research Ethics Project at the Makerere Faculty of Medicine Research and Ethics Committee to improve the process of reviewing research to ensure that it is ethical and of sound scientific quality.

Wanga said the three-year project will improve communication between the research ethics committee and researchers, and improve the committee's reviewing of research protocols and their implementation.

Nelson Sewankambo, dean of Makerere University Medical School, was recently quoted in the New Vision newspaper saying research ethics are important in medical trials because they "help avoid mistakes that might endanger people's lives".

He added that because there is always a risk of harm associated with research, sound ethical standards must be observed.