If you're traveling to the remote African archipelago Bijagos, you can expect to find a tropical paradise of pristine beaches and tropical tropical jungle.
But their languages are not just beautiful, they are also natural lab which provides a unique scenario to study possible cure for the most deadly diseases on the planet.
This group of 18 islands and 70 islands located off the Guinea-Bissau coastline, in West Africa, houses 30,000 people with their own language and, your unique traditions.
It is also about wildlife, among these are the hypopotamus of salt water and the large sea turtle, which grows in this respect isolated corner.
But these calm lands also lead to a number of serious diseases. Life expectancy in Guinea-Bissau is about 60 years and it is believed to be in the Bijagós Islands This figure is much smaller.
Malaria, severe eye infection of the trachoma name, y elephantiasis a y bowel worm There are some specific problems in this area.
However, the islands can also keep the secret to fight the same as those who are plagued.
Medical researchers have been working in the archipelago for many years to see if they can get rid of some diseases in some of the islands.
The reason why the islands also work as a natural laboratory its remote character.
Although this hinders daily activities, it's a very useful feature when trying eliminate disease.
Water creates a natural barrier that allows you to buy different disease control methods No risk of contra-contamination between probation scenarios.
In continental areas, people can enter probation areas, contamination and complicating the task of determining causes and effects.
On the other hand, insulating areas allow measurement with care and rigor to impact any interference made.
Although there are many archipelagoes in the world, there are very few islands close enough to each other to make it possible to work, but at the same time, far enough to reduce it; r interruption during experiments.
There are a few islands of these characteristics that are affected by so many diseases.
Initially, researchers from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) focused on traumatic, infectious disease and tabs in. It affects 1.9 million people worldwide and, globally, is the main cause of blindness that is can youn prevention.
Traumma can be transferred if infected hands, clothing or brakes come into contact with the eye. It is caused by way from y bacterium y chlamydia and is often spread in extremely populous areas that have insufficient sanitation facilities.
The disease is present in 42 countries and at one time, in the islands there were place villages and every child suffered.
Dr Anna Last, of LSHTM, identified areas with high risk of trachema before treatment whole communities with antibiotics to finish the transfer cycle.
Samples collected with swabs inside the eyelids before and after the procedure help researchers find the disease early. They are also used to identify which genetic types of infection were present.
This could improve understanding of what is happening after the disease is abolished locally.
If the tractor returns, it can be determined from it genetic stress if it comes from an external source or if it re-appears in that community.
The results were incredible. When the last work started, 25% of people had on the islands of the disease. Now, only 0.3% of people suffer from it.
This is not just below the World Health Organization (WHO) deletion threshold, which means that the disease is almost eliminated of the islands, but that the techniques developed can now benefit the world as a whole.
How to get to the Bijagos Islands
- From time to time it attracts incredible auditors, but it's not a typical holiday destination.
- Getting to the islands can be daunting, especially in the rainy season, when storms can come out of nowhere.
- The tour of the continent takes at least five hours on a small ferry full of people and animals.
- Few health centers are available. The largest one is on the main Bubaque island and medical supplies are limited.
- Although medical professionals provide the best care they can, distance and inaccessible make it difficult sometimes.
Trachoma is not the only problem faced by Bijagos people and is now acting on other diseases that exist in the islands.
Our current focus is malaria, which is spreading when female mosquitoes have parasite-infected with human bite. Initially, this leads to Symptoms such as fever and headaches but some more serious ones come to a rapid emergence. Malaria kills for almost half a million people worldwide every year.
Given the common malaria in the islands, where one in four people have been infected, it is not surprising that mosquitoes are very good at transmitting this disease.
Unfortunately, we also found some of them resistant insecticides.
This means that the most common types of fighting malaria – putting mosquito nets over beds and spraying with insecticides – would not work, which means that an alternative strategy needs to be put in place.
It is about to be approved new medication, which is transmitted to mosquitoes through the victim's bloodstream when it is wound.
Previous treatments have tended to attack the malaria parasite in the human body. But this medicine attacks the mosquitoes and malaria parasite, shortening its life.
In this test, all the islands will receive standard control equipment, such as mosquito nets. Some, the islands where there is "intervention", will also accept the medication. Other, the "control" islands will not do it.
There has been a team of local islanders trained in medical skills, how to take blood samples and process to detect malaria.
They have also learned how to collect and identify mosquitoes, with the help of Ba, a person from our field team who hopes to become the first specialist of theology or insect.
Looking forward to
It can still be seen if this medicine eliminates malaria on the islands once and for all.
In either way, it is likely that the lessons learned from studies have an impact far beyond the remote Bijagos Islands.
Each study helps us to learn about the disease itself and how it is transmitted, which will shape future research.
On the islands, this can be done faster, with more control and precision. We can see what the effects are in a defined area, which reaches the entire population.
The LSHTM project will continue to be Bijagos for at least another five years and, in the meantime, its findings are likely to be used to tackle large diseases, such as malaria, in other places.
*About this piece
This piece of analysis by the BBC was commissioned to a specialist working for an external organization. The two year study was funded on the eradication of infectious diseases in the Bijagos Islands by the UK Research and Innovation organization.
Professor James Logan is head of the Disease Control Department at the London Hygiene and Tropical Medicine School. Follow it on Twitter at @ProfJamesLogan.
Subject editadored by Eleanor Lawrie.
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