July 2011

A monthly means to inform and inspire our TEAM

July 2011
Vol. 2, No. 7

Vinca Minor

Vinca Minor

Flower Power

Vincristine, one of the three main chemotherapy drugs used to treat BL patients, is a plant-based drug that comes from a group of flowering plants of the genus Vinca. Most of us know that it grows in East Africa, but have we ever seen it? Do we know which flower it is?

Last month, a visiting doctor decided that our nascent EMBLEM complex at Shirati of offices, lab, and treatment unit needed beautification. During a visit to an outlying clinic, she spotted some roadside flowers that seemed to fill her requirements. On the next trip, she took along a hoe and basin, and came back with the purple and white flowers, that she planted all around the courtyard of the EMBLEM office. Much to my delight, I soon confirmed, thanks to Wikipedia,that she had surrounded the place with Vinca minor, popularly known as Periwinkle!
Dr. Esther Kawira, Editor


Case and control enrollment:

EMBLEM has screened 81 subjects and enrolled 39. On July 12th, the EMBLEM team trained staff from six HC-IIs from six districts of the North Central region to collect HC-II Registry data on OPD attendances. The trainees will collect data from HC-IIs for 14 days. This information will be used to guide enrollment of pilot HC-II controls. The trainees will also serve as EMBLEM Community Representatives to facilitate enrollment of population controls.

Laboratory Setup :

The Laboratory equipment delivered to Kuluva hospital included the CBC machine, centrifuge, safety cabinet and other laboratory supplies. The freezer will be taken at a later date.


The Uganda EMBLEM team hosted a number of visitors including the EMBLEM PI Dr. Sam Mbulaiteye, Study Manager Benjamin Emmanuel, and Study Administrator Erisa Sunday. The PI’s visit coincided with a training visit by three laboratory technicians and a data manager from Tanzania, and a laboratory technician from Kuluva.

  • PI and Trainees

    PI and Trainees

  • Loading Lab Equipment and Supplies for Kuluva

    Loading Lab Equipment and Supplies
    for Kuluva

  • PI with some Tanzania and Uganda EMBLEM Staff

    PI with some Tanzania and Uganda
    EMBLEM Staff

  • L to R: Herry Dhudha, Felician Mgasa, Kheri Simeo, James Tunguye of EMBLEM Tanzania

    L to R: Herry Dhudha, Felician Mgasa,
    Kheri Simeo, James Tunguye of
    EMBLEM Tanzania

EMBLEM Kenya building at Homabay


The Homabay Laboratory was completed and handed over to the Medical Superintendent. Homabay District Hospital and is ready for occupation. The Assistant Minister for Internal Security Hon Orwa Ojode toured the facility and was very happy with what EMBLEM is doing in the region.

Healthcare providers were sensitized about childhood cancer in the two participating institutions and given the registry forms.

A successfully treated BL patient at the EMBLEM study center in Shirati

EMBLEM Tanzania

An EMBLEM Study data manager and 3 lab technicians underwent training at Lacor Hospital in Gulu, Uganda, hosted by AFENET and EMBLEM Uganda. Meanwhile, renovations were carried out on the buildings which will house the EMBLEM study center in Shirati. At Bugando Medical Center in Mwanza, registration and enrollment of cases for the INCTR treatment trials for BL are underway and the final lab and office setup plans are being completed for EMBLEM.

A successfully treated BL patient at the EMBLEM study center in Shirati


EMBLEM Team on a Fact Finding Mission: After the training, the Uganda EMBLEM team took its visitors to learn more about the history of Uganda. The teams visited one historical site in Uganda where Sr. Samuel Baker established a fort (1872–88). This fort accommodated other prominent historians who included Sr. Gordon and Sr. Emin Pasha. The place is gifted with naturally molded rocks that one shouldn’t miss visiting. Before Sr. Samuel Baker occupied the fort, it was used to keep slaves. The execution marks of slaves which are still visible were distressing to the visitors.

  • On the way to Sr. Samuel Baker Fort

    On the way to Sr. Samuel Baker Fort

  • Sr. Samuel Baker Fort

    Existing structures at the Fort

  • Naturally curved stones.

    Naturally curved stones at the fort.

EMBLEM Newsletter is a monthly on-line publication based on contributions of the EMBLEM Study staff.
Editor: Dr. Esther Kawira
Reporters: EMBLEM Uganda – Mike Mbaziira; EMBLEM Kenya – Pam Akinyi Were; EMBLEM Tanzania – Josiah Magatti