South and Southeast Asian Community-based Trials Network MORU
Progress updates

COVID-19 update

Daily case numbers of COVID-19 have been increasing in Laos, with the majority diagnosed in workers in the south returning from neighbouring countries. The total on 19 July was 3,187, with 4 deaths recorded. The major concern is that the delta variant will take hold causing numbers to sky-rocket. There are more than 6000 people in quarantine centres and lockdown measures have been extended until 3 August. LOMWRU continues some field studies: LAMPA, acute respiratory virus surveillance and Spot Sepsis, and is preparing cautiously for SEACTN and ACORN2.

– Liz Ashley.


The works on the new office building have been completed and we’ll be ready to work there regularly as soon as it will be safe to do so. We are also very happy to join the SEACTN network and have been busy preparing all necessary documents to get the projects approved.

Progress updates

SEACTN kicks off, holds training

LOMWRU’s active Preparations for the Southeast Asia Clinical Trials Network (SEACTN) project continue, with training sessions the week of 5 April organized by MORU CTSG on all aspects of study implementation. From left, Drs Khambang Seevanhthong, Ailatda Soulivong and Xaipasong Xaipaset model their new uniforms which will ensure they are easily identifiable as they travel between health centres in Savannakhet to monitor SEACTN activities. 

SEACTN is one of the large multicentre Flagship projects funded by Wellcome Innovations and led by MORU Bangkok’s Prof Yoel Lubell. In Laos a large part of the research will be conducted in health centres in three districts (Atsapangthong, Phalanxay and Phin) of Savannakhet province. The project aims to better understand febrile illness in rural areas of South and Southeast Asia by developing a framework for the collection of information about the burden and impact of febrile illness. 

Previously, from 31 March-2 April, the team made an SEACTN preparatory visit to Savannakhet province. They received a warm welcome from key collaborator, Dr Tiengkham Pongvongsa, the Director of the Provincial Health Office (standing left with Dr Manivanh Vongsouvath and SEACTN Laos country coordinator Dr Koukeo Phommasone). The heads of all three district hospitals were enthusiastic about their districts taking part in SEACTN. The team had planned to return in May to start community engagement activities and training for health centre staff. Unfortunately, this may not be possible due to the recent lockdown. 

Text courtesy of Liz Ashley, with thanks to Dr Xaipasong for photo.

Progress updates

Progress highlights

Community engagement and training videos complete

With our collaborators from Digital MEdIC at the Stanford Center for Health Education, we’ve prepared 2 videos in multiple languages that will be used to explain the project to community members and patients, and to train VHWs on how to collect dried blood spots. Here are the English versions:

Community engagement video
Training video for the preparation of dried blood spots

SEACTN is extending to Cambodia!

We recently received the exciting news that the Global Fund will support the expansion of the SEACTN network to Cambodia. The funding will allow us to work in an additional ~130 villages in Battambang and Pailin provinces, where Village Malaria Workers are currently in place, but as elsewhere in the region they have seen sharp declines in malaria incidence, and testing rates have fallen.

Despite the challenging environment, SEACTN/RFI projects are gearing up for launch:

  • Protocols for Work Package A, the verbal autopsies, and the Stakeholder Analysis approved by OxTREC
  • Local health authorities in all countries have been informed of the programme and have confirmed their support
  • 486 villages and 28 health centres in Laos selected for inclusion in WP-A
  • eCRF developed on Commcare and undergoing testing
  • Laboratory equipment purchased including a BD-MAX multiplex PCR platform, a MagNa Pure NA purification instrument; -80c freezer, a biosafety cabinet.
  • Multiplex molecular panels developed
  • Community engagement and patient information videos scripted (6 languages) and currently in production.
Progress updates

Scoping in Savannakhet for SEACTN and Spot Sepsis

Prof Mayfong Mayxay, Dr Koukeo Phommasoneand Liz Ashley flew to Savannakhet on 1 June to meet up with Dr Tiengkham Pongvongsa to plan for the SEACTN and Spot Sepsis studies in the province. (Assoc Prof Yoel Lubell, Head of Economics & Implementation Research Group (EIRG), MAEMOD, is the PI for both projects.) SEACTN is a MORU Network project taking place in Laos, Bangladesh and Myanmar. In Laos most of the work will be done at health centre level. During the visit, they stopped off at Phalanxay District Hospital which was a trip down memory lane for Prof Mayfong, pictured looking at a picture of the life cycle of Plasmodium falciparum as seen by light microscopy (created by Dr Kamolrat Silamut, MORU) that was still on the lab wall, 18 years after Mayfong put it there.