Young scientists in Portsmouth create awareness campaign to fight malaria’s spread

Thomas Locke, left, and Rohin Kachroo at Portsmouth Grammar School

Thomas Locke, left, and Rohin Kachroo at Portsmouth Grammar School

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TWO children have presented their life-saving plans to tackle rising malaria rates in poverty-stricken countries to a panel of industry experts.

Ambitious Thomas Locke, 14, and Rohin Kachroo, 14, have spent months designing an awareness campaign to combat the deadly disease.

The Year 9 Portsmouth Grammar pupils crafted their own website, filled with lifesaving tips and advice – which caught the eye of scientists at healthcare company GSK.

And yesterday, the duo were among six teams from across the UK shortlisted to present their ideas to a panel of experts at the Science Museum in London.

Thomas, of Portsmouth, said it was an honour for the pair and that they were delighted with the opportunity.

‘This is a huge achievement for us,’ he said.

‘We weren’t expecting it at all. We put a lot of effort into it – probably about 100 hours.

‘It shows that hard work does pay off.’

The duo stood up and spoke for 15 minutes about their website Fight Malaria.

The webpage has detailed advice on how to prepare when travelling to malaria hotspots, as well as a mobile app platform which can be downloaded.

The boys have also created a series of education packages that can be downloaded, designed to help people avoid infection, which can be distributed to more remote areas in the world.

The safety drive was inspired by Rohin, of Havant, whose father survived contracting malaria.

Their efforts earned them a third place out of more than 100 other entries nationwide.

Rohin said: ‘When we first started off we didn’t expect to come this far. It was just a pastime. It’s been an amazing experience’

Thomas added the experience had taught the pair a huge amount about the dangers posed by the disease.

He said: ‘I think that malaria is a big, big threat – millions of people die every year because of it.

‘Education is a vital part in the fight against malaria and that’s something we really wanted to focus on.’

The boys’ efforts have been overseen by the grammar school’s head of digital learning Hywel Stayte.

He said he was immensely proud of their work.

‘The boys have worked incredibly hard for this competition and making the shortlisting is a fantastic achievement,’ Mr Stayte said.

‘They have both demonstrated exceptional dedication and skill in the creation of their website for the competition.

‘They have researched extensively into malaria and their solution to the mission set by GSK.

‘The school and I are very proud of what Thomas and Rohin have achieved so far.’

To view the pair’s website and see their work, visit www.sites.google.com/pgs.org.uk/fightmalaria/home.

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