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Malaria Conference Addresses RTS,S Vaccine, Tools, Treatment

On Tuesday at the 5th Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Pan-African Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, scientists and global health experts focused on malaria eradication, Agence France-Presse reports. “Key among the strategies … is the development of an effective anti-malaria vaccine, a project scientists have been researching since the late 80s. … RTS,S is the most clinically advanced malaria vaccine so far, according to the Malaria Vaccine Initiative,” the news service writes (11/3).

Agence France-Presse Reports On Efforts To Eradicate Sleeping Sickness In Sub-Saharan Africa

Agence France-Presse reports on human African trypanosomiasis, “commonly known as sleeping sickness, which is transmitted by tsetse flies found in 36 sub-Saharan African countries,” writing, “Without treatment in four months to a year, ‘the parasite penetrates into the brain, causing serious neurological symptoms, until death,’ said Doctor Benedict Blaynay, head of neglected tropical diseases at French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi.” The news service highlights efforts to control the disease in Chad, noting, “For the people living in Chad’s rural communities, the strange symptoms of sleeping sickness have long been shrouded in superstition about witchcraft and demonic possession. But the World Health Organization says it is not a losing battle.”

African Journalists Announce First Continent-Wide Health Journalism Network

“Journalists from across Africa announced the creation of the first continent-wide professional association of health journalists,” South Africa’s Health-e reports. “The new organization, the African Health Journalists Association, aims to improve the quality and quantity of reporting on health issues so that people across the continent can make healthy choices for their lives,” the news agency writes, adding, “The group’s media coverage will encourage the best possible public health programs and policies throughout the continent.” “‘This network will take health journalism to a new level of professionalism and cooperation in Africa,’ said Joyce Barnathan, president of the International Center for Journalists, which organized the meeting at the request of African journalists,” according to Health-e (7/6).

GlobalPost Reports On Cuba's Medical Outreach To Africa

GlobalPost reports on Cuba’s medical outreach to Africa, writing, “A generation ago, Fidel Castro sent Cuban soldiers to intervene in African civil conflicts and fight the Cold War against U.S. proxies. Now, Cuba’s doctors are fanning out across the continent as the island expands its role in administering medical services to some of the world’s most ailing countries.” The news service continues, “Some 5,500 Cubans are already working in 35 of Africa’s 54 countries, Cuban Foreign Ministry official Marcos Rodriguez told reporters this week at a press conference in Havana,” noting, “Of those, 3,000 are health professionals, and 2,000 are doctors, he said.”

Journalists, Policy Experts, Bloggers Discuss Hunger Situation In Africa's Sahel

“Journalists, policy experts, bloggers (including myself) and World Food Programme staff joined in a robust discussion last week about the current hunger situation in Africa’s Sahel region, including its causes and what can be done moving forward,” Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, writes in this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, noting, “In the Google+ hangout, streamed on YouTube, Denise Brown, the World Food Programme’s country director for Niger, logged on from the capital, Niamey, to report precisely what is happening in the region and how people are faring in the wake of no rains, failed crops, and increased food prices.” She continues, “One of the primary points that Brown emphasized was about early warning systems and data propelled early intervention,” and concludes, “The state of the hunger crisis in the Sahel dictates that aid must happen now. But those who are working in the region, like Brown, understand that to prevent another food shortage next year ideas to combat another hunger season have to be employed” (6/8).

Vatican Official Calls On International Community To Provide 'Free, Efficient' HIV Treatment In Africa

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state and number two official, “called Friday on the international community to provide ‘free and efficient treatment’ for AIDS in Africa, starting with pregnant women, mothers and their babies,” Agence France-Presse reports (6/22). During a conference sponsored by the Sant’Egidio Community, which operates the DREAM program (Drug Resource Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition) in 10 African countries, “Bertone said the results of DREAM and research by the World Health Organization ‘confirm that universal access to care is achievable, scientifically proven and economically feasible,'” the Catholic News Service writes.

International Community Must Sustain Progress In Reducing Infant Mortality Rates

In this post in the Huffington Post’s “World” blog, Cecilia Attias, former first lady of France and president and founder of the Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women, responds to a recent paper, published by the World Bank, which discusses significant declines in infant and under-five mortality in Kenya and across sub-Saharan Africa. She writes, “Africa’s swift economic growth has become a familiar story; but the fact that fewer children are dying than before — that people’s lives are getting better on the ground — is arguably more heartening than accounts of improvements in African industry or infrastructure or business (though the trends are probably connected).”

UNAIDS Executive Director Calls On African Leaders To Reduce 'Triple Dependency' On External Sources Of HIV Drugs, Commodities, Technologies

“Delivering a speech at [Wednesday's] opening session of the 16th Conference of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe congratulated leaders across the region for their personal commitment to the HIV response, specifically with regard to upholding human rights and protecting human capital,” UNAIDS reports in an article on its website. “Addressing eight Heads of State and other high-level participants in Lome, Togo, he called on African leaders to reduce their ‘triple dependency’ on external sources for HIV drugs, commodities, and technologies,” the agency writes, adding, “To ensure the health and security of their populations, African leaders should focus greater attention and resources on the local production of medicines, said the UNAIDS executive director” (6/6).

WHO Identifies Best Target Areas For Seasonal Malaria Treatment

“Pre-emptive treatment of children living in regions where [malaria] is prevalent only during the rainy season could avert 11 million cases and 50,000 deaths a year,” the journal Nature reports, adding, “The estimates are based on the world’s first guidance on seasonal malaria chemoprevention, issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March.” “‘One-size-fits-all policies, like bed nets, are great,’ explains Rob Newman, director of the WHO’s Global Malaria Programme in Geneva,” Nature writes. “But for policies with a number of requirements, we need these sorts of analyses to help policymakers chart the path forward,” he added, according to the journal. “Researchers think that parts of Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger will emerge [as] the most promising candidates for seasonal chemoprevention according to three factors: malaria burden, predicted malaria seasonality and the efficacy of the drug combination sulphadoxine, pyrimethamine and amodiaquine (SP-AQ),” Nature adds (Maxmen, 6/6).

Political Will, Health Concerns, Increased Funding Driving Family Planning In Africa, Report Says

The Nairobi-based African Institute for Development Policy on Tuesday presented a report called “Africa on the Move!” at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, VOA News reports, noting the report “says that in some African countries, political will, maternal and child health concerns as well as more and more funding are helping to develop effective family planning.” According to VOA, “Steve McDonald, the host of the event and Africa director at the Wilson Center, said partnerships between governments and religious organizations, which sometimes provide the bulk of health services in remote areas, are also crucial.”