Carrie Hessler-Radelet, deputy director of the Peace Corps, discusses the agency’s work in HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and support in an AIDS.gov blog post. “Last year alone, 52 percent of all Peace Corps Volunteers engaged in such work in communities overseas,” she writes, noting, “In 2013, through the Global Health Service Partnership, we look forward to placing doctors and nurses as adjunct faculty in training institutions in Africa.” She says that every volunteer working in Africa is trained in HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness, outlines how volunteers contribute to the fight against the disease, and concludes, “So many of today’s inequalities, such as poverty, hunger, and HIV/AIDS, still loom large in much of our world. But, even as we face new challenges, we must continue to work together to make sure we can achieve an AIDS-free generation” (7/18).
With Africa’s “emerging position in the global order, … [a]stute African leaders are striving to ensure that this realignment delivers a new paradigm of partnership for sustainable health development — a partnership that is led by Africa, for Africans, through African-sourced solutions,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in a Huffington Post “Impact Blog” opinion piece. The African Union is taking steps “to reduce the continent’s dependence on foreign solutions and foreign ‘aid’ while adopting and scaling up development solutions that have been proven to work in different African countries, and finding better and more sustainable approaches to financing them,” he states. “It makes a lot of sense to apply such an approach to addressing three killer diseases: AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria,” he continues, adding that “the overreliance of Africa’s AIDS response on foreign investments, foreign drugs and foreign solutions must be addressed.”
As part of its “AIDS Turning Point” series, GlobalPost examines how the United States and its African partners are designing clinical trials at four African sites to test whether a combination of prevention methods and strategies — “notably the vaccine-like preventative effect on transmission when someone starts taking AIDS drugs, as well as the life-long protection afforded to many due to male circumcision” — could “put them on the road to a Holy Grail: the numbers of HIV infections tumbling down.”
“African leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to efforts to eliminate malaria, after they were informed that unprecedented success in scaling up malaria control interventions resulted in one third reduction of malaria deaths in African in the last decade,” PANA/Afriquejet reports, adding “the leaders made the commitment at a high level meeting presided over by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Chair of African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), in Addis Ababa, on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit which opened in the Ethiopian capital Sunday.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday named Asha-Rose Migiro of Tanzania, a former U.N. deputy secretary-general, as the new Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, according to a U.N. statement, PANA/Afriquejet reports. As deputy secretary-general from 2007 to 2012, Migiro “was integrally involved in promoting the AIDS response globally and within Africa, with special emphasis on reducing the vulnerability of women and girls and ensuring the rights of people living with HIV,” the news service writes (7/14).
The WHO and FDA approve drugs to treat malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases in low- and middle-income countries, but “some of the manufacturers, predominantly Chinese and Indian firms, may be knowingly producing” poor quality medicines, according to “the conclusion of my research teams’ studies, published this week in the journal Research and Reports in Tropical Medicine,” Roger Bate, resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute and lead author of the studies, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. “With little or no oversight, these companies may be cutting corners in the manufacturing process — or worse, watering down the active ingredient in their drugs, perhaps when the price of the raw material spikes and supply becomes harder to obtain,” he states, adding, “By exposing people to insufficient doses of the active ingredient, the drugs may also accelerate drug resistance and cause tremendous harm to whole populations in the long run.”
“[A] surge in money for [insecticide-treated] nets and other interventions” to fight malaria over the past decade has reduced the malaria-related death rate by 26 percent since 2000, and a “new push” to fight the disease, which killed 655,000 people in 2010, would have beneficial results, according to a report set to be released by Ray Chambers, the U.N. special envoy for malaria, an Economist editorial notes. “But raising the cash will be tricky and getting the promised result harder still,” the editorial states. The African Leaders Malaria Alliance estimates that “[u]niversal deployment of good treatment, diagnostics and preventive measures, including bed nets, would — in theory — prevent 640 million malaria cases and three million deaths by 2015, the paper explains,” and notes “[t]his would cost at least $6.7 billion between 2012 and 2015,” the Economist writes.
The results of three clinical trials published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine show that the antiretroviral drug Truvada, a combination of tenofovir and emtracitabine, can be “highly effective at preventing infection in HIV-free individuals — as long as those individuals take the drug every day as prescribed,” CNN’s “The Chart” reports (7/11). The strategy of using antiretrovirals to prevent HIV among healthy people at risk of contracting the virus is known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, USA Today notes. “Two studies from Africa in heterosexual patients found that the drugs reduced the rate of HIV infection by 62 percent to 75 percent, a success rate that’s comparable to results from studies of gay men,” the newspaper writes, adding, “A third study in African women at high risk of infection, however, was ended early after researchers saw the drugs had no effect on HIV rates, largely because fewer than 40 percent of study participants took their pills as instructed” (Szabo, 7/11).
UNICEF and the WHO “are warning of an alarming upsurge in cholera across West Africa’s Sahel region, the area at the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert running from Mauritania to Chad,” VOA News reports (Schlein, 7/10). “So far in 2012, cholera has killed nearly 700 people in West and Central Africa and more than 29,000 cases were reported,” according to a UNICEF press release (7/10). “Both UNICEF and WHO say they are critically short of funds to do what is needed to contain the outbreak,” but “[t]hey say action must be taken now before the number of cholera cases explodes,” VOA writes (7/10). IRIN examines efforts to curb the spread of cholera in Guinea, with the administration of a vaccine, and Sierra Leone (7/10).
“Many of Africa’s anti-malaria drugs are fake or of poor quality, weakening a crucial battle against the world’s deadliest disease, a new investigation has found,” GlobalPost reports, adding, “Many of the drugs — even those approved by the World Health Organization — are Chinese fakes or low-quality variants that failed quality tests, according to two new studies released today” (Conway-Smith, 7/10). “Two studies published in Research and Reports in Tropical Medicine suggested manufacturing problems, rather than counterfeiting, may be to blame for these substandard drugs in low- and middle-income countries around the world,” Agence France-Presse writes (7/10). Writing in a Business Day opinion piece published on Tuesday, “Roger Bate, lead author of the studies and a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, warned of ‘unthinkable’ public health consequences from drug resistance,” GlobalPost notes.