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BBC News Examines HIV Microbicide Research

BBC News examines ongoing efforts to develop a female-controlled microbicide to prevent HIV infection. But so far, “efforts … have presented a great deal of frustration in the fight against this global epidemic,” the news service writes, detailing the history of some failed experiments. “According to the Microbicide Trials Network, there are currently nine different microbicide products in clinical trials,” BBC notes. Angela Obasi of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine said, “In many parts of the world — especially in the parts of the world where HIV is most prevalent — there are gender status issues that make it very tricky for a woman to control the circumstances under which she is exposed to HIV. … So methods that are controlled by women give them a critically important power over the safety of their own bodies,” according to the news service (Gill, 12/8).

U.N. Officials Call On Security Council, International Community To Tackle Complex Crisis In Sahel

“Top United Nations officials [on Monday] called on the Security Council and the wider international community to support efforts to develop an integrated strategy to tackle the complex and multifaceted crisis facing the Sahel region of West Africa,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘The warning lights for the Sahel region continue to flash,’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Council, as it met to discuss the situation in a region that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, and includes Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and parts of Sudan, Cameroon and Nigeria,” the news service writes. “In addition to political instability in Mali, the region — particularly in its west — suffers from extreme poverty, with human development levels among the lowest in the world, porous borders that present significant security challenges, as well as human rights problems,” according to the news service.

Vaccines Serve As ‘Engine For Economic Growth’

Vaccines “save lives by protecting people against disease,” but they “also are an engine for economic growth — far beyond their health benefits,” GAVI Alliance CEO Seth Berkley writes in a CNN opinion piece. GAVI and its “many partners, including prominent companies,” “recognize that in addition to the humanitarian need, countries such as Tanzania are emerging markets that can fulfill their economic ambitions only if they also can ensure good health for their citizens,” he states. Berkley describes efforts to increase vaccination rates in Tanzania, and he writes, “[W]e know for a fact that vaccines — in addition to saving lives and improving health — are the cornerstone of a vibrant economy, fuel growth and serve as a magnet for foreign investment. Indeed, research has shown vaccines to be among the most cost-effective investments in global development.”

GAVI Alliance To Support 30M HPV Vaccinations Among Girls By 2020

“In an effort to fight the human papillomavirus (HPV), the leading cause of cervical cancer, more than 30 million girls will be immunized against HPV by 2020 with GAVI support, the global health alliance announced on Thursday,” Xinhua/Global Times reports. “Rwanda and Uganda have been conducting HPV pilot projects through donations from vaccine manufacturers and are expected to roll out the vaccine nationwide with GAVI support in 2014,” the news service writes, adding, “By 2015, GAVI plans to immunize approximately one million girls with HPV vaccines and a large number of other countries are expected to run HPV pilot projects, and by 2020, more than 30 million girls will be immunized against HPV, [GAVI Alliance CEO Seth] Berkley said” (12/7).

GlobalPost Series Examines HIV/AIDS In European, MENA Regions

As part of its ongoing series, titled “The State of AIDS,” GlobalPost published two articles examining the epidemic in different regions. In Eastern Europe, rates of HIV/AIDS diagnoses have risen in several countries, including Ukraine and Russia, according to the first article, which discusses some of the potential reasons for the increases. Also, “with the economic crisis affecting much of Western Europe, there is concern that declining health spending and cuts to research budgets could hurt AIDS treatment across the continent, even in nations that are leading the way in HIV/AIDS prevention and care like the United Kingdom,” the news service writes (Ames, 12/7).

Africa Needs Additional $3.6B To Fight Malaria, RBM Partnership Board Says

“There is currently a $3.6 billion funding gap on malaria in Africa, according to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, whose board concluded its 23rd meeting in Dakar, Senegal, on December 7,” Devex’s “Development Newswire” blog reports. Of the total, eight African countries — Nigeria, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Niger, and Sierra Leone — need $2.4 billion to maintain their malaria prevention and treatment efforts over the next two years, “with Nigeria alone requiring nearly half that amount,” according to the blog (Ravelo, 12/10).

Climate Change Conference Postpones Discussion Of Agriculture; U.N. Warns Food Prices, Child Malnutrition Will Rise If Issue Not Addressed

“Discussions about much-needed support for agriculture — which is seen both as a victim and a cause of climate change — at the U.N.’s climate change conference in Doha have been postponed until next year,” IRIN reports. Agriculture affects climate change, with the production of greenhouse gas emissions, “[b]ut climate change also threatens agriculture, which most developing countries’ populations rely on for income,” the news service writes, adding, “The impact of climate change also threatens global food security; projections show that yields from food crops could decline by five percent for each degree Celsius increase in global warming” (12/5).

PRI’s ‘The World’ Features Weeklong Series On Cancer In Developing Nations

PRI’s “The World” this week features a series examining the challenges of addressing cancer in the developing world. The series, produced in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, includes radio stories, multimedia features, an interactive map, and infographics, according to the main page. The radio stories examine cancer prevention, control, and research efforts in Uganda, Haiti, India, and the U.S. (12/3). In an interview with the series’ principal reporter, Joanne Silberner, Lancet editor Richard Horton said, “Cancer is certainly being under-recognized and neglected in low- and middle-income countries. … I think cancer is slowly becoming more recognized but there is a long way to go before it gets the attention it so urgently needs (12/3). On December 5, PRI will host a Facebook chat from 10am-4pm EST that will feature Silberner and cancer researchers and advocates (12/4).

GlobalPost Examines HIV/AIDS In Asia, Africa

As part of its series titled “The State of HIV/AIDS,” GlobalPost published two stories examining the epidemic in different regions of the world. In one article, the news service looks at the spread and control of HIV in Asia, writing, “No generalized epidemic has broken out across the region, HIV infection rates have stabilized in many countries, and more and more people are receiving antiretroviral medication.” However, “[t]he disease continues to spread: for every person in Asia that begins antiretroviral treatment, roughly two new adults are infected with HIV. Moreover, funding is too tight — the total of $1.1 billion spent on campaigns in Asia in 2009 was less than one-third of what the U.N. says is needed for universal success,” according to the news service (Carlson, 12/1). In a second article, GlobalPost says in Africa, “statistics tell an upbeat story,” noting that the number of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen over the past decade. “But despite all the positive progress, experts warn against complacency. Sub-Saharan Africa still accounted for almost three-quarters of all new HIV infections worldwide last year,” the news service continues (McConnell, 12/3).

International Men’s Day Opportunity To Recognize Volunteers For VMMC

Emmanuel Njeuhmeli, senior biomedical prevention adviser in the USAID Office of HIV/AIDS, writes in the agency’s “IMPACTblog” that the first International Men’s Day on November 19 was an opportunity to “recognize and celebrate the hundreds of thousands of men in East and Southern Africa who are stepping up for Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) to protect their own health and that of their families.” He continues, “We also recognize the political, traditional and community leaders who are leading the charge in their countries and local communities.” According to Njeuhmeli, who describes some VMMC programs of USAID and PEPFAR, “USAID and UNAIDS have estimated that VMMC has the potential to avert more than 3.4 million new HIV infections in 14 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, and save an estimated $16.5 billion in care and treatment over the next 15 years, freeing up resources for other crucial HIV interventions” (11/27).