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New Research Could Lead To Cheaper, Easier Production Of Malaria Drug Artemisinin

“Artemisinin, a crucial drug in the global fight against malaria, could soon become cheaper and easier to make, thanks to researchers who have found a better way to synthesize the compound,” Science NOW reports, providing an overview of the research published in Angewandte Chemie on Monday. “‘The impact of this is hard to overestimate,’ says Jack Newman, an industrial chemist at Amyris Biotechnologies in Emeryville, California, who was not involved in the work,” the news service writes. Newman added that “the supply chain to make artemisinin has been a huge problem,” the news service notes.

PMI-Supported Study Aims To Measure Malaria Among Pregnant Women In Rwanda

This post in the Malaria Free Future blog reports on a study underway in Rwanda that aims to measure the prevalence of malaria in pregnancy (MIP). The research is supported by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and is being carried out through its Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) “so that the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) can have data to design appropriate MIP interventions as the country moves towards malaria elimination,” the blog notes. According to the blog, the study of more than 4,000 women “focuses on pregnant women during their first visit to focused antenatal care (FANC) for their current pregnancy” and is currently at the half way mark (Brieger, 1/25).

Celebrating The Global Fund As It Turns 10

“As the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] turns 10 on January 26, 2012, Nigerian families should join in the celebration of this innovative initiative that has saved the lives of millions here in Nigeria and across the globe,” Bello Bissalla, project manager for private sector and government partnerships at Friends of the Global Fund Africa, writes in Nigeria’s BusinessDay. “Much of the Global Fund’s success could be attributed to its performance-based financing mechanism, which creates room for transparency in the purchase, distribution and administration of drugs for these three diseases,” Bissalla continues, noting the grant review process “ensures that grant recipients show verified evidence of performance before receiving the next tranche of funding, thus ensuring transparency and implementation of the grant according to the plan.”

U.S. Investment In Global Health Has Been Successful, Deserves Continued Congressional Support

“Over the next few weeks, appropriators will be engaged in the challenging task of evaluating U.S. foreign assistance funding, including how effectively Congress’ global health investments are being used,” Charles Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; Molly Joel Coye, interim president and CEO of PATH; Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children; and Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, write in this Roll Call opinion piece. They continue, “As organizations funded in part by the U.S. government to implement global health programs in the field,” we “see firsthand how U.S. global health programs are working, and why now is not the time to cut multilateral and bilateral funding for these efforts.”

Afghanistan Breaks Ground On $30M Hospital For Treatment Of TB, AIDS, Malaria

“Afghanistan has begun work on a $30 million hospital for the treatment of tuberculosis [TB], a disease that health officials say kills more than 10,000 Afghans every year,” VOA’s “Breaking News” blog reports. “The Japanese government is paying for the 80-bed center in the Afghan capital, which will also treat malaria and AIDS patients,” the news service writes, noting, “Japan is the second-largest donor to Afghanistan, after the United States.” VOA adds, “During Thursday’s groundbreaking in Kabul, Afghan Health Minister Suraya Dalil said Afghanistan ranks in the top 20 worldwide for the most TB patients,” and she noted the country has 2,000 centers nationwide that can diagnose and treat the disease (5/17).

Man-Made Waterways Contribute To Malaria Breeding Grounds, Study Suggests

A recent study, conducted by Elizabeth Whitcombe, visiting senior research scholar at the earth system science interdisciplinary center at the University of Maryland, and published in the May 13 issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, “mapped meteorological, irrigation and medical reports during British rule in India” and concluded modern-day India should learn lessons from the past to improve engineering plans and epidemiological “modeling of environmental factors controlling vector borne disease,” especially malaria, SciDev.Net reports. “Ashvin Kumar Gosain, professor at the department of civil engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, however, disagreed that scientists were ignoring the link between irrigation and disease,” according to the news service. “Studies are being done even now and the linkage between river flows and disease is being studied once again in the context of climate change,” he said, SciDev.Net reports (Sreelata, 5/4).

HIV/AIDS Funding Does Not Undermine Efforts To Fight Other Diseases, Study Suggests

“While the battle against HIV/AIDS attracts more donor funding globally than all other diseases combined, it has not diverted attention from fighting unrelated afflictions — such as malaria, measles and malnutrition — and may be improving health services overall in targeted countries, according to a study on Rwanda published” Wednesday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, an American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) press release reports. “A six-year investigation of health clinics in Rwanda by researchers at Brandeis University infuses fresh evidence into a long-standing debate about whether the intensive focus on HIV/AIDS, which in 2010 alone killed 1.8 million people, is undermining other health services, particularly in African countries that are at the epicenter of the pandemic,” the press release states (5/2).

Al Jazeera Business Program Examines Fight Against Malaria

Al Jazeera’s “Counting the Cost” program on Saturday focused on the fight against malaria and the “business behind its treatment and prevention.” According to the program, progress against malaria “is being threatened in these tough economic times. There is a $3 billion shortfall in funding for malaria treatment and prevention.” The program reports on drug-resistant malaria strains in South-East Asia; examines a vaccine candidate under development by GlaxoSmithKline; speaks with Jo Lines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Christoph Benn of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria about the impact of the international financial crisis on the fight against the disease; and discusses a mobile phone app developed by a group of medical students that would help people receive a quicker diagnosis and treatment (Santamaria, 5/26).

PSI Interviews Gates Foundation Official About Child Health

In this post in PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog, “PSI’s Nutrition Research Adviser Dr. Abel Irena talks with Saul Morris, senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, about progress that has been made in child health.” Morris addresses treatment for pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria among children, delivery and access to integrated health systems, the Gates Foundation’s focus on newborn health, and the most effective steps to take to reach the fourth Millennium Development Goal to reduce child mortality by 2015 (5/24).