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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).

Nepalese Government Launches ‘Ambitious’ Plan To End Malaria, IRIN Reports

“The Nepalese government has launched an ambitious plan to curb the spread of malaria in high-risk parts of the country, where some 3,000 people were infected last year,” IRIN reports. Through the program, which began on May 1 and “is the first nationwide push to end malaria,” the “health ministry will distribute [anti-malarial] drugs at their local offices, and through their representatives in rural areas,” IRIN writes. The news service notes, “Nepal is still considered one of the most malaria-prone countries in Asia, even though the ministry is using a 1994 study, which showed that 20 million of the country’s 30 million people were at risk.”

Global Fund Announces $1.6B In Additional Funding For 2012-2014

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria “expects to have an additional $1.6 billion to fund projects in 2012-2014, [the fund’s General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo] said on Wednesday, a turnaround from a funding freeze last year,” Reuters reports (Miles, 5/9). “The new funds are a result of ‘strategic decisions made by the Board, freeing up funds that can be invested in countries where there is the most pressing demand,’ a statement by the fund said,” according to PlusNews (5/10). “The money includes funds from new donors, from traditional donors who are advancing their payments or increasing contributions and from some donors, such as China, that have offered to support projects in their own country to free up cash for more pressing needs elsewhere, Jaramillo said,” Reuters notes (5/9). “This forecast is better than expected, and it comes from the fantastic response we are getting to our transformation,” Jaramillo said, adding, “But we need more to get the job done. Countries that implement our grants are saving more and more people, but demand for services is still enormous,” according to the statement (5/9).

Immediate Response Required To Curb Spread Of Artemisinin-Resistant Malaria In Burma

In this Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Jay Winsten, associate dean at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Trish Stroman, a principal at the Boston Consulting Group, examine “the emergence in Southeast Asia of malarial parasites resistant to artemisinin — the current gold-standard drug for treating the disease,” writing it “poses grave new challenges.” Winsten and Stroman recount a brief history of artemisinin resistance in the region and note, “While many affected countries in the region are taking swift countermeasures, the situation remains serious in Burma,” also known as Myanmar.

Insecticide Resistance Threatens Malaria Control Efforts, WHO Warns

“Malaria-carrying mosquitoes in Africa and India are becoming resistant to insecticides, putting millions of lives at greater risk and threatening eradication efforts, health experts said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 5/15). Experts fear resistance “could reverse the recent drop in malaria mortality credited to insecticide spraying in the home and coating of bed nets, which save about 220,000 children’s lives each year, according to the WHO,” Nature writes, adding, “Insecticide resistance could also result in as many as 26 million further cases a year, the organization predicts, costing an extra $30 million to $60 million annually for tests and medicines” (Maxmen, 5/15).

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