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Also In Global Health News: Sleeping Sickness; Aid For Philippines; U.S., China In Africa; Polio Eradication In Afghanistan; Ethiopia Famine

Lancet Infectious Diseases Examines Hold-Ups In Implementation Of Sleeping Sickness Therapy Lancet Infectious Diseases Newsdesk examines how despite evidence that a new therapy to treat sleeping sickness, called nifurtimox—eflornithine (NECT) is a step forward in treating the disease, it has yet to be implemented by countries “13 months after data…

Killing Of Polio Workers In Pakistan Is Major Setback For Global Elimination Drive

“The brutal assassination of nine grassroots level health workers in Pakistan, who were involved in a door-to-door immunization campaign in an attempt to secure children from crippling polio, adds an unprecedentedly grave dimension to the ongoing carnage in Pakistan,” Sania Nishtar, founder of Heartfile, Heartfile Health Financing, and the recently launched Sania Nishtar Health Fund, writes in an opinion piece in the Huffington Post U.K.’s “Impact” blog. “[T]he occurrence has deep-seated implications for the global drive to eliminate an infectious disease for a second time from this planet,” she continues, adding, “Additionally, it illustrates the nature of polarization, mistrust and extremism, which has crept into the Pakistani society, posing challenges on many fronts, beyond public health.”

Protection Of Health Workers Necessary To Eradicate Polio

“The murders of charity and aid workers in Pakistan has dealt a devastating blow to a national campaign to wipe out polio and other deadly diseases,” a New York Times editorial states. “No one has claimed responsibility for the most recent attack, but suspicions point to the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups that have opposed the vaccination drives, calling them a cover for government or international spies, or part of a plot to sterilize Muslim children,” the editorial says.

Number Of Annual Polio Cases In Nigeria Quadruples; WHO, Government Working To Vaccinate Millions Of Children

Nigeria has reported 43 cases of polio so far this year, up from 11 cases in 2010, and the disease has spread to Niger, Mali, and Cote d’Ivoire, according to a WHO official, BBC News reports. “Polio was affecting eight northern Nigerian states — two more than a few months ago, the head of Nigeria’s National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA), Dr. Ado Muhammad, told the BBC.”

Wall Street Journal Examines Potential Implications Of Allegedly Fake U.S. Vaccination Campaign In Pakistan

The Wall Street Journal reports on how “a reportedly fake vaccination campaign conducted [by the U.S.] to help hunt down Osama bin Laden has caused a backlash against international health workers in some parts of Pakistan and has impeded efforts to wipe out polio in the country,” one of only four worldwide where polio remains endemic. The article quotes a UNICEF country representative, a U.S. Embassy official, a Muslim cleric, a non-governmental organization representative, a local health care worker, and an official with a provincial health department (Tohid, 12/3).

Bill Gates Tours Ghana’s Health System, Discusses Polio Eradication

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “is currently in Ghana to assess the country’s health systems,” Ventures Africa reports. Gates “touched down in Accra March 25, 2013, and says he is in Ghana to get firsthand information on why the country’s immunization system is working so…

Parents, Officials In Pakistan Working To Bring Polio Vaccine To Areas Under Militant Control

“Parents and officials are going to great lengths to immunize children after militants imposed a ban on polio vaccinations in Pakistan’s restive North Waziristan Agency,” with some parents “traveling long distances to get their children vaccinated” or “smuggling the vaccine back home,” IRIN reports. “Militants in the area banned all polio vaccinations…

Security Concerns Hindering Polio Immunizations In Pakistan, WHO Official Says

“Some 240,000 children have missed U.N.-backed vaccinations against polio because of security concerns in Pakistan’s tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, a top official with the World Health Organization said Friday,” the Associated Press/Huffington Post reports. “Nima Saeed Abid, the acting WHO chief in Pakistan, said health workers have not been able to immunize…

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