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Scientists, WHO Warn Of Public Health Implications Of Proposed Mercury Ban Due To Its Use In Vaccines

“Scientists are warning officials negotiating a global treaty on mercury that banning the deadly chemical completely would be dangerous for public health because of the chemical’s use in vaccines,” the Associated Press reports. “The ban option is one of several proposals on the table for a [United Nations Environment Programme, or UNEP] meeting later this month in Nairobi, but a final treaty isn’t expected until 2013,” the news service writes.

India Polio Free For 9 Months, Raising Hopes Of Eradication, Health Experts Say

“India has not had a case of polio in nine months, raising hopes the country is on the verge of defeating the disease, health officials said Monday,” the Associated Press reports. “India remains one of only four countries in the world where polio is still endemic, and the nine months that it has been without a case is the longest since eradication efforts were launched nearly two decades ago,” the AP writes, adding, “A country is declared polio free when no cases of the disease are reported for three years, according to the World Health Organization.”

UNICEF Warns Of Possible Polio Resurgence In Madagascar Amid Outbreak Involving Three Children

“An outbreak of polio in three children from the south of Madagascar has raised concerns over a possible resurgence of this crippling disease,” BBC News reports, adding, “UNICEF spokesman Daniel Timme says three cases of polio without symptoms have been identified … during UNICEF’s Mother and Child Health week following tests and urine samples” (Healy, 10/22). “Although the children are currently not showing symptoms of polio, [Timme] said symptoms of the disease could make itself known at any time” Examiner.com writes (Herriman, 10/22).

Much Work Remains To Be Done In Fight Against Malaria

Positive results announced this week from a large clinical trial testing the efficacy of the RTS,S malaria vaccine are “encouraging,” but they are also “a reminder of how much work remains to be done,” an Economist editorial reports. The WHO abandoned its first efforts to eradicate the disease 14 years after setting out to do so in 1955, but “a new wave of enthusiasm,” beginning in 1998 with the establishment of the Roll Back Malaria partnership and culminating with Bill Gates’s call for malaria eradication four years ago, “has helped to lower the number of malaria deaths by 20 percent over the past decade,” the editorial states.

Aid Groups, Health Ministry Plan To Administer Oral Cholera Vaccine To 100,000 Haitians

Working in conjunction with the Haitian Ministry of Health and the Haitian aid group GHESKIO, Boston-based Partners In Health (PIH) will begin an immunization campaign in January aimed at providing two doses of the oral cholera vaccine Shanchol “to 100,000 Haitians living in two vulnerable communities: a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, where potable water and latrines are luxuries, and to an isolated rural village in the lower Artibonite Valley region,” the Miami Herald reports.

The Guardian Interviews GlaxoSmithKline Lead Researcher About New Malaria Vaccine

The Guardian features an interview with Moncef Slaoui, now chair of research and development at GlaxoSmithKline, who discusses his 23-year involvement in the research leading to the RTS,S malaria vaccine that has shown to halve the risk of malaria among African children. Slaoui said cellular immunity is the key to the vaccine’s success and research on the vaccine has advanced the company’s knowledge of adjuvants, substances that stimulate the immune system, which has allowed the development of other vaccines (Boseley, 10/19).

Vaccines Among Most Successful, Cost-Effective Health Investments In History

“Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective health investments in history,” Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. Because vaccines have saved millions of lives, “donors, the global health community and developing countries themselves [must] stay focused on immunization,” he writes.

Kenya Aims To Reduce Preventable Deaths By 50% By December 2012

GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog examines how Kenya is working to decrease the number of preventable deaths under a “recently launched … campaign called ‘Let’s Live,’ which sets a target of reducing preventable deaths in Kenya by 50 percent by December 2012.” Achieving that goal “would be an historic feat. But the country could seriously decrease numbers of preventable deaths if it used currently available health tools, such as the rotavirus vaccine,” the blog writes (Donnelly, 10/18).

Haiti Has Highest Rate Of Cholera Worldwide One Year After Disease Outbreak Began

Paul Farmer, a founder of Partners in Health (PIH) and U.N. deputy special envoy to Haiti, in an interview with the Associated Press/Washington Post “said cholera has sickened more than 450,000 people in a nation of 10 million, or nearly five percent of the population, and killed more than 6,000,” giving the Caribbean nation “the highest rate of cholera in the world a mere year after the disease first arrived” (10/18).

Despite Progress In Malaria Vaccine Development, Funding Remains Potential 'Stumbling Block'

In this Guardian opinion piece, the newspaper’s health editor, Sarah Boseley, responds to the positive results of a large-scale clinical trial of an experimental malaria vaccine reported on Tuesday and recaps other strides made against the disease in recent years, writing that “there is a way to go yet, with more results from the trial to come, and many uncertainties, including how much this vaccine will cost and who will be persuaded to pay.”