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Also In Global Health News: AIDS Vaccine Testing; Misoprostol In Pakistan; Russian Wheat Exports; Generic Drugs In Uganda; Poverty In Egypt; Gender-Based Violence In Namibia

Crucell And Harvard To Test Experimental AIDS Vaccine In Uninfected Adults

The pharmaceutical company Crucell, in collaboration with Harvard University, “plans to test its experimental AIDS vaccine in the U.S. and in Africa, advancing the quest for a protective shot against” HIV, Bloomberg reports. The trial will test the vaccine in uninfected adults “to assess its safety and ability to prompt an immune response … the company said in a statement.” Bloomberg continues, “The vaccine combines shots … in a so-called prime-boost approach that’s designed to both kill infected cells and prevent HIV from entering those that are uninfected” (Bennett, 8/11).

IPS Looks At Use Of Abortion-Inducing Drug In Pakistan

Inter Press Service examines the use of the WHO-approved drug misoprostol, which can be used to induce abortion, in Pakistan. “Laws covering abortion are ambiguous in this predominantly Muslim nation, where public hospitals shy away from performing it. … Abortions are thus often performed clandestinely in unhygienic conditions, resulting in high morbidity and mortality,” IPS writes. The article reports on a new hotline that counsels women who want to use the drug to induce abortion and concerns that this may impact the drug’s primary uses to save women’s lives from post-partum hemhorraging (Ebrahim, 8/10).

Russian Wheat Export Ban Could Cause Hunger For Millions, WFP Warns

Russia’s ban on wheat exports, scheduled to go into effect August 15, could cause “millions of the world’s poorest people [to] go hungry,” by reducing the amount of food delivered to developing countries, the World Food Programme (WFP) has warned, according Dow Jones Newswires. The organization is seeking an exemption from the ban, which was imposed amid severe drought in the region. The news service reports that “68% of the 550,000 tons of wheat purchased by the WFP came from Russian origin,” and a spokesperson said the program would be “a bit wary of being over-reliant on Russia” for grain in the future (Henshaw, 8/10).

Uganda Revises Counterfeit Goods Bill, Activists Still Not Convinced

“The Uganda office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the country’s National Drug Authority are satisfied that the new version of the controversial Counterfeit Goods Bill does not threaten the importation and production of generic drugs by conflating them with fake drugs, as the first draft of the bill did. But health rights activists are not convinced,” Inter Press Service reports. The bill was amended by the Ugandan government “after pressure from civil society organizations” about parts of the draft that could “restrict access to affordable generic medicines, which currently make up the bulk of drugs used in the East African country’s health sector,” the news service writes. Of specific concern, according to health rights lawyer, Sandra Kiapi, is that the latest version of the bill still neglects to clearly define counterfeit drugs or “separate intellectual property issues from the issue of the quality of medicines” (Kagumire, 8/10).

Los Angeles Times Examines How Redevelopment Plans In Cairo Might Affect The Poor

The Los Angeles Times reports on redevelopment plans in Cairo which, some observers fear, “will only push the poor further to the fringes to benefit developers and the rich.” The country’s housing ministry is expected to have development plans for its cities, including Cairo, by 2012, but “[t]he concern … is that the city’s remaking will turn into an exercise in reshuffling the poor to the fringes to benefit developers and the rich,” the newspaper writes. The article includes comments from Mustafa Madbouli, director of Egypt’s urban planning office, Mamdouh Hamza, former advisor of the country’s anti-slum program and people living in Cairo’s slums (Fleishman, 8/9).

PEPFAR To Support Namibian Program That Fights Gender-Based Violence

The Namibian government and development partners will receive assistance from PEPFAR to “fight widespread gender-based violence (GBV) in the country,” New Era/allAfrica.com writes. The two-year program will “address male norms and behavior and the increase in women’s legal rights and protection.” Specifically, the news service reports, the initiative aims to strengthen local capacity, increase community awareness and improve legal services. “According to recent studies, nearly 50 percent of Namibian women and nearly 30 percent of men have experienced gender-based violence,” and a “large number” of Namibians are unaware of legal protections (8/9).