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Also In Global Health News: Clinical Trial Participants Abroad; PMTCT Project In Malawi; Congo Polio Outbreak; Global Fund Zambia Grant; Women, Girls In Afghanistan

Lancet World Report Examines Protections In Place For Clinical Trial Participants Abroad

Lancet World Report, in a follow-up on the revelations over the U.S.’s role in medical experiments conducted on Guatemalan prisoners in the 1940s writes: “A thorough review of the safeguards in place to protect modern human trial participants is appropriate and timely. Clinical trials are increasingly international, and more are now being done in low-income and middle-income countries.” The article quotes several bioethicists, who raise questions about the systems in place to protect subject participants and provide oversight of international studies, as well as the benefit the products being tested may or may not have on the research population. “The [U.S.] bioethics commission faces many thorny issues in untangling the fallout from the Guatemala study, and has to do so in a short time-frame: it starts its work on the issue in January and has 9 months to finish,” the article reports (Bristol, 12/11).

VOA News Examines USAID-Funded Program For PMTCT In Malawi

VOA News examines the USAID-funded Call to Action project, which is “working to eliminate HIV infection in unborn babies” in Malawi. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation runs the project, which aims to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV by educating pregnant women on the need to get tested and how to avoid passing on the virus, according to Patricia Mbetu, the foundation’s country director. “Through the project, says Mbetu, about 20,000 HIV-positive women have given birth to HIV-negative babies.” VOA News also notes how the project has collaborated with the government to improve certain health challenges, such as the distribution of medicines and services to remote areas (Masina, 12/11).

Atypical Polio Outbreak Kills More Than 200 In The Congo, UNICEF Spokesperson Says

More than 200 people have died from an atypical, highly lethal polio outbreak in the Republic of Congo, Martin Dawes, a UNICEF spokesperson, said on Friday, the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. “The disease usually strikes children under 5, but most of those affected have been young men between the ages of 15 and 24 … Up to 10 percent of people paralyzed by polio can die when their breathing muscles stop working. But Dawes said that 42 percent of the cases in Republic of Congo had been fatal,” the news service writes. “Polio is an absolutely a red hot traveling virus, which will affect a lot of people if immunization rates are not good,” Dawes said. “The fact we’ve have this virus means there was a hole in the immunization rates in the past,” he added (Gross, 12/10).

Zambian AIDS Organization Receives Global Fund Grant To Purchase Antiretrovirals

The Zambian National AIDS Network (ZNAN) said Sunday it received a $1.1 million from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for HIV/AIDS program, just a few months after the Global Fund froze aid because of fraud concerns, the Lusaka Times reports. Sam Kapembea, ZNAN’s communications officer, said, “The money is part of the $33 million which ZNAN through its partners has been implementing since 2005.” According to Kapembea, the new grant will be used by 12 private sector and civil society health groups for the procurement of HIV/AIDS drugs (Mafweto, 12/10).

U.N. Report Highlights Harmful Traditional Practices Targeting Women In Afghanistan, Calls For Implementation Of 2009 Law

“Millions of Afghan women and girls suffer from traditional practices such as child marriage and ‘honour’ killings, and authorities fail to enforce laws protecting them,” a report (.pdf) by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said on Thursday, Reuters reports (Nichols, 12/9). The report is based on “research and interviews in nearly all 34 provinces with women, men, government authorities, religious leaders and community groups,” the U.N. News Centre writes. “As long as women and girls are subject to practices that harm, degrade and deny them their human rights, little meaningful and sustainable progress for women’s rights can be achieved in Afghanistan,” said UNAMA’s Human Rights Director Georgette Gagnon. The report calls for a “speedy implementation of the 2009 Law on Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) that criminalizes many harmful practices such as buying and selling women for marriage and offering girls for dispute resolution,” the news service writes (12/9).