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Also In Global Health News: Malaria Vaccine; Brazil’s Progress Toward MDGs; Malnutrition In Guatemala; Treatments For Kala-Azar

PATH, Merck, NYU To Work Together On Development Of Vaccine To Keep Malaria Parasite From Entering Liver

The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), pharmaceutical company Merck and New York University’s Langone Medical Center on Tuesday announced they were collaborating “to develop a vaccine capable of preventing the malaria parasite from entering the human liver,” the Star-Ledger/NJ.com reports (Todd, 12/14). VOA News examines why scientists suspect inhibiting the parasite from entering the liver offers “the best line of defense” against the disease. “With the availability of a first-generation malaria vaccine on the horizon, we are ramping up our efforts to seek out and invest in scientific approaches for malaria vaccines that could potentially be even more effective and protect more people,” said Christian Loucq, director of MVI. “We are very pleased that one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and a major academic medical center have committed to testing a promising new way to defend children against malaria,” he said (12/14).

Brazil Sees Drop In Childhood Malnutrition, Reduction In Poverty

“The Brazilian government announced Tuesday that the country has seen a solid drop in childhood malnutrition which, together with the social progress achieved in other areas, meets the criteria under the U.N. Millennium Development Goals for the eradication of extreme poverty,” EFE America reports. According to the news service, “[t]he proportion of underweight Brazilian children under 5 fell by 7.1 percent to 1.8 percent between 1989 and 2006,” and “infant mortality fell by 58 percent in Brazil between 1990 and 2008. The article notes the country “has also substantially reduced the number of people living on an income equivalent to $1 a day … and has increased the employment rate” (12/14).

ABC News Examines Malnutrition Among Children In Guatemala

ABC News examines how widespread malnutrition in Guatemala affects local children. “Guatemala has the highest rate of malnutrition in the Western Hemisphere: 50 percent of the population is stunted and, in rural Mayan villages, that figure gets as high as 80 percent,” the news service writes. “All children are at least six or eight inches shorter than they should be,” according to Peter Rohloff, an American doctor who runs the Wuqu’ Kawoq medical clinics. ABC News notes that malnourishment also makes children more susceptible to disease. It also affects other socio-economic factors, such as education. “If you want to break the cycle of poverty in Guatemala this is how you do it: Feed kids and feed them early before they get malnourished,” Rohloff said. A video report accompanies the article (Gowen/Martelli, 12/14).

DNDi Enters Partnership With Research Institutes In India to Develop New Treatments For Kala-Azar 

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) “has entered into a partnership with the Kala-Azar Medical Research Centre (KAMRC) and the Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RMRIMS) in Bihar to develop new treatments for kala-azar patients,” TNN/Times of India reports.”The move is aimed at developing a safe and effective short-course combination therapy using existing drugs for kala-azar,” according to the news service. The article details that the toll of the disease in India (12/14).