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Also In Global Health News: Malawi ARV Program; Health Care In Gaza; Pneumonia Vaccine In Kenya; South African Pregnant Women And HIV; Uganda’s Food Shortage

Malawian Government Supplies 250,000 HIV-Positive Citizens With Free Antiretrovirals

The government of Malawi supplies 250,000 of its HIV positive citizens with antiretrovirals (ARVs) free of charge, Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika said during an AIDS candlelight memorial outside of the capital city, Blantyre, on Sunday, the AFP reports. The president pointed to the free ARV program – which started five years ago with 5,000 initial beneficiaries – “as a ‘success story’” and said that the country would now move to “establish a local company to ‘produce ARVs locally and export extra drugs to neighbouring countries,’” the AFP writes. UNAIDS resident coordinator Desmond Johns said that the government should do more to stop the spread of HIV in the country (AFP, 6/28).

Report Finds Health Care, Water, Sewage Services Strained In Gaza 

“Six months after Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, 1.5 million Palestinians remain trapped in rising poverty, unable to rebuild their lives, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday,” Reuters reports. The article examines how Gaza’s healthcare system is unable to meet the needs of the population and growing concerns over the region’s overwhelmed water and sewage services (Dick, Reuters, 6/28).

GAVI, Kenya Reach Agreement On Childhood Pneumonia Vaccine

The Kenyan government has accepted a Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) arrangement that will provide the pneumonia vaccine to children at no cost, Daily Nation/allAfrica.com reports. GAVI will pay $14.55 and the Kenyan government will pay 45 cents. According to Daily Nation/allAfrica.com, “[a]lthough highly preventable when a vaccine is used, pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children aged under five years in [Kenyan] districts where malaria is not endemic.” The subsidized vaccine will be available early next year (Okwemba, Daily Nation/allAfrica.com, 6/26).

Study Finds 3% Of South African Women Become HIV Positive During Pregnancy

A recent study in AIDS, the official journal of the International AIDS Society, “found that 3 percent of [South African] women who had a negative HIV test result when first accessing antenatal services” tested positive later in their pregnancies, IRIN/PlusNews reports. While national guidelines in South Africa state that women should be offered voluntary HIV testing and counseling upon first receiving prenatal care, “repeat testing of women with a negative result is rarely offered,” writes IRIN/PlusNews. According to the authors, “public health programs need to continue to reinforce prevention strategies and HIV retesting during pregnancy” (IRIN/PlusNews, 6/24).

Food Shortages In Uganda Force Families To Live On One Meal Per Day

New Vision examines increasing concerns over food shortages in northern and eastern Uganda, brought on by a prolonged dry spell, price hikes and more. A recent assessment launched in several Ugandan districts “indicated that while no deaths occurred as a result of hunger, many families were surviving on one meal a day,” the newspaper writes (Bugembe, New Vision, 6/24).