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Also In Global Health News: Mass Rape In Congo; Malaria Research At Walter Reed; Nevirapine For Infants; Aid To Pakistan Improved Trust; Child Mortality In Bolivia; Jamaica Global Fund Grants « » The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Also In Global Health News: Mass Rape In Congo; Malaria Research At Walter Reed; Nevirapine For Infants; Aid To Pakistan Improved Trust; Child Mortality In Bolivia; Jamaica Global Fund Grants

U.N. Now Estimates 500 Raped In Congo

“Approximately 500 women were raped in eastern Congo in July and August,” U.N. officials said Tuesday, revising an earlier report of 242 victims, according to the New York Times. Atul Khare, deputy head of peacekeeping who was sent to the region to investigate, said “[o]ur actions were not adequate, resulting in unacceptable brutalization of the population of the villages of the area.” The officials also “said that the organization must work harder to bring the perpetrators or their commanding officers to trial,” and that the U.N. should work harder to prevent rapes especially with rebel fighters reportedly on the move (MacFarquhar, 9/7).

Washington Post Reports on Walter Reed’s Malaria Research

The Washington Post reports on Walter Reed Army Institute Of Research’s “‘human challenge model,’ in which volunteers get bitten by malaria-carrying mosquitoes,” so researchers can test medicines and vaccines. One prospective vaccine, RTS,S, was initially tested on Walter Reed volunteers in 1997 and is now “midway through what researchers describe as the largest and most promising trial in malaria-vaccine history, involving 16,000 babies at 11 sites in seven African countries,” and $451 million in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Over the past 17 years, more than 950 volunteers have taken part in the program, which also includes projects to create “high-tech bug repellent” and a study of the parasite’s molecular structures (Niiler, 9/7).

Study Shows Nevirapine A New Treatment Option For HIV-Positive Infants

A new study shows that HIV-positive babies with stabilized infections “will do just fine switching to a regime of nevirapine, a reverse transcriptase inhibitor,” from a more expensive protease inhibitor, Scientific American’s “Observations” blog reports (Harmon, 9/7). So far, HIV treatment options for children in the developing world “have been limited by concerns over the possible development of resistance to drugs they received as infants during failed attempts to prevent their infection in the first place,” according to HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report (Mozes, 9/7). The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “followed 195 randomized babies and toddlers under 2 for a year” and determined that “[a]bout two thirds of the children with HIV that had switched to the nevirapine were able to maintain a level of fewer than 50 copies of the virus per milliliter of blood,” the lowest level technology could detect, “Observations” reports (9/7).   

Study: 2005 Emergency Relief To Pakistan Improved Trust In West

“The influx of foreign aid after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake significantly increased survivors’ trust in the West, according to new research that also suggests hard-line Islamist charities did little to help despite the publicity they generated,” the Associated Press reports. The research is “one of the first empirical studies of the effect of foreign emergency relief in Pakistan.” The paper was shared with the AP before being made public and “will be presented at the University of California and the Center for Global Development in Washington later this month.” Co-author Tahir Andrabi dispatched 70 researchers, who “surveyed 28,000 households in 126 randomly selected villages in four rural districts of Kashmir affected by the quake. They were asked what aid groups they remember coming and other general questions” (Brummit, 9/7).

Guardian Examines Progress, Challenges In Improving Child Mortality In Bolivia

The Guardian examines child mortality in Bolivia, where “[t]wice as many newborn babies survive as did 20 years ago, but more still die here than in almost any country outside sub-Saharan Africa.” The article looks at the country’s Universal Mother and Child Insurance scheme (SUMI), which covers about “500 health problems in children from birth to five years of age.” However, the Guardian reports that “[t]he picture is not perfect: the Andean country still has one of the highest child mortality rates outside sub-Saharan Africa, especially in newborns, and 27% of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition” (Schipani, 9/6).

Jamaican Minister Of Health Asks Global Fund To Maintain Commitments To Country

During the Monday opening of the Global Fund Country Coordinating and Regional Co-ordinating Mechanisms Workshop in Montego Bay, St. James, Jamaican Minister of Health Rudyard Spencer appealed for continued support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Gleaner reports. Jamaica’s reclassification as “upper-middle income” has made it “ineligible for further grants from the Global Fund,” according to the newspaper (Plunkett, 9/7). “Jamaica has received US$26.6 million from The Global Fund to pay for programmes over the next three years” geared towards HIV prevention, treatment and care interventions, according to a press release by the Ministry of Health (9/6). “Our priority for the next three years will be to increase the number of institutions with HIV workplace policy, continue our efforts to address stigma and discrimination, scale up public education and continue to train health workers, strengthen intersectoral collaboration and strengthen health systems especially our laboratory facilities,” Spencer said, according to the Jamaica Observer. “We have a lot more to do in the fight against HIV/AIDS and we fear that without the sustained funding, our gains will be eroded,” he added (9/6).