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Also In Global Health News: Revaccinating HIV-Positive Children; Embezzled Aid In Mali; HIV In India; Mobile Phone Aid; Polio In Central Africa; Pneumococcal Vaccines « » The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Also In Global Health News: Revaccinating HIV-Positive Children; Embezzled Aid In Mali; HIV In India; Mobile Phone Aid; Polio In Central Africa; Pneumococcal Vaccines

HIV-Positive Children On HAART May Need Revaccination

HIV-positive children on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) “may need to be revaccinated to maintain their immunity against preventable childhood diseases,” according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, HealthDay/BusinessWeek reports. After reviewing 38 studies, researchers found that children on HAART “had poorer responses to vaccines than do uninfected children,” said study co-author William Moss. The children “respond well to revaccination,” and the researchers recommend vaccination strategies be developed in regions with a high prevalence of HIV, the news service writes (9/8).

Mali Arrests Health Ministry Workers Suspected Of Embezzling Aid Funds

“Mali has arrested seven Health Ministry workers for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars in aid meant to combat malaria and other diseases, a senior ministry official said on Wednesday,” Reuters reports. The arrests come after the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria audited its Mali program. The case “could threaten international aid flows into the West African country,” according to the news service. Global Fund spokesman Andrew Hurd “said more than $300,000” of the group’s grants to Mali had been stolen and the organization has not suspended grants to the country. “We would not consider such action until we have a complete investigation,” Hurd said (Diallo, 9/8).

Most HIV-Positive Indians Not Receiving Treatment On Time, Global Fund Says

“[O]nly one-third of all the people who are estimated to be in need” of HIV treatment in India are receiving it on time, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine said, according to Reuters.  “Clearly India is one of the countries with the smallest percent of health budget of its overall budget going into health and this is an issue,” Kazatchkine said. He also stressed the need for testing and prevention to reach high-risk populations and said the country faces “challenges” with treating TB and malaria as well (Majumdar, 9/9).

Mobile Phones Aid Poor In Nutrition, Farming, Banking

The Washington Post reports on the use of mobile phones to aid the world’s poor. The article looks at projects by the Grameen Foundation, including one that “has registered 500 expectant parents in the Kassena-Nankana area of Ghana, near the border with Burkina Faso, to receive free, regular phone calls and text messages guiding them through pregnancy. At week seven in the pregnancy, a parent receives a text reminder to take a malaria vaccination. At week 37, the parent is told that contrary to myth, eating fruits such as mango and proteins such as eggs is nutritious and won’t harm the fetus.” The article also examines mobile phone programs funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at banking and farming (Kang, 9/8).

Central Africa Polio Cases Threaten Eradication Efforts, WHO Warns

“The World Health Organization has warned that fresh cases of polio in Angola and Congo indicate the paralyzing disease is spreading again in central Africa,” Canadian Press reports (9/8). In a press release, the WHO said that central Africa is at the “greatest risk to Africa’s polio eradication efforts” and presents a “risk to achieving” polio eradication in Africa by the end of 2010. The organization recommended increased country surveillance and vaccination campaigns to “minimise the consequences of any virus introduction” (9/8).

Immunizing Children Against Some Pneumococcal Virus Strains May Make Them More Vulnerable To Other Strains, Study Finds

A study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that children who were vaccinated with Pfizer’s Prevnar 7 pneumococcal vaccine were “more likely than unvaccinated children to develop a strain of the disease known as 19A, which is not covered by the shot,” Reuters reports. The findings suggest “that while vaccinating children … dramatically reduces the burden of pneumococcal disease caused by the strains targeted by the vaccine, constant surveillance is needed to check for new strains, or serotypes” of the virus, the news service writes. “Pneumococcal disease is one of the world’s biggest killers of children, claiming up to 1.6 million lives a year,” Reuters continues. Of the deaths from the disease, 95 percent are in Africa and Asia, the news service notes (Kelland, 9/7).