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Also In Global Health News: TB In Papua New Guinea; Plasmodium Vivax Malaria Vaccine; Drugs For Chagas, Leishmaniasis; Pakistan Aid Concerns; HIV Among Pregnant Women In SA

Officials Highlight TB Control Concerns In Papua New Guinea

Three years into Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) five-year $19 million tuberculosis control plan, program funders and local health authorities are expressing concerns about its progress, IRIN reports. “In comparison with other countries … coverage of treatment in PNG is lagging behind,” said Marcela Rojo, a spokesperson for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. According to the National Department of Health, there are 16,000 new cases of TB each year in the country. “Health officials are blaming several obstacles, including the country’s disorganized, ill-equipped health system. ‘Unless the national government provides funding and resources to deal with this issue, we are faced with a serious health problem,’” said Paul Aia, head of the National TB Task Force (11/16). 

BBC Examines Plasmodium Vivax Malaria Vaccine Trial At Walter Reed

The BBC reports on a Plasmodium vivax malaria vaccine clinical trial under way at the Walter Reed Army Institute for Research. Earlier this month, volunteers “were bitten by mosquitoes imported from Thailand and infected with Plasmodium vivax malaria.” Some volunteers were given the experimental vaccine, while others were not. “Scientists say it’ll be another week before they can determine full extent of the trial’s success or failure. … In any event, the results will be used to develop better vaccines in the future,” the news service writes. A video report accompanies the article (O’Brien, 11/15).

GSK, Brazil’s Oswald Cruz Foundation Team Up To Create Chagas, Leishmaniasis Drugs

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the Brazil-based Oswald Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) have agreed to collaborate on research and development aimed at creating new medicines for Chagas disease and leishmaniasis, InPharm reports. Fiocruz scientists will have access to GSK’s “Open Lab” at its R&D hub in Tres Cantos Campus, Spain. “Fiocruz’s expertise in Chagas and leishmaniasis – as well as the burden of unmet medical need in these diseases – makes them obvious first targets. But treatments for malaria and tuberculosis will also be urgently sought, GSK and Fiocruz say, as they seek to treat diseases which disproportionately affect people living in the world’s poorest countries,” the publication reports (11/15).

Wall Street Journal Reports On Donors’ Concerns About Aid For Pakistan

“Pakistan is embroiled in a row with foreign donors over plans to disburse billions of dollars in funding to rebuild infrastructure following this summer’s deadly flooding,” the Wall Street Journal reports in an article examining the dispute. “The disagreements focus on Western countries’ efforts to tie aid to demands that Pakistan ensure the second phase of flood-recovery money isn’t used corruptly and that the country raise more of its own rebuilding funds through local taxes,” according to the newspaper. Flood relief donors have called for transparency measures to be put in place in an effort to prevent the misuse of funds. “But Pakistan has also chafed at efforts to tie aid to certain actions, including setting up government transparency mechanisms. Last month, the finance ministry criticized the donor community, saying pledges for long-term flood reconstruction made so far through the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, a combined $3 billion, is only repackaged aid that was meant for other projects,” the newspaper notes. Pakistani officials and international leaders concluded a meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Monday to address some of these issues (Wright, 11/12).

Survey Finds 29% Of Pregnant Women In South Africa Are HIV Positive

“About 29 percent of South African pregnant women were living with HIV in 2009,” according to the findings of a survey (.pdf), released by South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi last week, IRIN/PlusNews reports (11/12). “The survey showed [that among pregnant women in the country,] HIV has remained constant at around 29 percent in the past four years,” according to a BuaNews press release (11/11). “Prevalence among 15-24 year-olds also remained the same as in 2008 at 21.7 percent. … In 2009, an estimated 41.5 percent of pregnant women aged 30 to 34 were living with HIV, up from 40.4 percent in 2008 and 39.6 percent in 2007. In the 35-39 age group, prevalence increased by 6 percent over four years to reach 35.4 percent in 2009,” IRIN/PlusNews reports. According to the news service, the authors of the survey “point out that ‘most, if not all of the increases in recent years can be attributed to the increase in survival of those on ARVs’ [antiretroviral drugs]” (11/12).