UNICEF and the WHO “are warning of an alarming upsurge in cholera across West Africa’s Sahel region, the area at the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert running from Mauritania to Chad,” VOA News reports (Schlein, 7/10). “So far in 2012, cholera has killed nearly 700 people in West and Central Africa and more than 29,000 cases were reported,” according to a UNICEF press release (7/10). “Both UNICEF and WHO say they are critically short of funds to do what is needed to contain the outbreak,” but “[t]hey say action must be taken now before the number of cholera cases explodes,” VOA writes (7/10). IRIN examines efforts to curb the spread of cholera in Guinea, with the administration of a vaccine, and Sierra Leone (7/10).
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“A declaration calling for global support to end the AIDS epidemic was announced [Tuesday] by the International AIDS Society (IAS) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF),” an IAS press release (.pdf) reports. “The ‘Washington, D.C. Declaration,’ which seeks to build broad support for beginning to end the AIDS epidemic through a nine-point action plan, will be the official declaration of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012),” which “will take place in Washington, D.C., from 22 to 27 July 2012” (7/10).
New York Times Examines How CIA's Decision To Use Vaccination Team Affecting Polio Eradication Efforts
The New York Times examines how the CIA’s 2011 decision to use a vaccination team to collect DNA samples and information from residents of Osama bin Laden’s compound damaged efforts to vaccinate children for polio in Pakistan. The effects of the campaign, which has prompted local leaders to ban polio vaccination teams, will not be fully known “until the summer spike of polio cases tapers off in the fall,” the newspaper writes and reviews the history of the case as well as polio in the region. Elias Durry, the WHO’s polio coordinator for Pakistan, “and other leaders of the global war on polio say they have recovered from worse setbacks,” and many experts are confident that Pakistan eventually will eliminate polio, according to the New York Times (McNeil, 7/9).
Early treatment with antiretroviral medication can significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission to an uninfected sexual partner, “[b]ut many logistical hurdles stand in the way of making this strategy feasible, affordable and effective, according to experts writing in Tuesday’s edition of the journal PLoS Medicine,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Though Science magazine hailed the finding as “breakthrough of the year” in 2011, “[e]xperts are now divided about whether the treatment-as-prevention approach can essentially halt the AIDS epidemic,” the newspaper writes (Loury, 7/11). The PLoS Medicine collection, which includes nine reviews and one research article, “provide insights into the factors which will support evidence-based decision-making in HIV prevention, with a focus on the use of antiretroviral treatment to prevent HIV transmission,” according to the collection’s homepage (7/10).
Describing PEPFAR as “a targeted approach on a large-scale and with accountability for results,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby on Tuesday said the program has done more than fight HIV/AIDS, having had a “broader transformational impact … on the health sector” in many countries, VOA News reports (De Capua, 7/10). Goosby delivered the keynote address at a Health Affairs briefing titled, “Assessing The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief: Past Achievements And Future Prospects For PEPFAR,” according to a State Department video of his remarks (7/10). The July 2012 issue of Health Affairs “examines the origins of [PEPFAR]; the lessons learned from implementation; the successes achieved in terms of human health and well-being; and the opportunities that now exist to lay the groundwork for an ‘AIDS-free generation,'” the Health Affairs Blog states (Fleming, 7/10).
NAM Publications, through aidsmap.org, will be an official news partner of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), according to a post in the aidsmap blog. “Senior editor Keith Alcorn says, ‘This year’s conference will be the biggest yet, and after several years of exciting scientific developments, AIDS 2012 will challenge us all to ask how we can turn the tide of the epidemic using all the new tools and knowledge now at our disposal,'” the blog notes (Hughson, 7/10).
Noting that the Supreme Court last week upheld the Obama administration’s Affordable Health Act, Huffington Post reporters Zach Carter and Sabrina Siddiqui write in this Huffington Post editorial that “while the president has focused on lowering health care costs at home, he has repeatedly sought to impose higher drug prices abroad.” They add, “For pharmaceutical companies, that has meant steady profits, but for the global poor in desperate need of affordable drugs, those lofty prices are often a matter of life and death.” They continue, “Nevertheless, members of the Obama administration continue to pursue policies around drug pricing that multiple United Nations groups, the World Health Organization, human rights lawyers and patient advocates worldwide decry.”
“A tremendous amount of attention will be focused on AIDS over the next six weeks — and that’s a great thing,” as the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) convenes in Washington, D.C., from July 22 to 27, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in an opinion piece in The Hill. “This is a moment of hope,” he adds, continuing, “The world has seen a fundamental transformation in the global AIDS outlook over the past decade, with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria playing leading roles.”
“Many of Africa’s anti-malaria drugs are fake or of poor quality, weakening a crucial battle against the world’s deadliest disease, a new investigation has found,” GlobalPost reports, adding, “Many of the drugs — even those approved by the World Health Organization — are Chinese fakes or low-quality variants that failed quality tests, according to two new studies released today” (Conway-Smith, 7/10). “Two studies published in Research and Reports in Tropical Medicine suggested manufacturing problems, rather than counterfeiting, may be to blame for these substandard drugs in low- and middle-income countries around the world,” Agence France-Presse writes (7/10). Writing in a Business Day opinion piece published on Tuesday, “Roger Bate, lead author of the studies and a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, warned of ‘unthinkable’ public health consequences from drug resistance,” GlobalPost notes.
Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” reports on reaction to an announcement by the Obama administration on July 3 that the Global Health Initiative (GHI) office will close and that the office’s work is being “elevated” to the State Department’s new Office of Global Health Diplomacy. “The Obama administration quietly announced … that it is scrapping the office of the Global Health Initiative and abandoning plans to move the whole project over to USAID, creating anger and frustration in the non-government organization community,” the blog writes, adding, “The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN), an umbrella group representing development organizations co-chaired by David Beckmann, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe, today issued a harsh criticism of the administration’s decision.”