Also In Global Health News: Counterfeit Drugs; Polio in Ghana, Liberia; Deworming and HIV

Counterfeit Drugs Increasing Problem in Underdeveloped Countries, Report Finds

Counterfeit and substandard drugs are becoming an increasing problem in underdeveloped countries, according to a new report (pdf) released by the International Policy Network, Public Agenda/ reports. The report — sponsored by IMANI Center for Policy & Education — finds that nearly have of all drugs sold in Ghana, Nigeria, Angola, Burundi, and the Congo are substandard; about two-thirds of anti-malaria drugs in Laos, Myanmar Cambodia and Vietnam contain insufficient active ingredients; and most counterfeit drugs originate in China and India. Government-imposed taxes and tariffs that make legitimate drugs more expensive worsen the problem, according to the report, which recommends a more effective trademark system and mechanisms to ensure drug legitimacy to counter problems such as unnecessary deaths and increased levels of drug resistance (Public Agenda/, 5/22).

Ghana Health Officials Report Eight Polio Cases, Urge Immunization

Eight cases of wild polio were reported in Ghana in 2008, and as a result officials have planned four National Immunization Days this year to help stop the transmission of the virus, Ghana News Agency/ reports. At a meeting of the Supervisors of the National Immunization Day on Thursday, Ghana Health Service’s Michael Acquah said the eight confirmed cases are believed to have been imported from neighboring countries, and he urged parents to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated (Ghana News Agency/, 5/23).

Polio Outbreak in Liberia Prompts Vaccination Campaign

A recent outbreak of polio in Liberia has prompted officials to launch a vaccination campaign, the Informer/ reports. In 2008, the WHO declared that Liberia had completely eliminated the disease after a three-year immunization effort, but according to Deputy Health and Social Welfare Minister Vivian Cherue statistics indicate an outbreak of polio in some border towns. Cherue said about 650,000 children throughout 15 counties are expected to be vaccinated (Zoleh, Informer/, 5/25).

Deworming Drug Could Help Reduce Spread of HIV in Africa, Study Finds

Providing girls in rural Africa with a deworming drug could help reduce the spread of HIV, according to the authors of a recent editorial in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the New York Times reports. The drug praziquantel costs about 32 cents per pediatric dose and prevents schistosomiasis, a worm disease that if untreated can lead to female genital sores that can facilitate HIV infection. Because the drug can kill the worms but cannot cure genital sores, girls should be protected before they reach sexual maturity, according to the researchers (McNeil, New York Times, 5/26).

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