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Also In Global Health News: Global Fund Grants In Myanmar; Polio Eradication; GM Fungus Attacks Malaria In Mosquitoes; Afghanistan Demands NGOs Pay Taxes

 Global Fund To Resume Grants In Myanmar

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is resuming the distribution of grants to Myanmar, after suspending the country’s grants in August 2005 because the fund suspected “political interference in its programmes,” Inter Press Service reports. According to the news service, Myanmar, which recently made a transition from “military rule to a civil administration of retired generals,” reapplied to the Global Fund in 2009. The fund and the government in November signed three agreements to provide up to $112.8 million over two years, marking an increase over the $98.4 million the fund pledged “during its first foray.” The article describes the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB in the region as well as the efforts made by the Global Fund to provide strict oversight of the grants in the country (Macan-Markar, 2/26).

ABC News Reports On Efforts To Eradicate Polio

In an article examining the “renewed push” by health officials to eradicate polio, ABC News describes how experts hope to eliminate the disease by targeting children through vaccination campaigns, and elaborates on such an effort in India. There, “children are vaccinated at every opportunity, be it with door-to-door campaigns or in public places. Across cities in India they even vaccinate children through train windows for the few minutes that a train is in the station,” according to ABC News. The article also describes challenges associated with carrying out mass vaccination campaigns (Ahuja, 2/26). In a related video, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Richard Besser reports from a hospital in New Delhi, India, where people seek treatment for deformities caused by polio. The piece focuses on young women hoping to get married, who seek out the clinic’s services (2/23).

Scientists Show GM Fungus Can Attack Malaria Parasite Within Mosquito

“Researchers have genetically modified a fungus so that it attacks the malaria parasite within a mosquito,” ScienceNow reports. In the Feb. 25 issue of the journal Science, researchers describe how they genetically manipulated the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae to block the malaria parasite from entering the mosquitoes salivary glands, where it can be passed on to humans (Vogel, 2/24). The scientists “compared three groups of mosquitoes that had all been heavily infected with malaria parasites and found that, compared to the other treatments, spraying mosquitoes with the transgenic fungus significantly reduced parasite development,” Reuters reports. “The malaria parasite was found in the salivary glands of 25 percent of the mosquitoes sprayed with the transgenic fungus, compared to 87 percent of those sprayed with an unmodified strain of the fungus, and to 94 percent of those that were not sprayed at all,” the news service adds (Kelland, 2/24). NPR writes that the next step for researchers will be to move the test from the lab to the field – a step that will require approval, since such tests would involve the release of a genetically modified fungus into the environment. The strategy “might be useful for other diseases carried by mosquitoes,” NPR writes (Palca, 2/25).

Afghan Ministry Of Health Calls On NGOs To Pay Taxes Or Face Legal Consequences

The Ministry of Finance in Afghanistan “has called on all local and international NGOs to pay their taxes promptly or face legal consequences, including fines and a revocation of their operating licenses,” IRIN reports in an article that examines the number of NGOs operating in the country and the estimated revenue such taxes will generate. Some agencies, including USAID, are exempt from paying the taxes, and “[s]ome NGOs which implement USAID-funded projects have refused to pay their taxes, saying they are covered by USAID’s exemption” – an interpretation that the Afghan Ministry of Finance’s Najib Manalai said is incorrect, according to the news service (2/25).

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