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Also In Global Health News: HIV-Positive Children In Uganda; Vietnam Launches PMTCT Campaign; Sierra Leone Health System Strained; Gates Foundation’s Work; Compound Blocks Malaria Parasite

Draft Policy In Uganda Recommends HIV-Positive Children Know Their Status As Early As Age 10

“A Ugandan draft policy recommending that HIV-positive children be informed of their status by the age of 10 has drawn mixed reactions from health workers,” IRIN PlusNews reports. The goal of the policy is to “improve children’s adherence to their life-prolonging antiretroviral (ARV) medicines, which would be easier if they knew why they had to take the drugs,” according to Benson Tumwesigye of Uganda’s Ministry of Health. The article looks at studies on the issue and includes comments from a health care worker and a parent (6/3).

Vietnam Launches Campaign To Prevent Mother-To-Child HIV Transmission

The Ministry of Health in Vietnam is calling on pregnant women to take voluntary HIV tests in an effort to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, Saigon Giai Phong reports. Throughout June, antiretroviral drugs, HIV tests and infant formula will be available to pregnant women at 225 sites across the country (6/3). According to a recent survey, 35 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women in Vietnam “are likely to transmit the virus to their newborns unless no appropriate interventions are taken,” Nhan Dan reports. Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong said, “It’s very important to help pregnant mothers access early diagnosis and take timely intervention measures in order to mitigate perinatal HIV transmission” (6/3).

Sierra Leone’s Health System Strained As Patients From Guinea, Liberia Seek Care

Agence France-Presse examines how after Sierra Leone started offering free health care to pregnant women and young mothers in April, patients from neighboring Guinea and Liberia have “flooded” the country seeking care. “We’ve almost ran out of essential supplies and are awaiting replenishment but the strain is being felt because of the entry of these foreigners who were not budgeted for,” senior district medical officer David Quee said. Often patients are too sick to be turned away, so additional shelters are quickly constructed from sticks and mud blocks, the news service reports (6/2).

USA Today Examines Gates Foundation’s Work 

USA Today examines the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and interviews the organization’s CEO Jeffrey Raikes. “While companies develop drugs or technologies to make money and governments deploy tax dollars for services, the Gates Foundation – whose central tenet is ‘all lives have equal value’ – is a catalyst philanthropist pushing sometimes risky innovations to reach audacious goals. Among them: eradicate malaria and polio, vastly curb new HIV infections, reduce hunger and poverty in Africa … To achieve those goals, the Gates Foundation funds … vaccine researchers and efforts to revolutionize agricultural production in Africa, in part, by increasing crop yields,” USA Today writes. The article reports on different perspectives about the Gates Foundation’s influence and approach to global health and other work (Schmit, 6/2).

Scientists Show Compound Blocks Malaria Parasite From Infecting Blood Cells

In laboratory research, scientists have found molecules that can prevent the malaria parasite from from infecting blood cells, United Press International reports. “Using real-time video microscopy of red blood cell infection, the team showed that heparin-like carbohydrates blocked the ability of the malaria parasite to infect cells,” the news service writes. Current malaria drugs work to slow the parasites development once it has already entered the red blood cells (6/2).  According to the Australian, lead researcher James Beeson, of Australia’s Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, said the discovery could lead to testing new malaria drugs in people within 5-10 years. Beeson added, “Ideally, (our compound) would be used with another anti-malarial drug that inhibits development of the parasite inside cells, a double-whammy” (Dayton, 6/2).

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