Also In Global Health News: Libyan Refugee Crisis; HIV Vaccine Program In India; Speeding Drug Development; Ugandan Malaria Training Program

As Thousands Flee Libya, World Leaders, International Aid Agencies Respond With Humanitarian Aid

“Libyan border crossings were overwhelmed Wednesday by tens of thousands of hungry, fearful people fleeing its burgeoning civil war,” the Associated Press reports. “U.S. Ambassador Betty King in Geneva said the United States is giving $12 million to help with evacuations and ‘understands the incredible strain such large numbers of people have placed on receiving governments,'” the news service writes (Heilprin, 3/2). The Guardian describes how the situation at the Libyan-Tunisian border has reached a “‘crisis point'” (Borger/Hooper, 3/1). According to the New York Times, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) said on Thursday it has dedicated $38.7 million to feed as many as 2.7 million people in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and estimated approximately 750,000 people in the region may need extra food in the short-term (Cohen/Cowell, 3/3). In a second article, the New York Times writes that on Wednesday U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for international assistance in response to the estimated “180,000 people” fleeing Libya (Cohen/Otterman, 3/2).

IAVI, Indian Government To Partner On HIV Vaccine Design Program

“The Translational Health Sciences and Technology Institute (THSTI), an autonomous institute of the [Indian] government’s Department of Biotechnology, and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)” on Thursday announced an agreement to operate and fund an HIV vaccine design program in India, ANI/Thaindian News reports (3/3). “The program will include the establishment of a new laboratory on the campus of THSTI” and “primarily focus on one of the greatest scientific challenges of AIDS vaccine design and development: the elicitation of antibodies capable of neutralizing a broad spectrum of circulating HIV variants, a problem that stems in large part from the almost unparalleled mutability of HIV,” according to an IAVI press release (3/3). “Scientists say these antibodies would ultimately reveal an Achilles heel on the virus,” the Times of India reports (Sinha, 3/3).

Nature News Examines Efforts To Speed Drug Development

Nature News examines the possibility that “shifting early-stage drug discovery work to academia” or small companies could help bring new drugs to market faster while also saving money. The article follows up on the recent meeting of pharmaceutical company leaders where they discussed a “highly collaborative approach pioneered by those working on cures for neglected diseases, in which intellectual property (IP) restrictions are lifted.” The article elaborates on the plan, as proposed by Chas Bountra, head of the Structural Genomics Consortium at the University of Oxford in the U.K., and describes other efforts to speed drug development, such as the proposal by the National Institutes of Health’s Francis Collins for a National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (Cressey, 3/2).

New Malaria Program To Train Community Health Workers Launched In Uganda

Uganda recently launched a new malaria training program for village health teams, New Vision reports. The new Integrated Community Case Management program “will train over 5,000 village community health workers to identify uncomplicated malaria cases” and provide treatment at local health centers. The community health workers will be supervised by the Ministry of Health and the Malaria Consortium. Both parties participating in creating the program along with UNICEF (3/2). The program was launched at Namayumba Health Center IV in Wakiso District on Monday, and health workers from a total of 10 districts will receive training, the Daily Monitor reports (Kasozi, 3/2).

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