Also In Global Health News: Malnutrition In Somalia; Sierra Leone’s Health System; HIV/AIDS Drugs In Ukraine; Global Health Aid; AIDS Vaccine; HIV/AIDS In Kenya

Guardian Looks At Malnutrition Following Drought In Somalia

“Severe drought in Somalia has left nearly one in three children acutely malnourished in some areas – double the normal emergency threshold – and caused a sharp rise in food prices,” the Guardian writes in a story examining hunger in the country. “In the most striking sign of the emerging crisis, the exodus from conflict-racked Mogadishu in recent years has reversed, with thousands of people leaving the countryside for the capital in search of food and water over the past two months. With widespread livestock deaths reported, other families are selling their remaining possessions to raise money to travel to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia” (Rice, 2/3).

BBC Examines Sierra Leone’s Health System

The BBC reports on Sierra Leone’s health system. The article highlights some of the common health problems, including tuberculosis and maternal mortality, noting several anecdotes from locals. “This is certainly an extremely poor country that suffered decades of misrule and military conflict after independence. Now, by contrast, it has an elected government that is trying, albeit ever-so-slowly, to change things for the better,” the news service writes. The article describes the conditions in a maternity hospital, calling it “modest by international standards. But here the rural women were seeing, many of them for the first time, doctors with stethoscopes around their necks” (Doyle, 2/2).

Some Drugs Not Available To HIV/AIDS Patients In Ukraine

According to a report by NTD Television, “Ukraine is now short of at least five” medications to treat patients with HIV/AIDS, which is putting the lives of 20,000 people at risk. “Ukraine’s National HIV Support Network says that the Ministry of Health has delayed buying necessary medication,” NTD reports, adding that the health ministry said it is giving patients medications similar to the ones that are not available. Some advocates in the country fear the lack of medication might lead to HIV resistance to drugs, but the government “is confident there is no threat of interrupted treatment. They say some of the drugs are currently undergoing quality control, and any missing drugs will be procured by next week,” the article reports (2/1). 

AlertNet Examines Approaches To Health Aid

AlertNet examines advocates’ views about how government’s distribute health aid funding. “Studies and aid workers say political, historic and economic ties – rather than needs – dictate donors’ generosity,” the publication writes. “Why should Sierra Leone, with a (child death rate) six times worse than Botswana, only get a tenth as much (aid) per head?” Ben Phillips, Save the Children’s director of strategy for Asia, asked on the sidelines of the Second Global Forum on Human Resources for Health in Bangkok, Thailand. The conference concluded on Jan. 29. AlertNet highlights the findings from two studies on global health funding by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. According to AlertNet, “both studies found aid is not provided based on needs.” The article also notes Rwanda, which found ways to improve its health system even though a lot of the health aid its receives focuses on HIV/AIDS (Win, 2/1).

Personalized Vaccine Helps Decrease HIV Patients’ Viral Load, Study Says

“Twenty-four AIDS patients took part in a clinical trial [of a vaccine] carried out by doctors at Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic and after 24 weeks the majority had shown a ‘significant’ decrease in their viral load, the hospital said” on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse/Montreal Gazette reports. “This decrease was very significant is some of them but in no case did the virus become undetectable,” the hospital said in a statement. “However this is a very important improvement with respect to previous initiatives where with a similar vaccine there was a modest response in 30 percent of the treated patients. No therapeutic vaccine has achieved up to now the same level of response as in this study,” the statement said. Vaccines in the study were personalized and made from the patient’s own dendritic cells, which play a key role in regulating the immune system. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (2/1).

Kenyan Minister Won’t Apologize For Comments On Isolating People Living With HIV/AIDS

Kenyan Minister of Special Programmes Esther Murugi on Tuesday refused to issue an apology for her comments regarding isolating people living with HIV/AIDS as a means of controlling the spread of the virus despite growing criticism from HIV/AIDS advocates made last week, Capital News reports. “Once the Civil Society groups tell me which part is offensive, then I will decide whether I need to apologise,” the minister said, according to the news service. Instead, Murugi “said she was happy her remarks had generated debate on HIV/AIDS,” Capital News writes. “As long as we don’t talk about HIV/AIDS, it is going to consume us and it will not come to an end so can we keep the debate going but can it be positive debate,” she said (Karong’o, 2/1).

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