Also in Global Health News: Pakistan Polio Vaccine Effort; New GHC President; Tanzania Expanding RDTs; HIV/AIDS Vaccine Trial; Thailand HIV Effort

Pakistan Launches Polio Vaccine Effort

Pakistani health officials on Wednesday announced a three-day nationwide anti-polio vaccination campaign targeting the children of internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps, the  News International  reports. The announcment was made at a UNICEF-sponsored ceremony held at a Peshawar school (Mahmood, News International, 5/28). Altaf Bosan, who leads the expanded immunization program, said that targeting children of IDPs is important because their living conditions are more susceptible to the spread of polio and other infections (Daily Times, 5/28).

Global Health Council Announces New President

The Global Health Council on Tuesday announced that former Merck executive Jeff Sturchio will succeeed Nils Daulaire as president and CEO of the organization, NPR’s ” Health Blog “ reports. Sturchio directed Merck’s philanthropic efforts, including its HIV/AIDS access programs. The Council credits Sturchio with helping Botswana build its treatment program for people with HIV/AIDS, and said it expects that he will continue creating foreign and government partnerships (Wilson,”Health Blog,” NPR, 5/26).

Tanzania Expanding Use of RDTs To Better Diagnose Malaria

Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) have been placed in all government hospitals in the Dar es Salaam region of Tanzania, and within the next 30 days will be placed in health centers in the Iringa Region, an official from the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), recently announced, the Africa Science News Service reports. RDTs are more cost-effective and provide more accurate malaria diagnoses, NMCP official Sixbert Mkude said. Sixbert added that many health centers in underdeveloped countries such as Tanzania are unable to afford expensive laboratory equipment and often prescribe medications without knowing if patients are actually infected (Africa Science News Service, 5/28).

Thailand Aims To Halve New HIV Cases by 2011, Prime Minister Says

Thailand has set a goal of reducing by half the number of new HIV cases in the country by 2011, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Wednesday, TNA/MCOT English News reports. Abhisit was speaking at the opening ceremony of the three-day 12th National Seminar on AIDS, which more than 2,500 HIV-positive people, students, and participants from Thai agencies, private sector groups and international organizations are expected to attend. The seminar will focus on the government’s plan to reduce new cases by 2011 and the national HIV/AIDS action plan (TNA/MCOT English News, 5/27).

South Africa To Be First African Country To Begin a Candidate HIV/AIDS Vaccine Study on Humans

Researchers at the University of Cape Town’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine beginning in June will study its HIV/AIDS vaccine in humans, Independent Online  reports. The SA Aids Vaccine Initiative study makes South Africa the first country on the continent to have had a candidate vaccine reach the human participant stage. The Phase I clinical trial will examine the vaccine’s safety and immune response. The trial will be conducted on a group of 18 HIV-negative people in Cape Town and Soweto, according to Linda-Gail Bekker, a researcher and principal investigator at the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, a trial testing site (Maposa, Independent Online, 5/26).

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