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Also In Global Health News: Potential Corruption With DFID Funds; HIV/AIDS In Tanzania; Drug Substitution Program In Afghanistan; Rare Disease Consortium; Pnuemonococcal Vaccine In DRC

U.K.’s National Audit Office Warns DFID To Be On Guard Against Possible Corruption

The U.K.’s National Audit Office (NAO) on Wednesday issued a report on the financial management of the Department for International Development (DFID) warning that “the UK had no clear picture of the ‘extent, nature and impact’ of development funds failing to meet goals due to fraud,” the BBC reports (4/6). “With greater spending in higher risk locations and more fragile states, the Department must do more to assure itself that it minimises fraud and corruption risks. Although the level of reported fraud is low, it is likely to be under-reported,” a NAO press release states (4/6). DFID’s program budget is expected to rise significantly over the next four years, The Scotsman reports (Churcher, 4/6).

U.N. Officials Meet With Leaders In Tanzania To Discuss Country’s HIV/AIDS Response

During a stop in Tanzania on Monday with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro commended Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete’s recent efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS and called for more to be done to ensure all people living with the disease receive treatment, The Citizen reports (Liganga, 4/5). “An estimated 52% of people in Tanzania who need antiretroviral treatment are now receiving it, up from virtually zero coverage in 2004,” according to a UNAIDS feature story. In addition, treatment to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission reached 70% coverage in 2010, up from 10% in 2004, according to the report (4/5). During the meeting with Kikwete, Sidibe asked government officials to lead negotiations with international drug companies to improve access to low-cost antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in developing nations, the Guardian/IPP Media reports (4/6). In a second article, Guardian/IPP Media reports that while in the country, Migiro also met with members of the Tanzania Youth Alliance (4/6).

IPS Reports On Harm Reduction Efforts To Slow Spread Of HIV, Other Diseases In Afghanistan

Inter Press Service reports on efforts to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases among Afghanistan’s injection drug users through a drug substitution program. “The programme, which gives patients controlled doses of methadone to help them control their heroin addiction,” is the country’s “first major methadone drug substitution trial,” according to the news service. The article notes the positive results of the trial to date, which are being presented at the International Harm Reduction Association’s annual conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut this week. IPS writes that though “[d]octors on the programme … say its results show the benefit harm reduction treatment can have in tackling the spread of blood-borne diseases among injecting drug users and help often-ostracised addicts reintegrate into society” and “[t]he Afghan health ministry has backed the methadone trial … there are concerns over its future” (Stracansky, 4/5).

Nature News Reports On Launch Of International Rare Disease Consortium

Nature News reports on plans for the NIH and the European Commission to join forces to “develo[p] a diagnostic tool for every known rare disease by 2020, along with new therapies to treat 200 of them.” At a three-day launch meeting of the International Rare Disease Research Consortium in Maryland this week, “prospective partners will map out research strategies to identify diagnostic biomarkers, design clinical trials and coordinate genome sequencing in these diseases,” according to the publication. “The meeting will also discuss the governance of the project,” which the publication notes is likely to be “open to research agencies and organizations from all over the world” (Abbott, 4/4).

DRC Begins Incorporating Pneumococcal Vaccine Into Routine Immunization Program

The Democratic Republic of the Congo on Monday began administering pneumococcal vaccines to children as part of its national routine immunization program, Sify News reports. The vaccine “will initially be rolled out in two of DRC’s 11 provinces as the country steps up the fight against pneumonia, one of the biggest killers of children worldwide, and is responsible for a quarter of all deaths of children under the age of five in the African nation,” according to the news service (4/5). The DRC joins Guyana, Kenya, Mali, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone and Yemen, which have introduced pneumococcal vaccines over the past five months with support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), according to a GAVI press release. “GAVI has committed to support the introduction of pneumococcal vaccines in 19 developing countries by 2012 and, if it gets sufficient funding from its donors, plans to roll them out to more than 40 countries by 2015,” the release adds (4/4).

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