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    • Ukraine begins 'anti-terror' action April 15, 2014
      Authorities in Kiev announce the start of an "anti-terrorist operation" against pro-Russian separatists, as Moscow warns that Ukraine is on the brink of civil war.
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      Former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis is charged with one count of indecent assault under Operation Yewtree, Scotland Yard says.
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      A charity's report that it handed out almost one million food parcels in the last year makes headlines, while the Daily Express questions one mother's use of the benefit system.
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    • Bill signed allowing surprise inspections of Arizona abortion clinics April 16, 2014
      PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Tuesday signed into a law a bill allowing state health authorities to conduct surprise inspections of abortion clinics without first obtaining a warrant, handing another victory to abortion foes.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Tuesday detailed $48.3 billion in cuts to major weapons programs like Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet that would kick in from fiscal 2016 to 2019 if Congress does not reverse automatic budget cuts that are to resume in 2016.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawmakers probing how General Motors used faulty ignition switches in many vehicles are turning their scrutiny to the supplier of the part, Delphi Automotive.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans increasingly think Democrats have a better plan for healthcare than Republicans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted after the White House announced that more people than expected had signed up for the "Obamacare" health plan.
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      TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - Despite enduring "a perfect storm" of troubles for U.S. spy agencies over the last 18 months, the director of national intelligence announced on Tuesday that he plans to stay on the job through the end of President Barack Obama's term.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday shortened the prison sentence of a Texas man who was mistakenly sentenced to an extra three and a half years in jail due to a typographical error.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States adopted a harsher tone toward Iran's proposed U.N. ambassador on Tuesday, calling Tehran's choice of Hamid Abutalebi "unacceptable" and tying him to the 1979-1981 U.S. hostage crisis in Tehran.
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      ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Florida Democrat Alex Sink said on Tuesday she would not run in November for the congressional seat she failed to win last month in a close special election that garnered national attention.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act will cost slightly less than previously thought, helping to slow down the forecast growth of U.S. deficits over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said on Monday.
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      UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran requested on Monday a special meeting of a U.N. committee on the United States' refusal to grant a visa to Tehran's new U.N. ambassador appointee, describing the decision as a dangerous precedent that could harm international diplomacy.
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      SACRAMENTO (Reuters) - A top Democratic lawmaker in California on Monday backed off an unpopular plan to tax gasoline and diesel fuels and instead proposed a less controversial plan to spend up to $5 billion a year from the state's fledgling carbon program on affordable housing and mass transit.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a tense phone call on Monday that Moscow would face further costs for its actions in Ukraine and should use its influence to get separatists in the country to stand down.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act will cost slightly less than previously thought, helping to slow down the forecast growth of U.S. deficits over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said on Monday.
  • RSS CNN.com – Africa

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Simpler treatment sought – much left to do on neglected tropical diseases

Posted by African Press International on June 12, 2013

Simpler treatment sought(file photo)

NAIROBI,  - Ten years ago, the main treatment for kala azar – a disease that kills up to 40,000 people every year – was a 30-day course of injections, a difficult undertaking both for patients and for the poorly equipped health centres in the remote areas where many cases of the disease occur. Today, combination therapy has cut the treatment period to 17 days in some affected areas, but scientists and health officials continue to work towards developing a simple pill that would replace painful injections and further ease treatment.

The sand fly-transmitted disease, also known as visceral leishmaniasis, causes painful lesions and is fatal without treatment. It is found in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda, as well as parts of Asia, eastern Europe and the Middle East. It is just one of 17 illnesses on the UN World Health Organization‘s list of neglected tropical diseases, which cause an estimated half a million deaths annually.

For the past 10 years, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) has been involved in research and development (R&D) for neglected diseases around the world, developing six new treatments for malaria, sleeping sickness, kala azar and chagas.

A two-day event was recently held in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to take stock of the last decade of health innovations for neglected diseases in Africa. There, more than 400 scientists, government health officials and members of the organizations that make up DNDi agreed that while significant progress has been made in the fight against several neglected diseases, better leadership, coordination and funding will be necessary to eliminate them from the continent.

Better, simpler drugs

“When I first started practising medicine about 20 years ago, I remember losing two patients, both aged about 20, to sleeping sickness. The disease didn’t kill them; the toxicity of the treatment did…It was terrible for their families, and for me,” Wilfried Kalonji Mutombo, a government doctor working in the Democratic Republic of Congo‘s southwestern province of Bandundu, told IRIN. “Now, we treat sleeping sickness with a much less toxic regimen of tablets and intravenous infusions. It’s much less stressful.”

But Mutombo still struggles to get the drugs from the capital, Kinshasa, to Bandundu. “I have to drive 10 hours from Kinshasa, and can only carry drugs for a few patients. Treatment for four people – boxes of pills and intravenous kits – weighs 30kg,” he said. “Once I arrive in Bandundu, I will usually get on a boat for about six or seven hours to get to the health centres that need the drugs, and even then, they may not have trained staff to administer the medicine… It’s hard to maintain trained staff in these remote areas.”

Getting treatment to remote areas can be problematic (file photo)

DNDi is currently involved inclinical trials of fexinidazole, a new 10-day, oral-only treatment for sleeping sickness in DRC and Central African Republic, which would significantly simplify the treatment of sleeping sickness.

Speaking at press conference on 5 June, Marcel Tanner, chair of DNDi’s board of directors, said that in order to successfully eliminate neglected diseases, Africa would need to overcome the “fatal triangle” of neglected diseases, neglected people and neglected health systems that continued to hold back progress.

But it is not just health systems that need improvement; poor road networks, inadequate local research capacity, corruption, conflict and the remoteness of many of the areas where these illnesses are found all hinder efforts to control neglected tropical diseases.

Wider than healthcare

“First you have to ensure that you develop the best, most appropriate drugs, but the people affected by these diseases are the poorest of the poor, so we must convince pharmaceutical companies that they will find a market if they invest in R&D for them ,” John Amuasi, head of R&D at Ghana’s Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, told IRIN.

Patent pools, where patent holders license their technology for use by generics manufacturers, and advance market commitments, in which donors commitment to subsidize the purchase of vaccines not yet on the market, have been useful, he said.

“Once you have a cheap drug, you then need a solid, reliable supply chain so people who need the drugs are able to access them wherever they are,” he added.

Innovative ways to deliver drugs, such as the so-called Coca-Cola model - which uses the private distribution mechanisms to improve access to medicines – and the increasing use of mobile phones to report shortages and coordinate deliveries, can help improve supply chain mechanisms.

“Corruption is another problem. Under the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria [AMFM], some drugs that were meant to be sold for US$1 were found on the market for as much as $10 in countries not involved in the programme,” Amuasi added. “We can improve awareness among communities about what they should be paying for medicines. For instance, with the AMFM, communities need to be aware that drugs bearing the green leaf logo of the AMFM should cost no more than $1.”

Building the capacity of African governments and research facilities will also be important for the fight against neglected tropical diseases. DNDi is working with a number of African governments to create a regional authority for drug regulation. It also supported the creation of the Leishmaniasis East Africa Platform in 2003 and the Human African Trypanosomiasis Platform in 2005 to strengthen research capacity around the two diseases.

“As the African scientific community, we need to strive to build the scientific excellence to take ownership of research for health,” James Macharia, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, said at the press conference.

“Even with such integrated strategies, and the political will required to propel them, in addition to the resources required… we must not forget that the right tools for elimination are necessary to really see the elimination of many of these diseases.”

kr/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

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