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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.
    • South Korea ferry rescue under way April 16, 2014
      A major rescue operation is under way after a ferry carrying 476 people capsized off South Korea, coastguard officials say.
    • MPs criticise UK over Afghan attack April 15, 2014
      The UK bears "a degree of responsibility" for the failure to prevent a raid in Afghanistan in 2012 that left two US marines dead, MPs say.
    • 'Shocking' rise in use of food banks April 16, 2014
      Hundreds of thousands more people are turning to food banks to stop themselves from going hungry, says charity the Trussell Trust.
    • Parents find out primary places April 16, 2014
      Parents across England are going to find whether they have their preferred choice of primary school place.
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      China's economy expanded by 7.4% in the first quarter of the year, better than expected but down from 7.7% at the end of 2013.
    • NYPD disbands Muslim 'spying' unit April 15, 2014
      The New York Police department shutters a secret programme designed to listen to and track Muslims in the city's neighbourhoods to identify threats.
    • Dave Lee Travis charged with assault April 15, 2014
      Former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis is charged with one count of indecent assault under Operation Yewtree, Scotland Yard says.
    • Syria 'torture' photos shown to UN April 15, 2014
      Members of the UN Security Council view graphic photographs of prisoners allegedly tortured by Syrian government forces.
    • EU to back alien species blacklist April 16, 2014
      The European Parliament is voting on a bill to draw up a blacklist to fight the spread of invasive alien species such as killer shrimp.
    • Warning over bowel cancer screening April 16, 2014
      Bowel cancer screening uptake needs to improve, campaigners say, after figures showed just half of people eligible in England come forward for the test.
    • Fresh approach to NI past 'vital' April 15, 2014
      Any new process which examines NI's past must have a "proportionate focus on the wrongdoing of paramilitaries" and less on the activities of the state, the secretary of state is due to say.
    • Poverty 'scandal' and benefits 'outrage' - front pages April 15, 2014
      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.
    • Hair salon visited over N Korea ad April 15, 2014
      North Korean officials visit a west London hair salon to question why it had used their leader Kim Jong-un's image in a poster.
    • New Banksy art removed with crowbar April 15, 2014
      New street art by "guerrilla artist" Banksy is removed within hours of appearing in Bristol.
    • Arsenal 3-1 West Ham United April 15, 2014
      Arsenal come from behind to beat West Ham and move back above Everton into the top four of the Premier League.
    • Hamilton back to brilliant best - Lowe April 15, 2014
      Lewis Hamilton is driving as well as at any time in his career, according to Mercedes co-team boss Paddy Lowe.
    • Williams fails to qualify for Crucible April 15, 2014
      Two-time champion Mark Williams will miss the World Championship for the first time since 1996 after failing to qualify.
    • Lack of Englishmen not key - Pellegrini April 15, 2014
      Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini says a lack of English players was not a factor in the defeat by Liverpool.
    • Quigley lands second gold in Glasgow April 15, 2014
      Lauren Quigley breaks an English record as she wins her second gold medal at the British Championships in Glasgow.
  • RSS Reuters: Politics

    • 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.
    • Two incompatible gun ballot measures lead in Washington state April 16, 2014
      OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - Two incompatible ballot measures on background checks for gun buyers in Washington state enjoy majority support in a poll released on Tuesday, but the one advancing stricter gun controls is more popular.
    • Pentagon says automatic budget cuts would hit F-35, other weapons April 16, 2014
      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.
    • Senators press Delphi for answers on recalled GM cars April 15, 2014
      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.
    • Americans increasingly prefer Democrats on healthcare: Reuters/Ipsos poll April 15, 2014
      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.
    • Ex-U.S. defense secretary knows accuracy of his tax return is unknown April 15, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Rumsfeld has a new addition to his list of known unknowns - the accuracy of his 2013 tax filing.
    • Despite tough patch, U.S. intelligence chief says he is staying April 15, 2014
      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.
    • Bankrupt Detroit reaches first deal with retirees group April 15, 2014
      (Reuters) - Detroit reached its first deal with a retired workers group on Tuesday over pension and healthcare benefits and was close to a deal with at least one of its pension funds, giving a major boost to the city's plan to exit bankruptcy in October.
    • Obama commutes sentence of man mistakenly given extra jail time April 15, 2014
      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.
    • U.S. adopts harsher tone in U.N. envoy dispute with Iran April 15, 2014
      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.
    • Democrat Alex Sink bows out of Florida congressional race April 15, 2014
      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.
    • Conservatives Rand Paul, Ted Cruz test U.S. presidential waters in New Hampshire April 15, 2014
      (This April 12 story was corrected to change name of organizing group in the third paragraph to Americans for Prosperity Foundation from Americans for Prosperity)
    • After success on Iran, U.S. Treasury's sanctions team faces new challenges April 15, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - This is what the modern American war room looks like: the clocks on the wall show the times in Kabul, Tehran and Bogota. The faces around the conference table are mostly young. There is talk of targets, and of middle-of-the-night calls to Europe.
    • CBO lowers U.S. deficit estimates as health subsidies fall April 15, 2014
      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.
    • Iran asks for U.N. committee meeting on U.S. ban on envoy April 15, 2014
      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.
    • California lawmaker scraps plan to replace carbon market with tax on fuels April 15, 2014
      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.
    • Obama warns Russia in tense call with Putin over Ukraine April 15, 2014
      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) - U.S. President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday that Russia's actions in Ukraine were not conducive to a diplomatic solution of the crisis in that country, and the White House warned that Moscow would suffer further costs for its behavior.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - This is what the modern American war room looks like: the clocks on the wall show the times in Kabul, Tehran and Bogota. The faces around the conference table are mostly young. There is talk of targets, and of middle-of-the-night calls to Europe.
    • CBO slightly lowers U.S. deficit estimates as health subsidies fall April 14, 2014
      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 – Africa

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      Fred Deegbe was standing outside a shop window five years ago, marveling at the shiny pair of wing-tip Oxfords he'd just bought, when he started wondering whether such beautiful designer shoes could ever be produced in his country, Ghana.
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      A university student cowers in a pharmacy as a mob outside threatens her with sexual violence. A law student is groped by her classmates, the dean cites her "inappropriate attire." Frightening allegations but advocates say this is an everyday reality for women in Cairo.
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      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
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      As the Paralympian takes the stand in the Reeva Steenkamp murder trial, CNN's Richard Greene looks back at the key points made by the prosecution.
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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

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