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Posts Tagged ‘malaria’

This post is by Center Director Christine Lubinski.

Researchers outlined progress and challenges in the pursuit of vaccines for the three major infectious disease killers—HIV , tuberculosis and malaria—at a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill Monday. Dr. Hoosen Coovadia, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, set the tone for this collaborative briefing, entitled “New Promise in the Search for HIV, TB and Malaria Vaccines,” by noting that from his perspective as a South African physician, vaccines for these three deadly diseases were not conflicting priorities, but all critical to protect the citizens of his country.  “One can’t choose what people will die from,” he said.

Drs. Alan Bernstein, executive director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, and Dan Barouch, chief of the Division of Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, highlighted the ups and downs of HIV vaccine development by noting that only 3 HIV vaccine concepts have been tested in the last quarter century. But they also celebrated the latest results of the so- called Thai trials, which demonstrated a 31percent reduction in HIV acquisition for those who received the vaccine compared to placebo.  While this level of protection is too low to bring a product to market, it does suggest that a preventive vaccine is indeed possible, and these findings offer an unprecedented opportunity to explore and investigate the nature of that protection.

Dr. Gordon Douglas, executive chair of the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation, called tuberculosis the most neglected of all infectious diseases and joked he was “even amazed that we are on the program.”  Eight years ago, when Aeras started, there were no TB vaccine candidates in clinical development. Since then, nine candidates have been brought forward.  Dr. Coovadia, a member of the Aeras board, outlined a number of urgent reasons to develop a TB vaccine, including the scale of morbidity and mortality from TB, growing drug resistance, the deadly synergy between HIV and TB and the very limited effectiveness of the BCG vaccine. The BCG vaccine only prevents disseminated tuberculosis in very young children; it has no impact on pulmonary tuberculosis in children or adults.  AERAS has two promising TB vaccine candidates in Phase IIB clinical trials in the developing world and hopes to have results in 6-7 years.  In pressing forward on vaccine development, AERAS has been mindful of the issue of access to the vaccine every step of the way and has not considered candidates that would be too costly to manufacture for mass distribution.

Colonel Chris Ockenhouse, director of the U.S. Military Malaria Vaccine Program, and Dr. Ashley Birkett, from the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, briefed the audience about progress towards developing a malaria vaccine.  The US military has been working in the field of malaria for decades, given the infection risk to US troops deployed in many parts of the world.  (more…)

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UNITAID is looking for experts to serve on its Proposal Review Committee, an independent panel that provides technical advice and analysis of proposals for UNITAID funding.

UNITAID was created to help scale up treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in resource-poor countries by leveraging lower prices for drugs and diagnostics and making those available items available more quickly in low-income countries.

Click here to learn more about the organization’s “call for interest” seeking physician-scientists and other experts to serve on the UNITAID-WHO committee that reviews funding proposals. The closing date for applications is February 15.

UNITAID’s homepage can be found here.

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Five key House lawmakers—including the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus—have called on the Obama Administration to step up its commitment to combating global AIDS.

In a letter to the president, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and other House members expressed concerned that “continued rapid roll out of AIDS treatment is endangered in Africa” and said the White House needed to dramatically ramp up funding in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget. A similar letter, from a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, is expected to go to the White House later this week.

Despite broad support in Congress for expanding the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), demonstrated in last year’s reauthorization of that program as the Lantos-Hyde Act, “we will fail to meet its promise if the current funding trends continue,” the lawmakers wrote. In addition to Lee, the House letter was signed by Reps. Henry Waxman, Donald Payne, John Conyers, and Eliot Engel.

“Without expanded funding beyond these 2-3 percent rate increases, it will be incredibly difficult to substantially expand access to treatment, roll out promising prevention programs, train new health workers, or care for the millions of orphans,” as the Lantos-Hyde Act mandates, the letter states. “In order to get back on track with the authorization levels in Lantos-Hyde, we urge you to commit $7.5 billion for bilateral AIDS programs and $1.75 billion for the Global Fund in your fiscal year 2011 budget request.” The letter also calls on Obama to provide $650 million for bilateral tuberculosis programs and $924 million for malaria. (more…)

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 A diverse coalition of more than two dozen organizations outlined a bold, comprehensive approach to global health at a Capitol Hill briefing today. The briefing comes as White House officials work behind closed doors to flesh out the details of a much-anticipated new US strategy on fighting disease and improving health across the globe.

Today’s event brought together, for the first time, experts and advocates who work on HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, child and maternal health, and other health issues, with a unified message: President Obama’s proposal for a new Global Health Initiative  (GHI) offers a significant opportunity for the US to take a transformative role in global health, but the new plan will fall far short if the US does not provide the leadership and resources to back up its promises of more comprehensive, integrated care. If given short-shrift, advocates warned, the GHI could force false choices between diseases and threaten key gains made in combating global AIDS and other epidemics.

“We are massively excited about the possibilities, but we are massively worried” that the funding will not match the rhetoric, said Matthew Kavanagh, director of US advocacy for Health GAP, who moderated today’s Congressional briefing.

Kavanagh said the President’s proposed price tag for the GHI—$63 billion over six years—is simply not sufficient to achieve the goals his plan has identified. The GHI, which the White House first sketched out in May and is expected to detail more fully later this year, listed six target health areas: HIV/AIDS; malaria; tuberculosis; reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health; health systems and health workforce; and neglected tropical diseases.

To truly address those global health issues, the White House and Congress will need to spend about $95 billion over that time period, according to a new report, “The Future of Global Health: Ingredients for a Bold & Effective U.S. Initiative,” released in conjunction with today’s briefing. (more…)

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This post is by Center Director Christine Lubinski, who attended today’s meeting at the NIH of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health.

 The Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative has been the subject of intense debate and scrutiny since the White House first unveiled the proposal, with few details, in May.

Today, at a meeting of leading academics involved in global health programs, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a special advisor to the White House on health policy, talked a bit about the substance and the process behind the GHI. For starters, he said he has had extensive discussions with Dr. Francis Collins, the new NIH director, about the GHI.

One of Dr. Emanuel’s early slides focused on health conditions that take a heavy toll from the perspective of disability adjusted life years lost or saved—DALYS.  The top conditions are pneumonia/meningitis, diarrhea, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and worms. (more…)

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The long-simmering debate over the impact of disease-specific programs on health-system strengthening may have just reached a boil.

Today’s Lancet features an in-depth exploration of the impact of global health programs, particularly those aimed at tackling HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The debate has gained steam in recent weeks, since the White House announced its new global health initiative that appears to step back from programs like PEPFAR in favor of broader health-system strengthening.

The crux of the issue is summed up this way in one of the Lancet articles: “Some critics have claimed that these initiatives burden health systems that are already fragile in countries with few resources, whereas others have asserted that weak health systems prevent progress in meeting disease-specific targets.”

(more…)

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