1st Malaria Vaccine To Be Tested In 3 African Countries

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

The World Health Organization announced on Monday that Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have been chosen to test the first malaria vaccine, which will be administered to hundreds of thousands of young children next year.

The vaccine, which has partial effectiveness, has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives if used with existing measures, the WHO regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said in a statement.

The challenge is whether impoverished countries can deliver the required four doses of the vaccine for each child.

The injectable vaccine, called RTS,S or Mosquirix, was developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline to protect children from the most deadly form of malaria in Africa. The $49 million for the first phase of the pilot is being funded by the global vaccine alliance GAVI, UNITAID and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

It will be tested on children five to 17 months old to see whether its protective effects shown so far in clinical trials can hold up under real-life conditions. At least 120,000 children in each of the three countries will receive the vaccine, which has taken decades of work and hundreds of millions of dollars to develop.

Kenya, Ghana and Malawi were chosen for the vaccine pilot because all have strong prevention and vaccination programs, but continue to have high numbers of malaria cases, WHO said. The countries will deliver the vaccine through their existing vaccination programs.

Malaria remains one of the world’s most stubborn health challenges, infecting more than 200 million people every year and killing about half a million, most of them children in Africa. Bed netting and insecticides are the chief protection.

Sub-Saharan Africa is hardest hit by the disease, with about 90 percent of the world’s cases in 2015. Malaria spreads when a mosquito bites someone already infected, sucks up blood and parasites, and then bites another person.

A global effort to counter malaria has led to a 62 percent cut in deaths between 2000 and 2015, WHO said. But the UN agency has said in the past that such estimates are based mostly on modeling and that data is so bad for 31 countries in Africa — including those believed to have the worst outbreaks — that it couldn’t tell if cases have been rising or falling in the last 15 years.

WHO is hoping to wipe out malaria by 2040 despite increasing resistance problems to both drugs and insecticides used to kill mosquitoes.

“The slow progress in this field is astonishing, given that malaria has been around for millennia and has been a major force for human evolutionary selection, shaping the genetic profiles of African populations,” Kathryn Maitland, professor of tropical pediatric infectious diseases at Imperial College London, wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine in December. “Contrast this pace of change with our progress in the treatment of HIV, a disease a little more than three decades old.”

Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East also have malaria cases.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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Michigan Doctor Charged With Performing Female Genital Mutilations

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC)

APR 13 2017, 8:22 PM ET

Michigan Doctor Charged With Performing Female Genital Mutilations

A Michigan doctor has become the first to be charged under federal law for allegedly performing female genital mutilation on several girls, ranging from 6 to 8 years old, officials said Thursday.

A federal complaint lodged against emergency room physician Jumana Nagarwala alleges the doctor was performing the procedure, where part or all of the female genitalia is removed, on numerous girls out of a medical office in Livonia, Michigan.

Nagarwala is charged with female genital mutilation, a five-year felony, and transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, a 10-year felony, according to the complaint.

Related: Hospital Shut Down After Egyptian Girl Dies During Circumcision

This is believed to be the first case brought under a law passed in 1996 and amended in 2012, which criminalizes female genital mutilation, according to the Department of Justice.

“Female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls. It is also a serious federal felony in the United States,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch in a statement. “The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law.

According to the complaint, federal officials launched an investigation after being tipped off that Nagarwala performed the procedure on two 7-year-old girls who were brought by their families from Minnesota for the procedure.

The Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building in Washington. Andrew Harnik / AP file

Phone records and surveillance tapes linked the families of the girls to Nagarwala, and when questioned the girls’ parents admitted to law enforcement that they traveled to see the doctor for “extra cleansing of skin.”

A medical examination on the girls showed abnormal genitalia, and one of the girls said “her parents told her that the procedure is a secret and she is not supposed to talk about it,” the complaint alleges.

Further investigation found other children in Michigan were also seen by Nagarwala from 2005 to 2007, according to the complaint. Some of the parents of those children have admitted to having the procedure done by the Michigan doctor.

Nagarwala, who couldn’t be reached for comment, allegedly told investigators she was “aware the procedure was illegal” but denied ever performing them.

“The allegations against the defendant in this investigation are made even more deplorable, given the defendant’s position as a trusted medical professional in the community,” said Special Agent in Charge Francis in a statement.

Nagarwala is listed on staff at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit Michigan, but the hospital said the physician was on “administrative leave” in a statement on Thursday.

“The alleged criminal activity did not occur at any Henry Ford facility. We would never support or condone anything related to this practice,” said David Olejarz, a hospital spokesman.

Image: Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit
Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit Benjamin Beytekin / dpa via AP

Female genital mutation is performed to make a girl more acceptable in certain communities and is thought to increase her eligibility for marriage by ensuring her virginity in many cultures, according to human rights organization Equality Now.

An estimated 200 million women and girls have been subjected to the procedure, according to the World Health Organization. The practice is more prevalent in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, but has picked up momentum in the United States.

“Approximately 513,000 women and girls in the United States were at risk for [genital mutilation of circumcision] or its consequences in 2012 which was more than three times higher than the earlier estimate, based on 1990 data,” according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Related: Horrific Taboo: Female Circumcision on the Rise in U.S.

“This is a form of child abuse,” said Shelby Quast, director of Equality Now’s Americas Office. “We are encouraged seeing a doctor charged with FGM, because this will have a big impact on others who are performing this illegal act,” she said.

“This sends a message to other doctors that if you violate the law, you will be arrested, and you will be prosecuted.”

China’s First Lady Peng, G-20 First Ladies Bring Attention To HIV/AIDS Prevention

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)

Peace and harmony with Peng

PENG Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, invited the wives of leaders attending the G20 summit to visit the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou yesterday. She invited her guests to write the Chinese character “he,” meaning peace or harmony.

Peng also invited the wives to an anti-AIDS advocacy tour at Zhejiang University in the tourist city.

Peng, a World Health Organization goodwill ambassador for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, said such activities had been carried out in many Chinese universities to good effect and that the foreign guests’ attendance would have a positive influence.

Peng called on countries to work together in improving the level of HIV/AIDS prevention and the search for a cure.

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