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RealHealthNews

At the front line of health care, policy, or research in a developing country? Get your stories, plans, reports, or results published here for the world to see. Contact Robert Walgate

Doha plus Ten - prepare for a new chemistry

24 November 2011, 15:11 Comments

by Robert Walgate

22 September 2011, 14:29

South African miners sacked for catching TB

17 September 2011, 21:33 Comments

by Robert Walgate

New tools for tuberculosis

6 July 2009, 18:04 Comments

by Robert Walgate, reporting for EAGLES, the European Action on Global Life Sciences, and RealHealthNews

In 2009, the usual method for the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) in the developing world is to take a smear of sputum from the patient on a slide, and to stare at it through a microscope to identify a few TB bacilli, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, in the smear.

This awkward and insensitive technique is the same as that used by Robert Koch to discover this bacillus, in 1882 – more than a century ago.

In 2009, the only vaccine in use against TB is BCGBacille Calmette Guérin – prepared from a strain of the weakened live cow tuberculosis bacillus, Mycobacterium bovis.

This only partially protective vaccine was developed and first introduced in 1921 – 88 years ago.

In 2009, the standard “short” course treatment for tuberculosis (TB) is isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol for two months, then isoniazid and rifampicin alone for a further four months.

But isoniazid was first isolated at the beginning of last century, and was first used against TB in 1952. Pyrazinamide was introduced to the treatment in 1954, ethambutol in 1962, and rifampicin in 1963 – so the most recent drug in the standard therapy is nearly half a century old.

These are the tools in use now, against a virulent and fatal disease, which is increasing its resistance to the existing drugs.

So in this report RealHealthNews interviews the leading experts on TB and TB research into new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines, to discover where the world stands – and what Europe should be doing – to improve our defences against this disease, both in Europe and worldwide; and we report from the TB frontiers in Assam, India and Malawi, Africa.

Malaria in crisis?

29 May 2009, 13:08 Comments

by Robert Walgate, reporting for EAGLES, the European Action on Global Life Sciences, and RealHealthNews

Do we face a global malaria epidemic as our key treatment fails and climate warms – or will malaria be eradicated? Research can and needs to be done rapidly to solve fundamental new problems arising, while 500 000 people, mostly children under five, and pregnant mothers, are dying of malaria every year. The solutions are nearly in our grasp. The choice of whether we dare to find them – and act upon them – belongs to decision makers.

Mexican swine flu - who will make the vaccine, and how?

30 April 2009, 21:41 Comments

by Robert Walgate

What can developing countries do about pandemic flu? A vaccine, in 1.5 million doses, would be the answer – but how ready are the major vaccine companies to make it?

Research is Ghana’s front line

30 October 2008, 17:14 Comments - Commentaires

by Robert Walgate

Since the early 1990s Ghana has been blessed by a series of visionaries who saw an urgent need to gather evidence to improve health decisions – and to engage the universities in providing it. Sam Adjei, former Deputy Director-General of Ghana’s Health Services, Irene Agyepong, Regional Director of Health Services for Greater Accra, and Major (rtd) Courage Quashigah, Health Minister, tell Robert Walgate the story.

Depuis le début des années 1990, le Ghana a eu la chance de compter plusieurs visionnaires qui ont compris qu’il était urgent de réunir des données solides pour améliorer les décisions entourant la santé et de convaincre les universités de le faire. Sam Adjei, Directeur-général adjoint des Services de santé du Ghana, Irene Agyepong, Directrice régionale des Services de santé d’Accra et le Major Courage Quashigah, Ministre de la santé, nous en parlent.

Au Ghana, la recherche est aux avant-postes

30 October 2008, 17:00 Comments - Commentaires

par Robert Walgate

Depuis le début des années 1990, le Ghana a eu la chance de compter plusieurs visionnaires qui ont compris qu’il était urgent de réunir des données solides pour améliorer les décisions entourant la santé et de convaincre les universités de le faire. Sam Adjei, Directeur-général adjoint des Services de santé du Ghana, Irene Agyepong, Directrice régionale des Services de santé de la région d’Accra et le Major Courage Quashigah, Ministre de la santé, nous en parlent.

Since the early 1990s Ghana has been blessed by a series of visionaries who saw an urgent need to gather evidence to improve health decisions – and to engage the universities in providing it. Sam Adjei, former Deputy Director General of Ghana’s Health Services, Irene Agyepong, Regional Director of Health Services for Greater Accra, and Major (rtd) Courage Quashigah, Health Minister, tell Robert Walgate the story.

Maternal mortality researchers are going the extra mile

29 October 2008, 13:31 Comments - Commentaires

Burkina Faso villages have been laughing and crying at theatrical performances written by scientists, and played by comedians, on saving mothers and infants in childbirth – the inspired result of the Immpact research programme on maternal and infant mortality. Maurice Yaogo in Ouagadougou, and Véronique Filippi, Sue Fairburn and Wendy Graham of Immpact tell Robert Walgate the story and its implications.

Les villageois du Burkina Faso ont ri et pleuré en assistant aux pièces de théâtre écrites par des scientifiques et jouées par des comédiens, expliquant comment sauver la vie des mères et des bébés au cours de l’accouchement – pièces inspirées par le programme de recherche Immpact sur la mortalité maternelle et infantile. Maurice Yaogo de Ouagadougou, et Véronique Filippi, et Sue Fairburn d’Immpact parlent à Robert Walgate du programme et de sa portée.

Mortalité maternelle, les chercheurs vont toujours un peu plus loin

29 October 2008, 13:15 Comments - Commentaires

par Robert Walgate

Les villageois du Burkina Faso ont ri et pleuré en assistant aux pièces de théâtre écrites par des scientifiques et jouées par des comédiens, expliquant comment sauver la vie des mères et des bébés au cours de l’accouchement – pièces inspirées par le programme de recherche Immpact sur la mortalité maternelle et infantile. Maurice Yaogo de Ouagadougou, et Véronique Filippi, Sue Fairburn et Wendy Graham d’Immpact nous parlent du programme et de sa portée.

Burkina Faso villages have been laughing and crying at theatrical performances written by scientists, and played by comedians, on saving mothers and infants in childbirth – the inspired result of the Immpact research programme on maternal and infant mortality. Maurice Yaogo in Ouagadougou, and Veronique Filippi, Sue Fairburn, and Wendy Graham of Immpact tell Robert Walgate the story and its implications.

Preventing HIV/AIDS in young displaced Colombians

15 May 2008, 12:10 Comments

by Lisbeth Fog

A focused, local and innovative programme for preventing HIV/AIDS in young people is proving helpful to teenagers displaced by conflict in Colombia. Funding is coming to an end, but a demonstration project could prove its worth for future donors – and other countries.

US$25 million a year for health systems research

15 May 2008, 11:46 Comments

by Robert Walgate

Mexican businessman Carlos Slim has given half a billion dollars to set up an institute to seek new approaches to primary health care in Latin America. The mobile phone – one of the sources of the benefactor’s wealth – may play a leading but not exclusive role. RealHealthNews interviewed its Executive President, Julio Frenk.

80% of diabetes in the South

15 May 2008, 09:37 Comments

by Robert Walgate

Developing countries tell EAGLES, the European Action on Global Life Sciences, and RealHealthNews, the research that’s really needed.

Highest immune response yet in TB vaccine trial

15 May 2008, 09:25 Comments

by Robert Walgate

A vaccine in Phase 1 trials in South Africa has shown the highest CD8 responses – which are important for TB protection – of any TB vaccine candidate so far. The trial was small, but preliminary data from animal studies suggest the vaccine does protect against childhood TB.

Artemisinin: diversifying the sources

14 May 2008, 18:39 Comments

by Elspeth Bartlet

The aromatic herb Artemisia is the sole source of artemisinin, which is the essential ingredient of WHO-recommended treatments for malaria. Diversification is the key to improving quality sources of artemisinin supplies, hence stabilizing the market and making ACTs more affordable. The Artemisinin Enterprise is a collaboration of three projects seeking new sources of artemisinin and antimalarial compounds.

Vaccine fund spending US$500m on ‘innovative’ health systems

14 May 2008, 16:04 Comments

by Robert Walgate

The US$ multi-billion a year GAVI Alliance is spending a fraction of its budget to help its vaccines get to the end of the track, by strengthening health systems in a group of countries in central America, Africa and Asia. But what does it mean by ‘innovative’? Does that mean science?

It’s evidence time for primary health care

14 May 2008, 15:19 Comments

by Robert Walgate

Carissa Etienne, WHO Assistant Director General for health systems, stresses the need for evidence, information and research to make cost-effective health policies in developing countries. Specifically, and with passion, she calls for a systematic review of all research on primary health care since Alma Ata to provide real evidence on what works and fails. Community health workers should also be studied, she says – all against a measure of health outcomes.

Goa - health at the front line

7 May 2008, 16:50 Comments

by Rupa Chinai

Reporting from the old Portuguese maritime state of Goa, in Western India, our correspondent Rupa Chinai asks what health care looks like from the patients’ perspective. She identifies major problems that need to be solved, both by researchers and by policy-makers, and offers a way forward. Her report is an indicator for all of India – and for many other countries with challenged primary health care systems.

Setting research agendas in the Middle-East and North Africa

28 April 2008, 15:26 Comments

A series of nine country reports, in addition to a comprehensive regional reports, will set agendas for health systems research in much of the the Middle East and North Africa. The Principal Investigator tells RealHealthNews what he’s learned.

Palestine unites for research plans

28 April 2008, 14:59 Comments

Even countries in deep conflict can unite behind the idea of science to improve health, Palestine shows.The first of a series of studies on connecting health research with policy-making low- and middle-income Arab states has Palestine lighting a beacon for others to follow. RealHealthNews Editor Robert Walgate interviewed its author, Joan Jubran of the Center for Continuing Education at Birzeit University.

Used and abused - community volunteers need a policy

28 April 2008, 14:00 Comments

Multiple health programmes – as many as 68 in Nigeria alone – are using unpaid or low-paid community volunteers, and other sectors such as environment, water and agriculture are doing the same. A new study of reimbursement of health volunteers is revealing the need for an internationally agreed strategy

WHO strategy aims for leadership

28 April 2008, 13:00 Comments

The WHO research strategy team has just finished its global consultations, in a democratic approach to setting a new focus and role for WHO in health research: leadership and convening power to help other bodies set agendas, and an internal focus on ‘making a difference’ – getting care to where it’s most needed. RealHealthNews talked to team leader Robert Terry.

How possible is an HIV/AIDS vaccine?

1 March 2008, 07:45 Comments

A war of words over AIDS vaccines can determine whether you are an optimist or a pessimist.

Five-fold US funding boost for neglected tropical diseases

23 February 2008, 17:37 Comments

US$350 million over five years to control seven neglected tropical diseases, which might be eliminated from 30 high-burden countries if G8 in July comes up with another US$650 million. That’s what the US is promising in a new Presidential Initiative for NTD control”. And – it is science-based, even though the research was done on the cheap.

China embraces rural health research

24 October 2007, 19:54 Comments

China is undergoing a radical shift in its health policy towards the poorest, particularly in rural areas, and research is playing a major role. Here Gerald Bloom, visiting Professor at Beijing Normal University, co-chair of the China Health Development Forum, and Fellow of the Institute of Development Studies in Sussex, UK, tells the story, with lessons for the world about the relation between research and policy-making.

How Kenya doubled its health budget

23 October 2007, 16:59 Comments

The Ministry of Health and health services in Kenya have received a refreshing boost from the Minister of Health, past Presidential candidate Charity Ngilu. But it hasn’t been easy. Here she puts health, and research for health, into its full political context.

Health arises from empowerment

23 October 2007, 12:17 Comments

Evidence leads to a radical conclusion – even when care is provided, empowerment matters. WHO’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health is due to report in 2008. Its Chairman, Sir Michael Marmot, here tells RealHealthNews his apolitical, but radical philosophy based on evidence, his hopes, and broad conclusions.

Global campaign for the health MDGs

23 October 2007, 11:17 Comments

Norway’s ‘Global Business Plan’ will put countries in control of reaching the Millennium Development Goals – but funding will depend on success measured by ‘evaluation research’. On 26 September 2007 Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway, announced plans for a radical transformation of international development funding, with a ‘Global Campaign for the Health MDGs’. Developing countries will prepare their own national plans to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6 to reduce child and maternal mortality, and combat AIDS and other diseases, while donors will relate their support to the countries’ plans; and support will depend on measured results. The Campaign could be extended to the whole of health, and even development, and become each country’s truly Global Business Plan. We talk to the plan’s principal architect, Tore Godal.