JOHANNESBURG, 15 January 2013 (PlusNews) – The only HIV vaccine trial to achieve moderate success took place four years ago, yet it continues to reveal new information about the virus and renew hopes for a future vaccine.
In 2009, researchers released the findings of a six-year HIV vaccine study carried out in Thailand known as RV144. Conducted among 16,000 HIV-negative men and women, the trial found that HIV infection rates were 31 percent lower among participants who received the vaccine than in those who had not.
It was an encouraging protection rate, but short of the minimum 50 percent prevention rate required to slow the epidemic, which afflicts an estimated 34 million people worldwide, according to researchers at Duke University in the US.
Now, researchers say they have a better understanding of why the vaccine might have worked – and possible new targets for future vaccines. Continue reading “HIV/AIDS: Groundbreaking Vaccine Research Reveals More Clues about HIV” »
HARARE, 11 January 2013 (PlusNews) – Chronic shortages of generic and antiretroviral drugs, stock-outs, high medication costs, and long distances to clinics are some of the hurdles people face in their quest to access essential medicines in Zimbabwe.
At any given time, public health facilities in much of Zimbabwe have in stock only half of a core set of critical medicines, according to findings from civil society groups working to improve access to medicines in Southern Africa.
Zimbabwe is still recuperating from a drastic decline in health services caused by sub-optimal investments in healthcare and an unprecedented economic crisis in 2008, during which the local currency crashed.
To make matters worse, over 80 percent of the country’s drugs are externally funded.
A poorly resourced local pharmaceutical industry can barely provide the country with its essential medicine requirements, and government-backed institutions, such as the National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (NatPharm), which is mandated with securing drugs and healthcare products on behalf of state institutions, are struggling to survive. Continue reading “ZIMBABWE: Still Struggling with Drug Shortages” »
UN Official Welcomes Security Council Action in Efforts Against Conflict-related Sexual Violence in DR Congo
8 January 2013 – The United Nations official dealing with conflict-related sexual violence today welcomed the Security Council’s imposition of sanctions on two armed groups active in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – the Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and 23 March Movement (M23).
“The Security Council’s sanctions committee for the DRC has led the way in focusing on crimes of sexual violence,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, added in a news release.
“I also welcome the designation of Lt. Col. Eric Badege and Jean-Marie Lugerero Runinga of M23 for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” she continued.
On the last day of 2012, the Security Council’s so-called ‘1533 Committee’ added the FDLR and the M23 – as well as Lt. Col. Badege and Mr. Runinga – to its list of individuals and entities subject to sanctions. Continue reading “UN Official Welcomes Security Council Action in Efforts Against Conflict-related Sexual Violence in DR Congo” »
EISA ELECTION OBSERVER MISSION TO THE 7TH DECEMBER 2012 PRESIDENTIAL AND PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN GHANA INTERIM STATEMENT
Following an invitation by the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana, the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) deployed a twenty five member Election Observer Mission to the 2012 Ghana Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. The EISA Election Observer Mission was led by Mr. Ahmed Issack Hassan, the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Kenya, assisted by the Deputy Mission Leader, Mr. Vincent Tohbi, Director of Programmes at EISA. The members of the Mission were drawn from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) from thirteen countries namely Burundi, Canada, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Sweden, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
The deployment of the mission was consistent with EISA’s mission of “the promotion of credible elections, citizen participation and the strengthening of political institutions for sustainable democracy in Africa”. The EISA mission was equipped with high tech computer tablets which it used to transmit information regarding the pre-voting, voting and post-voting processes from its various teams across the country to the Mission Command Centre located at the M?venpick Hotel in Accra in real time.
The Mission noted significant efforts made by the Ghanaian electoral stakeholders to improve the voter registration through adopting biometric technology in a bid to enhance the credibility and integrity of the voters register. The 2012 elections were therefore a litmus test on the newly adopted biometric voter registration which produced new voter ID cards. The EISA Mission commends the enthusiastic and generally peaceful participation of the Ghanaian citizens in the elections. The Mission further extends its gratitude to the electoral stakeholders and the people of Ghanafor their hospitality and for having availed themselves to meet and share their perspectives on the electoral process with the Mission. Continue reading “Election Observers Interim Report on Ghana Election Dec 2012” »
Opposition protesters were dispersed from outside the commission’s offices in Accra by police firing tear gas.
The NPP said in a statement that the National Democratic Congress had stolen votes across the country.
NDC candidate President John Mahama had a narrow lead over NPP rival Nana Akufo-Addo, according to local media.
Joy FM said based on partial results Mr Mahama looked likely to gain more than 50% of the vote, which would give him overall victory without needing a run-off vote.
Ghana, one of the world’s fastest growing economies, is regarded as one of Africa’s most stable democracies.
Mr Akufo-Addo lost the 2008 presidential poll by one percentage point, but accepted the result.
However, his party said they had “enough concrete evidence” to prove that he actually won this year’s election.
Turnout was said to be roughly 90%, and voting continued into Saturday in some areas
“The ruling NDC conspired with certain EC staff in constituencies across the country to falsify the election results and thereby abuse the mandate of the people of Ghana,” the party said.
“It was this planned, systematic stealing of votes at the collation level that was, thankfully, discovered in time.”
The party cited discrepancies between initial tally sheets and the results reported in the media.
It said thousands of votes had been stolen from Mr Akufo-Addo and added to Mr Mahama’s tally.
The opposition demanded an inquiry before official results are released.
Election commissioner Kwadwo Afari-Gyan told Reuters news agency he was not yet aware of the NPP complaint.
The NDC has not yet responded to the allegations.
Observers said Friday’s vote, for a new president and parliament, passed off in a largely peaceful manner.
Some glitches with a new finger-printing system meant that voting continued into Saturday in some parts of the country.
The turnout was reported to be high, at roughly 80%.
As a top exporter of cocoa and gold, Ghana is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
In 2011 it saw economic growth of 14% and experts predict growth of 8% for 2012 and in 2013.
Two people dead and several others seriously injured Saturday following a motor riding display during the arrival of NPP’s presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo in Northern Regional capital Tamale.
Hundreds of supporters of NPP in the Northern Region took to the streets of Tamale on their motorbikes and cars displaying skillfully as a way of welcoming the NPP presidential candidate to the town.
The accident happened at Datoyili on the Tamale-Kumasi road.
Nana Addo is in the regional capital for a four day campaign tour as well as to participate in the IEA presidential debate on Tuesday.
The deceased has since been buried in accordance with the Muslim tradition, while the injured are responding to treatment at the Tamale Teaching Hospital.
Dr Ken Sagoe is Chief Executive of Tamale Teaching Hospital, who confirmed the death to Joy News, said young people in the area often join enthusiastic crowd and engage in “various acts of acrobatic” on their motorbikes.
“Too often we have some of them get injured, and sometimes it can get fatal. Like yesterday, we lost two people from that event alone, and we released the bodies for burial yesterday, and then a considerable number were treated and discharged, a few were admitted.”
Ghana’s President John Atta Mills, who was suffering from throat cancer, has died in the capital, Accra.
A statement from his office said the 68-year-old died a few hours after being taken ill, but did not give details.
“It is with a heavy heart…that we announce the sudden and untimely death of the president of the Republic of Ghana,” the statement said.
Mr Atta Mills has ruled the West African country since 2009.
The BBC’s Sammy Darko, who is at the military hospital in Accra, says Mr Atta Mill’s voice has been degenerating in the last few months.
A presidential aide said the leader had complained of suffering pains on Monday evening and he died on Tuesday afternoon, Reuters reports.
He had returned to Ghana after visiting the US for medical checks, the news agency says.
Mr Atta Mills came to power after narrowly winning against a candidate from the then governing New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo-Addo, in polls in December 2008.
He was to run for a second term in December.
A group of Zimbabwean MPs is getting circumcised as part of a campaign to reduce HIV and Aids cases.
A small makeshift clinic for carrying out the procedures was erected in Parliament House in the capital Harare.
Blessing Chebundo, chairman of Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against Aids, said his main objective was to inspire other citizens to follow suit.
Research by the UN has suggested male circumcision can reduce the spread of HIV and Aids.
A report by UNAids and the World Health Organisation said the risk of HIV infection among men could be reduced by 60%.
More than a million people in Zimbabwe are believed to be HIV-positive, with about 500,000 receiving anti-retroviral treatment.
Mr Chebundo said more than 120 MPs and parliamentary staff had shown an interest in the circumcision programme.
The BBC’s Brian Hungwe, in Harare says that by 12:00 local time (10:00GMT), four had had the procedure performed, with more expected later
Blessing Chebundo was the first to undergo the 10-minute operation.
He told the BBC there was a possibility that some members of the executive may also attend, including President Robert Mugabe.
The circumcision programme had attracted a lot of attention in Zimbabwe, and had divided opinion, our correspondent said.
The issue was raised in parliament in September 2011, when Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe made a plea to her fellow politicians.
At the time, many MPs shunned the idea.
As well as a clinic in parliament, the initiative has seen a tent set up across the road from parliament, where counselling sessions will be held.
Dr Owen Mugurungi, Director for Aids and TB unit with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, applauded those involved, the Zimbabwe Mail reported.
“We are happy with this initiative and we are happy more leaders will come on board,” he was quoted as saying.