Top 5 Global Health Headlines: Malaria Vaccine, Haiti One Year Later

BY Talea Miller  January 14, 2011 at 12:59 PM EST


Malaria patient in Tanzania. Photo by Talea Miller.

Promising New Malaria Vaccine

An effective malaria vaccine may be on the horizon: a Phase II trial published in the Lancet this week showed an experimental vaccine cut the risk of children contracting malaria by 46 percent for 15 months.

The vaccine, funded by the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and GlaxoSmithKline, was tested on 447 children from Kenya and Tanzania, aged five to 17 months. About 91 percent of malaria cases occur in Africa, most in young children.

Haiti One Year Later

One year after a devastating earthquake killed more than 230,000 people in Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, progress on reconstruction has been slow, and many Haitians are discouraged by the living conditions in the tent camps across Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.N. envoy to Haiti, said the pace of recovery has been frustrating but that progress is being made. More than $4 billion has been pledged by the international community for 2010 and 2011 for Haiti’s recovery, $1.28 billion of which has been dispersed.

H1N1 Offers Universal Flu Vaccine Clues

Antibodies from patients who were infected with the H1N1 flu virus may be valuable in developing a vaccine that can provide protection from all strains of the flu, researchers from Emory and the University of Chicago said this week.

The antibodies from the patients were able to protect for all the seasonal H1N1 flu strains from the last decade, the “Spanish flu” strain from 1918, and a strain of the H5N1 avian flu. They appear to target the stalk region of the virus, which remains constant across many strains and could lead to a vaccine that targets the region.

High Food Prices Could Lead to Crisis

Global food prices hit a record high in December, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, and may not have peaked, according to Abdolreza Abbassian, chief economist at FAO.

“We are entering a danger territory,” he told reporters last week.

Tunisia and Algeria saw protests this week sparked in part by the cost of food, and Libya, Jordan and Morocco are taking action to reduce food prices to avoid similar conflicts, reported the Financial Times.

Campaign Launched to Address Malaria Drug Resistance

Artemisinin, the most effective drug available to fight malaria, is under threat as more and more cases of malaria resistant to the drug have emerged on the Cambodia-Thailand border.

Malaria No More and the World Health Organization announced a new partnership this week, aimed at stopping the spread of the resistant malaria parasites and improving testing and treatment to contain the disease.