Here is a round up of some interesting blog posts, websites, or news articles I liked this week from across the net:

1. A review article of the link between vitamin A and malaria was recently published in the Malaria Journal. The coverage of the article on blogs and Twitter made it sound like it was going to be the next big thing, but I suspect most people did not read the article thoroughly. Luckly Paul Chinnock did and here is his take. While the evidence on a direct causal link between vitamin A supplementation and a reduction in malaria mortality is weak, there are good reason to believe that it might play some role in helping children fight infections including malaria. It can do no harm right? Plus, a major benefit of integrating it with malaria control could be more continuous funding, which tends to be more regular for malaria than for micronutrient supplementation.

2. It is Over. We won’t meet the Millennium Development Goals. Or so argues Bill Easterly on the Huffington Post this week. He argues that the way that they were structured set them up for failure in the first place and that “the MDGs will go down in history as a success in global consciousness-raising, but a failure in using that consciousness for its stated objectives”.

3. Part of the strategy developed by the Global Health Initiatives was to advocate for the creation of non-governmental, multi-stakeholder, multi-sector committees to oversee and coordinate HIV/AIDS programs at the national level. The view was that these committees would be unbiased, would represent the entire population, and be able to act quickly without being constrained by government bureaucracy. But it looks like the National AIDS Council in Zimbabwe has been cut out of the picture, evidence that it has been captured by government. Zimbabwe is likely an extreme case, but it does raise the question of how unbiased these committee are in reality.

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Some exciting news from TDR this morning: clinical trials of moxidectin have been launched in 3 African countries! Yes, exclamation point.

Although we have made great progress over the past decades against River Blindness – or onchocerciasis – thanks to the generous donation of ivermectin by Merck, a new drug may soon revolutionize the treatment of onchocerciasis.

Moxidectin is a drug that has been developed by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, currently for veterinary purposes, and is a macrofilariacide as opposed to a microfilariacide like ivermectin. Ivermectin works great, but since it can only kill the offspring of the adult worm, the treatments must be given for the entire life cycle of the worms – which can be as long as 15 years. Because moxidectin can actually sterilize the adult worms, proper treatment is likely only to need a few cycles greatly accelerating the elimination of onchocerciasis as a public health problem throughout Africa.

I’ve had the opportunity to attend a number of APOC meetings over the years, and have noticed that Wyeth has always been there, being an active participant and being really committed to seeing their product succeed for onchocerciasis. Kudos to them for all of their efforts so far, and to Merck, and here is hoping we get some good news soon. To read more about the future of onchocerciasis in Africa, (self-promotion) click here.

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