Activists urge change to patent laws

Ten years ago, the Doha Declaration allowed countries to circumvent patent rights to access life-saving medicines, particularly those used to treat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. However, the South African government has failed to take advantage of these provisions, and increasingly important TB medication and second- and third-line antiretrovirals (ARVs) remain out of reach, activists warn.

"Pre-Doha, treating [HIV] without generics... meant HIV was a death sentence," said Gilles van Cutsem, medical coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

MDR-TB remains a difficult diagnosis for children

Years of treatment and mounds of pills are hard work for older patients with multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), but in children, treatment becomes a minefield for patients and doctors alike.

MDR-TB is resistant to the most powerful drugs used to treat active TB, rifampicin and isoniazid. With weaker immune systems, children who contract TB - most often from parents - progress to active disease in about a year. But just how many children are affected is not known as there is almost no research into children and MDR-TB - and very little useful guidance on how to treat them.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Door-to-door outreach cuts TB prevalence

Home-based tuberculosis (TB) education and testing reduced community TB prevalence by about 20 percent, according to findings of a large, two-country study released at the International Lung Health Conference in Lille, France.

Conducted among almost 963,000 people in Zambia and South Africa, the ZAMSTAR study rolled out household education and TB testing to some communities while others received enhanced TB case detection, which included activities such as community dramas to raise TB awareness.

Global Tuberculosis Control 2011

Published by: 
World Health Organization

This is the sixteenth global report on tuberculosis (TB) published by WHO in a series that started in 1997. It provides a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the TB epidemic and progress in implementing and financing TB prevention, care and control at global, regional and country levels using data reported by 198 countries that account for over 99% of the world’s TB cases.

KAREN HOFMAN and STEPHEN TOLLMAN : Diseases that are just as serious as HIV/AIDS

UN meeting has finally alerted the world to what SA’s medical professionals have long suspected — the burden of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease is as serious a threat as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis to social and economic development.

THIS week’s first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on noncommunicable diseases has finally alerted the world to what SA’s medical professionals have long suspected — the burden of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease is as serious a threat as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis to social and economic development.

AIDS breakthrough threatened by budget woes

After 30 years and over 20 million deaths in Africa alone, US researchers now report that early treatment of people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that leads to AIDS cuts transmission of the disease by over 96 per cent. The news has sent shock waves through the medical and scientific world. Unexpectedly announced by the US National Institutes of Health on 12 May after a six-year clinical trial, the discovery that anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) can make people living with HIV far less infectious means that humanity finally has the tools to reverse the global epidemic.

Early ARV treatment will save lives

Government's decision to offer free ARV treatment to people with CD4 counts of 350 or less has been welcomed as a life-saver.


The South African government’s announcement that it will give antiretroviral medication to people with HIV who have CD4 counts of below 350 will save lives and prevent infection.

This is according to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which welcomed the announcement made by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Friday (12 August).

Until Friday, people were only able to get ARVs if their CD4 count was below 200 unless they were pregnant or had tuberculosis.

Experts examine NHI draft

Though it is expected to cost R214 billion by 2014 – more than double the current health expenditure – details of what exactly will be on offer under proposed benefits of the national health insurance (NHI) remain vague, while contributions will be mandatory for most working South Africans.

The NHI Green Paper, released on Friday, makes it clear cosmetic surgery, like botox and liposuction, and expensive spectacle frames would be excluded, as would treatment of anyone who did not go through the referral system.

But details yet to be fleshed out include:

* The income threshold above which contributions will be mandatory;

Big indaba for leading South African researchers and health experts

The National Health Research Committee (NHRC) will this week hold an important summit to look at the various health challenges facing the government. The summit takes place on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 July 2011 at the Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre, Boksburg, Ekurhuleni.

According to the chairperson of the NHRC, Professor Bongani Mayosi, South Africa is facing four main health challenges:

What's next for HIV prevention? Paying people to be healthy

Researchers are investigating the impact of offering financial incentives to people who are at risk of acquiring or passing on HIV, the International AIDS Society conference in Rome heard last week.

A large study in the United States is looking at whether a test-and-treat approach should be supported by offering incentives to newly diagnosed people who attend medical services and maintain an undetectable viral load.