Browsing articles in "Australia"
6 July 2013
Guest Contributor

Australian malaria vaccine ‘promising’

Article by John Ross
From: The Australian
July 02, 2013

Griffith University's Professor Michael Good: "We have taken a different approach by working with an immune response to the whole malaria parasite."

Griffith University’s Professor Michael Good:
“We have taken a different approach by working with an immune response to the whole malaria parasite.”

The 30-year quest for a malaria vaccine could be near an end, after an Australian-led trial proved successful on mice.

The study, published July 2 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, is the first to trigger an immune response to the whole malaria parasite. Most attempts have targeted individual proteins in the parasite.

Lead author Michael Good, of Queensland’s Griffith University, said the team had used a drug to “bind the DNA” in the parasite before introducing it to lab mice. The drug left the parasite structurally intact but prevented it from multiplying.

“From the body’s point of view, it thinks it’s seeing a real living malaria parasite and produces an immune response to kill it,” Professor Good said. “When you then give it a living parasite, the immune system clobbers it.”

Malaria kills a million people a year, mostly young children. Many vaccines have been trialled but none has proven successful.

The most promising to date, the “RTS,S” vaccine funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is being trialled in several African countries. But Professor Good said the immunity it provided was incomplete and short-lived.

He said researchers had focused on developing “sub-unit vaccines” targeting individual proteins in the hope of inducing a broader immune response. “The problem with that approach, shown time and time again, is that the proteins mutate.

“Slight differences in any one protein are often enough to mean the immune response which recognises one strain won’t recognise another. Because we’re using the entire parasite, our approach eliminates that problem.”

Griffith is seeking volunteers for a small human trial over the next few months. While it involves giving volunteers malaria, Professor Good said it was safe because the infection could be “stopped” before the subjects became sick.

If the trial proves successful, wider Australian testing will be followed by a field trial in an affected country in Africa or the Pacific. If all goes well, a vaccine could be widely available within five years, Professor Good said.

15 April 2013
Shawn Clackett

Advance Screening of Mary and Martha

If you take every single person killed in a terrorist act in the past 20 years and you add to that all the lives lost in the middle east since 1967 and you add to that every single American life lost since Vietnam, Korea and every single American engagement since then, Iraq, Afghanistan, if you take all those lives and you multiple it by two, that’s the number of children that die of Malaria every single year.

On Monday, April 15 for World Malaria Day (April 25), Pacific Friends of the Global Fund and RESULTS Australia are hosted an advance screening of Mary and Martha. Directed by Philip Noyce and written by Richard Curtis, Mary and Martha tells the story of two women (Hilary Swank as Mary and Brenda Blethyn as Martha) who have little in common apart from one thing they wish they didn’t.

This powerful film reminds us that although Malaria is a preventable and curable disease, there are still approximately 660,000 people dying from it every year; 86% were children under 5 years of age. In Africa, a child dies from Malaria every minute of every day. There are 3.3 billion people are at risk of the disease. That is half of the entire World’s population. In 2011, there were some 800 malaria-related deaths in Papua New Guinea alone.

Please visit Roll Back Malaria for more information about malaria.

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26 March 2013
Shawn Clackett

Dr Mark Dybul visits Australia

Dr Mark Dybul

If the world of infectious diseases had superstars,
Mark Dybul would probably be one of them.

– Australian Financial Review

Between 13 – 16 March 2013, the newly-appointed Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, Dr Mark Dybul, visited Australia for the first time. Prior to assuming his new position as Executive Director of the Global Fund in February 2013, Dr Dybul served as the head of PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS) between 2006 and 2009. In 2004, he moved to PEPFAR as Deputy Chief Medical Officer. Soon he was promoted to Assistant, then Deputy, and then Acting U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. In 2006, Mark Dybul was appointed to head the organisation as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, equivalent level to an Assistant Secretary of State in the U.S. State Department. He served there until 2009. Under his tenure PEPFAR budgets quadrupled.

During his visit, Dr Dybul was accompanied by Dr Christoph Benn, Director of External Relations at the Global Fund; Mr Don Baxter, Australian Board Member on the Global Fund; Mr Bill Bowtell, Executive Director of Pacific Friends; Mr Chris Puplick, Senior Advisor to the Health Minister of New South Wales; and Mr Shawn Clackett, Administrative and Communications Officer of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund.

On Wednesday 13 March, the Global fund team visited Melbourne for a roundtable discussion with representatives of Australian non-government organisations (NGO) and leaders of HIV research institutions. The meeting was co-hosted by Professor Brendan Crabb, Executive Director of the Burnet Institute; and Ms Maree Nutt, National Manager of RESULTS Australia. Dr Dybul and Dr Benn briefed the meeting on recent structural changes to the Global Fund, including the revision of new grant and financial management arrangements; and strategy for the 2013 Replenishment year of the Global Fund. Sir Gustav Nossal, a distinguished Australian research biologist, famous for his contributions to the fields of antibody formation and immunological tolerance; Professor Sharon Lewin, Co-Chair of the 2014 Melbourne International AIDS Conference; and Mr Bill Whittaker AM, Advisory Council Member of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund were among those who attended the Melbourne meeting.

Professor Brendan Crabb with The Global Fund's Executive Director, Dr Mark Dybul.

Burnet’s Professor Brendan Crabb with Global Fund’s Dr Mark Dybul

Between 13 – 15 March, Dr Dybul and Dr Benn visited Canberra. During the visit, Dr Dybul was received by the Governor-General, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, who is also the Patron of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund. Dr Dybul and Dr Benn also met Senator the Hon Bob Carr, the Minister for Foreign Affairs; the Hon Tanya Plibersek, the Minister for Health; and the Hon Julie Bishop, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Foreign Minister. Dr Dybul and Dr Benn also met Mr Peter Baxter, Director General of AusAID, and senior AusAID officers.

Mark Dybul Meeting Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC

Dr Mark Dybul Meeting the Governor-General, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC

On the final leg of his journey, Dr Dybul visited Sydney between 15 – 16 March 2013. On Friday, 15 March, he met with some forty representatives of Sydney based non-government organisations (NGO) involved in HIV. Ms Wendy McCarthy AO chaired this meeting.

Mark Dybul at the Access to Life ExhibitOn March 16, Dr Dybul visited the Access to Life Exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.  This powerful photographic exhibition has already moved millions of people around the world through its touching images of AIDS-affected communities. Dr Dybul was accompanied by Ms Anni Turnbull, the Curator of the Exhibition; Mr Mark Goggin, General Manager of the Powerhouse Museum; Mr Ross Hutton, Public Health Manager at the Oil Search Health Foundation; Dr Kevin Miles, HIV Technical Specialist at the Oil Search Health Foundation; and Mr Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom, Program Analyst and Information Coordinator at the Oil Search Health Foundation.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review given during his visit, Dr Dybul said that “…we have this small window to beat two plagues… and we can actually do it if we pull together; that’s something we can do. The world is pretty constrained financially, but it’s still a pretty wealthy world.”

Mark Dybul made the strong point that with a little more funding, we can turn these pandemics into low-level endemics, but we need to step up our game to become a true global family. We hope that Dr Mark Dybul will have a good and lasting effect on the Global Fund, on these three diseases, and on the world. As the Australian Financial Review commented, “if the world of infectious diseases had superstars, Mark Dybul would probably be one of them.”

14 March 2013
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Australia and the Global Fund: Partnerships That Pay Off

DybulExecutive Director of the Global Fund, Mark Dybul, is currently visiting Australia to thank Australian leaders and legislators in person for their support, and to underscore how their investment is paying off across the Asia-Pacific region.

He is reassuring Australians that the Global Fund is committed to a continued partnership in responding to HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the Asia-Pacific region. Dybul writes on the Huffington post why it is so important to invest in these partnerships, and equally, why these partnership pay off.

Anyone who makes an investment hopes to see a healthy return.

In the arena of global health, when we talk about value for money, we mean an investment that gets a superior return in preventing and treating infectious diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Australia’s government has consistently named its primary concern in global health as effective intervention in the Asia-Pacific region. And the Global Fund has delivered.

Australia taxpayers are investing AUD$100 million in the Global Fund in 2013, and the Global Fund is investing more than AUD$300 million in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the investment world, that’s called “leverage.”

This week, I am visiting Australia for the first time since becoming Executive Director of the Global Fund. I plan to thank Australian leaders and legislators in person for their support, and to underscore how their investment is paying off across the Asia-Pacific region.

I want to reassure Australians that we are committed to a continued partnership with their government in responding to HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the Asia-Pacific region.

In Myanmar this year, the Global Fund is backing a regional initiative with US$100 million that will tackle artemisinin resistance in the fight against malaria. In Papua New Guinea and in the Solomon Islands, we are supporting programs to prevent and treat tuberculosis. Each of these countries was invited to take part in a new funding model that we launched in February.

Our new funding model starts with dialogue among partners who are working together in each country. The partners and the approach will be tailored to each country because no one size fits all.

The new funding model also provides countries with more flexibility around when they seek support so it aligns with their own timing and needs. It also provides more predictability while encouraging a full consideration of the latest understanding of current trends in new infections, district by district, and the interventions that are most likely to have the greatest impact in each. At the same time, we will be catalyzing and coordinating key technical and implementing partners so countries have support to deliver highest impact programs. This will include working closely with AusAID in countries of interest to them.

For too long we have been constrained by the tyranny of averages rather than focusing on areas of high transmission and those most at risk. The new funding model strives to break free from those constraints to ensure that those most in need and at risk are reached with the highest quality services and programs.

Australia, as a strong supporter of the Global Fund, stands to see more return on its investment. Australia was one of the pioneer countries to adopt the Global Fund’s Debt2Health initiative, which resulted in a significant increase in support to tuberculosis programs in Indonesia. Under the initiative, Australia cancelled AUD$75 million of Indonesia’s debt. In return, Indonesia is investing half of this money in national programs to combat tuberculosis through the Global Fund.

Through Australia’s support and that of other donors, the Global Fund has been able to work with partners and together we have changed the lives of millions of people around the world.

The programs we have supported are providing AIDS treatment for 4.2 million people, anti-tuberculosis treatment for 9.7 million people, and 310 million insecticide-treated nets for the prevention of malaria. In effect, the Global Fund has saved more that 8.7 million lives in its 10 years of operation.

Worldwide, enormous advances have been made. AIDS-related deaths have decreased from 2.1 million per year in 2001 to 1.7 million in 2011. There were more than 700,000 fewer new HIV infections globally in 2011 than in 2001. The absolute number of annual TB cases has been falling since 2006 and TB incidence rates have been falling since 2002. Similar gains have been made in malaria, with progress towards eliminating malaria occurring in every region of the world.

Just ten years ago, nobody thought we could achieve these milestones. It is now evident that we have a historic opportunity to get HIV, tuberculosis and malaria under control. This will transform the lives of millions of people around the world.

To complete the job, we need to keep the momentum going, but we cannot underplay the challenge ahead. We need a Big Push to defeat these diseases. We also need political commitment and scientific knowledge to invest the funding in the right areas effectively.

We know that if we work together, with shared responsibility, with clear mission focus and with passion and compassion as global health citizens we can completely control these maladies. This is a message we know Australians understand. We are confident that they will continue to offer us the help we need to complete the mission.

24 January 2013
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Bob Carr and Australia back The Big Push

@bobjcarr: #TheBigPush – to banish AIDS, TB, malaria. And Australia backs it. #Davos

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Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a high-level advocacy organisation which seeks to mobilise regional awareness of the serious threat posed by HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to societies and economies in the Pacific. In pursuing its goals Pacific Friends has a specific interest in highlighting the need to protect the rights of women and children in the Pacific.

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