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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's a start....

Until then...don't forget to use your mosquito netting, take your doxi and spray with repellent when possible especially if you are outside between the hours of 10pm and 5am.  

SEATTLE/LONDON (Reuters) - An experimental vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline halved the rick of African children getting malaria in a major clinical trial, making it likely to become the world's first shot against the deadly disease.  Final-stage trial data released on Tuesday showed it gave protection against clinical and severe malaria in 5-17 month-olds in Africa, where the mosquito-borne disease kills hundreds of thousands of children a year.

"These data bring us to the cusp of having the world's first malaria vaccine," said Andrew Witty, chief executive of the British drugmaker that developed the vaccine along with the nonprofit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI).
While hailing an unprecedented achievement, Witty, malaria scientists and global health experts stressed that the vaccine, known as RTS,S or Mosquirix, was no quick fix for eradicating malaria. The new shot is less effective against the disease than other vaccines are against common infections such as polio and measles.
"We would have wished that we could wipe it out, but I think this is going to contribute to the control of malaria rather than wiping it out," Tsiri Agbenyega, a principal investigator in the RTS,S trials in Ghana, told Reuters at a Seattle, Washington, conference about the disease.
Malaria is endemic in around 100 countries worldwide and killed some 781,000 people in 2009, according to the World Health Organization.
Control measures such as insecticide-treated bednets, indoor spraying and use of combination anti-malaria drugs have helped significantly cut the numbers of malaria cases and deaths in recent years, but experts have said that an effective vaccine is vital to complete the fight against the disease.
The new data, presented at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Malaria Forum conference in Seattle and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine, were the first from a final-stage Phase III clinical trial conducted at 11 trial sites in seven countries across sub-Saharan Africa.
The trial is still going on, but researchers who analyzed data from the first 6,000 children found that after 12 months of follow-up, three doses of RTS,S reduced the risk of children experiencing clinical malaria and severe malaria by 56 percent and 47 percent, respectively.
"We are very happy with the results. We have never been closer to having a successful malaria vaccine," said Christian Loucq, director of PATH MVI, who was at the conference.
Loucq said widespread use of insecticide-treated bednets in the trial -- by 75 percent of people taking part -- showed that RTS,S can provide significant protection on top of other existing malaria control methods.
Results in babies aged six to 12 weeks are expected in a year's time and, if all goes well, GSK believes the vaccine could reach the market in 2015.
Getting RTS,S to African infants who need it will take a concerted effort from international funders such as the Gates Foundation, which helped pay for the research. Health experts have said it must be cheap enough to be cost-effective.
Gates said the results were a "huge milestone" in the fight against malaria.
Witty declined to say if a course of three shots would cost under $10 but told reporters RTS,S would be priced as low as possible. The company has previously said it would charge only the cost of manufacturing it plus a 5 percent mark-up, which would be reinvested into tropical disease research. "We are not going to make any money from this project," Witty said.
However, shares in GSK's small U.S. biotech partner Agenus, which makes a component of the vaccine, rose more than 40 percent after news of the clinical trial result.
Britain's minister for international development Andrew Mitchell said the vaccine "offers real hope for the future."
"An effective, long-lasting and cost-effective vaccine would make a major contribution to malaria control," he told the conference.
Malaria is caused by a parasite carried in the saliva of mosquitoes. The RTS,S vaccine is designed to kick in when the parasite enters the human bloodstream after a mosquito bite. By stimulating an immune response, it can prevent the parasite from maturing and multiplying in the liver.
Without that immune response, the parasite gets back into the bloodstream and infects red blood cells, leading to fever, body aches and in some cases death.
RTS,S's co-inventor Joe Cohen said the data were robust and consistent with earlier trials, which also showed around 50 percent efficacy. Side effects, including fever and injection-site swelling, were similar in children given RTS,S and a control vaccine.
After working for 24 years on developing the shot, he said he was "very proud of what we have achieved.
Some external commentators were cautious about the vaccine's potential, but said it was an important development that should save many lives. Health experts normally like to see a success rate of 80 percent plus in a vaccine.
"We're probably not there yet, but this is a really important advance in science," Peter Agre, director of the John Hopkins Malaria Research Institute and a former Nobel prize winner, told Reuters at the conference.
In an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, Nicholas White of Thailand's Mahidol University said, "It is becoming increasingly clear that we really do have the first effective vaccine against a parasitic disease in humans."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Field of Dreams....

The Dream.  It starts with an inkling, a tiny spark of hope in the pit of your stomach; the “what ifs”.  What if I had some land to bring the orphans together as a family; what if there was a school, a clinic, gardens and house mothers?  And God- the God of “I Will”, the God of “Never Enough”, the God of All Things”- begins to move in compassion and unravel the impossible.  When Kingdom pleasure meets earthly planning it ignites a fire.

Show Mercy’s Field of Dreams is in its beginning stages, but sit outside the common area (called The Ark) and you will behold a spectacular sight.  The beauty of the fog-filled valley, laden with trees and the cacophony of chattering birds will take your breath away and sheath you in the peaceful arms of Christ.  His majesty truly reigns over this place. There are the rooms for interns and visiting missionaries, the hustle and bustle of activity as the next phase is breathed into being; but you can also hear the future - ringing laughter of toddlers as they run to get caught up into waiting arms; interns being taught to disciple those just introduced to the Father of hope; visitors that cannot get enough of the splendor.

This morning, as our own iridescent colors of morning mist begin to lift, I remember the moments of gazing over the FOD’s basin mesmerized by the creativity, the beauty, and the love of God.  During this past week of coming home, I consistently go back to that place; now aware that God’s promises are released to a hungry and passionate heart.

He wants to show us 'things to come' (John 16:13) to build our faith; to create a cry of desperation inside of us that clamors to "give life to the dead and speak of the nonexistent things that (He has foretold and promised) as if they (already) existed" (Romans 4:17).  It's time to let God out of the box nailed shut by our stipulations, rules and periods.  To release the dream so, like Mike & Lori Salley and the many others stepping out into God's bigness, we too say Yes to God's promises therefore transforming the atmosphere around us.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Esther Through God’s Looking Glass

Gentle hands guide a pain-wracked figure through the glass where legs, strengthened by nutrition, medication and God’s mercy bear a healthy body, a joyful heart and smiling face.  Reconciled and redeemed by Christ she is now a new creature, the old things left behind and only new things ahead.  Healed of past God concepts and renewed by God’s love she has been crucified in Christ and she is able to embrace the abiding of the Lord.  She believes there is a call on her life and carries the sense of confident expectation that there is solid certainty in her life.  Hope for her child and the coming generation bring a peace to her countenance.

I sat in awe of the freedom, emanating from the promise of life, which filled the room.  Each testimony told of the hardships, the fear and ensuing denial of knowing they were HIV positive.  Short and sweet.  It was no longer their reality.  They were saved by the blood of the Lamb and the earthly angels God had put in their path.  Each woman realized the potential that life carried for them.  Excitedly they showed us how to make candles; the little shop that carried all the purses, school uniforms, mosquito nets, aprons, dresses, blouses and men’s shirts they tailored; the beaded, bejeweled and polished stoned jewelry; hand-crafted blankets and so many other beautiful gifts made by hands that once shook with illness.  Now steady.  Now being held out to others in need.

With uncommon compassion, the kind that can only come from one who has taken the journey before you, they visit other women languishing on the brink of death and offer them the same hope of Glory.  We were blessed with the visual representation of “raham” or the ‘tender love of a mother for her child-to love from the womb’.  With no regard to time or space they pray, feed and help them hold a water bottle of oral rehydration to their lips.   Quietly, one woman who understands the need for human contact, will sit and hold a hand until the Doctor, a relative or the children return home with full knowledge that soon this woman too will be free of the enemy’s plan.

Through the help of Mom Gladys, Mary, Evelyn and others, each woman is given a chance to make a life for themselves. We greeted graduates of the program walking the streets gathering food for the evening’s meal that would be fixed for their children in their own home.  They now pour back into the program.  Self-sufficient, proud, shining with the light of He who has become their rock and strong tower. 

Eden’s Song is proud to partner with HEART to build a better tomorrow by teaching lifestyles independent of handouts; dependent on God. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011


We trudged through the mud and trash of Kibera, home to 170,000 people to visit Esther.  Esther was dying.  Weakened, she invited us into her clean, sparse one- room home. She could barely sit on her couch, let alone lift her head to greet us.  All 64 pounds that was left of her did it’s best to hold her body together.  Yes, she has AIDS and was dehydrated, starving and confused.  Esther also has an 8 year old son trying to keep his mommy alive.

Today she was joined by a team from the WEEP (Women’s Equality Empowerment Project) center offering her a chance at life.  They called MFS (Doctors without Borders) who sent help to take her vitals and hopefully transport her to the hospital.  A neighbor will take her son while she is there.  Once they hydrate her she will be released to the WEEP program where they will put Esther on ARV treatment, put her son in school, feed them and teach them the love of Christ.  When she is healthy again, Esther will be taught a skill and in 18 months graduate to begin her own business.  She was given oral rehydration salts, a bit of milk and rice and most importantly we prayed for her, with her and on behalf of her.  Esther will now know the compassion of a sisterhood that has taken this journey before her.  She will learn to rejoice over a redeemed life, dance to the song of salvation, and raise her voice to the heavens in praise. Her son will laugh and play with others his own age, but best of all he will know his mommy past her 32 years of life.

Yes, today Esther was dying, but tomorrow (thanks to God and His servants from HEART - Health, Education, Africa Resource Team and their WEEP center) Esther will live.  Live for Christ.  Live to offer another the same saving grace she has known.  Esther-God’s Queen.  Esther – the conqueror.
Yes, today was a good day.  Thank you for praying as we continue our travels.  We know you all have stories like this.  We are grateful that today was our day to beat back the enemy and see a life saved.