John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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World AIDS Day 2016 in South Africa

by John Campbell
Mpho Bogagane, a child who is born with AIDS, is consoled by South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi after she gave a speech at the orphanage Nkosi's Haven, which was named after Nkosi Johnson, one of the youngest victims of the HIV epidemic who died in 2001 from the disease, during the launch of the 5-Day countdown ahead of the AIDS2016 International Conference, in Johannesburg, South Africa July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Thursday, December 1, is World AIDS Day, a fitting occasion to call attention to an HIV vaccine clinical trial that has started in South Africa. The vaccine being tested is based on one used in a Thailand trial in 2009 which had a protection rate of about 30 percent, reports the BBC. Results from the South Africa trial will be known in about four years. Read more »

Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s Response to Polio outbreak in the Lake Chad Basin

by John Campbell
A girl is seen at a polio immunization health center in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria, August 29, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

The public reappearance of polio in northeast Nigeria is a disappointment. Nigeria had been thought to be free of polio for two years. The recent cases of paralysis caused by polio are likely the result of ongoing, undetected transmission rather than a new introduction of the disease from elsewhere. The small numbers of paralysis probably masks the extent of the presence of the disease. Only about one in two hundred polio cases results in paralysis. Polio would appear to remain present in areas formerly under control of Boko Haram, which is opposed to vaccination and western medicine in general. Read more »

Polio in Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell
A local health worker carries vaccination kits at a distribution centre ahead of the start of a nationwide polio immunization campaign on Wednesday, in Lagos February 21, 2011. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

The appearance of two cases of polio in northern Nigeria is an unmitigated tragedy. Anybody who has traveled in the region and seen firsthand the victims of paralysis caused by polio can but weep. And now there are two more. Victims often have no wheel-chairs and, as elsewhere, health care is rudimentary if it exists at all. The tragedy is only mitigated by the courage the victims show in carrying on, and in the support they receive from their families and communities. Read more »

Yellow Fever in Central Africa: A Preventable Epidemic

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A Congolese man is vaccinated during an emergency campaign of vaccination against yellow fever in Kisenso district, of the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, July 20, 2016. (Reuters/Kenny Katombe)

Gabriella Meltzer is a research associate in the Council on Foreign Relations Global Health program.

From Ebola to Zika, recent global health crises have been defined by unpredictable outbreaks of mysterious pathogens. However, the yellow fever epidemic currently sweeping across Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo was not only predictable, but could have been stopped by the World Health Organization (WHO) with the necessary political will and logistical organization. Read more »