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Still, she acknowledged the need to address the surge of other health problems across Africa. Cohn said the agency was considering ways to treat things like heart disease and diabetes. “The way we treat HIV could be a good model for chronic care,” she said.

Others said more concrete information is needed before making any big changes to public health policies.

“We have to take this data with some grains of salt,” said Sandy Cairncross, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

He said the information in some of the Lancet research was too thin and didn’t fully consider all the relevant health risk factors.

“We’re getting a better picture, but it’s still incomplete,” he said.