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Also In Global Health News: Disabled People And HIV; HIV/AIDS In Cambodia; South Africa Global Fund Grant; Early Marriage In Zambia; Indian Health Deal In Rwanda

U.N. Agencies’ Efforts To Combat HIV/AIDS Among Disabled People Examined

IRIN PlusNews reports on different efforts aimed at addressing HIV/AIDS among people living with disabilities. “More than 600 million people – 10 percent of the global population – live with disabilities, and 80 percent of them live in developing countries. This population often struggles to gain access to sex education and health services, including HIV prevention and education materials. … Yet people with disabilities engage in the same sexual behaviours that the general population does, according to a landmark 2004 Yale University/World Bank report entitled HIV/AIDS and Individuals with Disability. Additionally, women with disabilities are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and rape than non-disabled women,” the news service writes. UNAIDS “is planning to investigate ongoing initiatives that link AIDS and disability, and what kind of engagement there has been with persons living with disabilities,” according to IRIN PlusNews. UNICEF and other U.N. agencies have also started further investigating the connections between HIV/AIDS and the disabled at the country level, said Ken Legins, UNICEF’s HIV/AIDS chief (12/21).

Report Explores How Funding Will Impact Cambodia’s Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS

“Despite Cambodia’s success in driving down numbers of HIV infections, a new report [released by the Results for Development Institute] on the future of the disease in the country argues that further success is not guaranteed and that the government needs to focus on prevention and assume more of the financing of its AIDS programme,” BMJ News reports (Moszynski, 12/21). “The authors compared several financing scenarios from now until 2031, four decades after HIV/AIDS was first detected in Cambodia,” Agence France-Presse reports, noting that the report is to be presented to the Cambodian parliament on Tuesday (12/20). “Cambodia, in a best-case scenario, could reduce the infections to 1,000 people a year in 2031 – a half-century after AIDS was first identified. That is down from an estimated 2,100 infections last year and from the peak of 15,000 a decade ago,” according to a press release about the report. However, “the report’s authors also say that if Cambodia’s AIDS efforts stall and current coverage of key services declines, especially in carefully targeted prevention, the number of infections could climb to 3,800 a year in 2031 – nearly a four-fold increase over the best-case scenario,” the release states (12/20).

South Africa Awarded $302M Global Fund Grant For AIDS, TB

South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Sunday said the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has awarded the country a $302 million grant, African Business Review reports (Davies, 12/21). The five-year grant will be used for the “prevention, treatment and care of AIDS and TB,” according to a BuaNews press release. “Motsoaledi said the fund will allow the country to put more people on early treatment, improve health outcomes as well as avert AIDS-related deaths,” the release states. “Of the previous grants we have received from the Global Fund, this is the highest amount. It covers, for the first time treatment and also includes health systems strengthening and scaling up of medical male circumcisions,” Motsoaledi said (12/20).

IRIN Examines Early Marriage In Zambia

“Early and forced marriages are common in Luapula Province, northern Zambia, where the incidence of early pregnancy and under-age marriage is estimated at about 70 percent among teenage girls, according to the U.N. population agency (UNFPA), which also pegs school drop-out levels at around 60 percent for girls aged 13 or 14,” IRIN writes in a story examining early marriage in the country. Though it is illegal, [m]arrying off young girls is a tradition here… People [in rural areas] perceive a girl child as a source of wealth, and would rather give the girl into marriage to raise funds for educating the boy child,” according to Pascal Salimu, an UNFPA gender officer in Luapula Province. The article looks at how early marriage contributes to Zambia’s high maternal mortality rate and notes its other implications for health and social factors (12/20).

Indian Company Signs $250M Deal For Health, IT ‘Knowledge Hub’ In Rwanda

The Indian company Universal Empire Infrastructures “has signed a pact with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to invest $250 million for a knowledge hub,” which includes health and technology training facilities and service centers, the IANS/Times of India reports (12/18). “Expanded centers for developing IT and biotech skills, as well as a sports complex and convention center, are also part of the $250 million investment. The goal is to spur tourism, boost Rwanda’s local economy, and move yet farther away from what many people still think of when they hear Rwanda – the 1994 genocide,” Fast Company writes. The deal with Rwanda “signifies India’s growing status as a friend and leader to many of the world’s developing countries, specifically in the area of health care. India is a leading supplier of affordable pharmaceutical drugs relied upon by much of the developing world and the country is currently cementing R&D partnerships with countries such as South Africa to fight HIV,” according to the publication (Nerenberg, 12/20).

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