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Deadly Outbreak Of Acute Watery Diarrhea Spreads Through Horn Of Africa; Djibouti Hit Especially Hard

“Recurring drought, insufficient hygiene and ongoing regional conflict are driving a deadly outbreak of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) across the Horn of Africa, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported” on Tuesday, the U.N. News Centre writes. “WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva that more than 50,000 cases of AWD have been recorded in the region this year, resulting in over 700 deaths in Djibouti and Somalia,” the news service notes (11/22).

George W. Bush To Travel To Africa To Raise Awareness About Cervical, Breast Cancer

Former President George W. Bush will travel next month with former first lady Laura Bush and officials with the George W. Bush Institute to Tanzania, Zambia and Ethiopia “where they’ll visit clinics and meet with governmental and health care leaders … to raise awareness about cervical and breast cancer, an effort he calls a ‘natural extension’ of” the PEPFAR program launched during his presidency, the Associated Press reports. “The new program, called the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative, seeks to expand the availability of cervical cancer screening and treatment and breast care education in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America,” the news service notes.

Increasing Food Supply Through Production, Trade Policies Necessary To Prevent Widespread Hunger

“If we are to succeed in alleviating poverty and providing the necessary framework for sustainable development on our planet, there is no more pressing need than ensuring the supply of affordable food for our people,” Pascal Lamy, director-general of the World Trade Organization, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” He continues, “There are two keys to tackling this problem, enhancing production — particularly in Africa — and ensuring that trade in food flows unhindered from the lands of the plenty to the lands of the few. Without immediate action in these two areas, there is a risk that hunger will become even more widespread, with many million more lives at stake” (11/21).

PEPFAR Announces Nursing Education Partnership Initiative For Health In Africa

The U.S. government on Thursday “formally announced the Nursing Education Partnership Initiative (NEPI) in Lilongwe, Malawi,” according to a State Department press release. The PEPFAR initiative aims to “strengthen the quality and capacity of nursing and midwifery education institutions, increase the number of highly skilled nurses and midwives, and support innovative…

Global Health Service Corps Essential To Improve African Health Systems, Achieve ‘AIDS-Free Generation’

“A notable feature of Secretary [of State Hillary Rodham] Clinton’s ‘AIDS-free generation’ initiative is to strengthen health care systems in sub-Saharan Africa, … a view echoed by many eminent voices in the global health community,” Anand Reddi of the University of Colorado Medical School writes in a post on Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “To address the African health care workforce shortage, I encourage Secretary Clinton to adopt the principles of the” Global Health Service Corps (GHSC), which would be composed of U.S. health professionals who could “provide medical education and technical assistance to enhance the health care workforces in low-income countries,” Reddi says. In addition, the GHSC would focus on “infrastructure development, knowledge transfer, and capacity building,” Reddi writes.

U.N. Agencies Respond To Flooding In Horn Of Africa

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “reports heavy rains and flooding in parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are causing havoc among thousands of displaced Somalis in the region” and “flood-damaged roads are hampering relief efforts to thousands affected by the heavy rains,” VOA News reports (Schlein, 11/4). “UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told a press briefing in Geneva that the agency has distributed 4,500 assistance kits so far, which include plastic sheets, plastic buckets and soap,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/4). “In addition to providing emergency relief for floods, other U.N. agencies continue to increase their efforts to help Somalis who suffer from famine and insecurity,” VOA notes (11/4).

Obesity Affecting Wealthy, Middle Classes More Than Poor In Developing Countries, Study Says

“‘First world’ health problems such as obesity and heart disease may be gaining ground in developing nations, but they are mostly afflicting the rich and middle class while poor people remain undernourished and underweight,” according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Reuters reports. “Researchers who looked at more than 500,000 women from 37 mid- and low-income nations in Asia, Africa and South America found that there was a clear divide between the better-off and the poor,” Reuters states, adding, “Across countries, the wealthier the women were, the higher their average [body mass index (BMI)], a pattern that held steady over time.” The news service notes, “The pattern is different from that seen in wealthy nations, such as the United States, where lower incomes and less education often correlate with higher weight” (Norton, 11/3).

Climate Change, Environmental Destruction Threaten Improvements Among World’s Poorest, UNDP Report Warns

“Unchecked environmental destruction will halt — or even reverse — the huge improvements seen in the living conditions of the world’s poorest people in recent decades,” the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) warns in its 2011 Human Development report, which was released on Wednesday, the Guardian reports (Carrington, 11/2). “[T]he annual report, titled ‘Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All,’ said that environmental sustainability can be ‘fairly’ reached if disparities in health, education, income and gender are addressed,” Xinhua writes (11/2). VOA News adds, “It says inaction on climate change and habitat destruction is jeopardizing health and the pursuit of higher income in developing countries” (Schlein, 11/2.)

VOA News Program Examines International Humanitarian Aid In Horn Of Africa

The VOA News audio program “Explorations” on Tuesday discussed international humanitarian aid in the Horn of Africa. The program features interviews with Kurt Tjossem, the International Rescue Committee’s regional director for the Horn of Africa and East Africa; Shannon Scribner, Oxfam America’s humanitarian policy manager; and Nancy Lindborg, USAID’s assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.

African Health Scientists Need More Support, Funding To Address Shifting Priorities, Expert Says

With disease burden shifting from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) over the coming years, “African health scientists need more funding and support to overcome the barriers and deal with a changing health situation on the continent,” Olive Shisana, chief executive officer of the South African Human Sciences Research Council, said during a keynote address at last week’s World Health Summit in Berlin, Germany, SciDev.Net reports. “Many of these diseases can be prevented by putting scientific research and health technologies to work, said Shisana, adding that this ‘epidemiological transition is an opportunity for us to build capacity and to collaborate to tackle these diseases together for the benefit of the globe,'” the news service writes.

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