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Also In Global Health News: ART Access In Zimbabwe; Indonesia Bird Flu Deaths; Kenya Floods; Solomon Island Tsunami

Zimbabwe Wants To Boost Access To ART By End Of 2010, Health Minister Says

Zimbabwe’s government plans work with international organizations to increase the number of people receiving anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to 300,000 by the end of the year, up from the 180,000 who currently get the drugs, Henry Madzorera, the country’s health minister, said on Tuesday, ZimOnline reports. “The need to improve anti-retroviral drug distribution is on top of government’s priority list … although it is a long process we aim to achieve the target,” Madzorera said (1/6).

Indonesia Reports 19 Bird Flu Fatalities In 2009

“Indonesia on Wednesday reported 15 more bird flu fatalities in 2009, taking the [total] human death toll in the country worst hit by the illness to 134,” the Associated Press/New York Times reports. In 2009, the country recorded 20 cases of bird flu, 19 of which were fatal, according to a Health Ministry statement. The figures “show that while avian influenza is still active, the number of cases is on the decline” (1/6).

Thousands Could Develop Water-Borne Diseases In Kenya Floods

Floods in several parts of Kenya prompted the Kenya Red Cross on Tuesday to warn about the possibility of an outbreak of water-borne diseases, Capital News reports. Abbas Gullet, the head of Kenya Red Cross, said cases of diarrhea had already been reported in East Turkana. “There is plenty of stagnant water everywhere and we know majority of the rural persons are using untreated water,” Gullet said, adding that officials were still waiting to confirm whether there were any cholera cases (Karong’o, 1/5).

The Kenya Red Cross also “called for help on behalf of families flooded out of their homes and in danger of water-borne disease,” Daily Nation/allAfrica.com reports. The organization said that 30,000 people urgently need aid, while a total of more than 70,000 people in the country could suffer effects from the flooding (Wanja, 1/5). According to the BBC, Kenya’s Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka “promised to do all he could to prevent any further deaths in the floods, which have so far killed at least 15 people” (1/5). 

UNICEF Responding To Damages After Solomon Island Quakes

A team from UNICEF is looking into damages after a series of earthquakes struck the Solomon Islands, causing landslides and a small tsunami that damaged “many houses on the western islands of Rendova and Tetepare,” Radio New Zealand International reports (1/5). “At the moment, we understand there are 3,600 people living on Rendova island. It is unclear how great the devastation is and it will take several days to understand what the full extent and consequences are because the islands are difficult to access and very remote,” Tanya McBride, a UNICEF spokesperson, said. UNICEF has emergency supplies in the capital of Honiara, which McBride said will be used for water, hygiene and other needs, VOA News reports (Schlein, 1/5). 

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