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Also In Global Health News: Bird Flu In Bangladesh; Women’s Health In Kenya; Drug-Resistant Malaria In Cambodia; Over-Diagnosis Of Malaria In Children; HIV/AIDS In Africa; Efforts To Channel African Aid

USAID Program To Prevent Spread Of Bird Flu In Bangladesh Expands 

All Headline News reports on a USAID-funded initiative to prevent the spread of bird flu in Bangladesh. The STOP AI (Stamping Out Pandemic and Avian Influenza) Bangladesh initiative includes the “renovation of the water supply, addition of a bio-gas facility for proper waste disposal and a slaughter house,” according to the news service (Islam, 7/7). According to a U.S. embassy news release, “[t]he live bird markets can be a major source of the avian influenza and can contribute to its spread in Bangladesh” (7/6). All Headline News also writes, “USAID initially piloted Cleaning and Disinfection programs in two major live bird markets in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The successful outcome of these activities led to an expanded, nationwide program in which 19 additional markets were upgraded” (7/7).

Amnesty International Report Highlights Unsanitary Conditions Women Living In Kenya Slums Face

“Kenya’s poorest women risk the deadly diseases related to poor sanitation because ‘endemic’ sexual violence in the capital’s sprawling slums keeps them away from its communal toilets, a rights group said on Wednesday,” according to Reuters, which covered an Amnesty International report (.pdf) on the experiences of women living in the slums in Kenya. When women and girls avoid communal toilets, their risk of “communicable diseases such as cholera and dysentery,” goes up (Clarke, 7/7). The report called upon the Kenyan government to address gender-based violence and improve women’s access to sanitation and public services, according to a Amnesty International press release (7/7).

WHO, Cambodian Health Ministry Optimistic About Efforts To Stop Drug-Resistant Malaria

“Efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant strain of malaria near the Cambodian-Thai border have shown signs of success, the World Health Organization and local health officials said on Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports. According to the statement, “initial results from the screening of 2,782 villagers in Cambodia’s Pailin province found only two cases of falciparum malaria, the deadliest type of the disease and the one in which resistance to artemisinin has emerged,” the news service writes (7/6). Last month, Duong Socheat, head of Cambodia’s National Center for Malaria Control, expressed similar optimism about efforts to contain the drug-resistant strain (Kaiser Daily Global Health Report, 6/28). In related coverage, VOA News interviews Africa Fighting Malaria Director Richard Tren about drug-resistant malaria (DeCapua, 7/6).

Study: Majority Of Pediatric Fevers Treated In Africa Are Not Caused By Malaria

“More than half the paediatric fevers treated in public health clinics in Africa are caused by diseases other than malaria, according to a study [published Tuesday in PLoS Medicine] by Oxford University and other research groups,” IRIN writes. Based on their findings, the study authors to caution against the “continued indiscriminate use of anti-malarials for all fevers across Africa.” The study’s lead researcher, Peter Gething, told IRIN that most children with fever are routinely diagnosed with and treated for malaria, which “in part stems from official guidelines that have only recently been updated, and in part because often the only treatments available in front-line clinics are anti-malarials.” In 2006 the WHO recommended that countries at high risk for malaria treat children with fevers for the disease even without diagnosis. Since then, IRIN writes, “rapid diagnostic testing for malaria has become available” (7/6).

HIV/AIDS Prevalence Nearly 12% In Mozambique

Agence-France Presse reports that nearly 12 percent of Mozambique’s population is living with HIV/AIDS, according to a government survey released Monday, which included a sample of “16,600 people from the Southern African nation’s 10 provinces in 2009.” It marks the country’s “first comprehensive report on the prevalence of the virus,” according to the news service. The $6 million study was conducted by Mozambique’s health ministry and national statistics department (7/6).

WHO Bulletin Examines Correlation Between Socioeconomic Status, HIV Prevalence In Africa

“A new study has challenged widely held assumptions about income level in relation to HIV, finding that neither wealth nor poverty are reliable predictors of HIV infection in Africa,” PlusNews/IRIN reports. The study, published in the July issue of the WHO Bulletin, examines the correlation between socioeconomic status and HIV prevalence in Africa. Justin Parkhurst of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine analyzed HIV and socioeconomic data from 12 sub-Saharan African countries, as documented in demographic and health surveys (7/6).  “Neither poverty nor wealth per se drives the HIV epidemic. Being poor or being wealthy may be associated with sets of behaviours that are either protective or risky for HIV infection,” depending on the country, according to the WHO Bulletin (Parkhurst, July 2010).

“Parkhurst’s findings have implications for one-size-fits-all prevention campaigns that do not take into account the complex and changing ways in which wealth, education level and gender can affect risk-taking behaviours,” PlusNews/IRIN writes. “We need to educate people [about HIV] in a way that’s relevant to their context,” Parkhurst said. “It’s about letting local actors to find out what’s going to work best” (7/6).

VOA News Examines Efforts To Channel Africa’s Aid Through Government Institutions

VOA News examines Kenya and health aid, with comments from James Ole Kiyiapi, former permanent secretary in Kenya’s health ministry who “said African countries want future international health investments to be channeled through established government institutions.” He said “channeling future assistance through public institutions would leave them stronger at the end of the program than they were at the beginning” and that international donors’ concern over perceived government corruption was “generalized and over simplified.” He also praised PEPFAR’s “positive impact” in many African countries, “including Kenya, in areas such as infant mortality reduction and maternal health and in dealing with malaria and HIV/AIDS” (Butty, 7/5). 

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