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Also In Global Health News: Bird Flu In Hong Kong; Counterfeit Drugs In Africa; Dep. Sec. Of State For Management, Resources; HIV/AIDS In S. Africa; World Toilet Day

Bird Flu Case In Hong Kong Isolated

Health officials in Hong Kong confirmed on Monday that the woman diagnosed with H5N1 (bird) flu after a trip to China this month is now in stable condition and did not contract a new strain of the virus, SAPA/DPA/Mail & Guardian report. Additionally, her case appears to be isolated and “tests indicated no city-wide outbreak of bird flu,” according to the article (Parry, 11/22).

Stopping Counterfeit Drugs In Africa “Particulary Challenging”

A Lancet World Report looks at global efforts to tackle counterfeit medicines, particularly in Africa, where it “is particularly challenging … as pharmacies and hospitals are far from the only avenues through which drugs are available.” According to the article, “not only is it important to tackle the network of criminal organisations involved in counterfeit drugs, it is also essential to increase the availability of genuine drugs in developing countries that are appropriately priced for local people. Counterfeit drug crime is a complex issue requiring international and regional initiatives among industry, government, charities, and law enforcement.” The article looks at programs in Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania and includes quotes from Steve Allen, Senior Director of Pfizer Global Security, Hamid Ghodse, president of the International Narcotics Control Board, and Paul Newton, who is part of the Wellcome Trust-Mahost Hospital-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Collaboration (Siva, 11/20).

Obama’s Nominee For Dep. Secretary Of State For Management And Resources Testifies In Senate

Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” blog reports on President Barack Obama’s nominee for Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, Thomas Nides’, appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. According to the blog, “Nides will be a key actor in implementing the State Department’s first ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, whenever it gets finished, and he promised to make ‘the effort to elevate civilian power … a core element of our foreign policy.’ But he’s admitted that this effort ‘remains a work in progress.'” If confirmed, Nides told the committee that he will work “to streamline operations between State, USAID, and other government agencies. He warned that the tough fiscal environment might require State to find ways to trim spending after increasing budgets and expanding hiring over the last two years,” according to the blog (Rogin, 11/19). 

Researchers Estimate Funds Needed Reduce HIV Incidence In South Africa

A report released Friday by the Centre for Economic Governance and AIDS in Africa and the Results for Development Institute forecasts how South Africa might reduce its HIV incidence, Reuters reports (Herskovitz, 11/19). South Africa’s current plan to reduce the number of new infections to 350,000 per year in the next two decades will cost $88 billion, the team of researchers concluded, according to the Associated Press/Washington Post. “The team outlines a more ambitious plan that would cost $102 billion over the same period, and bring the number of new infections down to under 200,000 a year,” the news service writes. The report was at the request of the South African government, as it reviews its progress since launching a national HIV/AIDS strategy last year, according to Robert Hecht, one of the researchers on the report (Bryson, 11/9).

In related news, Statistics South Africa on Thursday said that fewer people in the country died because of AIDS in 2008 compared to 2007 – a finding the national health statistician said reflects more people in the country having access to medications, Bloomberg reports (Wild, 11/18). “[I]n many cases, death certificates still don’t record AIDS as an underlying cause of death, instead reporting TB or pneumonia as the cause,” the Los Angeles Times writes. “According to the figures, TB is the biggest [reported] killer in South Africa,” the newspaper reports (Dixon, 11/18).

Christian Science Monitor Features Top Ten List Of Countries Lacking Sanitary Facilities

On World Toilet Day Friday, the Christian Science Monitor reported on the top ten “worst nations in terms of people lacking access to sanitary facilities.” India leads the pack where 638 million people, “or 54 percent of the 1.1 billion population, lack access to toilets or other sanitation facilities.” The feature reports that “WaterAid America estimates that roughly 2.5 billion people – nearly 40 percent of the global population – do their business unsafely, often in public spaces” (Kurczy, 11/19).

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