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Also In Global Health News: Child Health In India; Slum Dwellers And Disasters; TB Vaccine Development; Rebuilding Haiti Hospital

TIME Examines Status Of Child Health In India; Rights Group Criticizes Delhi’s Figures On Maternal Mortality 

TIME examines India’s progress on improving child health, which has been “particularly slow – and lopsided.” The article states: “Despite its drastic economic advances in the last two decades, India still accounts for 20% of the world’s child mortality. Of the 26 million children born in India each year, nearly 2 million still die before age 5. Half of those deaths occur within a month of birth from preventable causes like malnutrition, diarrhea and pneumonia. … India’s rate of underweight children is three times higher than Ethiopia’s.” According to TIME, most Indians are not aware of the large number of children dying each year in their country (Bhowmick, 9/20).

Human Rights Watch “has accused India of hoodwinking the public over its claims of improving maternal health,” according to Agence France-Presse. In a statement Monday, the group “said the government in New Delhi was wrong to focus on the number of women who give birth in health facilities as a measure of progress rather than how many survive the delivery and post-delivery period.” AFP adds that about 100,000 women “die during pregnancy and childbirth in India [more] than anywhere else in the world every year, according to the World Health Organization” (9/21).

Slum Dwellers Vulnerable To Disasters, Red Cross Says

About one billion people who live in slums are “vulnerable to disasters” because of poorly built houses and a lack of emergency services, Reuters writes, citing a report released Tuesday by the Red Cross. “The report criticises major aid agencies for not supporting community-led initiatives which are essential for preventing and coping with disasters,” the news service writes. The article quotes David Satterthwaite, lead author of the report, and Bekele Geleta, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), who said more people live in “slums or informal settlements than ever before” and highlighted a “deficit” in infrastructure and services there (Migiro, 9/21). A related Factbox outlines “key facts about urban populations and disasters” (Migiro, 9/21).

International TB Forum To Discuss Vaccine Development Plan

The Second Global Forum on TB Vaccines will take place this week in Estonia, where experts aim “to agree on a plan for the development of vaccines,” SciDev.net reports. “Vaccines are really the ‘plan A’ so far [as] tuberculosis control is concerned,” said Christopher Dye, director of Health Information in the Office of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases at the WHO, adding that a vaccine could lower the number of new cases by 90 percent in the next three or four decades. Dye also said current efforts to diagnose and treat TB are hindered by weak health systems, a problem that is avoided with vaccination. The article also looks at current vaccine candidates and the WHO’s TB elimination goal (Tatalovic, 9/20).

Sec. of State Clinton Signs Memorandum To Help Rebuild Haiti’s Main Hospital

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton signed two memorandums Monday on Haiti, including one “aimed to help rebuild the University Hospital,” which is the capital’s central public hospital, Xinhua reports (9/21). In remarks at the signing, according to a State Department transcript, Clinton said of the hospital: “Since January 12th, it has been serving thousands of people, even though it is crippled by physical damage, limited equipment, limited electrical and other critical services. The United States and France will each invest $25 million to rebuild this hospital, to create a facility that meets the needs of the Haitian people, and the Haitian government will contribute $3.2 million in funding.” The other memorandum aims to establish an industrial park which could create more than 10,000 jobs (9/20).

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