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Also In Global Health News: China’s HIV Travel Ban; EU Aid; Water, Sanitation In Cambodia; Aid Transport; Maternal Mortality

China Could Soon Lift HIV Travel Ban, State Media Reports

“China could lift a longstanding ban on HIV-positive foreigners entering the country as early as this month, state media reported Wednesday,” Agence France-Presse reports. The country first introduced the ban in late the 1980s, the news service notes (4/20). “Insiders said the ban may be dropped after the State Council, China’s Cabinet, decided on Monday to make changes to laws barring foreign HIV sufferers from entering the country,” China Daily writes. “Although no timetable was disclosed, the changes are likely to be announced before the official opening of Shanghai Expo on May 1, which is expected to attract 4 million visitors from abroad, suggested Hao Yang, deputy director of the Ministry of Health’s disease prevention and control bureau,” China Daily reports (4/21).

EU Must Find New Ways To Meet Aid Targets, Official Says

EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs Tuesday said the EU must find new ways to meet its aid targets because the bloc’s 27 member states are not fulfilling aid pledges to developing countries, Reuters reports. “The EU is the world’s largest donor bloc, accounting for 56 percent of world aid, or 48 billion euros ($66 bln) in 2007. Member states have promised to spend 0.7 percent of their gross national income (GNI) on aid by 2015, but with public finances in disarray due to the financial crisis and budget spending tight, most are struggling to keep that pledge,” Reuters writes. Piebalgs said, “If member states cannot keep to the soft-target guidance, then we will think of a binding scheme that would enforce the 0.7 percent target. We need to find the way” (Felix/Toyer, 4/20).  

Global Post Reports On Floating Toilets, Water Treatment Plant In Cambodia

Global Post examine the work of Lien Aid, an NGO in Cambodia that is helping to connect the residents living “atop a tributary of the Mekong River” with access to toilets and clean drinking water. “A typical river toilet is an open hole on wooden planks emptying directly into the river,” according to the article. “By contrast, the Lien Aid toilet uses buckets to collect the waste, separating urine from feces, to reduce the bulk. Villagers then sprinkle soil, ash, or wood chips to dry the feces, decompose it, and keep out pathogens.” Lien Aid also created a floating water treatment plant, the article notes. “The floating plant, which is owned by the entire community, sucks in raw water from the river below, then filters it and cleanses it of microbes with ultraviolet radiation.” The article includes statistics on the numbers of people living in Cambodia who lack access to toilets and sanitation and additional efforts to improve the conditions (Cain, 4/19).

New Website Aims To Keep Traffickers From Accessing Aid Money

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) rolled out a new informational website on Tuesday that aims to “prevent arms and drug traffickers from accessing significant humanitarian aid and peacekeeping funds,” Agence France-Presse reports. An earlier SIPRI report found that “more than 90 percent of the air cargo carriers identified in arms trafficking-related reports had also been used for humanitarian aid and peace-keeping operations between 2004 and 2009.” According to the news service, “[t]he portal, funded by Sweden’s governmental aid agency SIDA and the country’s foreign ministry, includes a database, model codes of conduct and best practices for negotiations with transport suppliers” (4/19).

TIME Features Q&A With Lead Author Of Report That Found Maternal Death Drop

TIME’s “Wellness” blog features a Q&A with Christopher Murray, co-author of the recent Lancet study, which found that maternal deaths decreased an estimated 35 percent between 1980 and 2008. In it, Murray describes how the team of researchers generated what he says is a more comprehensive data set  than previously achieved in other studies and his interpretation of its most significant findings.

“[A]lthough there’s been progress globally, if you look by country … it’s very mixed. You have places like Egypt or Bolivia or China [where the maternal mortality rate has gone down significantly] and then there are other countries where it’s actually going up,” Murray said. “Understanding that is really important because it means we can learn lessons from where things are improving at a fast pace. What did Egypt do that’s right? What did Bolivia do?” Murray also noted that the study captures “the connection between the HIV service agenda and maternal health much stronger than it has been in the past” (O’Callaghan, 4/16).

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