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Also In Global Health News: Cholera In Haiti; Food In Ghana; Health Care Access In Afghanistan; Violence Against Women In Somalia; Male Circumcision Study

CDC Report Documents Cholera’s Spread In Haiti

Haiti’s cholera outbreak has spread across the country and infected more than 91,000 people, while more than 2,000 people have died as a result, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which was published on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reports. “Nearly half of the ill were hospitalized. In some cases, the deaths are occurring as rapidly as two hours after people fall ill,” the CDC said, the newspaper writes (Lin, 12/8). Despite global aid efforts, “the size and speed of this cholera outbreak, combined with the lack of safe water and sanitation infrastructure in Haiti, indicate that further action is urgently needed to reduce cholera transmission and mortality,” the report said, Agence France-Presse/Sydney Morning Herald reports (12/9).

USAID $3.9M Grant To Offer Food Support To People In Northern Ghana

USAID on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provide $3.9 million to the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) to be put toward improving the nutrition of people living in northern Ghana, PANA/Afrique en ligne reports. “Under the agreement, malnourished children, pregnant women and nursing mothers in districts across northern Ghana with the highest malnutrition levels, including people living with HIV on anti-retroviral therapy and their families, would receive food and nutrition support,” the news service writes (12/8). “The grant will be used to buy competitively-priced food commodities in Ghana as available, under WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative. P4P aims to boost food production and stimulate markets for smallholder farmers,” according to U.S. Embassy, Accra/Modern Ghana. The piece includes comments by Cheryl Anderson, mission director of USAID Ghana (12/8).

Christian Science Monitor Examines ‘False Statistic’ That 85% Of Afghans Have Access To Health Care

Christian Science Monitor examines the “claim that 85 percent of Afghans have access to healthcare,” which health officials on the ground in the country argue is inaccurate. “According to the Ministry of Health, which provided the initial data, the claim stems from a misunderstanding of the fact that 85 percent of Afghanistan’s districts have at least one basic health facility. … However a district can cover vast tracts of mountainous terrain, leaving district health facilities inaccessible to millions of Afghans.” The article names USAID, the World Bank and “at times … the Afghan government” as groups that have previously cited the number, and notes how the “false statistic” has made it more challenging to attract health funding from donors and the Afghan government (Mojumdar, 12/8).

AP Examines Rape, Violence Against Women In Somali Refugee Camps

There are “almost 60,000 internally displaced people in the central Somali town of Galkayo, where hundreds of families have sought refuge from violence in Mogadishu and in south-central Somalia. But once there, the women risk being raped,” the Associated Press writes.  “Rape and other kinds of sexual violence are a reality in Somalia … although rapists are widely despised here. Al-Shabab, the country’s most powerful Islamist militia, has sentenced men to death for sexual assaults,” the AP notes. The article looks at how rapes impact the whole community and includes first-hand testimony from people in the area (12/8).

Guardian Examines Persistence Of Hunger In India

Despite the presence of several programs aimed at addressing hunger in India, the Guardian reports that malnutrition is on the rise. The article highlights some of the factors that prevent people from getting enough to eat, despite the presence of nutrition rehabilitation centers and ration shops. “Some ration cards are no longer used to obtain food but as collateral for debt and many shopkeepers have become money-lenders,” the newspaper writes. “Some economists advocate nationwide deployment of the public distribution system to stamp out hunger, with subsidised food for everyone so that the poor are no longer excluded. But others argue that such a system would cost around $20bn,” according to the Guardian. The government is considering computerizing food distribution systems. The Right to Food bill is scheduled to be debated in parliament in the spring (Bouissou, 12/7).

Circumcision Might Not Provide Protection Against HIV In Men Who Have Sex With Men

“In a study of more than 1,800 men from the U.S. and Peru, researchers found that overall, the risk of contracting HIV over 18 months did not significantly differ between circumcised and uncircumcised men,” Reuters reports. Study participants “reported having sex with other men and were considered to be at increased risk of HIV infection because they were already infected with the genital herpes virus (herpes simplex type 2), which can make people more susceptible to HIV,” Reuters notes. The findings, published in the journal AIDS, show that “5 percent of the 1,365 uncircumcised men became HIV-positive, as did 4 percent of the 457 circumcised men,” the news service writes. “Taken together, the results ‘indicate no overall protective benefit from male circumcision’ when it comes to male-to-male HIV transmission, write the researchers, led by Dr. Jorge Sanchez of the research organization Impacta Peru, in Lima” (12/7).

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