Also In Global Health News: Counterfeit Condoms; Health Systems In Gaza; Malaria Parasite; SA Male Circumcision Program; MDGs In Botswana

China’s Counterfeit Condoms Have Health Officials Worried

The Los Angeles Times examines how an increase in counterfeit condoms in China has health officials fearing the worst – the products “may in fact spread infectious diseases, tarnishing the axiom that condoms mean safe sex.” The newspaper continues, “Authorities estimate that up to a third of the contraceptives used in some parts of China are counterfeits, despite improvements in state food and drug oversight. None of the counterfeits are properly sterilized, and others are of such inferior quality that they could rupture during use.” The article details how authorities are attempting to track down what they estimate are more than one million condoms distributed throughout China, and notes how the knockoff condoms were uncovered in discount stores in New York, Texas and Virginia in 2008 (Glionna, 1/21).

World Aid Groups Say Gaza Blockade Threatens Health System

Israel’s blockade of Gaza undermines the region’s health care system, a group of international humanitarian agencies warned in a statement issued Wednesday, Reuters reports (al-Mughrabi, 1/20). “The aid agencies – including U.N. agencies and the Association for International Development Agencies – say the blockade endangers the health of 1.5 million Palestinians living in the coastal strip,” the Associated Press/The Hindu reports. The embargo has slowed the transport of drugs and medical equipment into Gaza and delayed the training of medical professionals in the region, the WHO said, according to Agence France-Presse (Krauss, 1/20).

Researchers Discover Malaria Parasite In Gorillas

Researchers have discovered that the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, previously thought to only infect humans, also infects gorillas, Nature’s “The Great Beyond” blog writes (Buchen, 1/20). “P. falciparum accounts for 85 percent of malignant malaria infections in humans and nearly all deaths from the disease, said University of California-Irvine biologist Francisco Ayala and colleagues,” Indo Asian News Service writes (1/20). The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, could “complicate efforts to eradicate malaria,” HealthDay News/U.S. News & World Reports. The scientists also say findings may aid the development of malaria vaccine and improve understandings of how infectious diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans (1/20).

South African Province To Start Male Circumcision Program By Year’s End

At a meeting of more than 100 traditional leaders and government officials in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, Premier Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday announced that the provincial government “will start a massive male circumcision programme before the end of this year to help prevent the spread of HIV,” SAPA/ reports. According to the news service, “the programme would be conducted by health professionals and properly trained people to prevent deaths resulting from septic wounds.” The article notes that the province will continue to promote other HIV prevention measures and addresses traditional leaders’ attitudes about male circumcision (1/19).

UNDP Official Praises Botswana’s Progress On MDGs

Sakaeyo Baitshepi, of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), recently commended Botswana for the strides the country has taken towards reaching Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Mmegi/ reports. Speaking ahead of a country progress report on MDGs scheduled to be released in the next two months, Baitshepi highlighted gains in the country’s fight against HIV/AIDS and child mortality (Keoreng, 1/19).

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