Also In Global Health News: Dengue Cases In Britain; Food Inflation In China; Interview With MIT Professors; Family Planning In The Philippines

Number Of Dengue Cases More Than Doubles In Britain

The number of reported cases of dengue, a mosquito-borne illness, has more than doubled in the past year in Great Britain, with the majority linked to travel to India, the country’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) said on Wednesday, Reuters reports. The agency reported 406 cases of the disease among Britons who traveled abroad during 2010, up from 166 reported cases in 2009, with 21 percent of cases occurring among people who had traveled to India and 15 percent among people who had gone to Thailand, according to the news service. The WHO estimates that two-fifths of the world’s population is at risk of contracting dengue. In addition, the HPA reported 79 cases of chikungunya, another mosquito-borne disease, or a 34 percent increase over 2010 figures, Reuters adds (Kelland, 5/11).

Food Inflation Affecting China’s Affluent And Poor

The Associated Press reports on food inflation in China, where “rising affluence has taxed the ability of farmers to meet growing demand while the rural labor pool dwindles. The result: Rising food prices hit every level of society, not just those who can afford imported South American bananas or pricey mushrooms and herbs from China’s remote Yunnan province. People on low or fixed incomes feel the pinch most.” The AP adds that “the discontent that a widening gap between privileged and poor can generate deeply worries China’s communist leaders, who are mindful that the anti-government protests that toppled Egypt’s government earlier this year were triggered in part by discontent over climbing food costs” (Olesen, 5/11).

MIT Professors Discuss Education, Health In Developing World

The New York Times’ “Economix” blog interviews MIT professors Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo “about their new book, ‘Poor Economics,’ which covers education, health, governance and other topics.” In response to a question about what the leaders of South Sudan should do to improve its citizens’ lives, Banerjee said they should create “a free universal health insurance policy that covers catastrophic health events, which allows people to go to private or public hospitals. Catastrophic health shocks do enormous damage to families both economically and otherwise, and are easy to insure, because nobody gets them on purpose” (Leonhardt, 5/10).

IPS Examines Family Planning In The Philippines

Inter Press Service examines family planning in Manila, Philippines. The current mayor “has not revoked” a city ordinance that promotes only natural family planning, but he has permitted NGOs “and private groups to hold family planning seminars and distribute free contraceptives,” the news service writes, adding that health centers rely on donations to provide contraceptives. The article also looks at how the Catholic church’s strong influence is affecting the situation and how limited access to contraceptives is affecting women in the city (Santos, 5/9).

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