Also In Global Health News: Ethiopia Food Aid; Male Circumcision Drive In Tanzania, Swaziland; Drugs For Developing Countries; Sexual Violence In DRC; HIV/AIDS In India; Peru’s Dengue Outbreak

Ethiopian Government Says 2.8M Ethiopians Need Emergency Food Aid

“Ethiopia and the United Nations said on Monday 2.8 millions Ethiopians will need emergency food aid in 2011, and appealed for $227 million to fund programmes for the first six months,” Reuters reports (2/7). According to Bloomberg, a drought in the Somali region forced the Ethiopian government to boost their estimate of those in need of food aid by 500,000 from the predictions they first made in November. Still, the totals are down from the 5.2 million in need of food aid last year, according to the news service (Davison, 2/7). $226.5 million is needed to buy “nearly 181,000 metric tons of net food requirements,” according to a Government of Ethiopia press release (2/7). VOA News describes several other food assistance programs being offered in Ethiopia and notes experts growing concerns that a continued drought in the region could lead to greater food instability in the region (Heinlein, 2/7).

Governments In Tanzania, Swaziland Offer Male Circumcision Drives In Effort To Reduce HIV/AIDS Transmission

IRIN/PlusNews reports on a program underway in Tanzania that’s offering men ages 10-34 circumcisions free-of-charge in an effort to drive down HIV/AIDS transmission. The program, which is receiving support from the U.S., “aims to reach 2.8 million men and boys within the next five years,” according to the news service. Specifically, it “will focus on seven regions in western Tanzania where levels of male circumcision are particularly low” (2/7). Also, the Swazi Observer reports the Swaziland Ministry of Health, with funding from PEPFAR, “will soon be unveiling a creative and ambitious campaign to circumcise at least 152,000 men by the end of the year” (Mabuza, 2/7).

Novartis Institute For Tropical Diseases Head Discusses Efforts To Create New, Affordable Drugs For Developing Countries

Forbes’ “Good Work” blog features a Q&A with Paul Herrling, the head of corporate research at Novartis and chair of the company’s Institute for Tropical Diseases, “a $200 million, ten year-old initiative that develops new drugs to treat dengue fever, tuberculosis and malaria,” according to the blog. In the interview, Herrling describes partnerships between Novartis and the TB Alliance, Medicines for Malaria Venture and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, as well as additional efforts to drive down costs of drugs for developing countries. “Over the last eight to ten years, PDPs [product development partnership] have generated a portfolio of more than a 100 potential drugs, which is outstanding,” Herrling said. “But today the PDPs are seeing a major problem looming on the horizon. Their funding allowed them to generate this pipeline, but it won’t sustain later stage trials. Neither the Gates Foundation nor the Wellcome Trust can allocate sufficient resources for the full development of these drugs. In some ways, PDPs are a victim of their own success,” he added (Coster, 2/7).

Women’s Center Focused On Rehabilitating Victims Of Sexual Violence Opens In DRC

“Democratic Republic of Congo’s first rehabilitation centre for victims of sexual violence opened its doors on Friday, weeks after a new spate of mass rapes in its troubled east,” Reuters reports. “The U.N.-funded ‘City of Joy’ was launched in the eastern town of Bukavu by Eve Ensler, author of the hit play ‘The Vagina Monologues’ about female sexuality,” the news service writes, adding, President Joseph Kabila’s wife Olive Lembe Kabila also backs the new center (Hogg, 2/5). “The gleaming new compound of brick homes, big classrooms, courtyards and verandas will be a campus where small groups of Congolese women, most of them rape victims, will be groomed to become leaders in their communities so they can eventually rise up and, Ms. Ensler hopes, change the sclerotic politics of this country,” the New York Times writes. The estimated 180 women recruited to participate in the center “will take courses in self-defense, computers and human rights; learn trades and farming; try to exorcise their traumas with therapy sessions and dance; and then return to their home villages to empower others,” according to the newspaper (Gettleman, 2/6).

Conference For HIV/AIDS Clinicians Opens In Mumbai

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) launched its third national conference on Saturday in Mumbai, India, Daily News & Analysis reports. The conference provides a forum for “practicing clinicians involved in HIV/AIDS care to update their knowledge and tackle clinical dilemmas they encounter in daily practice,” the news service writes (Pal, 2/6). “Factors like consistent viral variation, differential immunological responses in the patients, viral affinity to different receptors and resistance to therapies are the major impediments to developing effective drugs and vaccines,” said Sanjiva Kholkute, director of the National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health, which is part of ICMR, GNA/Business Ghana writes (2/5).

Fast-Moving Dengue Strain Hits Peru

“Peru has declared a red alert in its northern Amazon amid a dengue outbreak that has claimed 12 lives and infected 10,517 people,” the Financial Times reports. “Our specialists have never seen such a strong attack with so many serious cases,” Oscar Ugarte, the country’s health minister, said of the outbreak. He added that the outbreak had been “aggressive and quick to evolve.” According to the newspaper, “[t]he strain, which appears to have crossed the border from Brazil into the jungle state of Loreto, does not produce high fevers like haemorrhagic dengue, but it causes abdominal pains that can bring on shock. … Bolivia, which borders both Peru and Brazil, put its jungle province of Beni on alert after an uptick in the number of cases last month” (Mapstone, 2/4).

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