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Also In Global Health News: Ethiopian Foreign Aid; Forced Abortion In China; Health In Mozambique; Ultra Rice In Burundi; South African HIV Testing Campaign; Liberian Agenda On Gender Equality, HIV

Ethiopia ‘Rejected’ HRW Report Alleging Politicization Of Donor Aid

The Ethiopian government “rejected charges by Human Rights Watch that it was using donor aid to suppress political dissent,” according to a statement from the foreign ministry, Agence France-Presse reports. The statement “said that a probe by a group of donors in January had found that the aid money was being used as intended” and the organization’s allegations “simply do not reflect reality” (10/21). “The Government of Ethiopia has been and remains entirely committed to transparency in its dealings with the international community and with aid donors on the basis of mutual trust and responsibility, and of accountability and transparency,” according to the statement (10/20).

Chinese Family Planning Officials Force Woman To Abort Baby, Husband Says

The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times reports on a woman from south China who “was detained, beaten and forced to have an abortion [by family planning officials] just a month before her due date because the baby would have violated the country’s one-child limit, her husband said.” The case is “an extreme example of the coercive measures Chinese officials sometimes use to comply with the strict family planning regulations,” the news service adds. An official with the family planning commission that oversees Xiao Aiying’s neighborhood “confirmed there was a record of … [Xiao] undergoing an abortion recently but said the procedure was voluntary and that she was about six months instead of eight months pregnant at the time” (Olesen, 10/21).

PBS NewsHour Examines Burden Of Disease In Mozambique

A post on PBS NewsHour’s “Rundown” blog profiles “a large and busy clinic run by the Mozambican government with a strong assist from Medecins Sans Frontieres” and examines the “burden” of disease on the country that can “only spend a relative pittance per citizen on health care,” as “HIV and AIDS burn through national resources.” The post states, “[t]oday, 5 million people in countries like Mozambique are kept alive by [antiretrovirals] ARVs. Fully half of those people are kept alive by the U.S. taxpayer. It’s a stunning result, a costly commitment, and a quandary about which all countries of the world are going to have to have some serious and challenging discussions.” The article adds that by providing ARVs, “policymakers have created a cost that really only heads in one direction: up.” The post also addresses the Obama Administration’s “intention to plateau spending on ARV support” and place added emphasis on capacity building and maternal health (Suarez, 10/20).

PATH To Distribute Fortified ‘Ultra Rice’ In Burundi, Marking First African Program

PATH, an international health nonprofit “is bringing Ultra Rice – a rice-shaped extruded rice grain filled with vitamins and minerals – to Burundi. This marks the first time that Ultra Rice will be available in Africa,” FastCompany reports. PATH has been given $1 million to distribute the rice to 15,000 children in Burundi. The program is funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA’s) Food Aid Nutrition Enhancement Program and the rice will be distributed through a U.N.-sponsored school feeding program (Schwartz, 10/19). Xconomy.com notes that Ultra Rice is currently distributed in India and Brazil and, if the programs generate “good data, then PATH could be in position to extend the reach of the Ultra Rice program even further” (Timmerman, 10/20).

IRIN/PlusNews Examines Private Sector Involvement In S. Africa’s National HIV Testing Campaign

IRIN/PlusNews looks at how the South African Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (SABCOHA) has “banded together to introduce new ways to finance and monitor the” country’s voluntary HIV testing and counseling campaign, “which aims to test 15 million people over 12 months.” SABCOHA launched an online tool for the private sector to report the results of their HIV testing services and has also “introduced a new community fund to help corporate South Africa foot the bill for its planned contribution to the national campaign within a climate of decreased international funding for HIV/AIDS,” IRIN/PlusNews reports. The article includes comments by SABCOHA CEO Brad Mears and South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) Deputy Chairperson Mark Heywood. “Heywood praised the accomplishments of South Africa’s national HIV testing campaign which has newly diagnosed about 490,000 people (17 percent of those who have tested) as HIV-positive and helped place about 170,000 people on treatment in its first five months,” IRIN/Plus News writes (10/19).

Liberia Releases Agenda On Gender Equality And HIV

Liberia has launched the Agenda for Accelerating Country Action on Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV, a pilot program that will focus on “advocating for high level commitment on the agenda for accelerating the country’s action for women, girls, gender equality and HIV as well as advocating for the protection and wellbeing of children,” the Inquirer writes. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said at the launch, “[w]e do accept the twin challenge … to do more for education and to also make sure that together with the partners we will have more people living with HIV and AIDS to speak out.” The news service adds, “Liberia is the first country to have launched an operational plan taking into account efforts made by the government to prevent and control HIV and AIDS”  (Saywah, 10/19). 

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