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Also In Global Health News: Flooding, Cholera In Benin; China’s National Census; Leprosy In Afghanistan; Economic Growth, Hunger In Uganda

Floods Worsen In Benin Prompting New Cholera Risk

Worsening floods in the West African nation of Benin have destroyed 55,000 homes, killed tens of thousands of livestock and created a new cholera risk, the United Nations said Monday,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Food is one of the most important needs,” said Moumini Ouedraogo of the World Food Programme. “Many people lost their crops because of the devastating floods – if we do not intervene in time, the consequences could be serious,” Ouedraogo added. AFP reports that WFP and aid groups CARE and Caritas have distributed food to thousands, the U.N. Children’s Fund “has provided 262,000 water purification tablets and hygiene material for 150,000 people” and the WHO and Medicines Sans Frontieres have provided supplies to treat cholera (11/1).

China Kicks Off National Census, 6M Counters Take To Streets

China on Monday launched its national census, “with more than six million counters fanning out nationwide to tally the world’s biggest population, estimated last year to be over 1.3 billion,” Agence France-Presse reports. The census takers “will gather key data on everyone living and working in the country – information that will paint a picture of China’s unprecedented urbanisation and offer a new view of its controversial ‘one child’ family planning policy,” the news service writes. The article examines the challenges census workers may face in their attempts to accurately account for the country’s migrant population and families who have more than one child (Saiget, 11/1). “For the first time, the Chinese census will count people where they actually live, as opposed to where they are registered,” offering a more concrete assessment of the populations living in cities in China, PRI’s “The World” reports (Magistad, 11/1).

In Afghanistan, Leprosy Still Strikes Despite Billions Of Aid Money Pumped Into Country

“Despite tens of billions of dollars in aid money flowing into [Afghanistan] since 2001, living conditions for millions of Afghans have changed little from those of centuries ago,” when diseases like leprosy were more common, Agence France-Presse reports in an article that describes the efforts of a doctor in the region against leprosy and an Afghan family with two members impacted by the disease. The article also examines how misuse of development funds have kept the country from moving forward and looks at recent efforts by government officials to maintain better oversight of development projects. “Earlier this year, Afghanistan’s Western backers agreed to give the government greater control of aid money – up to 50 percent from 20 percent – and to improve their own oversight of development funds,” AFP writes. “What provincial officials say they need is the basics – roads, power, hospitals and schools – to drag their regions into the current century,” according to the news service (11/1).

Despite Economic Growth, Uganda Still Hunger-Prone

“Uganda’s economy is growing at an impressive rate-over 5 per cent of GDP. But this has not translated in reducing the number of people who go to bed hungry every night,” the Daily Monitor reports in an article that looks at the “inequality” between rich and poor in the country. The country’s hunger problem – Uganda ranks 40th out of 84 of the most hunger-prone countries on the International Food Policy Research Institute index – persists because of “conflict, poor governance, poverty, failed government policies and programmes, as well as a changing climate and the continuing reliance of the country on nature,” the Daily Monitor writes. The index also “shows that there has been significant improvement in trying to reduce the number of hungry people, with the hunger index dropping from 19.1 points in 1990, to 15.0 in 2010, but challenges remain.” The article also discusses the country’s progress toward the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which “shows that even if there has been overall progress towards achieving goals like poverty, there is unevenness in how the benefits are being shared” (Lirri, 10/30).

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