Also In Global Health News: Food Shortages In Zimbabwe; Illicit Drug Control, MDGs; Global Quinoa Demands Affect Bolivian Farmers; ARV Disruptions In Cote d’Ivoire

Zimbabwe Government Tries To Address Severe Food Shortages In Some Provinces

“Six of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces face severe food shortages, and the government has ordered the country’s grain marketing board (GMB) to send grain to the affected areas, a state daily [the Herald] said Monday,” Agence France-Presse reports. “A government crop assessment carried out in January found that the country had more than two million hectares of maize planted, up from 1.8 million last year … This year Zimbabwe received normal rains at the beginning of the year, but some crops have been written off following a dry spell between February and March,” the news service writes (3/21). However, the GMB does not have the money to deliver the food aid, Zimbabwe’s Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said on Monday, Reuters reports (3/21). “Observers said Harare could need up to $300 million to meet food requirements if it turns to the international marketplace to meet national food requirements, particularly in light of steep increases in grain prices over the past year,” VOA News reports (Nyaira, 3/21).

UNODC Head Calls For Countries To Join Together To Fight Illicit Drugs

During an annual meeting of narcotics policymakers on Monday, Yury Fedotov, head of the U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) “called … for more money and effort to stem a flow of illicit narcotics that earns druglords $320 billion a year,” Reuters reports (Shields, 3/21). “We must build on widespread recognition among Member States and U.N. entities that drugs, together with organized crime, jeopardize the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” Fedotov told the group, who will meet through Friday, according to U.N. News Centre. “Drug control must become an essential element of our joint efforts to achieve health, security and development,” he added (3/21).

New York Times Examines How Increased Global Demand For Quinoa Has Affected Bolivians Who Grow It

Even though Bolivians have been eating the plant quinoa “for centuries,” it was “little more than a curiosity outside the Andes for years, found in health food shops and studied by researchers – until recently,” according to the New York Times. Though demand for quinoa in developed nations has raised some Bolivian farmers’ incomes, “there has been a notable trade-off: Fewer Bolivians can now afford it, hastening their embrace of cheaper, processed foods and raising fears of malnutrition in a country that has long struggled with it,” the newspaper reports. “The shift offers a glimpse into the consequences of rising global food prices and changing eating habits in both prosperous and developing nations,” the Times reports, noting that recent studies have found chronic malnutrition among children in quinoa-growing areas has risen even though malnutrition on the national level has fallen (Romero/Shariari, 3/19). 

Violence In Cote d’Ivoire Leads To Antiretroviral Disruptions, Could Threaten Funding To Region

Escalating violence in Cote d’Ivoire is disrupting the supply of antiretrovirals into the region, leaving people living with HIV/AIDS without access to their medicines, Afrik News reports. “As far as donors are concerned, the situation could eventually put continued funding in danger. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is continuing to supply and distribute vital treatment. Nevertheless, it has already taken measures to safeguard its stocks and funds in Ivory Coast. And the World Bank has reacted by closing its offices in Abidjan,” according to the news service (Sante, 3/18).

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