Also In Global Health News: Foreign Aid In Ethiopia; Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; Health In Myanmar; Poverty In Zambia; Rwanda’s Progress on MDGs; Men Involved In PMTCT Of HIV

Ethiopian Government Restricting Opponents’ Access To Development Aid, Report Says

Ethiopia’s government has been restricting access to food and other types of foreign aid among opposition supporters, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Tuesday, Reuters reports (Malone, 10/19). The report is based on more than 200 interviews, conducted over a six-month period in 2009, of people in 53 villages across three regions of the country, according to an HRW press release (10/19). “People are being asked to disassociate themselves from political parties – rescind comments they’ve made and write out letters of regret – in order to obtain food aid,” said HRW researcher Ben Rawlence, the BBC reports. An Ethiopian government spokesperson said the report was as “expression of frustration from Human Rights Watch for failing to achieve regime change through the elections” (10/19). Ethiopia, “one of the world’s largest recipients of development aid,” received more than $3 billion in 2008, according to HRW’s release. HRW’s Africa Director Rona Peligal said, “Donors who finance the Ethiopian state need to wake up to the fact that some of their aid is contributing to human rights abuses” (10/19). 

Wall Street Journal Reports On Impact Of Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

The Wall Street Journal reports on the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and a couple who has benefited from its services. Noting that nearly 1,200 children worldwide are infected with HIV each day, the Wall Street Journal writes, “More than half of HIV-positive pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries now receive medicines to help prevent transmission of HIV to their babies, triple the percentage from three years ago, the foundation says. One in four of those women receive medications from a foundation-supported program.” The article also examines the foundation’s work to increase the number of drugs labeled for use in children. The profiled couple, Bill and Susan Belfiore, adopted four HIV-positive toddlers in from Romania 1991 and, after getting help from the foundation, have “given or raised more than half a million dollars” for its services (Banjo, 10/19).

Eastern Myanmar Facing ‘Dire’ Health Conditions, Report Says

“[H]ealth conditions in conflict-affected eastern Myanmar are dire, with women and children suffering most,” according to a new report by NGOs, including the country’s Back Pack Health Worker Team (BPHWT), IRIN reports. “Eastern Myanmar had far worse health indicators than the country overall. In families directly affected by forced labour or displacement, children were two to three times more likely to be malnourished or die” and maternal mortality is “three times the national rate,” IRIN writes (10/19). “There really isn’t anything else out there that resembles figures like we are presenting here … it remains a chronic emergency,” Voravit Suwanvanichkij of John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health added, also speaking about outbreaks of malaria, cholera and drug-resistant tuberculosis, Reuters AlertNet writes (10/19).

Without Alleviating Poverty, Zambia May Backtrack On MDGs, IPS Reports

Without reducing poverty, Zambia may reverse progress made on the Millennium Development Goals and be unable to “get control over maternal mortality, HIV or lack of access to clean water and sanitation,” Inter Press Service reports. Venkatesh Seshamani, a lecturer at the University of Zambia, “notes government is failing to use the growing economy to aide the social and economic development of the poor – the majority of its citizens.” The article also examines support for agricultural development as key to reducing poverty in the country and farm subsidies which, economic consultant David Punabantu “believes are not the answer to generating long-term economic empowerment of smallholder farmers and the poor” (10/19).

Former British PM Commends Rwanda’s Progress Toward MDGs

During a visit to Kigali, Rwanda, this week former British Prime Minister Tony Blair commended the country’s progress toward the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Agence France-Presse reports. “Rwanda’s healthcare has come a long way in the past few years,” Blair said, adding that the country is “on target” with the MDGs, according to the news service. “Blair, who serves as a pro bono advisor to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, held talks with his host and other government officials on Sunday and Monday in Kigali and visited projects supported by his Africa Governance Initiative” (10/19).

Men Increasingly Involved In PMTCT Programs In Kenya

More men are becoming involved in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in Kenya, Inter Press Service reports. The news service profiles the Zingatia Maisha program’s male clinics, funded by GlaxoSmithKline and Kenya’s ministry of health. “For two years now, we have been encouraging male participation in the prevention of mother-to-child treatment of HIV. And that is why we give special treatment to all men who accompany their wives to either pre- or postnatal clinics,” said Martha Opisaa, a nurse at the Vihiga health centre. She added that attending counseling together makes it easier for couples to disclose their HIV statuses and enroll in PMTCT programs (Esipisu, 10/18).

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