Also In Global Health News: Gates MoC In India; U.N. Aid Appeal For Mongolia; HIV Vaccine; U.N. Developing Database For Somalia; Kenya’s HIV/AIDS Indicator Survey

Gates Foundation Signs Cooperative Agreement To Improve Health Care In Indian State

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Wednesday signed a cooperative agreement with the Indian state of Bihar that “aims to improve and increase the availability, quality and utilisation of health care facilities and services,” the ANI/Economic Times reports (5/13). Foundation co-chair Bill Gates said that the memorandum of cooperation “underscores the agreed upon goals, programme areas, roles and responsibilities expected of each party,” Press Trust of India reports. “There will be intervention by the foundation in eight districts, to scale up and improve the work that has already been started in the state. The projects in which they will support in these eight districts include work in the fields of pneumonia, diarrhoea, [visceral leishmaniasis] and tuberculosis,” said Nitish Kumar, the state’s chief minister, according to ANI/Economic Times. Other focal points of the agreement include reducing maternal and infant mortality in Bihar (5/13). During his visit, Gates also “travelled by boat to a remote village in eastern India to check on the progress of a government campaign to eradicate polio which he is helping to fund,” the Scotsman reports. Gates went to “Guleria, a village nearly 140 miles east of Patna, the capital of Bihar state,” which is one of two Indian states “where new cases of polio continue to be reported, according to UNICEF” (5/13).

U.N. Appeals For $18M To Deal With Implications Of Prolonged Severe Weather Conditions In Mongolia

The U.N. on Wednesday appealed for $18 million in aid for 800,000 Mongolians who have been affected by the “dzud,” a dry summer that is followed by severe winter weather, Agence France-Presse reports (5/12). “The U.N. says almost 9,000 families lost their livelihoods because their cattle died in the severe cold and snow,” according to the Associated Press/Bloomberg BusinessWeek (5/12). The U.N. News Centre notes: “Humanitarian agencies have reported a spike of up to 40 percent in the mortality of children under the age of five in dzud-affected areas, an indicator of the seriousness of the emergency. Increased acute and chronic malnutrition, micro-nutrient deficiencies among pregnant women, a lack of access to health care, widespread food insecurity, the loss of livelihoods and severe psychological trauma among herders and their families are also being seen, according to the UN humanitarian country team in Mongolia” (5/12).

CQ HealthBeat Reports On Ongoing Efforts To Develop HIV Vaccine

“Despite growing access to drugs that stop HIV/AIDS, the AIDS epidemic won’t end without powerful tools to prevent the disease, say top researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases” (NIAID), CQ HealthBeat reports in an article reflecting on a recent statement issued by Anthony Fauci, the director of NIAID, ahead of National HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, which is set for May 18. The article details how researchers hope to use the results of the HIV vaccine clinical trial conducted in Thailand to inform future studies as well as other ongoing studies. “One of the purposes of National HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is to promote awareness of the importance of volunteers to test vaccines. Also key to the development effort are continuing partnerships with companies and non-governmental organizations, the researchers said,” according to CQ HealthBeat (Reichard, 5/12).

U.N. Developing Database, Revising Aid Controls To Address Aid Delivery Problems In Somalia

“The United Nations team in Somalia is developing a database of all service providers and revising its control system for the delivery of aid and cash transfers,” the New York Times reports (MacFarquhar, 5/12). After an earlier report “urged U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to open an independent investigation into World Food Program operations in Somalia,” the latest report to the U.N. Security Council said Somalia has started to implement a “risk management action plan” to address the problems, Reuters reports. The report “said a database has been designed that will include details on all U.N. service providers and contractors in Somalia so that they can be properly screened. … [T]here has also been a ‘revision of the internal controls over cash transfer systems within Somalia'” (Charbonneau, 5/13).

Kenya Releases First HIV/AIDS Indicator Survey

The Daily Nation examines the results of Kenya’s latest AIDS Indicator Survey, which was released Tuesday. The report, which is based on data from 2007, “is the first indicator survey and the second population-based HIV sero-survey in Kenya.” It was conducted in all eight of the country’s provinces among 18,000 participants. The province of Nyanza was found to have an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 14.9 percent, the highest in the country, and “Nairobi is second with a prevalence rate of 8.8 percent among people aged between 15 and 64 years,” the newspaper reports (5/11).

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