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Also In Global Health News: GM Mosquitoes For Dengue Prevention; Polio In Haiti; Malnutrition In Pakistan; Pharma’s Interest In India

Malaysia Releases GM Mosquitos Into Wild In Hopes Of Slowing Spread Of Dengue

“Malaysia released about 6,000 genetically modified mosquitoes into a forest in the first experiment of its kind in Asia aimed at curbing dengue fever, officials said Wednesday,” the Associated Press reports. “The field test is meant to pave the way for the use of genetically engineered Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes to mate with females and produce no offspring or ones with shorter lives, thus curtailing the mosquito population.” The article describes how a similar trial in the Cayman Islands “resulted in a dramatic drop in the mosquito population in a small area studied by researchers,” and the debate surrounding the approach (1/26).

Health Officials To Explore Whether Polio Caused Paralysis Among Several Cholera Patients In Haiti

The Associated Press reports that health officials in Haiti are looking into whether paralysis among four patients infected with cholera in northwestern Haiti was caused by polio. “Local health authorities reported suspected cases on Jan. 10. Of four showing paralysis three died and one is hospitalized in the capital,” the news service reports. However, the living patient tested negative for the disease, according to Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) spokeswoman Nyka Alexander,  leading officials to believe polio is not behind the paralysis (1/26).

Survey Reveals Malnutrition Levels In Pakistan Region

“Pakistan’s Sindh province, hit hard by last year’s floods, is suffering levels of malnutrition almost as critical as Chad and Niger, with hundreds of thousands of children at risk, UNICEF said on Wednesday,” Reuters reports (Allbritton, 1/26). “[A]lmost one quarter of children under five [in Sindh province] are malnourished while 6% are severely underfed, a Floods Assessment Needs survey has found,” the Guardian writes, in a piece that also examines the levels of poverty in the region (Walsh, 1/27). “The crisis is the consequence of a combination of factors, including extreme poverty, poor diet, poor health, exposure to disease and inadequate sanitation and hygiene, as well as a lack of education,” according to UNICEF (Brabant, 1/26). Only about half of the U.N.’s $2 billion appeal for emergency aid has been raised so far, according to Oxfam, VOA News reports (1/26).

Financial Times Examines Pharma’s Growing Interest In India

“International pharmaceutical companies once looked with frustration at Indian drug makers, which were notorious for churning out low-cost, copycat versions of patented drugs and selling them to developing countries. More recently, they have been looking at India’s fast growing pharmaceutical industry in a different light – as an increasingly integral part of the global supply chain in an environment of intensifying pressure on prices,” the Financial Times writes. The aricle, which documents the rise of foreign-owned companies in India’s domestic drug market, notes, “Recent takeovers have raised concerns among some policymakers that foreign ownership may lead to sharply higher domestic drug prices, potentially a big problem in a country where 80 per cent of total healthcare costs are shouldered privately” (Kazmin, 1/26).

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