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Also In Global Health News: Halted WFP Operations In Somalia; India Food Security; Dengue In Puerto Rico; MDR-TB In Peru

Militants In Somalia Demand WFP Halt Operations

“Somalia’s Islamist al-Shabaab militia ordered the World Food Programme [WFP] to halt operations in the country, accusing the United Nations agency of undermining domestic agriculture and supporting foreign troops,” Bloomberg/BusinessWeek reports (Omar, 3/1). “Even in the best years, arid Somalia is only able to produce enough food for 40 percent of its people,” the Associated Press reports. “In the last five years, that figure has dropped to about 30 percent, [WFP spokesman Peter] Smerdon said. If WFP bowed to al-Shabab’s demands and bought food locally instead of importing it, the action would drive up prices locally and make more families dependent on aid, he said.” According to Smerdon, the demands by the militants will affect more than 366,000 people in need of food (Houreld, 3/1).

Proposed Law In India Aims To Increase Food Security

Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Friday proposed a law aimed at expanding food security and said the government would increase spending on agriculture while giving farmers more time to repay loans after “one of the worst monsoon seasons last year,” the Dow Jones Newswires reports. “In his budget speech in parliament, Mr. Mukherjee outlined a four-pronged strategy – easier access to farm loans, greater focus on value addition by food-processing sector, cutting food wastage and increasing farm productivity – to boost farm sector growth. … But critics said the budget ignored the need to further develop market mechanisms as the focus this year was mainly on removing supply-side bottlenecks” according to the news service (2/26).

Puerto Rico Declares Dengue Epidemic

“Health officials in Puerto Rico have declared an epidemic of dengue fever,” the Associated Press/Miami Herald reports, after 210 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported since January. Though the virus has yet to cause any deaths, the cases thus far are “more than triple the number in the same month of 2007. That year proved the worst for the U.S. Caribbean territory in nearly a decade, with 11,000 cases,” the news service writes (2/26).

Washington Post Video Examines MDR-TB In Peru

A Washington Post video report examines multi-durg resistant tuberculosis in Peru. The video looks at the challenges related to treatment and the stigma that is associated with the disease. It includes interviews with local health workers and patients (Uenuma, 2/26).

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