Also In Global Health News: Infant, Maternal Mortality In N. Korea; Malaria In Cambodia; Zambia PEPFAR Program; Pakistan’s Anti-Polio Campaign; U.N. Ambassador Responds To Somalia; Myanmar Refugees

Increases In Infant, Maternal Mortality Lead To Life Expectancy Decline In North Korea

Higher rates of infant and maternal mortality have lead to a decline of life expectancy in North Korea over the past 15 years, census figures, which were obtained with help form the U.N. Population Fund, said on Monday, Agence France-Presse reports (2/22). “North Koreans’ average life expectancy dropped to 69.3 years in 2008 from 72.7 years in 1993,” the report said, Bloomberg/BusinessWeek writes (Lim, 2/22). “Infant mortality rose from 14 per 1,000 live births to 19, and the maternal mortality rate grew from 54 to 77 deaths per 100,000 live births,” the Times of London reports (2/22).

Malaria Cases, Deaths Rise In Cambodia

The number of malaria cases and malaria deaths rose between 2008 and 2009 in Cambodia, Duong Socheat, director of the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM), said on Monday, the Phnom Penh Post reports. According to Socheat, there were more than 80,000 malaria cases last year, compared with 50,000 cases in 2008 (Leakhana, 2/22). Deaths over the same time period also rose by about one-third, SAPA-DPA/IOL writes, adding that “Socheat blamed the rise in part on the early arrival of rains, as well as increased population movement into high-risk forested areas. He said delays in getting infected people to health centres also played a role.” According to the news service, “Socheat said last year’s higher death toll was not due to artemisinin resistance” (2/22).

U.S. Ambassador To Zambia Kicks Off PEPFAR Small Grants Project Targeting Children

U.S. Ambassador to Zambia Donald Booth on Friday kicked off a PEPFAR small grants project at SOS Children’s Village training center in Zambia’s capital city, Lusaka, the Post Zambia reports. “Ambassador Booth said [the] PEPFAR Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) project would provide aid to children in several communities around Lusaka,” according to the newspaper (Mulenga, 2/20).

35M Pakistani Children Receive Anti-Polio Drops As Part Of National Campaign

Around 35 million Pakistani children under five received anti-polio drops during the three-day campaign that concluded last week, the Pakistan Times reports. “According to an official of Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), 90,000 vaccination teams with workforce of two million people were given the task of administering anti-polio drops to children,” the newspaper writes (2/20). 

U.S. Rejects U.N. Charge That Aid To WFP In Somalia Is Being Withheld For Political Reasons

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., “dismissed a U.N. official’s charge that the United States was withholding funds and aid to a U.N. food agency in Somalia for political reasons,” Reuters reports. “First of all, we utterly reject that claim,” Rice said. “We think it’s false and unfounded.” She described the World Food Program’s (WFP) aid suspension last month as “an unfortunate development.” She added: “The reason why aid is not now proceeding to the people of southern Somalia is one reason alone and it’s quite clear: it’s al Shabaab’s attacks on WFP and other U.N. agencies, its kidnapping of innocent relief workers, its extortion of funds” (Katz, 2/20).

MSF Report Reveals Dire Health Conditions Faced By Myanmar Refugees

Muslim refugees from neighboring Myanmar “are suffering beatings and deportation in Bangladesh, according to aid workers and rights groups who say thousands are crowding into a squalid camp where they face a ‘humanitarian crisis’ of starvation and disease,” the New York Times reports (Mydans, 2/18). A report released Thursday by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) documents the living conditions at the unofficial makeshift camp in Kutupalong, where according to the report, 30,000 people are living, Agence France-Presse writes. Among other things, the report notes the refugees lack of food, safe drinking water and sanitation, and access to medical care (2/18). “‘The overcrowded camp has become an incubator for disease,’ [Paul] Critchley, [head of mission in Bangladesh for MSF] said, and with the monsoon season peaking in late March and early April, medical workers fear a lethal spread of acute diarrhea,” the New York Times writes (2/18).

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