Also In Global Health News: Integrating HIV, Maternal/Child Health; Food Shortages In N. Korea; Climate ‘Vulnerability Index’; Premature Infants In Bangladesh; Sanitation In Niger; Cholera In Ghana

IRIN/PlusNews Examines Efforts To Integrate HIV/AIDS Treatment And Maternal, Child Health Care

IRIN/PlusNews examines Kenya’s efforts to integrate maternal and child health care and HIV/AIDS services as a way to ensure more pregnant women and mothers living with HIV/AIDS receive the treatment they need. The article describes the success of an integration program in the maternal and child health clinic at Kenya’s Western Provincial General Hospital – “an initiative by the government, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the U.S. government-supported AIDS, Population and Health Integrated Assistance II (APHIA II),” IPS writes. The news service adds: “Integration of maternal and child health is a major part of the country’s plan to reduce mother-to-child transmission to below 5 percent of the 100,000 mothers who test positive annually” (2/24).

U.S. Aid Groups Highlight Food Shortages, Malnutrition In N. Korea

“North Korea faces ‘looming food shortages and alarming malnutrition’ as bad weather hurts harvests and rising food prices push up the cost of imports, a group of five U.S. aid agencies said on Wednesday,” Reuters reports (2/23). “North Korean authorities estimate that food stocks will be exhausted by mid-June, they said,” the Canadian Press reports. Experts from Christian Friends of Korea, Global Resource Services, Mercy Corps, Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision – “spent a week in North Korea earlier this month, invited by the government,” BBC News reports. They surveyed hospitals, orphanages, farms, family homes, and warehouses in the north-west region of the country, according to the news service (Ravenscroft, 2/24). “‘The team observed evidence of malnutrition, food shortages and people foraging for wild grasses and herbs,’ said a joint statement by the groups,” Agence France-Presse reports (Tandon, 2/23). Reuters describes the hesitancy of Western governments to donate food to North Korea and quotes Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) on the U.S. review of such requests by the North Korean government (2/23).

S. Korea Proposes U.N. Create Climate ‘Vulnerability Index’ To Help Guide Climate Aid Distribution

South Korea on Wednesday submitted a proposal to the U.N. for the creation of a climate “‘Vulnerability Index’ based on each country’s degree of exposure to the adverse impacts of climate change in order to set priorities in providing financial and technical support,” ahead of climate talks scheduled for April, Reuters reports. The proposed index would “consider the degree of the impact of climate change, including the sea level rise, water resources, health and response capacity of each country, in each area in a comprehensive manner,” according to a posting on Wednesday, the news service write. The article examines several other proposals on how aid for mitigating the effects of climate change could be distributed (Doyle, 2/23).

Rising Number Of Premature Infants In Bangladesh Threatens Progress On Infant Mortality

The growing number of premature infants born to women in Bangladesh “threatens to derail [the country’s] efforts to cut neonatal deaths” and meet the U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets on infant mortality, reports. The article examines the factors contributing to a higher incidence of premature births in developing countries, the health challenges premature infants face and ways to improve chances of survival in premature infants (Hasib, 2/23). 

IRIN Examines Efforts To Improve Sanitation In Niger

IRIN examines how government health workers in Niger, together with UNICEF and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are working to educate populations about the dangers associated with open defection through an effort called “community-led sanitation” (CLTS). After engaging the public in conversations about the risks associated with waste and illness, the groups assist the public in building latrines in their communities. “Niger is one of the latest countries in West Africa where the approach is being used, according to Jane Bevan, water, sanitation and hygiene specialist with UNICEF’s West and Central Africa regional office. … This month Sierra Leone – where CLTS began in 2007 – announced its 1,000th open-defecation-free village” (2/23).

Ghana Cholera Outbreak Spreads To Three Regions

“A total of 1,396 cholera cases have been recorded in three regions” of Ghana and have caused the deaths of 34 people, GhanaWeb reports. Addressing the media on Wednesday, Emmanuel Dzotsi of the Diseases Surveillance Unit of Ghana Health Service “said the current trend posed a possibility of the cholera spreading to the other egions if serious control measures were not put in place.” During the briefing, Dzotsi highlighted the measures the country was taking to control the outbreak, the news service added (2/23).

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