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Also In Global Health News: Oxfam Appeals For Hunger Aid; Birth Asphyxia Prevention; South Africa HIV Incidence; Arsenic In Bangladesh; Global Health Spending; Kenya Blood Collection

Oxfam Appeals For $10 Million In Hunger Aid For West Africa

Oxfam estimates that “more than ten million people across West Africa are facing severe hunger and malnutrition because of drought, poor harvests and rising food prices,” Pan African News Agency reports (6/22). Oxfam has “launched a £7m [$10 million] emergency appeal to help more than 800,000 of the most vulnerable people” at risk of starvation in West Africa, according to a press release. The organization says it “is spending £3 million from its reserves to start emergency work in the most affected areas” (6/21). According to Pan African News Agency, Oxfam “noted that starving people in drought-stricken countries are being forced to eat leaves and collect grains from ant hills” in order to survive (6/22).

Kenya To Train Clinicians On Safe Blood Collection

Kenya launched a new program in partnership with PEPFAR and technology firm Becton, Dickson and Company (BD) to “train clinicians how to safely collect and handle blood,” VOA News reports. Officials selected eight facilities in four regions that have a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS to begin the program. The initial program will train 20 clinicians with the hope of eliminating HIV transmission in health care settings, Kenya’s AIDS director Nicholas Muraguri said. BD said it plans  to “ultimately train thousands of health care workers in developing countries,” VOA News reports (6/21).

Washington Post Examines International Training Campaign To Prevent Birth Asphyixia

The Washington Post examines the “Helping Babies Breathe campaign, an international effort to prevent ‘birth asphyxia'” that aims to teach “midwives and traditional birth attendants in poor countries how to gently nudge newborns into the world of respiration.” An initiative of the American Academy of Pediatrics, USAID, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and Save the Children, the program will start in 28 countries. “The curriculum may eventually be used in most of the 68 countries where 90 percent of mother or newborn deaths occur (and where 46 percent of births lack a medically trained attendant),” the newspaper writes (Brown, 6/20).

Times LIVE Reports On HIV Incidence In South Africa

Times LIVE reports on a recent PLoS One study which estimated rates of new HIV infection in South Africa based on a mathematical model that used prevalence data from 2002, 2005 and 2008 (Keeton, 6/20). The researchers report an “incidence decline among young women has resulted in a reduction in incidence among adults in South Africa overall by 35% between 2002–2005 and 2005–2008, although this was not statistically significant. However, the incidence rate among young women aged 15–24 declined by 60% in the same period … and this change was statistically significant” (Rehle et al., 6/14). Nono Simelela, head of South Africa’s National AIDS Council, said the findings “suggest we are making progress with behaviour change and treatment. But ours is a mature epidemic and the pool of HIV-positive people is already high,” Times LIVE reports (6/20). “The national surveys in 2002, 2005 and 2008 do not suggest substantial decreases in numbers of sexual partners, which have been associated with changes in the epidemic in Uganda and Zimbabwe. However, there is evidence from the surveys of a significant increase in condom use,” the study authors write (6/14).

Millions Exposed To Toxic Levels Of Arsenic in Bangladesh

[T]ens of millions of people in Bangladesh have been exposed to poisonous levels of arsenic from contaminated groundwater,” according to a new study published in the Lancet, TIME’s “Ecocentric” reports. “Millions of tube wells were drilled to provide villagers with clean water, but many of them were dug into shallow layers of ground that had naturally occurring arsenic, contaminating the water.” Researchers followed 12,000 Bangladeshis over 10 years and found that “more than 20% of deaths were caused by arsenic” (Walsh, 6/19).

Global Health Spending Expected To Dip By 2013, Economic Model Predicts 

Though funding for global health programs has gone up over the past few years, spending is expected to be scaled back in the next few years, Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said at the institute’s annual board meeting last Thursday, the Seattle Times’ “Business of Giving” blog reports.

“An earlier analysis by Murray and his colleagues found that spending on global health programs quadrupled between 1990 and 2007, from $5.6 billion to nearly $22 billion. The upswing was partly fueled by wealthy, private donors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The total includes funding from developed nations, corporations and NGOs.” Murray said updated analysis found that funding reached $23.6 billion in 2008 and should reach about $29 billion this year. “Economic modeling predicts that the effects of the global recession will start to be felt in 2013, when total spending will probably dip, he said,” according to the blog, which also examines other aspects of the board meeting (Doughton, 6/18).

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