Also In Global Health News: Pakistan IDPs; HIV And Herpes; Ending FGM; WFP Budget In Afghanistan; Cholera In PNG

U.N. Launches $538M Aid Appeal For Displaced Persons In Pakistan

The U.N. launched an international appeal Tuesday, calling for $538 million to provide aid in Pakistan for “hundreds of thousands of people displace[d] by army clashes against the Taliban,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (Toosi, 2/9). Agence France-Presse writes: “The appeal focuses on funds needed to implement the Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan (PHRP) 2010, which the United Nations, international and local aid groups have drawn up with the cash-strapped Pakistan government.” Martin Mogwanja, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Pakistan, said, “Considering that the number of IDPs (Internally Displaced People) from Orakzai agency has risen nearly tenfold in the last two months, the emergency in Pakistan seems far from over” (Gilani, 2/9).

Herpes Drug That Lowers HIV Virus In Patients’ Blood Does Not Reduce Transmission Rates, Study Finds

“Treating herpes in people who are also infected with HIV does not reduce the chances that they will pass on the AIDS virus,” according to a study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, the New York Times reports. Though the herpes drug acyclovir lowers the level of HIV in patients’ blood, for reasons yet unknown to scientists, the study of 3,400 couples from 14 sites across Africa found there was no difference in the transmission rates between those who received the drug and those who took a placebo. “While acyclovir is cheaper than antiretroviral drugs and has fewer side effects, ‘new strategies are needed’ to stop AIDS transmission, the authors concluded,” the newspaper writes (McNeil, 2/8).

WHO Calls For Health Professionals To Stop Performing Female Genital Mutilation  

WHO Specialist Elise Johansen on Friday called for doctors, nurses and midwives in countries in Africa to stop performing female genital mutilation (FGM), the Associated Press reports (2/3). “The practice is still widespread in spite of a global commitment in 2002 to end FGM by 2010,” PANA/Afrique en ligne reports. According to the United Nations Population Fund, three million girls are at risk f genital mutilation annually (2/8). Examines Budget For WFP Program In Afghanistan

Less than half of the $1.2 billion set aside by the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) program to fund a three-year relief operation in Afghanistan will go to the purchase of food, reports. According to documents obtained by the news service, the majority of funds will be “spent on shipping, land transportation, handling, office construction and U.N. staffing and administration costs,” the news service reports. The news service provides a break down of how funds will be used and links to WFP’s proposal (Russell, 2/6).

Cholera Outbreak In PNG Affects 2K And Likely To Grow, Officals Warn

A cholera outbreak in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has affected 2,000 people and risks spreading because of poor water conditions, a WHO representative said Monday, Agence France-Presse reports. Eigil Sorensen, of the WHO, “said the number of deaths so far remained modest at fewer than 50, but the disease continued to spread due to poor water supplies and as infected people, including those with no symptoms of the sickness, travelled around” (2/8). “About 58 percent of the country’s six million inhabitants do not have access to safe drinking water, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) reports,” IRIN reports. Despite PNG’s government committing more than $4 million to help fight cholera back in September, ” [a]s of 5 February, however, just US$900,000 had been released nationwide, leaving provincial authorities and NGOs struggling to cope,” according to the news service (2/5).

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