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Also In Global Health News: Preventing Bioterrorism; Condom Use In Thailand; Stunted Growth Among Nepalese Children; Measles Vaccination In Ghana; BBC Apologizes For Live Aid Reports

Lugar, Pentagon Officials Head To Africa For Laboratory Inspections

In a Foreign Policy blog post, David Hoffman reports that Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and several Pentagon officials will travel to Kenya and Uganda this week to inspect laboratories that “are working on infectious disease diagnosis and treatment; the concern is that they may lack sufficient security, given the lethal potential of the pathogens inside.” The blog reports that “Lugar said in a statement that he hopes to build cooperation with the governments to upgrade security – and put the bad stuff under a tighter seal. ‘Deadly diseases like Ebola, Marburg and Anthrax are prevalent in Africa,’ Lugar said. ‘Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are active in Africa, and it is imperative that deadly pathogens stored in labs there are secure'” (Hoffman, 11/5).

IRIN PlusNews Looks At Condom Distribution, Use In Thailand

IRIN PlusNews examines condom distribution in Thailand where “only 2 percent of the country’s AIDS budget” is spent on condoms because, according to Michael Hahn of UNAIDS, “Thailand thinks there are enough condoms easily available and affordable in the market, and they don’t see the need for providing them.” Noting that Thailand’s HIV prevalence rate is “more than 1 percent” of the population, one of the highest in Asia, the news service continues, “[h]ealth officials are finding that the barriers to persuading people to have safe sex go beyond an insufficient budget for condoms; what is needed is a change in attitudes.” The article further examines attitudes toward condom use in Thailand (11/5).

Half Of Nepalese Children Under 5 Suffer Stunted Growth Caused By Under-Nourishment, U.N. Study Finds

“Half of Nepalese children under five years old suffer from stunted growth as a result of a chronic lack of food, the government and the United Nations said in a report released Thursday,” which also found more than one-third of the country’s 12.6 million children are living in poverty, Agence France-Presse reports. “The serious effects of under-nutrition at a young age can be irreversible, and can ultimately hinder the development status of the whole nation,” said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF’s representative in Nepal. Though “Nepal has made some progress over the past decade, notably on reducing maternal mortality and improving education … deep inequalities persist,” AFP writes. “‘Children from marginalised groups and poor families are under-nourished, and disparities between rich and poor have widened,’ said the report,” according to the news service (11/4).

Ghana To Vaccinate 4M Children Against Measles

Ghana, with support from the U.N. Foundation, has launched “a follow-up measles immunization campaign … to reach four million children,” VOA News reports. U.N. Foundation Director for Children’s Health Andrea Gay noted a resurgence in measles in the country in the past two years and said seven southern African countries “are now re-doing the campaigns they did in the late 1990s to protect children up to 14 years, because they have had huge surge in cases and deaths” (Shryock, 11/4). Organized by the Ghana Health Service, the campaign will last four days and aims to reach about 17 percent of the country’s population, Ghana News Agency adds (11/4).

BBC Issues Apology For Reports Claiming Live Aid Money Was Used To Purchase Weapons For Rebels

The BBC apologized on Thursday for airing reports on its World Service radio program in March “which gave the impression that millions of pounds raised for Ethiopian famine relief by the Band Aid music charity were used by rebel groups to buy weapons,” Reuters reports (Collett-White, 11/4). BBC “said sorry to Irish rocker Bob Geldof,” who helped organize the Live Aid concerts in 1985 to raise money for Ethiopian famine victims, AOL News reports (Bates, 11/4). The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit found in its ruling that there was no evidence to support such statements and that “they should not have been broadcast,” according to a BBC article on the issue (11/4). “Geldof welcomed the BBC apology and hoped they would repair ‘some of the appalling damage done,'” Reuters notes (11/4).

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