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Also In Global Health News: Rice Research Initiative; Kala Azar In Sudan; R&D In Developing Countries; Indian Measles Vaccination Campaign

Global Rice Research Initiative Launched At International Rice Congress

“The world’s leading rice research institutions are joining forces to improve rice yields and breed improved varieties … to help to secure future affordable food supplies for the world’s poorest people,” Nature News writes in an article that examines the “$600 million global partnership” launched Wednesday at the International Rice Congress in Hanoi, Vietnam (Gilbert, 11/10). Led by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), “[t]he Global Rice Science Partnership [GRiSP] will oversee research over the next five years to boost yields and breed stronger strains that can resist flooding and threats from climate change,” Reuters/ABCNews.com reports (Minh, 11/10). According to IRIN, “GRiSP has the potential to contribute significantly to lowering food prices, reducing global poverty by 5 percent by 2020 and 11 percent by 2035” (11/10). Agence France-Presse/Sydney Morning Herald adds that the effort “will require annual funding for rice research to rise from around $US100 million next year to $US139 million in 2015, IRRI said” (11/11).

Visceral Leishmaniasis Outbreak Intensifies In Southern Sudan

The Associated Press reports that “more than 300 people” have died in Southern Sudan during an outbreak of visceral leishmaniasis, or kala azar, that started in September 2009. The outbreak has “intensified in recent months” with “[m]ore than 7,000 cases – many of them in the region’s most remote and insecure areas – … reported this year by WHO and Southern Sudanese health authorities.” According to the news service, the outbreak’s peak “is predicted to come between December and January, coinciding with Southern Sudan’s plans for a Jan. 9 independence referendum. That referendum is widely predicted to result in the creation of the world’s newest country” (11/11).

UNESCO Science Report Documents R&D Growth In Emerging Countries, Continued Challenges Presented By ‘Brain Drain’

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Wednesday released its 2010 Science Report (.pdf), revealing the growth of research and development (R&D) in emerging countries, including China and India, Fast Company reports (Nerenberg, 11/10). According to the UNESCO report, “Asia’s share of gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) rose from 27 to 32 percent between 2002 and 2007, while over the same period, the European Union (EU), the United States and Japan registered a decrease,” U.N. News Centre writes (11/10). “The proportion of researchers in developing countries increased from 30% in 2002 to 38% in 2007,” according to a UNESCO press release. “[W]hile developing countries are training more researchers and scientists, this does not necessarily mean that they will easily find jobs in the country of origin, feeding a South-North and North-North migration of graduates,” the press release notes. “India, Turkey, some countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia are particularly faced with this problem. At least one-third of African researchers were estimated to be working abroad in 2009. According to OECD data cited in a British study in 2008, out of 59 million migrants living in OECD countries, 20 million were highly qualified,” the press release states (11/10).

UNICEF, WHO Launch Second Phase Of Measles Vaccination Campaign In India

UNICEF and the WHO have launched a measles vaccination campaign aimed at reaching 134 million children, Indian Express reports (11/10). “The children in the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh will begin receiving the second dose of their vaccinations as part of a year-long campaign by the Indian Government in the country’s 14 highest risk regions,” U.N. News Centre writes. “The second dose of measles vaccination drive will make sure that children who were not reached will be protected from this deadly disease,” said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF’s representative in India (11/9).

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