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Also In Global Health News: Rights Abuses In Myanmar; Indian Malnutrition; Mali Global Fund Grant; Shift In USAID’s Programs In Afghanistan; Gates Foundation Grant For Vaccines

Human Rights Abuses Impacting Health Situation In Parts Of Myanmar, Study Says

“Human rights abuses and counter-insurgency campaigns in Chin State, western Myanmar,” are negatively affecting the health situation of area residents, according to a recent PLoS Medicine study, IRIN reports. “The indirect health outcomes of the abuses likely dwarf the actual killings by the military leaders,” Richard Sollom, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights and a study author, said. “Persecution of civilians has resulted in a ‘man-made health catastrophe’ in ethnic areas,” according to Vit Suwanvanichkij of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study. “Consistently, the minority of deaths are directly from violence. Far more… lose their lives indirectly from the malign neglect of the Burmese military regime,” Suwanvanichkij said (3/7). 

Growing Indian Prosperity Has Not Reduced Malnutrition, Study Says

There is no evidence that growing prosperity in India has led to less malnutrition among children in the country, according to a study published in PLoS Medicine on Tuesday, the New York Times reports. The study examined 77,326 children who were tracked in three national family health surveys conducted in 1992-93, 1998-99 and 2005-6. The study found malnutrition varied by region but “there was little correlation between a state’s economic growth and how much food most children got,” the newspaper writes. “Technology jobs have driven the boom, but 75 percent of the population is supported by farming or manufacturing,” S. V. Subramanian, a geographer at the Harvard School of Public Health and an author of the study, said. “To save the children of those families, India’s government may have to use its growing tax revenues for direct aid like food or food stamps, he said,” according to the Times (McNeil, 3/7).

Global Fund Suspends Mali HIV Grant

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has suspended a $13.9 million HIV grant to Mali “because of evidence that grant money has been misused,” Aidspan’s Global Fund Observer reports. “The exact amount of grant funds which remain unaccounted for has not yet been determined. The principal recipient, Groupe Pivot Sante Population, an NGO, will be replaced,” the newsletter writes. According to the publication, the Global Fund suspended two malaria grants and a tuberculosis grant for Mali in December 2010 (Garmaise, 3/7). A press release from the Global Fund states that the suspension “comes after evidence was discovered that Global Fund grant money has been misused. It is part of a process of restoring confidence in the ability of Mali’s health sector to manage Global Fund resources appropriately” (3/2). 

Washington Post Examines How Changes To USAID’s Approach In Afghanistan Affect Women

The Washington Post reports on recent changes in USAID’s strategy in Afghanistan. The newspaper points to the “removal of specific women’s rights requirements” from a $140 million land reform program. These changes are indicative of “a shift in USAID’s approach in Afghanistan. Instead of setting ambitious goals to improve the status of Afghan women, the agency is tilting toward more attainable measures,” the Washington Post writes. “The changes come at a time of growing concern among rights advocates that the modest gains Afghan women have achieved since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001 are being rolled back,” according to the article, which notes that new rules being drafted by the government “would bar private safe houses for women who are fleeing abuse and place new rules on those seeking refuge in the country’s 14 public shelters, including forcing women to submit to medical examinations and evicting them if their families want them back” (Chandrasekaran, 3/6).

Gates Foundation Invests $10M In Vaccine Developer, $20M In Media Foundation

The biotechnology company Liquidia Technologies on Friday announced it has received a $10 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the development of vaccines for developing countries, Triangle Business Journal reports (3/4). “Liquidia is developing a seasonal flu vaccine and has an agreement with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative to use its technology to work on new malaria vaccines, the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina-based company said today in an e- mailed statement,” Bloomberg reports (Tirrell, 3/4). According to a Liquida press release (.pdf), the money will “support the development and commercialization of safer and more effective vaccines and therapeutics” (3/4). “Funding innovation is a key to addressing the unmet health needs of the world’s poorest people,” Doug Holtzman, deputy director of infectious diseases for the Gates Foundation said in the release, adding, “This unique investment partnership will help us advance vaccine development as part of our commitment to help research, develop and deliver vaccines for the world’s poorest countries” (3/4).

In related news, the Seattle Times reports on a $20 million, five-year grant from the Gates Foundation to the BBC World Service Trust – the “foundation’s largest so far with a media connection.” The article describes how the grant will focus on improving “family health practices” through “an integrated and sustainable multichannel communications strategy” in the Indian state of Bihar, “one of the country’s poorest” (Doughton, 3/3).

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