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Also In Global Health News: Russia’s Illegal Drug Fight; Radio To Promote HIV/AIDS Awareness; USAID, Qatar MoU On Food Security; Canada’s HIV Vaccine Initiative

Russian President Says Country Has Failed To Reduce Injection Drug Use

Russia has failed to curtail an injection drug epidemic that cuts economic growth by up to three percent annually, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told a meeting of federal and regional senior officials on Monday, Reuters reports. “In spite of the fact that heightened attention is given to this topic … changes for better have been very, very few,” Medvedev said. However, the government has come under fire from health care workers who say it refuses to legalize the heroin replacement drug methadone or fund needle-exchange and other harm reduction programs, according to the news service. The WHO has said Russia’s heroin problem contributes to it having one of the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world, and the International AIDS Society estimates “that the number of new HIV infections in Russia is likely to grow between 5 and 10 percent a year unless the government takes new measures,” Reuters writes (Anishchuk, 4/18).

Local NGO In Zambia Uses Radio Waves To Educate Public About HIV/AIDS

The Times of Zambia/allAfrica.com describes how a local NGO in Zambia known as Corridors of Hope (CoH) III is working to educate the population about the risks of HIV/AIDS and methods to prevent its transmission through community radio programs. In addition to developing a better awareness about the factors that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS, the article describes how the radio programs have helped to change listeners’ views on education and gender-based violence. CoH, a five-year project, is supported by PEPFAR, according to the news service (Zimba, 4/18).

USAID, Qatar Sign Memorandum Of Understanding On Food Security

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Khalid al-Attiyah, Qatar’s minister of state for International Cooperation, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to boost cooperation on global food security on the sidelines of an official visit by the Emir of the State of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to the United States,” the Gulf Times reports (4/17). The MoU “is expected to solidify joint research and exchange of scientists; facilitate access to sources of finance; develop Public-Private Partnerships; and facilitate technical and policy dialogues among experts and practitioners,” according to a USAID press release. “For us to avert a future crisis, we will need to develop new technologies, and this is what we intend to achieve in collaboration with the U.S. Food security is a top priority for both our countries, with USAID leading the U.S. Feed the Future initiative. If we are successful in developing technologies that can then be transferred to other dry land countries, then we will have made an important step towards alleviating global hunger and food insecurity,” Kahlid al-Attiyah said (4/14).

Administrative, Bureaucratic Hang-Ups Slowed Canada’s HIV Vaccine Initiative Plans, Report Says

Administrative and bureaucratic hang-ups have slowed Canada’s plans for a $139 million HIV Vaccine Initiative first announced in February 2007, according to a $62,000 report commissioned by the Public Health Agency of Canada and completed in August 2010, the Canadian Press/Vancouver Observer reports. According to the report, which was obtained recently by the Canadian Press through an Access to Information Act request, several factors led to the halting of plans for a pilot vaccine manufacturing facility, which was to be supported in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The government has cancelled plans to move forward with a vaccine research facility, according to the new service. “About half the money saved from cancelling the vaccine facility will go to a program to reduce the transmission of HIV from mothers to their children in developing countries,” the news service reports (4/16).

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