Also In Global Health News: Urban Development Legislation; U.S. Military Program For Afghan Farmers; Malawi Gay Conviction; Liberian Agriculture; Costs Of HIV/AIDS Care

IRIN Reports On U.S. Legislation Aimed At Better Addressing Urban Development Worldwide

“The Sustainable Urban Development Act of 2010 – introduced by Sens. Benjamin Cardin (D-Maryland), Dick Durban (D-Illinois), and John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) on 20 April – directs USAID to better tackle the problems of enlarging slums, increasing levels of pollution, overburdened transport systems, and lack of affordable housing,” IRIN reports in a story exploring the legislation and reaction to it. “The legislation directs the administrator of USAID to update the Making Cities Work Urban Strategy, which has been in existence for almost a decade. It also suggests establishing a senior adviser for urban sustainable development at the agency and launching a ‘pilot urban strategies initiative’ implemented in select cities in the developing world,” according to the article (5/19). 

Wall Street Journal Looks At U.S. Military Program That Supports Afghan Farmers

The Wall Street Journal examines Afghanistan Vouchers for Increased Production in Agriculture, or AVIPA Plus, a U.S.-backed program which “injects cash into villages, helping farmers with seeds, fertilizer and advice in exchange for collaboration with the Afghan government.” Though Afghan farmers aren’t always receptive to the program, “[i]n recent months, as the military pushed back the insurgents, the AVIPA program helped jumpstart the economy and prop up Afghan authorities” (Trofimov, 5/18). 

Liberia Aims To Develop Agriculture Sector, Government Official Says

“Liberia plans to modernise its agriculture sector with the aim of feeding its own people and becoming a major food exporter in West Africa, [James Logan,] the country’s deputy minister for agriculture said,” Reuters AlertNet reports. “We are now working towards a vibrant and integrated agriculture policy that will rationally use our natural resources, to provide food on the table, put money in the pocket, and raise money from exports that will develop the country,” Logan said. The African Development Bank will provide $24.5 million in support for the government program, and “USAID is ready to commit $110 million” to the project, according to Reuters AlertNet (Fominyen, 5/18).

Advocates Worry Conviction Of Gay Couple In Malawi Could Hurt Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS

“A judge convicted a gay couple [in Malawi] Tuesday of charges that could send them to jail for more than a decade, a ruling activists fear could send others into hiding and hamper the fight against AIDS,” NPR reports. The piece examines the situation in other African countries and efforts to promote HIV prevention and treatment among MSM. “Gay people forced underground in Africa are unlikely to seek counseling and treatment for AIDS, activists say. In Malawi, nearly 1 million people – an estimated 12 percent of the population – are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS,” the news service writes (5/18).

IRIN PlusNews Examines Financial Costs Associated With HIV/AIDS Care In Kenya

IRIN PlusNews examines common financial burdens HIV/AIDS patients in Kenya face. “The Kenyan government provides free antiretroviral treatment (ART) to more than 300,000 Kenyans and free diagnosis and treatment of TB, which has significantly lightened the financial load of people living with HIV, but for many, the cost of treating opportunistic infections and journeying to and from distant health centres is crippling,” the news service writes. The article details some of the costs associated with HIV/AIDS, including food and travel (5/17).