Also In Global Health News: Vaccine Suspension; E. Africa Food Security; GMOs; Somali President Responds; China’s Food Security

WHO Suspends Distribution, Purchase Of Pentavalent Vaccine

A WHO spokeswoman announced Wednesday that the agency “has suspended the distribution and purchase of the Shan5 vaccine, produced by Sanofi-Aventis’s Indian unit Shantha Biotechnics, pending a quality investigation,” after several reports of white sediment on the walls of the vaccine vials, the Wall Street Journal reports. “There has been no safety problem associated with the vaccine, which is a combination vaccine against Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Haemophilus influenza B, and Hepatitis B, the spokeswoman added,” according to the newspaper (Spencer, 3/17). Countries were encouraged to put any remaining vaccine in quarantine and to administer a different pentavalent vaccine during the investigation, Bloomberg/BusinessWeek reports (Doherty, 3/17).

IRIN Examines High Food Costs In E. Africa

IRIN examines the factors that influence the cost of food in East Africa – such as travel, poor infrastructure, and policy decisions – as well as efforts to reign in food prices. The piece includes a breakdown of food insecurity in 10 countries in East Africa (3/16).

USA Today Examines Debate Over Genetically-Modified Crops

USA Today examines the global debate over the use of genetically-engineered crops: “The effort has been embraced by some as a way to better feed a world population that’s soaring, but others raise the specter of ‘Frankenfood,’ whose long-term effect on human and environmental health has never been adequately studied.” The newspaper notes the impact of the Chinese government’s approval of “biotech rice and corn varieties, which some believe could be the beginning of a broader acceptance of the 16-year-old technology.” The article adds details on the growing number of biologically engineered crops planted around the world and comments by people on both sides of the issue (Weise, 3/16).

Somalia’s President Denies Diversion Of Food Aid; U.N. Security Council To Move Forward With Investigation

“Somalia’s president on Tuesday blasted a recent U.N. report that characterized the government’s security forces as ineffective and corrupt and said that as much as half the food aid to the country was routinely stolen,” the New York Times reports. The president said the evidence used for the assessment was inaccurate. “His comments added to a growing chorus of criticism surrounding this report, mainly from the parties that have been accused of wrongdoing, including Somali politicians and businessmen and the United Nations World Food Program,” the newspaper writes (Gettleman, 3/16). Reuters reports that members of the U.N. Security Council are in favor of an independent investigation into the report’s charges, Mexico’s U.N. Ambassador Claude Heller, said on Tuesday (Charbonneau, 3/16).

Reuters Examines Impact Of Chinese Policy Decisions On Country’s Food Security

A Reuters article features an interview with Shenggen Fan, director general of the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), who calls upon the Chinese government to reevaluate food-security policy. According to Fan, “China’s grain production is not a problem, the major concern is government policy – policies in grain prices, agricultural science and technology investment, inputs and markets.” He observed, “China’s food security is global food security” (Shuping/Miles, 3/16).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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