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Also In Global Health News: Water In The Philippines; Potential HIV Treatment; Kenyan Food Security; TB In Prisons; Ethiopian HIV Plan

Government Agencies In The Philippines Sign Sanitation Agreement To Expand Clean Water Access

Filipino Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, and National Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary General Jose Eliseo Rocamora signed an agreement to honor the President’s Priority Program on Water (P3W), the Manila Bulletin reports. “The P3W’s vision is to decrease by half the number of people who do not have access to safe potable water and basic sanitation. Robredo said the three partner agencies have agreed to implement water and sanitation projects in waterless municipalities outside Metro Manila,” the publication writes (Ong, 12/23). According to the Department of Interior and Local Government, more than 1.5 million households outside Metro Manila have no access to safe, clean drinking water, Inquirer.net reports (Kwok, 12/23).

New Experimental Drug Blocks HIV Infection Early, Scientists Report

“Scientists are reporting early but promising results from a new drug that blocks HIV as it attempts to invade human cells,” HealthDay News/U.S. News & World Report. “The approach differs from most current antiretroviral therapy, which tries to limit the virus only after it has gained entry to cells,” the news service adds (Gardner, 12/22). “The drug, being developed by small privately held Hannover-based firm VIRO Pharmaceuticals, is called VIR-576 and reduced the amount of HIV infection in the blood by as much 95 percent in an early-stage trial of 18 patients,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 12/23). “At the same time, adverse effects were few and mainly involved injection site reactions, [researchers] reported online in Science Translational Medicine,” MedPage Today reports (Smith, 12/22).

Kenyans Diversifying Eating Habits Improves Country’s Food Security

“Kenyans have changed their eating habits and consume more food other than the usual maize staple, driving up food security in the country, [Wilson Songa,] a senior Ministry of Agriculture official said on Wednesday,” Reuters reports. Although “[k]ey staple foods such as maize and wheat have previously been hit hard by high prices following shortages after bad weather conditions or diseases … [s]tatistics from the ministry showed sluggish maize and wheat consumption in the last 11 months, which increased by 1 percent and 4 percent respectively compared with 2009. … Rice consumption increased 14 percent in the same period. Potato production was at 1.6 million 100 kg bags, against a target of 2.2 million 100 kg bags,” according to the news service (12/22).

Controlling TB In Prisons Will Benefit General Population, Study Finds

“One in 11 cases of TB in the general population of developed countries can be attributed to the spread of the disease in prisons, according to a systematic review published [Wednesday] in PLoS Medicine,” Emerging Health Threats Forum reports (12/21). “Using data from previous studies and the World Health Organization, the study authors calculated the ratio between the incidence rates for TB and latent TB in prison and in the general population” for countries around the world, United Press International reports. “The average incidence of TB in prisons was 23 times higher than that of the general population, and for latent TB, was 26 times higher in prisons than in the general population,” the news service writes (12/23). “The publication of this systematic review marks a shift from considering the incidence of TB in each prison population to considering the massive global impact of tuberculosis in prisons,” an accompanying PLoS Medicine editorial states (12/21).

Ethiopia’s Government Launches Comprehensive Plan To Halve HIV Infections

“Ethiopia’s government has come up with an ambitious plan to halve new HIV infections, quadruple its annual condom distribution and put 85 percent of people who need life-prolonging HIV medication on treatment within five years,” IRIN reports. “According to the five-year plan, presented to parliament by HAPCO [the country’s HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office] on 16 December, the government also plans to increase the coverage of antiretroviral therapy from 60 to 85 percent. Close to 400,000 Ethiopians require treatment for HIV,” the news service adds. The article notes the success the country has made to date in fighting HIV/AIDS, several challenges to fighting the spread of disease in the country and the absence of programs targeting men who have sex with men (MSM) from the country’s comprehensive plan (12/23).

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