Also In Global Health News: WHO Highlights Health Care-Associated Infections; Niger Food Shortages, Health Care Workers; Latin American Food Security

WHO Highlights Health Care-Associated Infection Prevention

The WHO on Thursday highlighted the importance of hand washing and other efforts to prevent health care-associated infections (HAIs), which affect millions of people annually, with developing countries carrying the greatest burden of such infections, CIDRAP News reports (Roos, 5/5). As part of its “WHO SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands” campaign, the agency released a fact sheet (.pdf) on HAIs; a report (.pdf), titled “Report on the Burden of Endemic Health Care-Associated Infection Worldwide: Clean Care is Safer Care”; and a list of websites from around the world promoting the campaign (5/5).

Niger Government Announces Food Shortages, Doubling Of Health Care Workers

Niger’s government on Thursday said nearly three million residents face food shortages due to drought and crop damages attributed to insects, Reuters reports. “‘Food insecurity could affect about 2,620,770 people in total this year, 17.3 percent of the population,’ according to a government statement read on national television,” according to the news service. On Wednesday, the U.N. humanitarian office in Niger said the deteriorating food situation had caused some families to cut back on meals, Reuters adds (5/6). Also on Thursday, a government spokesperson announced Niger’s plans to double the number of health care workers in the country’s public health service to improve doctor-to-patient ratios, Reuters reports (Massalatchi, 5/5).

Latin American Officials Discuss Regional Food Security

Experts and officials from 13 countries gathered in Lima, Peru, at the 5th work-group meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Initiative Without Hunger “to discuss the challenges facing regional food security and advances that have been made” said on Thursday that more than 50 million people in the region suffer from hunger or malnutrition, Xinhua reports. Juan Garcia, the meeting’s coordinator, said the primary problem is access to food, not food-production capacity, according to the news service. Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, have approved food security laws to ensure local agricultural products stay in the country, and nine more countries are in the process of approving similar laws, Xinhua adds (Xiong, 5/6).

Earlier this week, the Inter-American Development Bank released a report (.pdf) stating “[r]ising international food prices could trigger an acceleration of inflation in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean this year, highlighting the need for policies to protect the urban poor,” according to an IDB press release (5/2).