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Also In Global Health News: WHO’s Classification Of Taiwan; Midwife Training Study; Indian Vaccine Makers; WHO Plan For Traffic Accidents

Taiwan To Lodge Protest With WHO Over Classification As Chinese Territory

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou on Tuesday “accused China of pressuring the World Health Organization into recognizing Taiwan as a Chinese territory and says Beijing’s move is ‘very negative’ for bilateral ties,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. Taiwan gained observer status in the World Health Assembly in 2009 following reconciliation efforts with China, which still considers it as its territory despite the two splitting in 1949 (5/10). Ma’s remarks came after a Taiwan legislator on Monday made public a letter issued by the office of WHO Secretary-General Margaret Chan “dated Sept. 14, 2010 that the lawmaker said denigrated Taiwan” by calling it “the Taiwan Province of China,” Focus Taiwan reports. According to the news service, “Deputy Foreign Minister Shen Lyu-shun confirmed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has directed the country’s representative office in Geneva to protest the WHO’s denigrating definition of Taiwan” (Cheng/Wu, 5/9).

Simple Midwife Training Helps Reduce Newborn Death Rate, Study Shows

Simple training for midwives can help lower first-week death rates among newborn infants, according to a study published online in the journal Pediatrics, the New York Times reports. The study, funded by NIH and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and carried out at 18 Zambian clinics by American and Zambian researchers, involved training midwives in “simple interventions like cleaning and warming a newborn, resuscitation, breast-feeding and diagnosing common illnesses,” according to the newspaper. The first-week death rate among infants prior to the training was 11.5 per 1,000 live births and dropped to 6.8 deaths following training. “Even a small pilot project costing only $20,244 saved the lives of 97 infants, the authors estimated, meaning that it cost just $208 per life saved,” the New York Times writes (McNeil, 5/9).

Forbes India Examines Global Market And Competition For Indian Vaccine Manufacturers

Forbes India examines the global market for Indian vaccine manufacturers, who “find themselves at a crucial crossroads.” In addition to being eyed for takeovers by multinational corporations (MNCs), Indian vaccine makers “[f]or the first time … will compete with Chinese companies in the export market, even as they continue to navigate the muddy waters of Indian public health policies and poor delivery systems,” the magazine writes. “Most Indian companies get the bulk of their revenue from exports to U.N. agencies, charitable organisations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation, and several country-specific immunisation programmes,” but the Chinese national regulatory agency in March received “pre-qualification” from WHO, which “allows it to approve locally manufactured vaccines to compete for U.N. tenders,” Forbes India states. The story also looks at the implications of India manufacturers being bought by MNCs, including the potential for reduced supplies of low-cost vaccines (Singh, 5/9).

WHO Plan Aims To Lower Deaths, Injuries From Traffic Accidents

A WHO-coordinated plan to reduce morbidity and mortality from traffic accidents aims “to save five million lives and prevent 50 million serious injuries over the next 10 years,” BMJ News reports. According to the story, WHO estimates “that without action traffic crashes are projected to kill 1.9 million people a year by 2020.”  Currently, “road traffic injuries have become the leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29 years and … nearly 1.3 million people die each year on the world’s roads, making it the ninth leading cause of death. In addition, road crashes injure 20 to 50 million people a year, leaving many disabled for life,” the WHO says. The plan consists of five focal areas, which are outlined in the article (Zaracostas, 5/9).

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