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Philippine President Signs Family Planning Bill Into Law

“The Philippine President has signed into law a family-planning bill that was blocked by the Catholic Church for more than a decade,” Al Jazeera reports (12/28). “President Benigno Aquino III signed into a law a bill that promotes contraception and sex education in schools,” the Wall Street Journal writes, adding, “On Saturday, a deputy presidential spokeswoman confirmed in a statement that Mr. Aquino had quietly signed the act into law on Dec. 21, and it will take effect in January, guaranteeing contraceptives will be available to the poorest Filipinos” (Sandique-Carlos, 12/29).

FDA Grants Accelerated Approval To Drug To Treat MDR-TB

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration [on Monday] approved Johnson & Johnson’s drug to treat a form of resistant tuberculosis that is uncommon in the U.S. but growing globally,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The drug, Sirturo, will treat patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB, a possibly fatal disease that affects as many as 630,000 people worldwide who can’t be cured with existing therapies alone,” the newspaper notes (Walker/Tadena, 1/2).

Thai Health Advocates Work To Protect Special Provisions On Medicines Under E.U. Free Trade Agreement

Thailand and the European Union (E.U.) are expected to begin talks on a free trade agreement early this year, and Thai public health advocates have sent a letter to Joao Aguiar Machado, deputy director general for trade at the European Commission, “call[ing] for the bloc to respect global trade rules’ special provisions for developing countries,” Inter Press Service reports. “‘We are worried that the E.U. negotiators will force Thailand to accept new conditions on patents that would make access to new generic drugs more difficult,’ says Chalermsak Kittitrakul, campaign officer at the AIDS Access Foundation,” the news service writes, adding, “Thai health activists are hoping that their record of mounting successful campaigns against pharmaceutical giants — even from the United States — to ensure a thriving generic drugs market for patients in the country and across the region remains intact” (Macan-Markar, 12/29).

Pushing 14 Years For Philippines Reproductive Health Bill Took ‘Courage’

Jose “Oying” Rimon, deputy director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Ben de Leon, president of the Forum for Family Planning and Development, Inc., write in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog that the many people who worked for 14 years to pass a reproductive health bill in the Philippines are “profiles in courage.” They continue, “This is the story of these courageous people but it’s also a story of resolution in staying the course, abiding with scientific evidence and facts, and the nobility of staying positive against on onslaught of insults and misinformation.” The bill represents “an unparalleled educational process in which common sense and science prevailed,” they conclude (1/2).

Pakistan Records 306 Measles Deaths In 2012, Compared With 64 In 2011, WHO Reports

“Measles cases surged in Pakistan in 2012, and hundreds of children died from the disease, an international health body said Tuesday,” the Associated Press/CBS News reports. “A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, Maryam Yunus, said that 306 children died in Pakistan of measles in 2012, compared to 64 the year before,” the news agency writes (1/2). “She added that most of the children who died were from districts affected by floods for the past three years, and that malnourishment was a major reason for the high rate of measles deaths in Sindh,” GlobalPost writes (Langlois, 1/1).

Also In Global Health News: Food Shortages In Zimbabwe; Illicit Drug Control, MDGs; Global Quinoa Demands Affect Bolivian Farmers; ARV Disruptions In Cote d’Ivoire

Zimbabwe Government Tries To Address Severe Food Shortages In Some Provinces “Six of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces face severe food shortages, and the government has ordered the country’s grain marketing board (GMB) to send grain to the affected areas, a state daily [the Herald] said Monday,” Agence France-Presse reports. “A government…

Recent Releases In Global Health

Situation In Japan ‘Demands Calm, But Considered’ International Response: In light of the recent disaster in Japan and ongoing concerns over radiation in the country,”WHO might consider convening experts to review the consequences for human safety of nuclear energy, and the wider lessons to be learned from recent earthquakes,” a…

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