Inter Press Service reports on the Family Care Centre for people living with HIV/AIDS in Pakistan, which opened in Peshawar on September 1 “in the hope of breaking the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS” in a region where myths surrounding the disease and its transmission are prevalent. “The first of its kind in South Asia, the Centre will serve as a diagnostic and treatment facility for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as offer counseling services to affected family members,” according to IPS. “The center already has 600 registered patients including 175 from neighboring Afghanistan, all of whom will receive free antiretroviral treatment (ART) imported from the WHO in India,” the news service writes (Yusufzai, 10/21).
Access to Health Services
An electronic voucher system, introduced by the World Food Programme (WFP) and implemented by the health ministry and non-governmental organizations, is helping Zimbabweans living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) and their families obtain food and fight malnutrition, PlusNews reports. “The program supports about 5,000 patients and their families with essential food items and is operating at seven health facilities in the capital [Harare] and has been extended to the second-largest city, Bulawayo,” the news service writes.
“Brazil is keen to take part in the international effort to expand access to medicines and to produce its own drugs, and will start by becoming the world supplier of medicines to treat Chagas disease,” Health Minister Alexandre Padilha announced “at the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health, which opened Tuesday October 19 in Rio de Janeiro,” Inter Press Service reports. “Production of benznidazole, the drug in question, will reach 3.4 million tablets by the end of this year,” the news service writes.
In this Huffington Post opinion piece, Marcelo Giugale, director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa at the World Bank, examines the issue of universal health coverage in developing nations and writes that while the social health care debate rages in the U.S. and Europe, “successful developing countries like Brazil, Chile, China, India and Indonesia have figured out a way forward, and are moving ahead.”
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog examines how Kenya is working to decrease the number of preventable deaths under a “recently launched … campaign called ‘Let’s Live,’ which sets a target of reducing preventable deaths in Kenya by 50 percent by December 2012.” Achieving that goal “would be an historic feat. But the country could seriously decrease numbers of preventable deaths if it used currently available health tools, such as the rotavirus vaccine,” the blog writes (Donnelly, 10/18).
HIV Advocates In Uganda 'Losing Faith' As Country Works To Prevent, Treat New Infections, PlusNews Reports
PlusNews examines how “corruption scandals, frequent treatment shortages and accusations of a misguided prevention program” have undermined progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda, a country that had “won plaudits in the early days of the epidemic for the aggressive stance taken by President Yoweri Museveni.” Uganda “lowered its HIV prevalence from 18 percent in the early 1990s to about six percent in 2000,” the news service notes. According to PlusNews, “Some of Uganda’s most active campaigners in its 30-year fight against HIV are losing faith in the government’s ability to effectively counter the epidemic as the country struggles to provide treatment and prevent more than 100,000 new infections every year.”
A panel hosted by the Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Council on Monday called for “a boost of aid for women in developing countries such as Somalia to help them control their fertility,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Somalia has the eighth highest birth rate in the world, and the average family has seven children,” the news agency notes, adding that “one percent of married women in Somalia have access to modern contraception, … according to data compiled by the Population Reference Bureau.”
“During the past 24 hours, cholera has claimed the lives of nearly 200 women and children in famine-stricken Somalia,” a Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu reported on Sunday. “More than 800 children suffering from the disease in refugee camps were reportedly transported to medical centers in south Mogadishu,” the news service writes, adding, “As the number of sick is on the rise, doctors are facing a shortage of medicine.” Press TV notes, “According to the United Nations, drought, high food prices and fighting in Somalia have increased the number of those in need of humanitarian assistance across the Horn of Africa to 13.3 million” (10/16).
Noting some of the successes of U.S. foreign assistance in the area of global health, Christopher Elias, president and CEO of PATH, and Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S., write in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” “Unfortunately, … American aid is being threatened with severe cuts, though it makes up less than one percent of the federal budget.” They continue, “When we also consider food aid, disaster assistance, and economic development, it is clear that millions upon millions of people are able to live healthy, productive lives today because of the goodwill of everyday Americans.”
IRIN Reports On Community's Efforts To Increase Access To Contraceptives, Improve Family Planning In Madagascar
IRIN reports on one community’s efforts to increase access to contraceptives and help provide information on family planning in Madagascar. The news service highlights efforts by women in Antalaha, Madagascar, who formed an association called Femmes Interessee au Development de Antalaha (FIDA). The association uses World Bank funding to run a center that provides information and support to teenage girls, with a focus on preventing early pregnancy; broadcasts “a radio program aimed at educating women about their reproductive health and legal rights; … disseminates information on how to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)”; and works with husbands to change “negative attitudes towards family planning, [which] were preventing even those women who could get contraceptives from their local clinic from using them,” according to IRIN.