“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).
Access to Health Services
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.
“Women, girls and HIV were the focus of a panel discussion on the final day of the International Forum on [Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6] in Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” UNAIDS reports. “In Russia, HIV prevalence among young women aged 15-24 is two times higher than among men of the same age, according to government figures,” UNAIDS notes, adding women’s health advocates in Russia say, “Stigma and discrimination â€¦ continue to hamper access to HIV services” (10/13).
IRIN reports on the issue of sexual violence against men as a in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), writing, “Sexual violence against men, including rape, is under-reported, poorly addressed and has a severe impact on both men and their families, according to a presentation at the annual Sexual Violence and Research Initiative (SVRI), held in Cape Town, South Africa.” The news service writes, “The eastern DRC makes up most of the available research on sexual violence during conflict, according to Claudia Moreno, coordinator of the World Health Organization’s Department of Gender and Women.”
The African Medical and Research Foundation [AMREF] has selected Esther Madudu, a midwife at the Tiriri health center in northeast Uganda, to lead its global campaign, Stand Up for African Mothers, the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” reports. The goal of the project is to reduce maternal deaths worldwide by 25 percent and train an additional 30,000 midwives, “including 10,000 in Uganda,” according to the blog. Madudu will travel to France this week, “where she will address delegates at the Women’s Forum Global meeting, alongside Uganda’s minister of health, Christine Ondoa,” the blog notes (Ford, 10/12).
In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Melissa Sharer, AIDSTAR-One senior care and support officer at John Snow, Inc., writes, “Although treatment is now widely available and [people living with HIV (PLHIV)] are able to live normal and active lives for many years, their mental health needs are often overlooked in care, treatment, and support programs.” Sharer highlights the success of programs in Vietnam and in Uganda that “combine mental health and existing health services.”
Time examines the issue of maternal mortality in Afghanistan, where the Health Ministry says “about 18,000 Afghan women die during childbirth every year.” The magazine writes, “According to a recent report by the NGO Save the Children, Afghanistan ranked as the worst place to give birth, followed by Niger and Chad,” Time writes, adding that getting women in rural areas to hospitals, a lack of midwives and a stigma against pregnancy “because it’s a public acknowledgement of sex with their spouses” are all challenges to improving maternal health in Afghanistan. The magazine highlights the HHS-funded Afghan Safe Birth Project, which has “has helped reduce deaths during [caesarean] sections at [Kabul’s Rabia Balkhi Hospital] by 80 percent” since 2008, according to Faizullah Kakar, an epidemiologist and special adviser on health to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Time reports. “[I]n April, the U.S. government cut the program’s $5.8 million annual funding, and Kakar says the Afghan government doesn’t have the money to keep it going,” the magazine notes (Kakissis, 10/11).
In this Washington Times Communities column, Anwaar Abdalla, a lecturer on Civilization and Cultural Affairs at Egypt’s Helwan University, writes, “While breast cancer is a global issue, in Egypt, the figure for people suffering from breast cancer is alarming,” adding, “According to official statistics of the National Cancer Institute (Cairo University), breast cancer accounts for 35.1 percent of the cases of cancer in Egypt.”
“India’s Aurobindo Pharma has become the first major generic drugmaker to join” the Medicines Patent Pool, launched by the UNITAID health financing system and “designed to make HIV/AIDS treatments more widely available to the poor,” Reuters reports. “The Medicines Patent Pool said on Tuesday the agreement would allow Aurobindo to make a range of AIDS drugs licensed to the pool by Gilead Sciences, the leading maker of HIV drugs, in July,” according to the news service. “Aurobindo has also elected to take advantage of a key provision in the pool’s licenses in order to sell one drug, tenofovir, to a wide range of countries without paying royalties,” Reuters writes, adding, “These could include several middle-income countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ukraine and Uruguay” (Hirschler, 10/11).