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Lack Of Awareness, Cultural Beliefs, Transport Challenges Leading To High Number Of Maternal Deaths In Ethiopia, Officials Say

“A lack of awareness of the importance of skilled hospital deliveries in Ethiopia, cultural beliefs, and transport challenges in rural areas are causing a high number of deaths during childbirth,” officials say, according to IRIN. “Only 10 percent of deliveries take place within health facilities, according to Ethiopia’s latest (April) Demographic Health Survey results,” the news service writes, adding, “Nevertheless, the figure is a significant improvement on six percent in the previous 2005 survey.”

Nature Outlook Examines Fight Against Malaria In Uganda

Nature Outlook examines the fight against malaria in Uganda. “Uganda’s tragic failure to abate malaria has numerous political, geographic, economic and social factors — and illustrates the reality that it takes more than scientific breakthroughs and cheap drugs to solve this persistent menace,” according to the article. Nature describes how a primarily rural population, “[f]unding bottlenecks, inefficient procurement processes, transportation problems,” drug stock-outs, and a lack of health care workers affects access to care and treatment for malaria, as well as how aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the President’s Malaria Initiative, and other donors is supporting programs to build sustainable solutions to fighting the disease (Newmen, 4/25).

Southern African Countries Could Improve GDPs Through Fiscal Policies On HIV Treatment

“Southern African governments could use public spending in their battle against the extremely high rates of HIV/AIDS in their countries and still achieve a positive economic impact, argues a new paper [.pdf] from the African Development Bank (AfDB),” an AfDB press release states. The paper, titled “The Role of Fiscal Policy in Tackling the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Southern Africa,” examines the cases of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland, which have the highest adult HIV prevalence in the world, and says these countries could increase productivity and gross domestic product (GDP) through “[g]overnment fiscal action on HIV/AIDS treatment,” according to the press release. “Acting optimally, the debt burden of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland could be alleviated by five percent, one percent and 13 percent of GDP respectively, says the report,” the press release states (4/25).

World Must Extend Access To Life-Saving Vaccines To All Children

“For too long, there has been an unwritten rule that it can take 15 years or more before children in the poorest nations benefit from new life-saving vaccines in use in rich countries,” Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, writes in this post in the Independent’s “Notebook” blog. “But national celebrations in Ghana this week show how this shameful gap is rapidly being closed,” he continues, noting, “This week the rotavirus vaccine to protect against severe diarrhea and the pneumococcal vaccine which targets the primary cause of pneumonia — the two biggest killers of children — are being introduced” in the country, making it the first in Africa to roll these vaccines out simultaneously.

Kenyan AIDS Activists Protest Over Unspent PEPFAR Funds

“More than 400 Kenyan AIDS activists have demonstrated in the capital, Nairobi, demanding that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief release some $500 million for HIV programs in Kenya that is stuck in the pipeline,” PlusNews reports. “The U.S. government recently revealed that close to $1.5 billion has been in the global PEPFAR pipeline for more than 18 months,” the news service notes, adding that the allocation to Kenya is the largest. According to the news service, “The protestors presented a memorandum listing their demands to U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration, head of PEPFAR-Kenya Katherine Perry, Kenya’s Director of Public Health Shahnaz Sharif, and other senior Ministry of Health officials.”

Funding For HIV Programs Among MSM Populations Lacking, Largely Due To Stigma

“[D]espite high prevalence rates of HIV among [men who have sex with men (MSM)], funding for HIV prevention, treatment and care consistently neglects these populations, often due to stigma and discrimination,” Owen Ryan, deputy director of public policy at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, writes in this guest post in the Funders Concerned About AIDS blog. “In our report, ‘Achieving an AIDS-Free Generation for Gay Men and Other MSM,’ we found that MSM are neglected and marginalized by national HIV responses throughout the world, even in countries where MSM are a significant proportion of all HIV infections,” he notes, concluding, “As a funding community, we still have more to do. Our investments can be transformative. Whether establishing best practices, funding civil society advocacy, or investing in program delivery, this funding helps establish a bridge from policy to practice and often creates the kind of pressure that makes neglecting MSM very difficult” (4/24).

Allowing Countries To Use PEPFAR Funding For Voluntary Contraception For Women Aligns With GHI’s ‘Women-Centered’ Approach

“PEPFAR has said it will use” nearly $1.5 billion in unspent aid “to invest in commodities (condoms, HIV rapid test kits and voluntary medical male circumcision kits), systems and institutions, and program strengthening,” Suzanne Ehlers, president of Population Action International, writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “Here’s one idea that would offer a huge return on investment and save the lives of millions: voluntary contraception for women,” she continues, adding, “Voluntary contraception has been called ‘the best kept secret in HIV prevention’ and has a proven evidence base.”

Ahead Of World Malaria Day, WHO Heralds Gains Against Disease, Calls For Greater Treatment Coverage

“The World Health Organization heralded major gains Tuesday in the fight against malaria, one of the developing world’s biggest killers, but warned universal access to treatment remains elusive,” Agence France-Presse reports, noting, “The assessment came on the eve of World Malaria Day,” observed Wednesday and “designed to shine the light on the mosquito-borne parasite that killed 655,000 people in 2010, including 560,000 children under five” (4/24). “A massive acceleration in the global distribution of mosquito nets, the expansion of programs to spray the insides of buildings with insecticides, and an increase in access to prompt antimalarial treatment has brought down malaria mortality rates by more than a quarter worldwide, and by one-third in Africa since 2000,” but “simply maintaining current rates of progress will not be enough to meet global targets for malaria control,” the agency writes in a news release (4/24).

U.N. SG Ban Speaks About Need For Reproductive Health Care For Young People, Releases UNFPA Report

In remarks to the U.N. Commission on Population and Development, which on Monday opened a week-long session in New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “stressed the need to provide reproductive health care for young people, as well as give them access to the necessary information and the means to protect themselves from sexual abuse and violence,” the U.N. News Centre reports. Ban “underlined the importance of combating HIV/AIDS among youth, lowering the rates of teenage pregnancies, and protecting children from early marriage” the news service writes (4/23). “In order to empower the youth of the world, said Ban, the international community must ensure that they have jobs and resources, including reproductive health care,” Xinhua/Mysinchew.com notes (4/23).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.