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Cholera Epidemics Spread Through West And Central Africa Affecting Tens Of Thousands, OCHA Reports

“Cholera epidemics have hit tens of thousands of people and killed more than 1,400 others in seven West and Central African countries since the start of the year, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report on Tuesday,” AlertNet reports. According to the news service, affected countries include Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Republic of Congo (Fominyen, 9/7). The Red Cross, which said the outbreak was spreading, expressed concern that it could hit refugee camps along the Sudanese border, according to Agence France-Presse (9/7).

Family Planning, Contraceptives A National Priority For Saving Women's Lives, U.N. Meeting Participants Say

First ladies, health and finance ministers, and parliamentarians from 12 developing countries participating in the U.N. Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Global Programme to Enhance Reproductive Health Commodity Security, which was launched in 2007, declared at a U.N. meeting held on Wednesday that “voluntary family planning, secured by a steady supply of contraceptives, is a national priority for saving women’s lives,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “More than 215 million women in developing countries want to avoid or space pregnancies but are not using modern methods of contraception, according to the UNFPA,” the news service writes.

African Countries See Slow Progress In Reducing Maternal Mortality To Achieve MDG 5

Inter Press Service examines what some experts are calling a lack of commitment from health care workers, which they say is “among the reasons why Africa may not succeed in achieving Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 on improving maternal health by 2015 by reducing maternal mortality by three quarters.” According to IPS, “Studies conducted by the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) in East, West and Southern Africa found that most countries are struggling to provide universal access to reproductive health.”

Experts Gather In London To Propose Appropriate Medical Devices For Developing World

The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” reports on a one-day conference held in London this week that brought together engineers, health workers, donors and charities to look at devices specifically designed for the developing world. The conference, which was organized by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), addressed that fact that, according to WHO estimates, “as much as three-quarters of all medical devices in the developing world do not function” because of such factors as “[p]arts that are expensive and difficult to replace, the need for a constant electricity supply, a lack of trained operators [or] unsuitability to rough terrain,” the blog notes.

George W. Bush Institute Forms Public-Private Partnership To Combat Cervical, Breast Cancers In Developing World

The George W. Bush Institute is forming a public-private partnership to use PEPFAR’s existing infrastructure of doctors, nurses and clinics to expand screening and treatment of women for cervical cancer and perform breast cancer education in the developing world, the Wall Street Journal reports. The goal of the partnership, which also includes the State Department, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and UNAIDS, “is to reduce the number of cervical cancer deaths by 25 percent in five years in countries where it scales up screening and treatment,” WSJ writes, adding, “Its initial investment will be $75 million.”

Global Child Mortality Rate Is Shrinking, But Not Enough To Reach MDG, UNICEF/WHO Report Says

“The annual number of children who die before they reach age five is shrinking, falling to 7.6 million global deaths in 2010 from more than 12 million in 1990, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday” in their annual report (.pdf) on child mortality, Reuters reports. “Overall, 12,000 fewer children under age five die each day than a decade ago,” according to the report, the news agency notes. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement that “many factors are contributing to reductions in child mortality, including better access to health care for newborns, prevention and treatment of childhood diseases, access to vaccines, clean water and better nutrition,” the news agency writes (Steenhuysen, 9/14).

Gender Disparities In Developing Countries Relatively Small At Birth But Grow In Adolescence, UNICEF Report Says

A UNICEF report (.pdf) released on Tuesday suggests that gender disparities between boys and girls in developing countries are relatively small in children’s early years, but as children approach adolescence, gaps widen in areas such as education, health, nutrition and protection, Xinhua reports (9/13). According to the report, “[h]ealth and education disparities between boys and girls in developing countries tend not to emerge until adolescence, when girls face increased risks of child marriage, HIV/AIDS infection and domestic violence,” TrustLaw writes.

Also In Global Health News: U.S. Rice Exports To Haiti; Somali Ambulance Workers; HIV In Kenya; Gates Foundation Global Health Work; U.N.’s Congo Mission; U.S. Involvement In Unethical Medical Research

U.S. Should Stop Subsidizing Rice Exports To Haiti, Oxfam Says In a new report, aid agency Oxfam “has called on the United States to stop subsidising American rice exports to Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, because it says the policy undermines local production of food,” BBC reports.…

Miller-McCune Examines Impact Of Limited Access To Schistosomiasis Drug In Africa

Miller-McCune examines the limited access populations living in Africa have to the schistosomiasis drug praziquantel – “the only commercially available treatment for the disease.” Schistosomiasis “kills about 300,000 people and afflicts more than 200 million yearly with chronic and severe anemia, abdominal pain, diarrhea, infertility and bladder cancer,” the magazine writes, adding that the disease is “[e]specially prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, [where] by some estimates, nearly 800 million people are at risk of infection.”