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UNAIDS, Non-Profit Groups To Legally Challenge Malawi’s Anti-Gay Laws

Reuters: U.N. to launch legal challenge against Malawi anti-gay laws “The United Nations’ AIDS taskforce and human rights groups will launch a court battle against Malawi’s laws criminalizing homosexuality, in a rare challenge to rising anti-gay legislation in Africa. … UNAIDS, the Malawi Law Society, and local rights groups will…

‘Science Speaks’ Blog Examines Proposal Against South Africa’s Draft IP Policy

The Center for Global Health Policy’s blog “Science Speaks” reports on a proposal prepared by U.S.-based PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) and the South Africa-based IPASA (Innovative Pharmaceutical Association South Africa) in response to the South African government’s Draft National Policy on Intellectual Property (IP). The “proposal says…

Bill Gates Says Successful Elimination Of Polio Rests With Nigeria, Pakistan

Agence France-Presse: Nigeria, Pakistan could delay polio-free goal: Gates Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair “Bill Gates warned on Tuesday that violence in Nigeria and Pakistan could set him back in his goal of eradicating polio by 2018. Last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation … made wiping out…

Gates Foundation, South Africa Partnership Will Maximize Research Capacity

“…Today’s announcement of two multi-year partnerships involving the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — with the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) and with the University of Cape Town — is further proof of the ambitious research agenda staked out by local scientists. This alliance, led by South African scientists…

U.N., Partners Launch Program In Malawi To Prevent Childhood Stunting

U.N. News Centre: U.N. and partners launch new project to prevent stunting among children in Malawi “A new United Nations-backed project is being launched today in Malawi to tackle stunting, which affects nearly one million children under the age of five in the southern African nation. The stunting prevention project…

International Community Must Step Up Fight Against TB In Southern African Region

“With $2.5 trillion in mineral reserves, South Africa has the largest mining sector in the world,” but “[t]he work can be devastatingly toxic for the body,” with “inhumane and untenable” working conditions, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. “South Africa’s 500,000 mine workers have the highest recorded rate of [tuberculosis (TB)] among any demographic in the world,” he states, noting that cramped working and living conditions put them at an increased risk of the disease. Overall, “mine-associated TB gives rise to 760,000 new cases annually in Africa,” and “costs South Africa alone $886 million each year in health care costs and in impoverishment when family providers are too sick to work, or die,” according to a study conducted by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Tutu writes. Therefore, the 15 SADC nations this summer pledged to take “concrete steps” to fight the disease, he notes.

International Community Should Break Sahel Region’s Food Insecurity Cycle In 2013, U.N. Official Says

The continuous cycle of food insecurity in Africa’s Sahel region has created vulnerabilities among families who are unable to recover following multiple droughts and crop failures, VOA News reports. U.N. Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel David Gressly said the international community needs to break the food insecurity cycle in 2013, by building resilience through long-term solutions that will help the 18 million people across nine countries affected by food shortages in 2012, according to the news service. “Gressly said this means reducing chronic child malnutrition, improving irrigation and drainage systems, diversifying food sources, finding better ways to preserve food stocks, and addressing potentially harmful cultural practices,” VOA writes. “The regional food security advocacy coordinator for British aid group Oxfam, Al Hassan Cisse, said better grain storage and programs like universal health insurance are other keys to resilience,” the news service notes (Lazuta, 11/19).

Emergency Obstetric Care Reduced Maternal Mortality Rates Up To 74% In Two African Projects, MSF Reports

According to a new briefing paper (.pdf) from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), access to emergency obstetric care, including ambulance service, could help save the lives of up to three quarters of women who might otherwise die in childbirth, AlertNet reports (Batha, 11/19). In two projects, one in Kabezi, Burundi, and the other in Bo, Sierra Leone, MSF showed “that the introduction of an ambulance referral system together with the provision of emergency obstetric services can significantly reduce the risk of women dying from pregnancy related complications,” according to an MSF press release. The services, which cost between $2 and $4 per person annually, are offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are free of charge, the press release notes (11/19). The projects “cut maternal mortality rates by an estimated 74 percent in Kabezi and 61 percent in Bo,” Reuters writes, adding, “The charity hopes its model could serve as an example for donors, governments and other aid agencies considering investing in emergency obstetric care in countries with high maternal mortality rates” (11/19).

UNAIDS Report Shows Progress Due To ‘Unprecedented Acceleration’ In Global AIDS Response

UNAIDS’ new World AIDS Day report: Results, released on Tuesday, “shows that unprecedented acceleration in the AIDS response is producing results for people,” according to a UNAIDS press release. Between 2001 and 2011, “a more than 50 percent reduction in the rate of new HIV infections has been achieved across 25 low- and middle-income countries — more than half in Africa, the region most affected by HIV,” the press release states, adding, “In addition to welcome results in HIV prevention, sub-Saharan Africa has reduced AIDS-related deaths by one third in the last six years and increased the number of people on antiretroviral treatment by 59 percent in the last two years alone.” According to the press release, “The area where perhaps most progress is being made is in reducing new HIV infections in children,” and the number of AIDS-related deaths has dropped because of increased access to antiretroviral treatment.