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Crop Failures, Returning Migrants, Weather Patterns Threatening To Worsen Malnutrition In Africa’s Sahel, Horn Regions

“Sahel states are bracing for a long, potentially deadly hungry season, many weakened by the return of people from Libya who are unemployed, armed and creating fresh strife in already-vulnerable countries,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Crops have failed across a massive swathe of eight countries after late and erratic rains in 2011, and aid agencies have raised the alarm of a food crisis bigger than that which left millions hungry in 2010,” according to the news agency (Blandy, 2/11). In an article examining hunger among children in Mauritania, Inter Press Service writes that “other countries in the Sahel … are affected as well: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal,” adding, “Twelve million people will soon suffer severe food insecurity and hunger in this region, aid agencies warn” (Palitza, 2/10).

Forbes Examines How Mobile Phones Are Improving Access To Care In Developing World

Mobile phones are improving access to health care in the developing world, according to the series “The Future of mHealth” by Mobiledia, a Forbes contributor. “People in developing nations depend on mobile phones to access health services and prevent disease, as mobile technology creates a platform for improving health care in remote, underserved areas,” the news service writes. The article highlights public health programs in Haiti and Kenya that utilize mobile technology and notes, “Mobile banking is on the rise in the developing world, presenting another opportunity for mobile health to grow.”

Examining Malaria Data Methodologies

In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Victoria Fan, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Felix Lam, a malaria research analyst, examine the discrepancies between the WHO’s estimated number of malaria deaths worldwide and the data recently released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). They ask, “Given the 1.2 billion dollars by donors to malaria in 2010, is it unreasonable to demand to know with more certainty, how many people are dying from malaria?” and go on to describe how each group analyzed data to get to their conclusions (2/9).

Proposed Intellectual Property Agreement Between E.U., India Could Affect Generic Drug Exports, Advocacy Groups Say

The Independent examines how “[t]he cheap supply of antiretroviral drugs to people with AIDS across the world could be choked by an ‘intellectual property’ deal … being negotiated [on Friday] at the 12th E.U.-India summit in New Delhi between the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.”

Important To Include Men In HIV Prevention, Treatment Programs

While a focus on HIV prevention and treatment among women and children has reduced infection rates among these populations, “men have received considerably less attention in the epidemic and receive less targeted HIV prevention and treatment programs,” Edward Mills of the University of Ottawa and colleagues write in a PLoS Medicine essay, adding “Targeting men in prevention and treatment … may have a large impact on mortality, new infections, and the economic impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa.” They note that in Africa, fewer men than women access antiretroviral therapy (ART), and men “typically have higher mortality,” seek care later in the disease, and “are more likely to be lost to follow-up.”

State Department, USAID Blog Posts Support Elimination Of FGM/C

In support of the ninth annual International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, and David Robinson, acting assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, outline several examples of U.S. advocacy and funding related to stopping the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in this post on the State Department’s “DipNote” blog. They call on governments and international donors to “overturn deeply entrenched social norms that are not only harmful to women and girls, but to our communities and societies” (2/6). In a post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Sandra Jordan, communication and outreach adviser for USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, writes, “The single most important aspect of ending this practice is involving the community. USAID focuses on enabling and empowering communities to make their own collective choice to abandon FGM/C” (2/6).

African Scientists’ Search For Female-Controlled Microbicide Gel To Prevent HIV Continues

AllAfrica.com examines efforts by African researchers to develop a female-controlled HIV prevention method, writing, “[S]cientists searching for a gel or vaccine that can prevent HIV infection ride a rollercoaster of hope and disappointment.” The article profiles efforts by researchers from the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (Caprisa) to find a microbicide gel to protect women from HIV infection.

Global Malaria Deaths Twice As High As Previously Estimated, IHME Study Suggests

“Malaria is killing more people worldwide than previously thought, but the number of deaths has fallen rapidly as efforts to combat the disease have ramped up, according to new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington” published in the Lancet on Thursday, an IHME press release reports. “More than 1.2 million people died from malaria worldwide in 2010, nearly twice the number found in the most recent comprehensive study of the disease,” the press release states (2/2). The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “used new data and new computer modeling to build a historical database for malaria between 1980 and 2010,” BBC News notes (Bowdler, 2/2).

Knowledge, Resources Exist To Reach Maternal, Child Mortality MDGs In Africa With Unified Efforts

In this Global Health and Diplomacy opinion piece, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete examines efforts to meet Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets on maternal and child mortality in Africa, noting, “Although Africa has just 12 percent of the global population, it accounts for half of all maternal deaths and half the deaths of children under five.” He writes, “Though global maternal deaths are in decline and women’s health has at last become a global priority, our goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent in 2015 is still a long way off. … It is unacceptable to allow mothers and children to die when we have the knowledge and resources to save them.”

Faster, Less Expensive Methods Of Circumcision Being Tested, Reviewed, New York Times Reports

The New York Times examines developments in circumcision technology, after “three studies have shown that circumcising adult heterosexual men is one of the most effective ‘vaccines’ against [HIV] — reducing the chances of infection by 60 percent or more.” The newspaper writes, “[P]ublic health experts are struggling to find ways to make the process faster, cheaper, and safer” and “donors are pinning their hopes on several devices now being tested to speed things up.” The New York Times reports on several circumcision methods currently being tested, including PrePex, which received FDA approval three weeks ago and “is clearly faster, less painful and more bloodless than any of its current rivals” (McNeil, 1/30).