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Global Access To Safe Drinking Water Increased, Sanitation Lagging Behind, WHO-UNICEF Report Finds

A report released Monday by the WHO and UNICEF documents mixed progress in improving drinking water and sanitation conditions worldwide, VOA News reports (Schlein, 3/15). “The report – presenting the latest data on improved sources of sanitation and drinking water in 209 countries or territories – is aimed at assisting policy-makers, donors, government and non-governmental agencies decide what needs to be done,” U.N. News Centre writes (3/15).

Also In Global Health News: Asia’s ‘Double Burden’; Guinea Worm Eradication; ARV, Antibiotic Treatment; Sierra Leone’s Medical Workers; Melinda Gates In India

Asians Facing ‘Double Burden’ Of Disease, Health Experts Warn During a two-day healthcare conference in Asia, health experts on Monday encouraged the governments of Asian countries to draft plans to tackle the long-term costs associated with chronic illnesses, Reuters reports. “Asia is facing a double burden,” of disease, said Bruce…

Also In Global Health News: Child, Maternal Mortality; AIDS 2010; Food Aid To N. Korea; Millennium Challenge Corporation; Family Planning Conference; Parasitic Disease Test

AU Summit To Examine Progress Toward Child, Maternal Mortality MDGs When leaders of African states gather for the African Union summit in Kampala, Uganda, in July, they will assess the continent’s progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals relating to child and maternal mortality, Isaac Musumba, Uganda’s state minister for…

Despite Progress In Reducing Measles Deaths, International Community Falls Short Of 90% Reduction Target, Study Says

The number of deaths from measles fell about 74 percent between 2000 and 2010, from slightly more than 535,000 in 2000 to an estimated 139,200 people worldwide in 2010, “missing an internationally agreed target for a 90 percent fall mainly because of low vaccine coverage in India and Africa where the virus kills tens of thousands a year,” Reuters reports. A study led by the WHO and involving researchers from Penn State University and the CDC, published on Tuesday in the Lancet, “found that despite rapid progress, regular measles outbreaks in Africa and slow implementation of disease control in India were major concerns and led to the target being missed,” the news agency writes (Kelland, 4/24). According to the Associated Press/Seattle Times, “the figures come with a big grain of salt [because] scientists only had solid data for 65 countries,” and “[f]or the 128 others, they used modeling to come up with their estimates” (Cheng, 4/23). “[E]xperts say increasing vaccination rates to above 95 percent worldwide and keeping them up is the only way to eradicate measles,” according to Reuters (4/24).

GlobalPost Examines HIV/AIDS In Asia, Africa

As part of its series titled “The State of HIV/AIDS,” GlobalPost published two stories examining the epidemic in different regions of the world. In one article, the news service looks at the spread and control of HIV in Asia, writing, “No generalized epidemic has broken out across the region, HIV infection rates have stabilized in many countries, and more and more people are receiving antiretroviral medication.” However, “[t]he disease continues to spread: for every person in Asia that begins antiretroviral treatment, roughly two new adults are infected with HIV. Moreover, funding is too tight — the total of $1.1 billion spent on campaigns in Asia in 2009 was less than one-third of what the U.N. says is needed for universal success,” according to the news service (Carlson, 12/1). In a second article, GlobalPost says in Africa, “statistics tell an upbeat story,” noting that the number of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen over the past decade. “But despite all the positive progress, experts warn against complacency. Sub-Saharan Africa still accounted for almost three-quarters of all new HIV infections worldwide last year,” the news service continues (McConnell, 12/3).

NPR, Inter Press Service Examine Efforts To Prevent Drug-Resistant Malaria

As part of its continuing coverage of malaria, NPR’s “Shots” blog features a story on counterfeit anti-malarial drugs, which “are among the most popular drugs to fake.” According to the blog, “[T]hese faux pharmaceuticals are particularly dangerous because malaria can kill a person in a matter of days,” and, if the drugs contain only a small amount of the real drug, they can contribute to the development of drug-resistant malaria parasites. “And that appears to be happening now in Southeast Asia with one of the most powerful anti-malarials, artemisinin,” the blog writes (Beaubien, 12/19).

Climate Change Conference Postpones Discussion Of Agriculture; U.N. Warns Food Prices, Child Malnutrition Will Rise If Issue Not Addressed

“Discussions about much-needed support for agriculture — which is seen both as a victim and a cause of climate change — at the U.N.’s climate change conference in Doha have been postponed until next year,” IRIN reports. Agriculture affects climate change, with the production of greenhouse gas emissions, “[b]ut climate change also threatens agriculture, which most developing countries’ populations rely on for income,” the news service writes, adding, “The impact of climate change also threatens global food security; projections show that yields from food crops could decline by five percent for each degree Celsius increase in global warming” (12/5).

NPR’s ‘Shots’ Blog Examines Malaria Drug Resistance In Southeast Asia

“Global efforts to combat malaria are under threat from new strains of drug-resistant malaria, which are cropping up in Southeast Asia,” particularly in Cambodia, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Thailand and Vietnam, NPR’s “Shots” blog reports. “Although the resistance is still limited to Southeast Asia, WHO officials worry that it could spill out of the region,” the blog notes. “Shots” includes a video report from NPR correspondent Jason Beaubien on efforts to properly treat the disease in Thailand (Beaubien/De La Cruz, 12/18).

PRI’s ‘The World’ Features Weeklong Series On Cancer In Developing Nations

PRI’s “The World” this week features a series examining the challenges of addressing cancer in the developing world. The series, produced in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, includes radio stories, multimedia features, an interactive map, and infographics, according to the main page. The radio stories examine cancer prevention, control, and research efforts in Uganda, Haiti, India, and the U.S. (12/3). In an interview with the series’ principal reporter, Joanne Silberner, Lancet editor Richard Horton said, “Cancer is certainly being under-recognized and neglected in low- and middle-income countries. … I think cancer is slowly becoming more recognized but there is a long way to go before it gets the attention it so urgently needs (12/3). On December 5, PRI will host a Facebook chat from 10am-4pm EST that will feature Silberner and cancer researchers and advocates (12/4).