“The rotavirus vaccine introduced in Mexico in 2007 still appears to be preventing diarrhea-related deaths in children, despite speculation that years later the vaccine may not be as effective,” according to the Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog. “In a letter released Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers report that the vaccine still seems to be successful in reducing mortality rates among children,” the blog writes, adding that rotavirus “is responsible for 527,000 childhood deaths per year” worldwide.
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Describing a maternal health program that promotes family planning in the rural village of Bweremana in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Michael Gerson writes in his Washington Post column that “[t]he very words ‘family planning’ light up the limbic centers of American politics.” But “in places such as Bweremana, family planning is undeniably pro-life,” Gerson says, noting that “[w]hen contraceptive prevalence is low, about 70 percent of all births involve serious risk. When prevalence is high, the figure is 35 percent.”
Inter Press Service profiles a program launched by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) to develop antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) specifically designed for children living with HIV/AIDS. “The program will focus exclusively on developing child-adapted formulations for children under three, the most neglected segment in terms of availability of ARVs. The DNDi hopes to have new pediatric-specific medicines available between 2014 and 2016,” IPS writes. The article examines pediatric HIV treatment issues in India, Kenya and Brazil (Frayssinet et al., 8/29).
“Giving vitamin A supplements to children under the age of five in developing countries could save 600,000 lives a year, researchers claim” in a paper published Thursday in the British Medical Journal, BBC News reports. “UK and Pakistani experts assessed 43 studies involving 200,000 children, and found deaths were cut by 24 percent if children were given the vitamin … And they say taking it would also cut rates of measles and diarrhea,” the news agency writes.
Russia “is in a demographic crisis, shedding 2.2 million people (or 1.6 percent of the population) since 2002, and the government is trying to encourage more women to bring Russian citizens into the world,” journalist Natalia Antonova writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece, in which she describes her experience with the Russian medical system after “unexpectedly” becoming pregnant shortly after receiving her visa to work in Moscow.
Integrating Rapid Syphilis And HIV Testing For Pregnant Women Could Reduce Maternal, Child Morbidity And Mortality
“A study conducted in Uganda and Zambia by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) found high rates of syphilis and HIV co-infection among pregnant women in both countries,” but showed that “integrating rapid syphilis screening and HIV testing for pregnant women was feasible, cost-effective, and helped to prevent transmission of syphilis and HIV from mother-to-child,” PlusNews reports.
In the refugee camps in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince nearly two years after a devastating earthquake, “health and human rights officials warn of another crisis: an explosion of tent babies,” the Miami Herald reports. “Haiti’s tent baby phenomenon comes as the country continues to struggle to rebuild, and as the nearly 600,000 Haitians still living in hundreds of squalid camps in quake-ravaged communities see the avalanche of medical assistance from foreign doctors and nongovernmental organizations disappear,” primarily because of a lack of funding, the newspaper writes.
“Mexico plans to administer the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer, to all girls beginning next year, the country’s health ministry said Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports. Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova “said while deaths from cervical cancer had fallen 47 percent in the country over the past two decades, there were still 13.4 cases for every 100,000 women last year,” AFP writes, adding, “Cervical cancer kills about 4,200 women in Mexico each year” (8/30).
WHO Study Finds Global Neonatal Mortality Rate Down 28% Since 1990, But Progress Slow In Developing Countries
“Global death rates among newborns under one month old are dropping,” but “developing nations are still reporting a disproportionately high level of child deaths,” with “99 percent of all newborn deaths occur[ing] in developing countries,” according to a study published Tuesday in PLoS Medicine, Agence France-Presse reports. The study, conducted by the WHO, Save the Children and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, showed that half of those deaths occur in only five countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the news agency notes (8/30). The study authors “used civil registration systems, household surveys, and other data sources to compile statistical models to estimate that in 2009, 3.3 million babies died during their first month of life compared to 4.6 million in 1990,” a decrease of 28 percent, according to a PLoS press release (8/30).
“Tens of thousands of women in Haiti have severely limited access to reproductive and maternal healthcare, many are compelled to trade sex for food and most are vulnerable to rape, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Tuesday,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C reports (8/30). The report said “[d]espite a mammoth humanitarian-care push in the wake of the Jan. 12, 2010 quake that killed as many as 300,000 people, serious gaps exist in the healthcare that women and girls are receiving,” the Los Angeles Times writes.