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U.S. Should Continue Funding Maternal Health Programs In Afghanistan As Troop Drawdown Begins

The success of the Afghan Safe Birth Project, funded by HHS, and the Community Midwife Education program, supported by USAID, in helping reduce maternal mortality in Afghanistan “is in jeopardy – not because of security threats, but because of a fiscal one,” authors Isobel Coleman and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, both fellows at the Council on Foreign Relations, write in a Bloomberg opinion piece.

Leprosy Spreading in India, WHO Official Warns

“Six years after leprosy was declared officially eliminated in India, officials and doctors are warning that the disfiguring disease is spreading in poverty-stricken pockets of the country,” Agence France-Presse reports. According to Nata Menabde, head of the WHO in India, the number of new cases of leprosy exceeds the agency’s target of less than 10 new cases per 100,000 in about 209 out of 640 districts in the country, the news agency notes.

Jill Biden Leads U.S. Delegation To Kenya To Assess Conditions In Horn Of Africa

Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz and Special Assistant to the President Gayle Smith arrived in Kenya on Monday to assess and raise awareness of the famine conditions in the Horn of Africa, Capital FM News reports (Kaberia, 8/8). “Biden’s trip is the highest-profile U.S. visit to drought-stricken East Africa since the numbers of refugees began dramatically increasing in June,” according to the Associated Press (Straziuso, 8/8).

Maternal Mortality Rate Quadruples in South Africa, According To Human Rights Watch Report

“South Africa’s maternal mortality rate has quadrupled while most African countries have cut that crucial health indicator – from 150 to 625 deaths for each 100,000 live births between 1998 and 2007,” according to the Associated Press, citing a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that used data from the South African government. The report “describes the suffering of scores of women in South African government hospitals and clinics,” the article states (Faul, 8/8).

Delays In Procuring Food Aid, Funding Hampering Relief Efforts In Somalia, Aid Agencies Say

“Famine relief efforts in Somalia are being hampered as much by delays in procuring food aid and raising funds as by difficulties in accessing Islamist-controlled areas, according to humanitarian organizations working there,” the Guardian reports. Staff from several aid agencies working within al-Shabab-controlled areas “say the major problem in responding to the crisis is the time it is taking to buy food abroad and to transport it to the worst-hit areas,” the newspaper writes (Rice, 8/4).

Measles Initiative Vaccinates One Billion Children

The Measles Initiative on Thursday “announced it has helped vaccinate one billion children in more than 60 developing countries since 2001, making significant gains in the global effort to stop measles,” according to a Measles Initiative press release. “Looking ahead to its second decade, the Measles Initiative will focus on…

USDA Scientists Develop New Food Aid Product

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) “have developed a fully cooked food-aid product called Instant Corn Soy Blend [ICSB] that supplements meals, particularly for young children,” a USDA news story reports (Bliss, 8/4).

India To Use Mothers' Mobile Phones To Track Child Immunizations

“India’s health minister announced Tuesday a new initiative underway to boost the country’s rate of immunizing newborns by collecting mobile phone numbers of all pregnant mothers to monitor their babies’ vaccinations,” the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog reports.

TrustLaw Publishes Special Report On Child Marriage

TrustLaw, a Thomson Reuters Foundation service, on Thursday published a series of articles, infographics and videos in a special report on child marriage. According to the series homepage, “[e]very day, 25,000 girls under the age of 18 are married worldwide. For many child brides, a future of poverty, exploitation and poor health awaits” (8/4).