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Number Of Annual Polio Cases In Nigeria Quadruples; WHO, Government Working To Vaccinate Millions Of Children

Nigeria has reported 43 cases of polio so far this year, up from 11 cases in 2010, and the disease has spread to Niger, Mali, and Cote d’Ivoire, according to a WHO official, BBC News reports. “Polio was affecting eight northern Nigerian states — two more than a few months ago, the head of Nigeria’s National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA), Dr. Ado Muhammad, told the BBC.”

‘Fistula Hotline’ In Sierra Leone Helps Identify Women For Treatment

IRIN profiles the establishment of a “‘fistula hotline,’ a free phone number for women who suffer from this debilitating condition that is seldom spoken about,” at the Aberdeen Women’s Centre, a clinic in Freetown, Sierra Leone. “The fistula hotline, which is run by the center, is the result of a public-private partnership between the Gloag Foundation, USAID, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and telecommunications company Airtel,” IRIN notes.

IRIN Examines Efforts To Train Midwives, Improve Maternal Health In Laos

“In 2010, for the first time in more than 20 years, 140 midwives graduated in Laos but specialists say their skills may go untapped because the country’s women are not used to visiting health workers,” IRIN reports. “Only 34 percent of women in Laos seek the advice of medical professionals; even fewer see one when they are pregnant, according to government data from 2009-2010,” the news service writes.

U.N.-Backed Polio Vaccination Campaign Moves Forward In South Sudan

“Up to 3.2 million South Sudanese children have received vaccinations against polio in a United Nations-backed campaign to ensure the new country remains free of the deadly disease, more than two years after the last case was reported,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The three-phase campaign, which is being coordinated by South Sudan’s health ministry and backed by UNICEF and the WHO, will continue with additional immunizations next month, according to the news service. “Polio … re-emerged in South Sudan in April 2008, but after an intensive vaccination campaign, no new cases have been reported since June 2009,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/14).

Study Examines Abortion Services For Women Living With HIV In Brazil, Namibia, S. Africa

In this paper published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society, researchers from South Africa, Namibia, Brazil, and the U.S. “explore the existing evidence related to global and country-specific barriers to safe abortion for all women, with an emphasis on research gaps around the right of women living with HIV…

Increased Access To PMTCT Needed To End Pediatric AIDS, Build An ‘AIDS-Free Generation’

In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Charles Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, responds to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech at the NIH last week in which she called for an “AIDS-free generation,” writing, “As Secretary Clinton pointed out, we’ve never before had as many tools to get ahead of the disease as we do now,” such as male circumcision and treatment as prevention, “[b]ut one of the cornerstones of her strategy to create an AIDS-free generation is a tool we’ve actually had in our arsenal for a long time: the ability to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.”

Ethiopia Reduced Child Mortality Rate By More Than Half Over Past 20 Years

Ethiopia has reduced its child mortality rates by more than half since 1990, from about 20 percent to 8.8 percent, “through campaigns to increase the number of health workers and clinics throughout the country, government and aid officials said on Friday,” Reuters reports. “Reducing malnutrition, which is an underlying factor in at least half of all under-five deaths, has had a profound impact on the survival rates of children,” Ethiopia State Minister of Health Keseteberhan Admassu “told a gathering of representatives of United Nations agencies,” according to the news agency. “Keseteberhan said the nationwide malnutrition rate has been slashed by 32 percent, with prevalence to being underweight dropping to 28.7 percent in 2010 from 42.1 percent in 2000,” Reuters writes (Maasho, 11/11).

Problems In India’s Public Health Care System Lead To Growth Of Private Medicine

Toronto’s Star reports on how problems within India’s health care system — such as absent doctors and nurses, a lack of necessary equipment, corruption and one of the lowest health budgets in the world — has led to the mistrust of the public system and has paved the way for private medicine in the country. According to the newspaper, “In a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology survey in India, 79 percent said they opted for private doctors or traditional healers rather than government-run hospitals,” and that “they spent an average seven percent of their monthly income on health care.”

UNICEF Distributing Hygiene, Sanitation Items In Flood-Affected Thailand To Help Prevent Disease Spread

“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is distributing more than 300,000 hygiene and sanitation items to flood-affected families in Thailand, in an effort to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in the Asian country,” Bernama reports. The risk of water-borne diseases is increased in flood-affected areas, but that risk “can be reduced through safe sanitation and improved hygiene practices, such as frequent hand washing,” according to the news agency (11/11). According to a UNICEF press release, the agency “has budgeted $1.2 million to provide emergency relief and post-flood assistance … in the areas of health, child protection, water supply and sanitation, hygiene promotion and education” to an estimated three million flood-affected people (11/10).

China Considers Ban On Infant Formula Ads To Encourage Breastfeeding

“China may ban sales promotions and advertising for milk formula designed for babies younger than six months in an effort to encourage breastfeeding, the Ministry of Health” said Wednesday in a statement, Bloomberg reports, adding that “the government is canvassing public opinion on a draft plan.” UNICEF “said it supported measures to curb the use of infant formula, whose sales in China more than doubled in four years,” Bloomberg writes.