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Frontline Health Workers Coalition Launches Initiative To Add 1M Health Care Workers In Developing Countries

The Frontline Health Workers Coalition — which consists of 16 major non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Family Care International, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, and RESULTS — has launched “a new initiative to add one million health care workers in developing countries,” VOA News reports, adding that the “Coalition says training more community-level workers is the most cost effective way to save lives, speed progress on global health threats and promote U.S. economic and strategic interests” (DeCapua, 1/11). “The Coalition, which launched today with the release of a new report (.pdf) focusing on the need for frontline health workers, is calling on the U.S. administration to train and support an additional 250,000 new frontline health workers — and to better support the capacity and impact of existing workers where the need is greatest,” a Coalition press release (.pdf) states (1/11).

Reaching WHO PMTCT Goal In Zimbabwe

Researchers in this PLoS Medicine article examine the efforts necessary to reach the WHO goal of reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission (MTCT) risk to less than five percent in Zimbabwe. They conclude, “Implementation of the WHO [prevention of MTCT (PMTCT)] guidelines must be accompanied by efforts to improve access to PMTCT services, retain women in care, and support medication adherence throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, to approach the ‘virtual elimination’ of pediatric HIV in Zimbabwe,” according to the study (Ciaranello et al., 1/10). A Massachusetts General Hospital press release states the research “should help with the planning of expanded programs to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa and other areas with limited health resources” (1/10).

The Nation Examines Whether Nigeria Will Be Able To Attain MDGs Related To Maternal, Infant Mortality

Nigeria’s “The Nation” examines whether, with three years until the deadline for attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the country will be able to meet the targets of reducing maternal and infant mortality by one-third as set by the U.N. The newspaper provides statistics from UNICEF regarding maternal and infant mortality in the country and quotes a number of health experts, including Edamisan Temiye, chair of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Lagos State Branch, who “said with the rate Nigeria is going, it may not realize its target of one-third reduction of maternal and infant deaths by 2015.” According to the newspaper, Temiye cites a “virtually failed” immunization program, a high poverty level, and limited access to education, water, and housing as contributing factors to Nigeria’s maternal and infant mortality rates (Adepoju, 1/10).

Political Turmoil In Yemen Causing Breakdown Of Social Services, Increased Threats To Child Welfare

“Yemen’s populist uprising and the political crisis that followed have pushed the country to the brink of a humanitarian emergency, according to the United Nations and aid agencies,” the Washington Post reports, noting that “children have been hit especially hard.” The newspaper continues, “Fresh conflicts, including a raging battle between the government and Islamist militants, have disrupted basic services; water, fuel and electricity shortages affect nearly every aspect of life, from hospital operations to trash collection. Food prices are rising, and health services have collapsed. In a nation in which half the population is younger than 18, many aid workers fear that the political crisis and the problems it has spawned will be felt beyond this generation of children” (Raghavan, 1/8). The newspaper also provides a graphic on malnourishment rates in Yemen and select other countries (1/8).

Nigerian Leaders Sign Onto Gates Immunization Challenge

“Nigeria’s 36 Executive Governors and the Federal Capital Territory have signed up to the Nigeria Immunization Challenge launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last year,” a Gates Foundation press release states. “The Nigeria Immunization Challenge sets specific objectives that need to be met during each quarter of 2012. If met, Nigeria will significantly improve its chances of stopping polio and protecting more children against vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough,” the release adds, noting, “As of December 30, 2011, 51 cases of wild poliovirus had been reported in eight Nigerian states” (1/5).

VOA News Examines Maternal Mortality In Somalia

“The World Health Organization says Somalia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world,” VOA News reports, adding, “In southern Somalia, the situation is grave, and the recent famine has made the health crisis for mothers and infants even worse.” The news service says challenges facing the health care system include a lack of medical supplies and neonatal facilities, poor retention of health care workers in local hospitals, and “the Somali custom rooted in Islam that requires a man’s consent to treat female patients.”

Fallujah Doctors Say Chemicals From U.S. Weapons To Blame For High Levels Of Birth Defects

“While the U.S. military has formally withdrawn from Iraq, doctors and residents of Fallujah are blaming weapons like depleted uranium and white phosphorous used during two devastating U.S. attacks on Fallujah in 2004 for what are being described as ‘catastrophic’ levels of birth defects and abnormalities,” Al Jazeera reports. Samira Alani, a pediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, “told Al Jazeera she had personally logged 677 cases of birth defects since October 2009,” the news service notes, adding, “Just eight days later when Al Jazeera visited the city on December 29, that number had already risen to 699.”

Aid Agencies Express Concern Over Child Malnutrition In Nepal, AFP Reports

In Nepal, “a child malnutrition epidemic described by humanitarian organizations as a ‘silent emergency’ is claiming the lives of thousands of infants each year,” Agence France-Presse reports. “According to government statistics 1.7 million children — nearly half of all under-fives — suffer from chronic malnutrition, a long-term condition also known as stunting,” the news service writes, adding, “Acute malnutrition, a condition known as ‘wasting’ blamed for half of Nepal’s infant deaths, is thought to affect 18 percent.”

IRIN Examines Risk Of Waterborne Diseases In Zimbabwe

IRIN examines how a lack of sanitation facilities and access to clean water, as well as the onset of the rainy season, are increasing the risk of waterborne diseases in rural areas of Zimbabwe. A 2009 survey, “compiled by the government and U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), listed diarrhea as one of the major causes of infant mortality resulting in around 4,000 deaths in Zimbabwe annually” and “showed a 20 percent increase in under-five mortality since 1990,” IRIN writes.