“Millions of children and women of child-bearing age in North Korea face malnutrition which can leave them at higher risk of death or disease, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. UNICEF urged donors to fill a funding gap to prevent a “nutrition crisis” in the country, the news agency states (Nebehay, 11/1). According to Agence France-Presse, “UNICEF had asked for $20.4 million for 2011, but has received just $4.6 million” (11/1).
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
The VOA News audio program “Explorations” on Tuesday discussed international humanitarian aid in the Horn of Africa. The program features interviews with Kurt Tjossem, the International Rescue Committee’s regional director for the Horn of Africa and East Africa; Shannon Scribner, Oxfam America’s humanitarian policy manager; and Nancy Lindborg, USAID’s assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.
Nearly Half Of Pregnant Women In Southern China’s Poor Areas Do Not Get Tested For Syphilis, Study Shows
“Nearly half of pregnant women do not get tested for syphilis in poor areas of southern China where the sexually transmitted disease has seen a resurgence, researchers said Wednesday” in a study published in the WHO’s November 2011 Bulletin, the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. Pregnant women with syphilis can miscarry, have stillbirths or their infants can have congenital defects, the news service notes. According to the AP, the study “found that more than 40 percent of about 125,000 mothers-to-be in Guangdong province were not tested for syphilis in 2008, mostly due to a lack of health facilities in rural areas.” The study noted that “several provincial and national programs to improve testing have been put in place” since the study was conducted, the AP writes (Wong, 11/1).
Though demographers do not know exactly when the world’s population will hit seven billion, the U.N. symbolically marked the day on Monday with celebrations and warnings about safety, health and sustainability. The following is a summary of several opinion pieces published in recognition of the day.
The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” examines how religious leaders on the island of Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, are using the Qur’an to shift attitudes about the issues of sex, contraception, and HIV/AIDS in an effort to reduce HIV infection, improve maternal health and curb rapid population growth. “Their aim is to shift deep-rooted views in their devout Islamic society that contraception is a sin,” according to the blog. “Compared with the Tanzanian mainland, Zanzibar has half the rate of use of contraception — just 13 percent in fertile women in 2011 — and more than double the proportion of Muslims, at 95 percent,” the blog notes, adding that imams’ work to educate the population is working, as “contraceptive use has crept up from nine percent to 13 percent in the past four years” (Carrington, 10/31).
“A $430 million fund which will give Zimbabwean children and pregnant women free medical care at public hospitals was launched Monday with the help of the E.U. and UNICEF,” Agence France-Press reports. “The Zimbabwe health care system which has collapsed from years of economic crisis requires $436 million over the next five years to improve capacity, particularly in the delivery of maternal care, according to UNICEF,” AFP notes.
In the clinic of Hilaweyn, one of four camps at Ethiopia’s Dollo Ado complex for Somali refugees seeking relief from famine and poor security conditions, “[a] massive infusion of humanitarian resources … appears to be turning the tide” against child mortality, according to Doctors Without Borders, which operates the clinic, VOA News reports. “When Doctors Without Borders opened the Hilaweyn clinic … in August, children were dying of malnutrition at the rate of more than one a day. Two months later, the clinic’s emergency coordinator Aria Danika said they treat 1,000 cases a day, and only one child has died in the past two weeks,” VOA writes (Heinlein, 10/28).
As part of a special report called “Child Brides,” GlobalPost features a two-part series looking at child marriage in Nepal. “The practice carries with it devastating consequences for young girls’ health and wellbeing, child advocates say, and yet the social, economic and cultural pressures associated with the tradition make it difficult to end. Officially, it is against the law to marry under the age of 20, but these laws go ignored, particularly in remote areas. The child marriage rate is dropping in Nepal, yet the practice is still common among poor, rural families,” according to the first article (Win, 10/30). The second article looks at how Nepalese women who marry young have reduced opportunities to receive a formal education (Win, 10/30).
This report, titled “Improving Women’s Heath in South Africa: Opportunities for PEPFAR,” by Janet Fleischman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says that with “major change … unfolding in health and HIV services in South Africa,” “[t]he United States can find feasible, flexible ways to support” the decentralization…
In a post in Forbes’s “Mitch2Maya/Mothers2Mothers” blog, contributors Mitch Besser and Maya Kulycky write that the Group of 20 (G20) “have plenty to discuss at their upcoming November meeting — and a lot of it is pretty scary.” They raise the issues of the global economy and its impact on public…