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Youth Facing Greater Health Risks Today Than In Past; Those In Developing World Face Increasing Challenges, Lancet Series Suggests

“Young people today face greater risks to their physical and mental health than generations past, new research has found, with adolescents in the developing world rapidly acquiring the unhealthy habits of their wealthier counterparts,” the Financial Times reports. A series of studies published on Wednesday in the Lancet “present a general portrait of increasing hazard due to drug and alcohol abuse, unprotected sex, violence and inadequate employment opportunities,” the newspaper writes (Rowland, 4/25). Decreasing child mortality rates have led “to the largest generation of adolescents in history: 1.2 billion to be exact,” CNN’s “The Chart” blog notes, adding, “As many of those teens face poverty, natural disasters and wars in addition to overwhelming physical and emotional changes, researchers worry about the lack of available health resources” (4/24).

U.N. SG Ban Commends India For Working To Improve Public Health

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday during travel to India met with Indian Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nazi Azad and “commend[ed] the country’s progress on health,” its “continued efforts towards achieving universal health coverage,” and its “commitment to the Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health,” highlighting “its innovative programs in this area” and “the need to do more to promote the well-being of women and children,” the U.N. News Centre reports (4/26). Recognizing the “work still to be done to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, Ban said he would like to showcase India’s experiences and best practices in dealing with maternal and child health issues for others to follow,” according to the IANS/Daily News. Ban also “said [U.N.] member nations … are ready to help India in dealing with polio, malaria, tetanus, measles and HIV transmission-related mortality,” the news service notes (4/26).

Lack Of Awareness, Cultural Beliefs, Transport Challenges Leading To High Number Of Maternal Deaths In Ethiopia, Officials Say

“A lack of awareness of the importance of skilled hospital deliveries in Ethiopia, cultural beliefs, and transport challenges in rural areas are causing a high number of deaths during childbirth,” officials say, according to IRIN. “Only 10 percent of deliveries take place within health facilities, according to Ethiopia’s latest (April) Demographic Health Survey results,” the news service writes, adding, “Nevertheless, the figure is a significant improvement on six percent in the previous 2005 survey.”

Ghanaian Vaccination Campaign Hopes To Prevent Up To 14,000 Child Deaths

In a Huffington Post Blog opinion piece, Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), describes watching the suffering of an infant with severe pneumonia and his parents while in Ghana on Thursday, writing that the experience was “a personal reminder as to why our work to prevent disease is so perilous, and why disease control so promising in Africa.” Noting that last year in Ghana, “approximately 50,000 young children — nearly seven out of every 100 — died before their fifth birthday,” Levine adds, “I also saw the promise of prevention in Ghana,” with the launch of an immunization campaign to provide both pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines. With support from the GAVI Alliance, Ghana is the first country in Africa to introduce two new vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhea at the same time,” he notes.

‘Global Pulse’ Summarizes Event Launching USAID Child Survival Social Media Campaign

At an event on Monday launching USAID’s “Every Child Deserves a Fifth Birthday” social media campaign, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah described how $30 worth of materials contained in a backpack he carried onto stage, including zinc to prevent diarrhea and vaccines to prevent pneumococcal diseases, “can lead to a massive reduction in preventable child death in the developing world,” GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog reports. Though the backpack and the campaign’s use of 5th birthday photographs from celebrities, lawmakers, and policymakers “made for powerful symbols,” the event “dug a little deeper” to “highligh[t] numerous challenges facing the major U.S. government advocacy effort on child survival, which includes a gathering of world health leaders in Washington in June to push a new plan aimed at reducing preventable child deaths to zero,” the blog says.

USAID’s Shah Urges Cooperation To Improve Child Health, Survival

“Seeing a child die from pneumonia, diarrhea or a mosquito bite is simply unimaginable to most parents. But that is the sad reality for many families each day,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah writes in a Huffington Post Blog opinion piece, noting, “Last year over seven million children under five died of largely preventable causes.” He continues, “Today, the global community has the knowledge and the affordable tools to change the course of history,” including bednets, vaccines, and childbirth assistance. “At the current annual rate of decline of 2.6 percent, the gap in child death between rich and poor countries would persist until nearly the end of this century. But we are capable of much more. By working closely with countries and continuing our results-oriented investments in global health, we can bring the rate of child mortality in poor countries to the same level it is in rich countries,” he states.

Strategic Innovations Will Help Prevent HIV Transmission From Mothers To Children, High-Level Meeting Attendees State

At a High-Level Meeting on Innovation for Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (EMTCT) on Friday in Washington, D.C., “HIV experts, business leaders, aid agencies and ambassadors of 22 priority countries — home to 90 percent of new HIV infections among children –” agreed that strategic innovations are necessary to curb the spread of the virus from women to their children, PANA/Afrique en Linge reports. “The priority countries are Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe,” the news service notes.

Rising Food Prices Affecting Efforts To Reach MDGs For Food, Nutrition, World Bank/IMF Report Says

“Higher global food prices are hampering attempts to hit targets for food and nutrition,” and “rates of child and maternal mortality [a]re still ‘unacceptably high’ — partly as a result of surging commodity prices,” according to the Global Monitoring Report 2012, released by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday in Washington, D.C., the Guardian reports (Elliot, 4/20). The report says rising food prices have affected some countries’ ability to reach certain Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a World Bank/IMF press release notes.

USAID Administrator Shah To Launch Social Media Campaign To Garner Support For Foreign Aid

“Under the slogan ‘Every Child Deserves a Fifth Birthday,’ [USAID] on Monday is launching a social media campaign featuring childhood pictures of Ashley Judd, Mandy Moore and Anna Kournikova, along with those of global health leaders and lawmakers, including Sen. John Kerry [D-Mass.],” with the aim of “build[ing] support to fight preventable deaths of children,” CQ HealthBeat reports. “‘By asking others to remember their own fifth birthdays, we want to remind people that more than seven million children each year never get the chance to celebrate that milestone,’ USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said in a statement,” the news service writes, noting, “Children who reach age five are much more likely to become adults, experts say.”

Nigerian Vaccine Summit An Opportunity To Translate Political Will Into Action

In this post in the Huffington Post Blog, Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), reports on the Nigerian Vaccine Summit, where Nigeria’s leaders will meet this week to discuss children’s health in the country. “With the world’s second largest number of child deaths each year, many of which are due to diseases that could be prevented with vaccines, yet with immunization coverage rates that are lower than many other countries in the region, Nigeria has a major opportunity to save lives by raising immunization coverage and introducing new vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhea, the leading killers of children worldwide,” he writes. Levine recounts progress made in recent years to address immunization and child mortality, but notes that “more remains to be done.”