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WHO Should Regulate Alcohol Consumption With Legally Binding Convention, Global Health Expert Says

The “WHO should regulate alcohol at the global level, enforcing such regulations as a minimum drinking age, zero-tolerance drunken driving, and bans on unlimited drink specials,” Devi Sridhar, a lecturer in global health politics at the University of Oxford, argues in a commentary published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, Scientific American reports. “[A]lcohol kills more than 2.5 million people annually, more than AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis,” and it is a leading health concern for middle-income populations, “greater than obesity, inactivity and even tobacco,” according to the news service (Wanjek, 2/15).

Understanding The Economic Impact Of The ‘Girl Effect’

In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Jill Sheffield, founder and President of Women Deliver, responds to an opinion piece published in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” on Friday in which Ofra Koffman — a Leverhulme postdoctoral fellow in the department for culture, media and creative industries at King’s College London — “questions the contributions that girls and young women can make to economies when they delay childbirth,” and argues “that the so-called ‘Girl Effect’ of delaying childbirth does not necessarily ‘stop poverty before it starts,’ as the Department for International Development (DFID) claims.” Sheffield writes, “The ability to choose if and when to have children is a huge piece of the puzzle to the ‘Girl Effect,’ but it is not the only piece. … The ‘Girl Effect’ is an amalgamation of exactly these three components: security, health, and power” (2/15).

Impact Of Child Malnourishment Similar To That Of AIDS

“Globally, malnutrition is the most important cause of illness and death,” Jeremy Laurance, health editor at the Independent, writes in this editorial. Laurance details the physical effects of malnutrition on a child and notes, “Malnutrition contributes to more than half of child deaths worldwide. … It affects virtually every organ system,” and “[i]ts impact on the immune system is similar to that of AIDS.”

USAID Improves Health Through Access To Clean Water In Timor-Leste

In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Carlos dos Reis, foreign service national environmental health officer for Timor-Leste, reports on a trip to the country’s remote district of Oecusse with U.S. Ambassador Judith Fergin and USAID/Timor-Leste Mission Director Rick Scott to “inaugurate the new clean water supply system built with the support of USAID.” He writes, “Having the chance to see the completed water supply system and witness the benefits that people get from having access to clean water, I’m beginning to believe that a seemingly impossible thing can become possible when people work together,” and adds, “I believe that the cooperation between USAID and Oecusse District SAS has really improved the lives of many residents in [the town of] Bobometo by giving them access to clean water and improved sanitation and hygiene” (2/13).

Many Women ‘Want And Need’ Gift Of Reproductive Health This Valentine’s Day

“[T]his Valentine’s Day, perhaps it’s time to celebrate with a gift many of the world’s women desperately want and need: reproductive health,” Robert Engelman, president of the Worldwatch Institute, writes in this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece. Engelman provides global maternal mortality statistics and notes, “Access to family planning and other reproductive health services safeguard the lives of women and their children and promote families that are emotionally and economically healthy.”

Davos Meeting Highlights Link Between Nutrition, Health And Development

“While the headlines out of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meetings in Davos primarily focus on getting (or keeping) the global economy on track, it’s a welcome development when nutrition and health information also rise to the top of the priorities list, reminding world leaders of the inextricable link between nutrition, health and well-being of the people on our planet and that of our global economy,” Klaus Kraemer, director of Sight and Life, a not-for-profit nutrition think tank, writes in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog.

Bird Flu Controversy An Opportunity To Set A Higher Tone For Public Debate

In this Huffington Post opinion piece, Leslie Gerwin, associate director of law and public affairs at Princeton University, reflects on the recent controversy over whether to research and publish data about potentially dangerous strains of the H5N1 bird flu virus, writing, “I am disturbed that so much coverage of this dispute — so deserving of sober consideration — is fixated on fear mongering.” She notes, “Those opposing research or publication … predict that publishing results will lead to abuse or misuse by terrorists looking to create a biological weapon. … Those favoring continuation of the project warn of ‘censorship,’ a constitutional no-no particularly when involving the ‘suppression’ of science.”

Partnerships, Cooperation Key To Eliminating NTDs

The announcement at the end of January of the largest coordinated effort to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) provides “more reason to hope that we may soon see a future free of these diseases,” Adetokunbo Lucas, former director of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, writes in a Daily Monitor opinion piece. “This new coordinated action will take these previous efforts to a whole new level,” he writes, adding, “Together, these partners have pledged to increase the supply of existing drugs and invest and collaborate on research to accelerate the development of new and better drugs.”

Fair Trade Agreement Between E.U., India Could Impede Access To Medicine For World’s Poor

“Current negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union and India are causing serious concern in many quarters over future access to cheap generic medicines used to treat some of the world’s great public health threats: HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, and also cancer,” Philippe Douste-Blazy, U.N. special adviser on innovative financing for development and chair of UNITAID, and Denis Broun, executive director of UNITAID, write in this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” “Those fears are well founded: if the E.U. and India agree on stringent patent and border measures, India’s role as the ‘pharmacy of the south’ could well come to an end,” they add.