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Also In Global Health News: Indonesia To Host AIDS Congress; Smoking Ban in Ghana

Indonesia To Host International Congress On AIDS Indonesia will host the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific region, August 3 – 13 in Bali, organizers of the event announced Wednesday, Xinhua reports. Indonesia was selected to host the congress because it “was one of the first…

WHO To Incorporate Disease Severity Into Pandemic Alert Scale

A meeting of the WHO’s emergency committee held Friday to discuss the H1N1 (swine) flu ended without a pandemic declaration, but experts concluded that declarations would now be based upon the severity and transmission pattern of a virus, Reuters reports.

GSK Opens Pneumonia Vaccine Plant In Singapore

Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) on Tuesday opened a $600 million plant in Singapore that is slated to begin producing vaccines to fight pneumonia-causing bacteria in 2011, Reuters reports.

New York Times Examines Varying Definitions Of ‘Pandemic’

“The new swine influenza virus [H1N1], which appeared suddenly after years of warning about a potential pandemic of avian influenza, upset the WHO’s assumptions that most people have the same understanding of the word pandemic,” says the New York Times in a report that examines the difficultly health experts have had when attempting to agree upon what constitutes a pandemic.

Declaration of H1N1 Pandemic To Accelerate H1N1 Vaccine Production

The WHO’s decision Thursday to declare H1N1 (swine) flu a pandemic will “speed the production of a vaccine against the new virus,” however scientists continue to caution that “it will be fall at the earliest before the first doses are available,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Interventions Aimed At Preventing, Treating Pneumonia In Children Need To Be Expanded In Developing World

“This month, USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) joins countries around the world in celebrating International Children’s Day,” Dyness Kasungami, a child health team leader for MCHIP, writes in the Huffington Post Blog, adding, “While great strides in child survival have been made in the past years, we also remember those children who do not live to see their fifth birthday — the 7.6 million children who die of preventable causes each year.” She notes, “Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children under five, killing 1.4 million children each year, more than tuberculosis, AIDS, and malaria combined,” and continues, “Children can be protected from pneumonia through behavioral interventions such as adequate nutrition during childhood, hand washing, and reducing indoor air pollution by using improved, well-ventilated stoves.”

Preventable Childhood Deaths Can Be Nearly Eliminated In 10 Years, Researchers Write

“Preventable childhood deaths caused by illnesses such as pneumonia and diarrhea can be nearly eliminated in 10 years,” researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the National Institutes of Health write in a new commentary featured in the June issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association,” a Johns Hopkins press release reports. In the commentary, “researchers outline a strategy and benchmarks for curbing childhood preventable deaths and recommend a new common vision for a global commitment to end all preventable child deaths,” the press release notes (6/14).

Number Of Fatalities From 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic Might Have Been 15 Times Higher Than Reported Deaths, Study Says

In a study published on Monday in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic likely killed about 284,500 people worldwide between August 2009 and August 2010, a number 15 times higher than the 18,500 deaths reported to the WHO, Bloomberg News reports. “More than half the deaths may have been in southeast Asia and Africa, compared with 12 percent of officially reported fatalities, the authors wrote,” the news agency states (Bennett, 6/25). The reported cases “were only the deaths confirmed by lab testing, which the WHO itself warned was a gross underestimate because the deaths of people without access to the health system go uncounted, and because the virus is not always detectable after a victim dies,” Reuters writes (Begley, 6/25).