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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Cholera Epidemic Hits Western, Central Africa

“Western and central Africa are facing one of the biggest cholera epidemics in their history, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said last month, in reporting that more than 85,000 cases of cholera have been registered since the beginning of the year, with nearly 2,500 deaths,” according to Le Monde/Guardian. The newspaper writes, “UNICEF has identified three main cholera epidemic outbreaks in the Lake Chad basin, the West Congo basin and Lake Tanganyika,” and “[f]ive countries — Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (RDC) and Chad — account for 90 percent of the reported cases and fatalities.”

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

UNICEF Issues Statement Clarifying Reports Of Polio Cases In Madagascar

UNICEF released a statement on Tuesday correcting an October 21 report by its office in Madagascar “expressing concern over a resurgence of polio in Madagascar after a routine health survey identified vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) in several healthy children.” According to the statement, “there was no re-emergence of polio in Madagascar,” and “[t]he last wild poliovirus case in Madagascar was detected in 1997.”

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Opinion Pieces Respond To U.N. Special Rapporteur's Report On Reproductive Health Policies

Several opinion pieces respond to a report (.pdf) presented on Monday to the U.N. General Assembly by Arnand Grover, U.N. special rapporteur for the Right to Health, that “considers the impact of criminal and other legal restrictions on abortion; conduct during pregnancy; contraception and family planning; and the provision of sexual and reproductive education and information,” according to the report summary. The report also states, “Realization of the right to health requires the removal of barriers that interfere with individual decision-making on health-related issues and with access to health services, education and information, in particular on health conditions that only affect women and girls. In cases where a barrier is created by a criminal law or other legal restriction, it is the obligation of the State to remove it” (8/3).

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Focus On Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic Distracted From Family Planning Efforts, U.N. Population Fund Head Says

“The international community has ‘made a mistake’ with the intensity of its focus on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and lost ground on family planning issues as a result,” Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the U.N. Population Fund (UNPF), said in an interview with the Guardian. “Osotimehin said the international community was regaining momentum in its efforts to make family planning services available to women in all countries” and “argued it was crucial for developing countries to devote a larger share of their own resources to family planning and health,” the newspaper adds.

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

WHO Warns Of Water-Borne Disease Risk For Thailand Flood Victims

The WHO on Saturday said hundreds of thousands of flood victims in Thailand are at risk of water-borne diseases and infections, though no major outbreaks have been reported, Agence France-Presse reports. “The spread of communicable diseases such as diarrhea, respiratory illness and conjunctivitis among displaced flood victims in shelters was a key concern, the country’s WHO representative Maureen Birmingham told AFP,” adding, “Flood-affected people also faced an increased risk of skin fungal infections and leptospirosis, a bacterial infection spread through contaminated water,” according to the news service (10/23).

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

DRC Must Rethink Preparedness Strategy To Curb Cholera Outbreaks, Health Experts Say

“With almost 17,000 cases reported in the latest nationwide cholera outbreak, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) must rethink its preparedness strategy to curb future outbreaks, health experts told IRIN,” the news service reports. “According to Kossi Ayigan of the WHO, the health cluster coordinator, the emergency response phase of the current cholera outbreak is drawing to a close and should be followed by firm action on proper sanitation and provision of safe drinking water by the government and its development partners,” according to IRIN.

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Number Of Cholera Cases To Reach 500,000 By Year's End, WHO Says

The WHO on Friday “said the number of cholera cases in Haiti is expected to reach 500,000 by the end of the year” if current trends continue, Agence France-Presse reports. As of October, the agency estimated 470,000 cases of the disease and 6,600 cholera deaths had occurred since the outbreak began in 2010, the news service notes. “The number of new cholera cases in Haiti halved in August, but the rainy season is once again worsening the situation, the WHO warned,” AFP writes (10/22).

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Social Determinants Of Health Conference Releases Final Declaration

The final document of the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health, which concluded last week in Rio de Janeiro, “calls for better governance for health and development, with transparent decision-making and social participation,” and “[g]overnments are urged to develop policies and measure progress towards defined goals,” Inter Press Service reports.

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Together For Girls Partnership Works To End Sexual Violence

In this post on the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes about the Together for Girls Partnership, an initiative that “generates a powerful advocacy platform to stop sexual violence by supporting countries’ efforts to fully understand and cope with the scope of the epidemic.”…

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Scientists, WHO Warn Of Public Health Implications Of Proposed Mercury Ban Due To Its Use In Vaccines

“Scientists are warning officials negotiating a global treaty on mercury that banning the deadly chemical completely would be dangerous for public health because of the chemical’s use in vaccines,” the Associated Press reports. “The ban option is one of several proposals on the table for a [United Nations Environment Programme, or UNEP] meeting later this month in Nairobi, but a final treaty isn’t expected until 2013,” the news service writes.

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