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HIV Drug Coverage In Sub-Saharan Africa Continues To Improve But Not Sustainable, UNAIDS' Sidibe Says

At the end of 2011, 6.2 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were taking antiretroviral drugs, about 56 percent of the people in need in the region, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe noted in an interview last week, saying, “Ten years ago, nobody would have imagined that such a result would be possible,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Sidibe — visiting Paris ahead of the July 22-27 International AIDS Conference in Washington — said he was worried that African countries remained so dependent on foreign help,” the news service states. “With the exception of South Africa, 80 percent of Africans with HIV have access to drugs via funding from outside Africa. This is not sustainable. It’s even dangerous,” he said, according to the news service.

U.N. Report Calls For Innovative Ways To Fund Development Initiatives

The U.N.’s annual World Economic and Social Survey, released last week, “says it is critical to find new ways to help the world’s poor as pledged cash fails to flow” and “call[s] for a tax on billionaires to help raise more than $400 billion a year for poor countries,” Agence France-Presse reports. “But the U.N. acknowledged that the idea is unlikely to get widespread support from the target group, saying that for now its tax on the unimaginably wealthy remains ‘an intriguing possibility,'” according to the news service. The report provided several other ideas for international taxes to raise money for development efforts and “suggests expanding a levy on air tickets that a number of nations already impose to raise money for drugs for poor states through UNITAID,” which has collected more than $1 billion since 2006, AFP notes (Witcher, 7/6).

Health Officials Working To Identify Respiratory Illness Responsible For Deaths Of More Than 60 Cambodian Children

WHO and Cambodian health officials are investigating “the source of an unidentified illness” — characterized by high fevers, severe respiratory problems, “and in some cases neurological symptoms” — that has killed more than 60 children in the country since April, NPR’s health blog “Shots” reports (Hensley, 7/5). “The undiagnosed syndrome has been reported in 67 hospital patients since April, 66 of whom have died, said Aphaluck Bhatiasevi, a WHO spokeswoman, in a telephone interview from Phnom Penh today,” Bloomberg writes, adding, “It’s unlikely influenza is the cause, she said” (Gale, 7/6). To date, only one of the children admitted to hospital has survived the unknown disease, the Wall Street Journal notes.

Health Ministers From Southeast Asia Asked To Support U.N. In Stemming Spread Of Drug-Resistant Malaria In Region

“Health ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are being asked to support United Nations efforts to stem the spread of drug-resistant strains of malaria, especially along the borders of Cambodia and Burma,” VOA News reports. “Scientists fear resistant strains of malaria may spread beyond Southeast Asia, reaching continents such as Africa, a region with many victims of the mosquito-borne parasite,” according to the news service. “Thomas Teuscher, executive director of the United Nations-backed Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), says more effort is needed to ensure that drug-resistant malaria at least remains localized in Southeast Asia,” VOA notes.

Cuban Company's Sales Of Larvicides To Fight Malaria-Carrying Mosquitoes In Africa Continue Despite U.N. Concern, Miami Herald Reports

The Cuban state-owned company Labiofam “is increasing sales of its mosquito larvicides to fight malaria in Africa, despite cautions by U.N. experts that such products have limited use and are not the most cost-effective method of attacking the disease,” the Miami Herald reports. The company’s website “says its larvicide Griselesf is used in anti-malaria programs in Ghana, Angola, Gambia, Tanzania, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, and Zambia,” according to the newspaper.

Annual Report On MDGs Shows Success In Some Areas, But Continued Lack Of Progress In Other Areas, Including Maternal Health

“An annual report card [.pdf] on the ambitious U.N.-led initiative known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) says that in three areas — poverty, slums and water — the goals have been met ahead of the 2015 deadline, but persistent gaps remain, notably in the critical area of maternal health,” Inter Press Service reports (Cortes, 7/2). “The eight MDGs, agreed by world leaders at a U.N. summit in 2000, set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a ‘Global Partnership for Development,'” the U.N. News Centre notes.

Blog Posts Address London Summit On Family Planning

The London Summit on Family Planning, co-sponsored by the U.K. government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with support from UNFPA and other partners, is scheduled to take place next week. The following blog posts address the summit and the issue of family planning.

July Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

The July issue of the WHO Bulletin features an editorial on meeting the challenges of women’s health beyond reproduction; a public health round-up; an article on polio eradication; and a research paper on estimating the cost of new public health legislation (July 2012).

Rio+20 Outcome Document Lacks Commitment To NCDs

In this post in Management Sciences for Health’s (MSH) “Global Health Impact” blog, Sara Holtz, a senior technical officer at MSH, reports on the 53-page outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last week. She highlights several health-related commitments…

U.N. High Level Task Force On Global Food Security To Shift Focus To 'Zero Hunger Challenge' Initiative

“In the wake of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s High Level Task Force on Global Food Security will be reoriented to focus on a new initiative as part of its efforts to ensure a coherent U.N. system approach to the issue of food and nutrition security,” the U.N. News Centre reports. Noting “Ban launched an initiative known as the ‘Zero Hunger Challenge,’ which invites all countries to work for a future where every individual has adequate nutrition and where all food systems are resilient,” at the conference last week, the news service writes, “The Task Force will be reoriented to focus on the challenge’s five objectives as a guide for a coherent U.N. system approach to food and nutrition security.”