The annual number of child deaths worldwide has fallen more than 40 percent since 1990, “the result of myriad improvements in nutrition, access to vaccines and antibiotics, cleaner deliveries, better care of infants immediately after birth, and the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets,” according to “the findings of a report released Wednesday by three United Nations agencies and the World Bank,” the Washington Post reports (Brown, 9/12). “In 1990, there were 12 million deaths of young children, but the latest figures … show that deaths had fallen by nearly half, to 6.9 million, by 2011,” the Guardian writes (Boseley, 9/12). “[T]he number of deaths is down by at least 50 percent in eastern, western and southeastern Asia, as well as in northern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean,” the report says, VOA News notes (Schlein, 9/12). However, “[i]n some, mainly sub-Saharan countries, the total number of deaths of children younger than five increased,” BBC News writes, adding, “The Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Somalia, Mali, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso saw annual deaths of children under five rise by 10,000 or more in 2011 as compared with 1990” (Doyle, 9/13).
“The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said Nigeria was not on track in the effort to eradicate wild polio virus before the end of December this year,” Leadership/AllAfrica.com reports. Speaking at the 24th Expert Review Committee (ERC) Meeting on Polio Eradication in Abuja, Bruce Aylward, WHO assistant director-general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration, said Nigeria had the tools and capacity to turn back the increasing number of polio cases that pose a “real and growing danger to international public health,” the news service notes. Aylward “recommended eight major steps for polio eradication for the country, including the implementation of the new house-based micro planning and monitoring method,” refresher training for all personnel to emphasize the emergency status declared by the WHO, and the identification and immunization of missed children and those in insecure areas, among others, according to the news service. ERC Chair Tomori Oyewale “called on Nigerians to change their attitude to polio eradication to ensure the success of the fight against the virus,” the news service writes (9/11).
“Around 2.1 million Somalis still need food aid and are facing a critical situation despite a fall in the number of people at risk in the last six months, the United Nations said Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Overall, despite the recent improvements, the humanitarian situation in Somalia remains critical and must remain on the global agenda to avoid the risk of reversing the gains made,” Jens Laerke of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, according to the news agency. “In 2011, famine in the country caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people and affected more than four million people, or more than half of the population, according to the U.N. agency’s figures,” AFP writes (9/11).
Inter Press Service examines the reaction to calls for the WHO “to reverse its listing in April 2011 of misoprostol among essential medicines that ‘satisfy the health care needs of the majority of the population’ and are ‘available at all times in adequate amounts and in appropriate dosage forms, at a price the community can afford'” as a result of a study published in the August issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. “Originally intended for treating gastric ulcers, misoprostol has since 2000 been gaining in popularity for its ability to induce labor and stop postpartum hemorrhage (PPH),” according to the news service.
“Almost two years after the deadly disease first appeared in Haiti in the aftermath of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, the story of cholera is one of both success and failure,” columnist Catherine Porter writes in a Toronto Star opinion piece. She says though progress has been made in bringing down the death rate from cholera, educating the population on prevention, and getting people with the disease into treatment more quickly, aid agencies’ funding has “dried up and most have ended their cholera programs.” She continues, “In most instances, the Haitian government has not picked up the work that had been done by departing aid agencies. … For its part, the Haitian government has focused on surveillance and prevention — plastering the city with posters about hand-washing and disinfecting water.”
Most Asian Countries Fail To Include Rotavirus Vaccine In National Immunization Programs Citing Cost As Barrier
“Most countries in Asia have yet to make the rotavirus vaccine part of their national immunization program (NIP), despite a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation to do so,” IRIN reports. “Worldwide, rotavirus accounts for 37 percent of all diarrhea deaths in children under five with 95 percent of those deaths occurring in developing countries,” the news service states, noting, “There are no antibiotics or any other drug to fight the infection and since 2009 WHO has recommended the global use of the rotavirus vaccine.” Forty-one countries worldwide include rotavirus vaccine in their NIPs, but “only two countries in Asia — Philippines and Thailand — are vaccinating (or are about to) children against rotavirus,” according to IRIN. An email to IRIN from WHO’s Manila office stated, “Price continues to be an important barrier to introducing rotavirus vaccine,” the news service notes (9/7).
PSI’s “Global Health Impact” blog features a video interview by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in which “[f]ormer UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot discusses with CSIS Senior Vice President and Director of the Global Health Policy Center J. Stephen Morrison the lessons he has learned in his years fighting AIDS.” In the video interview, Piot “explain[s] the reason for making AIDS a political issue and how it was enacted,” the blog states, adding he “tells how he stressed an evidence-based approach to finding AIDS solutions from the start, but it became apparent that it was not the only answer” (9/7).
“About 1.6 million Malawians will need food aid before this year’s harvest, an eightfold increase from last year, because of poor crops and rising prices, the United Nations World Food Programme [WFP] said,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Latham, 9/7). The agency “warned that 15 out of 28 districts were affected by a deteriorating situation, owing to prolonged dry spells in the country,” Sapa/DPA/Times Live writes, adding, “The cost of food is seeing rapid inflation, pushing basic items out of the reach of many Malawians” (9/7). “Malawi will use 25,000 metric tons of stored corn to provide relief, while the U.S. will give food worth $7.8 million, according to [an emailed] statement,” Bloomberg writes, adding, “The U.K. will donate $4.7 million in funding, it said. The first phase of the aid operation will target 200,000 people, WFP said” (9/7).
Pesticide-Related Illnesses To Cost Up To $90B Between 2005-2020 In Sub-Saharan Africa, UNEP Report Says
“The potential cost of pesticide-related illnesses in sub-Saharan African between 2005 and 2020 could reach $90 billion, according to a U.N. report [.pdf] released on Wednesday highlighting the growing health and environmental hazards from chemicals,” the Associated Press/Guardian reports. The news service adds, “It said the estimated cost of pesticide poisoning exceeds the total amount of international aid for basic health services for the region, excluding HIV/AIDS” (9/6). “Produced by the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Chemicals Outlook report argues that a shift in the production, use and disposal of chemical products from developed to developing countries has made it essential to establish better management policies to avoid diseases and pollution caused by weak regulations,” the U.N. News Centre writes (9/5).
“Severe droughts, rising grain prices and food shortages — the latest headlines are an urgent call for action,” and “it is time to step up our response,” Suma Chakrabarti, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), write in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. On September 13, the EBRD and FAO will convene the Private Sector for Food Security Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, “the largest and most important gathering of companies and decision-makers in agribusiness from the Caspian and Black seas to the Mediterranean … [to] discuss the key role of the private sector in feeding the world,” they note. “The simple truth is that the world needs more food, and that means more production,” they state, adding, “The private sector can be the main engine of such growth.”