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Central African Republic Town Struggling To Provide Health Care Since Withdrawal Of Foreign Companies, VOA Reports

VOA News examines how the 2009 withdrawal of foreign diamond-mining companies from the small town of Carnot in the Central African Republic (CAR) affected the local economy and access to health care for residents. Initially, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) “ran emergency nutrition programs for the first year, but then discovered deeper health problems in the region, including a child mortality rate that is three times above what is considered an emergency level, as well as elevated rates of HIV and tuberculosis,” the news service writes.

WFP Infographic Provides Data On Operations

The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday posted an infographic that answers such questions as “how many people does WFP feed each year?” and “[h]ow much does that cost and where does it get the money?” According to the infographic, WFP provided 3.6 million tons of food aid in 2011, which is equivalent to the weight of 36 cruise ships, and 71 percent of the food bought came from developing countries (10/23).

Communicable Diseases Responsible For Majority Of Deaths In Africa, WHO Official Says

Speaking on Monday in Luanda, Angola, at the opening session of the inaugural meeting on Medical Education, sponsored by the Faculty of Medicine of Agostinho Neto University, WHO Regional Director for Africa Luis Gomes Sambo said communicable diseases account for 63 percent of deaths in Africa, with HIV and tuberculosis (TB) responsible for the majority of those, the Angola Press reports. Nonetheless, Africa has made significant progress against HIV/AIDS and malaria, as well as in improving child and maternal mortality, he said, according to the news service (10/22). Sambo also “said on Monday in Luanda that the population’s health depends on the provision of health care for those [in] need, as well as the efforts made by the society to protect, promote and re-establish the people’s well-being,” another article from Angola Press notes (10/23).

World Polio Day Time To Celebrate, Give Thanks

October 24 “is World Polio Day, a day to celebrate the remarkable progress we’ve made in the fight against polio and to focus on the urgency of the work we still have to do,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in “The Gates Notes” blog. “But equally important, it’s also a day to say ‘thank you’ to the millions of people around the world who have generously given their time and money to this critical effort,” he continues, and features a video thanking the different organizations working together to bring an end to polio. “To ensure success, we need to fully fund polio campaigns and routine immunizations”; “continued leadership and accountability”; and “ensure the security of vaccination teams so they can get to children — even in the most difficult areas,” Gates writes (10/24). In a post on the Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Jay Wenger, head of the polio program at the foundation, lists five reasons why he’s “excited” about World Polio Day. “It’s really because I have seen an unprecedented series of successes, commitment from existing and new donors and signs of progress that give me confidence we can finish the job,” he writes (10/23).

Indonesia Plans To Include HIV Treatment In Universal Health Care Coverage

During a meeting with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe on Tuesday, Indonesia Minister of Health Nafsiah Mboi “pledged to scale up HIV testing and treatment programs” with a “focus on 141 districts where key affected populations are the highest,” a UNAIDS feature story reports. “Indonesia also plans to become one of several countries in the region to offer universal health care by 2014,” with HIV treatment to be covered, according to the health ministry, UNAIDS notes. Sidibe said, “Indonesia is a key partner in the drive to end the AIDS epidemic. … Universal health coverage is a game changer for Indonesia. I am delighted to know that HIV treatment will be included in this national program. This sets the stage for sustainable funding of HIV programs,” the article states. “The Ministry of Health estimates that more than 600,000 people are living with HIV and that there are more than 76,000 new HIV infections each year,” according to UNAIDS, which adds, “Currently HIV treatment coverage is at less than 20 percent” (10/23).

WHO Releases Discussion Paper Examining Potential Global Health Goals For Post-2015 Agenda

“The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a discussion paper [.pdf] identifying issues to be considered in the context of potential global health goals for the post-2015 agenda,” the International Institute for Sustainable Development reports in an article on its webpage. “The paper suggests universal health coverage (UHC) as an inclusive umbrella for addressing these issues” and “notes that post-2015 goals should build on progress achieved under the framework of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), while future goals and indicators need to: be framed as global challenges rather than aspirations for developing countries; ensure policy coherence; and take a strategic approach,” according to the article (October 2012).

PAHO Press Release Responds To Reuters Article, Says Private Sector Not Involved In Decision-Making Processes

“The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) strongly disagrees with the allegations in the recent Reuters article that the food and beverage industry advises our policymaking” with respect to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the agency said in a press release on Saturday. “In line with PAHO Member States mandates and the Declaration of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases held in New York in September 2011, PAHO adheres to a comprehensive approach to fight NCDs, which includes governments, civil society, academia, international organizations, and private sector,” the press release states, adding, “The goal is to work together to raise awareness, promote new and innovative initiatives, and share best practices on the prevention and control of NCDs, as well as in health promotion and behavioral changes.” The press release describes how PAHO works to “manage potential conflicts of interest and ensure transparency and independence in the Organization’s decision-making process,” and the release states, “Private companies are not involved in health policies formulation or in decision-making processes of the Organization” (10/20).

Reuters Special Report Examines PAHO's 'Partnership' With Food, Beverage Industry

To fight chronic “diseases in Mexico, the nation with the world’s highest rate of obese and overweight adults, a Reuters investigation found that WHO’s regional office has turned to the very companies whose sugary drinks and salty foods are linked to many of the maladies it’s trying to prevent,” the news service reports. “The office, the Pan American Health Organization, not only is relying on the food and beverage industry for advice on how to fight obesity,” but, “[f]or the first time in its 110-year history, it has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in money from the industry,” Reuters writes.

U.N. Official Calls Food Shortages In Southern Africa 'A Chronic Problem'

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg on Saturday said food shortages are “a chronic problem” in southern Africa, “where more than 5.5 million people in eight countries need aid this year, a 40 percent increase compared to 2011,” according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Associated Press reports. Ending a five-day trip to the region, “Bragg … said worsening food shortages are the result of drought or floods and rising world food prices,” according to the AP (10/20). Bragg met with officials in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa to discuss increased cooperation and preparedness, the U.N. News Centre reports, noting Malawi, Lesotho, and Swaziland also are affected by chronic food shortages, according to OCHA (10/19).

ECOWAS, Germany, FAO Launch Hunger-Free Initiative For West Africa

“A new project with the objective of eliminating hunger in West Africa has been launched by West African countries, Germany, and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),” BusinessDay reports (10/20). The three-year Hunger-Free Initiative for West Africa will “support the 15 ECOWAS members to increase commitment and collaboration among key decision makers of all sectors,” which “is expected to translate into increased budgets allocations to food and nutrition security as well as private investment to combat poverty, the [FAO] said in a news release,” the U.N. News Centre writes (10/18). “Germany is providing $2.4 million to fund the project, while FAO is expected to provide technical support,” the Devex “Development Newswire” reports, adding, “ECOWAS also committed financial support and pledged to ensure active participation from its members.” According to the news service, “The project’s focus on increasing political commitment in West Africa echoes U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for strong political will and new technologies to eradicate hunger around the world” (Mungcal, 10/19).