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In The News

U.S. Calls For Repeal Of Ugandan Law Criminalizing Homosexuality

News sources continue to cover international reaction to Uganda President Yoweri Museveni’s signing of an Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Reuters: U.S. says reviewing relationship with Uganda government
“The United States said on Monday it is reviewing its relationship with Uganda’s government, including U.S. assistance programs that are heavily focused on fighting HIV/AIDS, after its president signed a law imposing harsh penalties for homosexuality…” (Wroughton, 2/25).

Reuters: White House says Uganda takes step backward by signing gay legislation
“The White House sharply criticized Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday for signing legislation that imposes harsh penalties for homosexuality, calling it a step backward…” (Holland, 2/24).

Reuters: Ugandan president signs anti-gay bill, defying the West
“Uganda’s president signed a law imposing harsh penalties for homosexuality on Monday, defying protests from rights groups, criticism from Western donors and a U.S. warning that it will complicate relations…” (Biryabarema, 2/24).

The Hill’s “Briefing Room”: White House blasts Ugandan anti-gay bill
“…White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni ‘regrettably’ chose to endorse the legislation, which strengthens penalties against homosexuals, ‘instead of standing on the side of freedom, justice, and equal rights’…” (Sink, 2/24).

The Hill’s “Global Affairs”: Kerry to Uganda: Repeal anti-gay law — or else
“Secretary of State John Kerry demanded Monday that Uganda ‘repeal’ its new anti-gay law and warned that the State Department has begun a ‘review’ of U.S. assistance to the impoverished East African nation…” (Pecquet, 2/24).

The Hill’s “Floor Action”: Coons: Uganda’s anti-gay bill is ‘shameful’
“Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) condemned Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni Monday for signing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. ‘The rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons are universal human rights and deserve to be respected around the world,’ Coons said Monday…” (Cox, 2/24).

Devex: Netherlands to review support for CSOs backing Ugandan anti-gay bill
“…The Netherlands, for instance — whose bilateral aid to Uganda for 2014 amounts to €22 million euros ($30.21 million) — had already suspended its direct budget support to the government, and is now considering what to do with civil society organizations receiving Dutch aid that will be found to have backed the bill…” (Ravelo, 2/24).

Wall Street Journal: Uganda President Signs Antigay Bill into Law
“Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a controversial antigay bill, setting the stage for a showdown with Western donors and rights activists opposed to the legislation…” (Bariyo, 2/24).

Science Speaks: Ugandan President signs anti-homosexuality bill, hinders HIV/AIDS control efforts
“Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law [Monday] an anti-homosexuality bill which criminalizes homosexual acts, despite vocal opposition by the West and global health leaders who say such legislation not only violates human rights, but will reverse gains made in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda, where over 1.5 million people are living with HIV…” (Aziz, 2/24).

Associated Press: Uganda tabloid prints list of ‘top’ homosexuals
“A Ugandan newspaper published a list Tuesday of what it called the country’s ‘200 top’ homosexuals, outing some Ugandans who previously had not identified themselves as gay one day after the president enacted a harsh anti-gay law…” (Muhumuza, 2/25).

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U.S., U.N. Officials Urge Syria To Allow Unfettered Humanitarian Aid Access

News outlets highlight comments from U.S. and U.N. officials on the delivery of humanitarian aid in Syria, where the U.N. and its partners say an entire generation of children is at risk.

The Hill’s “Floor Action”: Kaine: ‘World will be watching’ if Syria blocks humanitarian aid
“Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) demanded Sunday that Syrian President Bashar Assad allow humanitarian assistance for Syrians struggling in the ongoing civil war. Kaine’s comments came a day after the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council unanimously approved a resolution requiring all factions in the ongoing civil war to let assistance be delivered to millions of Syrians…” (Cox, 2/24).

U.N. News Centre: On visit to besieged camp, U.N. official urges unhindered access for all civilians in Syria
“A senior United Nations official said [Monday] he was shocked by what he saw during a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, and underscored the need for full and unhindered access to all conflict-affected communities in the country…” (2/24).

U.N. News Centre: U.N., humanitarian partners sound global alarm on behalf of Syria’s children
“Moved by the dire plight of more than five million war-traumatized Syrian children — both inside and outside the country — United Nations agencies and their partners [Monday] joined forces to urge the world to demand an end to the ‘relentless horror and suffering’ those children face before an entire generation is lost…” (2/24).

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More Than 1M Babies Die On Their First Day Of Life, Save The Children Reports

News outlets report on the new Save the Children report, titled “Ending Newborn Deaths” (.pdf).

ABC News Australia: Developing nations urged to support mothers giving birth
“The charity Save the Children is calling on health ministers in developing countries to provide more support to mothers as it delivers a report that shows that 40 million women each year give birth without medical support. … In 2000, the international community set a goal that by next year 90 percent of women in the world would have skilled support at birth…” (Hawke, 2/25).

BBC News: Child mortality levels ‘still too high’
“Despite progress against child mortality, every day more than 18,000 children under five still die from preventable causes, according to a report from Save the Children. Every year the lives of two million newborn children could be saved by provision of better basic health care, the charity says…” (2/25).

Devex: Tackling newborn deaths? We need more (qualified) health workers
“Up to 51 percent of births in sub-Saharan Africa take place without the presence of a midwife or skilled health worker. … [D]espite claimed progress, much works remains to be done in addressing newborn and child mortality across the globe a year before the Millennium Development Goals expire. One way of moving forward, according to international humanitarian organization Save the Children, would be to increase the number of skilled health workers, particularly in those countries where they are most needed…” (Ravelo, 2/25).

The Guardian: More than a million babies die on the day of their birth every year
“More than a million babies around the world die on the day of their birth yearly and a million more are stillborn, according to Save the Children, which argues that most of these deaths are preventable. Although great strides have been made in reducing the numbers of children dying under the age of five in the past decade — numbers have halved from 12 million to 6.6 million, there has not been enough progress in reducing the preventable deaths of newborn babies, says the charity…” (Boseley, 2/24).

Huffington Post U.K.: One Million Babies Die On First Day Of Their Lives, Save The Children Report Says
“One million babies die on the first day of their lives every year, Save the Children has warned. But more than half of these deaths could be prevented if every woman and baby had access to expert health care workers, the charity said…” (2/25).

The Independent: More than a million children die on their first and only day of life, Save The Children reveals
“According to Save The Children, more than one million babies die each year on their first and only day of life. The first 24 hours of a child’s life are the most dangerous, yet one half of first day deaths around the world could be prevented if the mother and baby had access to free health care and a skilled midwife…” (2/24).

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U.N., Businesses Collaborate On Post-2015 Development Agenda

VOA News: U.N., Businesses Collaborate on Long-Term Plan to Help Developing Nations
“The United Nations has begun laying the groundwork for initiatives that will help improve the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people after its 15-year plan, called Millennium Development Goals, ends in 2015. … Government, businesses, and international organizations have joined the U.N. in formulating the post-2015 agenda, which focuses on issues including economic development and sustainability…” (Dockins, 2/24).

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Gates Foundation, Former Sen. Frist To Cooperate On Maternal, Child Health Initiative

The Tennessean: Gates Foundation teams with former Sen. Bill Frist
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is teaming with a local non-profit founded by former Sen. Bill Frist to promote women’s health in developing countries. Frist announced the partnership Monday. The Gates Foundation will focus on a new initiative spearheaded by Frist’s Hope Through Healing Hands organization. That initiative, dubbed the Faith-Based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide, will aim to encourage faith leaders to discuss health issues facing mothers, newborns and children, according to a media statement…” (Tamburin, 2/24).

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Indonesia Must Make Expensive Changes To Lower Maternal, Child Mortality, Report Says

New York Times: Indonesia Urged to Spend to Make Birth Less Risky
“If Indonesia wants to better its ‘embarrassingly suboptimal performance’ in deaths of newborns and their mothers, it will have to make far-reaching and expensive changes in its health care system, American and Indonesian experts say in a new report…” (McNeil, 2/24).

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Asia-Pacific Gets $16M Boost From Australia To Fight Malaria

Devex: Asia-Pacific’s fight against malaria gets a boost from Australia
“The fight to eradicate malaria in Asia-Pacific has been given a significant boost following Australia’s latest $16 million commitment to the region’s multi-donor trust fund against the mosquito-borne disease. The trust fund, part of a larger initiative called the Asia-Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance convened last October during the annual East Asia Summit, now has about $36 million in contributions after the United Kingdom earlier pledged about $20 million…” (Santos, 2/24).

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Pakistani Village Offers Girls Sex Education Classes

Reuters: Pakistani village gives girls pioneering sex education class
“…Sex education is common in Western schools but these ground-breaking lessons are taking place in deeply conservative rural Pakistan, a Muslim nation of 180 million people. Publicly talking about sex in Pakistan is taboo and can even be a death sentence. … But teachers operating in the village of Johi in poverty-stricken Sindh province say most families there support their sex education project…” (Ali, 2/24).

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Camels Linked To Humans As Major Source Of MERS, Study Says

New York Times: Camels Linked to Spread of MERS Virus in People
“A new study suggests that camels are the major source of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, a viral disease that has sickened 182 people and killed 79 of them since it was first detected in Saudi Arabia in 2012…” (Grady, 2/25).

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Studies Examine How Malaria Parasite Becomes Resistant To Drugs, Infects Humans

Media sources report on two recently published studies — one in Genome Biology and the other in Nature — showing how the malaria parasite becomes resistant to insecticides and makes changes allowing it to infect humans.

Agence France-Presse: Revealed: How malaria parasite beats top insecticides
“Gene detectives on Tuesday said they had discovered how the parasite that causes malaria becomes resistant to DDT and to insecticides used in anti-malaria bednets. The secret lies in just one change in the DNA code on a single gene, they said…” (2/24).

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine: Researchers at LSTM crack the genetic secret of mosquito resistance to DDT and bed net insecticides
“Researchers from LSTM have found that a single genetic mutation causes resistance to DDT and pyrethroids (an insecticide class used in mosquito nets)…” (2/25).

Health Canal: Malaria mystery solved by scientists
“Researchers have unlocked the long-standing mystery of how the malaria parasite initiates the process of passing from human to human…” (2/24).

The Hindu: Breakthrough in malaria research claimed
“Solving ‘a long-standing mystery in malaria biology’ is how researchers at the Welcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge describe their recent breakthrough in malaria research…” (Menon, 2/25).

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Editorials and Opinions

'No Birth Should Be Left Up To Chance,' Save The Children President Says

Huffington Post: No Birth Should Be Left Up to Chance
Carolyn Miles, president & CEO of Save the Children

“…As new research released [on Monday] by Save the Children reveals, 40 million women give birth without any trained help whatsoever. What’s more, two million women give birth entirely alone. … Save the Children is calling on world leaders, philanthropists and the private sector to commit to ensuring that by 2025 every birth is attended by trained and equipped health workers who can deliver essential health interventions for both the mother and the newborn. Because no birth should be left up to chance” (2/24).

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Education Important For Curbing Child Marriage

The Guardian: Child marriage in Nepal: what do you do when it’s by choice?
Ola Perczynska, program manager at Her Turn in Kathmandu, Nepal

“Despite child marriage being a human rights violation and the negative effects on girls and subsequently their children being well documented, in rural Nepal, an increasing number of these unions are considered love marriages. … When an adolescent couple decides to be together, marriage — often by eloping against their parents’ wishes — is their only choice. This practice is known to them as love marriage. …This new reality complicates many development assumptions that operate within a neat divide of regressive traditions versus progressive modern values. … The obvious goal is to increase adolescents’ awareness of disadvantages of child marriage, as many organizations already do. … [T]here is one channel that reaches almost all adolescents and has tremendous untapped potential: the national school curriculum…” (2/24).

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Recent Releases

Secretary Kerry Hosts Discussion On Ending, Preventing Sexual Violence In Conflict

According to a U.S. Department of State press release, Secretary of State John Kerry will host a discussion focused “on the United States, United Nations, and United Kingdom’s joint efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict situations and ongoing efforts to protect and empower vulnerable populations during conflict and humanitarian emergencies. … Other topics to be addressed include the Call to Action on Protecting Women and Girls in Emergencies, currently led by the United States and launched by the United Kingdom in 2013, as well as the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2106 on sexual violence in conflict, which was adopted in June 2013…”  (2/25).

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More, Better Data Needed On USAID's Global Health Supply Chain

Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Ananth Iyer, Susan Bukeley Butler Chair in Operations Management at the Purdue Krannert School of Management, write in CGD’s “Global Health Policy” blog about data related to USAID’s Global Health Supply Chains, which “purchase and deliver life-saving health commodities like family planning methods and antiretroviral medicines to developing country or other recipients.” They point out several shortcomings of the data and conclude, “We hope to see better data and analysis as part of this new phase of investment in commodities and supplies, the largest and most significant use of U.S. funding for global health” (2/24).

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CDC Shifts Language From 'Unprotected Sex' To 'Condomless Sex'

“…In January, the CDC announced on a call with more than 80 advocates that it would indeed change the decades-old language. Now, instead of referring to ‘unprotected sex’ to mean sex without a condom, the CDC will refer simply refer to it as ‘condomless sex,'” RH Reality Check reports. “…The advocates’ argument hinges on the fact that there are now multiple ways to have safer sex when the goal is preventing HIV transmission. Condoms obviously still play an important role, but there are other ways individuals can protect themselves as well. … How this language change will play out in the long term is not yet known. … It is also not clear how the rest of the public health community, specifically those who focus on other STDs, will react to the change or how likely they will be to adopt it, as the new prevention methods it is designed to include apply only to HIV…” (Kempner, 2/24).

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NTDs Must Be Addressed To Achieve Zero Hunger

Writing in the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases “End the Neglect” blog, Ashley Schmidt, program and operations associate for the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, asserts that the U.N.-led initiative, the Zero Hunger Challenge, must include neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) as part of the discussion to end malnutrition. “NTDs are an underlying challenge hindering nutritional goals. NTDs, particularly soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) and schistosomiasis, are important co-factors in causing and often leading to chronic malnutrition and hunger. … NTDs must be addressed as an underlying issue to malnutrition. The inclusion of NTD control and elimination efforts will only help in meeting the first pillar of the Zero Hunger Challenge — zero stunted children less than two years” (2/24).

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Blog Post Explores Caesarean Section Delivery Rates Worldwide

Writing in the Health Affairs Blog, Christine Spencer, an associate professor and executive director of the School of Health and Human Services at the College of Public Affairs, University of Baltimore, explores global caesarean section delivery rates. “…World experience with caesarean deliveries provides an opportunity for cross-national learning in the use of medical technologies to improve health and lower costs. Caesarean delivery rates at both extremes result in excess health risks for mothers and newborns…” (2/24).

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