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In The News

Conflict In CAR, South Sudan Dominate Opening Of A.U. Summit

News outlets report on the opening of the African Union Summit in Ethiopia. Discussion surrounding conflict in the region is overshadowing the theme of this year’s summit, Agriculture and Food Security.

Agence France-Presse: Africa summit to pull C. Africa, S. Sudan from ‘abyss’
“Conflict in Central African Republic and South Sudan dominated the agenda as Africa’s leaders gathered in Ethiopia Thursday for a two-day summit of the continental bloc. The talks, opened by outgoing African Union chairman and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn early Thursday, are officially themed on agriculture and food security…” (Vaughan, 1/30).

VOA News: South Sudan, CAR Conflicts to Dominate A.U. Summit
“The crises in South Sudan and the Central African Republic are expected to be high on the agenda at the African Union summit that begins Thursday in Addis Ababa. The United States is also seeking ways to punish the perpetrators of violence in the CAR…” (Joselow, 1/29).

U.N. News Centre: Agriculture ‘engine of growth’ to eradicating hunger in Africa, U.N. official stresses
“A senior United Nations official today stressed that agriculture is the engine of growth needed to eradicate hunger and boost food production in Africa, ahead of the launch later this week of the 2014 African Year of Agriculture and Food Security. José Graziano da Silva, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), noted that several African countries have already reached the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) hunger target of reducing by half the proportion of undernourished people between 1990 and 2015…” (1/29).

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South Sudan's Displaced Persons Reluctant To Return Home Despite Ceasefire Agreement

News outlets report that displaced persons in South Sudan are reluctant to return home despite threats of food insecurity and disease in camps and the promise of a ceasefire agreement signed last week.

The Guardian: South Sudan’s displaced people wary of return despite aid problems in camps
“…Despite a ceasefire signed late last week between the rebels … and the [South Sudan] government, people are unwilling to return to their homes. Instead, the U.N. reports that the number of displaced is actually increasing — creating concerns about food shortages and the spread of disease. Aid groups warn that the unstable security situation means they cannot reach all those who require assistance…” (Green, 1/30).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. humanitarian chief hopes South Sudan ceasefire will ease civilian suffering
“Noting that the recent conflict in South Sudan has rolled back development gains made over the past two years since independence, the top United Nations humanitarian official today voiced her hope that a recent ceasefire will enable people to return to their homes and rebuild their lives…” (1/29).

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UNICEF Data Show One-Fifth Of Young Girls In Sub-Saharan Africa Undergo FGM

The Guardian: Female genital mutilation affects a fifth of young girls in sub-Saharan Africa
“Almost one in five young girls in sub-Saharan Africa are still forced to endure female genital mutilation (FGM), according to a U.N. report that paints a grim picture of the state of the world’s children. Statistics released by UNICEF, the U.N. agency for children, in ‘Every child counts: revealing disparities, advancing children’s rights,’ published on Thursday, shows problems such as violence, child marriage and FGM are widespread across some of the world’s poorest countries. The release of the figures comes ahead of the 25th anniversary of the convention on the rights of the child in November…” (Tran, 1/30).

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Pakistan Struggles To Contain Spreading Polio Virus

VOA News: Anti-Polio Drive in Peshawar, Pakistan Falters
“The war on polio is in danger of being lost in Pakistan, and in a dramatic development a new strain of polio has been identified in a part of the country where eradication efforts against the crippling disease are most at risk because of attacks against vaccinators…” (Farshori, 1/28).

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Nigeria's HIV/AIDS Anti-Stigma Law Does Not Apply To Same-Sex Couples, Official Says

Daily Times: Proposed HIV/AIDS Anti-Stigma Law Not for Same-Sex Couples — Rep
Nigeria’s “proposed HIV and AIDS Anti-Stigma Law is not meant to protect same-sex couples but to curb stigmatization against people living with HIV, Dr. Joseph Kigbu said in Abuja on Wednesday…” (1/29).

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Liberian Officials Aim To Stop Counterfeit Drug Sales

IRIN: Counterfeit drug war in Liberia
“Liberia’s Ministry of Health is launching a major crackdown on counterfeit drug sellers throughout the country, but Liberians say they have no choice but to buy such drugs, given their low cost and availability even in rural areas…” (1/29).

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Recovering From Typhoon, Philippines On Alert To Prevent Infectious Diseases

IRIN: Philippines on watch for infectious disease outbreaks
“Health officials are on alert to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in areas stricken by Typhoon Haiyan. ‘During this time of year, we can expect heavy rains and stagnant water from floods to become a cause for a possible increase in dengue cases,’ said Julie Hall, the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) representative in the Philippines…” (1/29).

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EurActiv Interviews WHO Expert About Progress Against NTDs

EurActiv: Funding for ‘neglected’ tropical diseases goes from ‘rags to riches’
“Dengue fever, chikungunya and other ‘neglected tropical diseases’ have attracted growing media attention — and international funding — as global warming helped them spread to Europe. But money isn’t everything, especially for deprived populations in Africa’s remote regions that are the most affected by them, warns a WHO expert in an interview with EurActiv…” (1/30).

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USAID Awards Science And Technology Pioneers Prize To South African HIV Trial

SAnews.gov.za: South African HIV/AIDS trial scoops USAID award
“The Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) 004 Tenofovir gel trial was … announced as the winner of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Science and Technology Pioneers Prize. … The CAPRISA 004 Tenofovir gel trial, conducted in KwaZulu-Natal, was funded by USAID and the South African Department of Science and Technology, and conducted by a group of South African and U.S. researchers. It provided proof of concept that an antiretroviral gel used before and after sex can protect women against HIV…” (1/29).

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Editorials and Opinions

PMTCT Is 'First Step' To Achieving AIDS-Free Generation

CNN: Join the fight for an AIDS-free future
Nigel Barker, photographer and ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

“…By giving an HIV-positive pregnant woman access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) during pregnancy and breastfeeding, we can almost ensure that her baby will be born and remain HIV-free. Sadly, many of the women and children who need these crucial services still don’t receive them. … Pediatric HIV has been virtually eliminated in the United States and Europe, and thanks to programs such as the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), we are closer than ever before to ending pediatric HIV in Africa and other resource-limited regions around the world. … Preventing mother-to-child transmission [PMTCT] of HIV is the first step toward achieving an AIDS-free generation…” (1/27).

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Recent Releases

Global Community Progressing On Challenge Of Ending 10 NTDs By 2020

January 30 “is the second anniversary of the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) — the largest coordinated effort against NTDs to date,” Alex Gordon, a communications associate with the Sabin Vaccine Institute, writes in the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog. “This week we’re recognizing the remarkable progress and momentum achieved since the formation of this global partnership where 13 pharmaceutical companies; the governments of the United States, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; World Bank and other international organizations formed a global partnership to control and eliminate 10 NTDs by the end of the decade — a commitment that Sabin Vaccine Institute’s president Dr. Peter Hotez calls a ‘tipping point for the world’s poor’…” (1/29).

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5 Lessons From Africa On Integrating Family Planning, Maternal Health

In a post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Sirina Keesara of UCSF and Grace Lesser of Jacaranda Health discuss five lessons on integrating family planning and maternal health in resource-constrained settings: “integrate family planning into maternity services,” “get efficient,” “bust myths,” “target men,” and “think outside the box” (1/29).

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IntraHealth Outlines Its Top 10 Global Health Issues In 2014

In a post on its blog, IntraHealth recaps its top 10 global health issues in 2013, saying, “Those same issues will be just as prominent in 2014, and we’ll continue to track them closely. Now here are 10 more that will shape the coming year for IntraHealth International, and for all seven billion of us.” Among the issues listed are nutrition and obesity, non-communicable diseases, and universal health coverage (1/29).

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Survey In Sudan Produces Data On 64 Health, Nutrition Indicators

“Data collected in Sudan is revealing for the first time the difference in performance of health and nutrition services in each of Sudan’s 18 states. This has been thanks to the Simple Spatial Survey Methodology (S3M) used to collect data on child malnutrition…,” according to a UNICEF press release. “…The S3M survey methodology has been used in other countries before, including Niger, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia but the Sudan S3M has the greatest number of indicators so far: 64 in total, covering child and maternal health and nutrition as well as WASH services…” (1/29).

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