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Also In Global Health News: Canada’s Maternal Health Initiative; Mobile Giving; Interview With UNICEF Chief; Burning Biofuels And Anemia; ARVs In India

Sub-Saharan Africa
To Receive Boost From Maternal, Child Health Initiative

Canada will announce Monday “the 10 countries that will get help from the government’s $1.1-billion maternal and child health initiative,” 80 percent of which is slated for sub-Saharan Africa, the Postmedia News/Vancouver Sun reports. The majority of the money will go to Ethiopia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, southern Sudan and Tanzania, while “[t]he rest is earmarked for Afghanistan, Haiti and Bangladesh.” According to International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda, “Canada’s approach is going to be improving the health systems, particularly at the local and district level.” She also “said the government is especially keen on projects where governments are already assuming responsibility for their own people’s health care and don’t leave it all to aid” (O’Neill, 11/1).

New York Times Examines Mobile Giving Efforts By Nonprofits

A New York Times story examines efforts by nonprofits to solicit donations via text message, writing: “Over all, the Red Cross pulled in more than $30 million by mobile phones for its work in Haiti, setting off a scramble among nonprofits to figure out a way to replicate that success. … But replicating that windfall is no easy task for most organizations, in particular because the costs of maintaining a mobile donating program can outweigh the proceeds.” The article profiles Mobile Accord’s mGive division, which raised $2 million through mobile giving for the American Red Cross after Haiti’s earthquake and other organizations that have tried to solicit text donations including Share Our Strength, a childhood hunger non-profit, and Operations USA, a disaster relief organization (Strom, 10/31).

UNICEF Chief Discusses Maternal Health, Cash Transfer Programs

In an interview with Xinhua, Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF, discusses community health workers, maternal health, the distribution of cash transfers to needy families, health delivery and the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Lake called cash transfers in Malawi, South Africa and Kenya “innovative programmes that help to empower people to take charge of their own education and their own health,” and said improvements in maternal health and reproductive care are possible when programs focus on vulnerable populations. “UNICEF is now pursuing a strategy to work with the poorest people through community action to fight big problems like death of children at infancy, a strategy that was successfully used in China through use of well trained community health workers,” Lake said (10/31).

Study: Children In Houses That Burn Biofuels Have Higher Anemia Incidence

Families who burned “biofuels” – wood, straw, dung and other natural materials – “were 7 percent more likely to include a child with mild anemia,” new research shows, according to Reuters. Researchers at McMaster University in Canada compared data from 29 countries and found that burning biofuels, in addition to being linked to low birth weight and pneumonia, might cause anemia because “in theory, … the smoke contains pollutants such as carbon monoxide, which binds to and reduces the available amount of hemoglobin, and other compounds that can destroy red blood cells directly,” Reuters reports. “As a substantial proportion of people still rely on biofuels for domestic energy in developing countries, they need to be aware that exposure to biofuel smoke is associated with health risks and that they need to protect their children and themselves from being exposed to this harmful smoke,” study author Hmwe Hmwe Kyu said (McCook, 10/29).

Indian Pharmaceutical Company Receives Tentative Drug Approval Under PEPFAR

Strides Arcolab Limited, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Bangalore, India, on Friday announced it “has received tentative approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration for one [abbreviated] new drug application (ANDA) for fixed dose combination of Lamivudine and Zidovudine tablets 150 mg/300 mg under the expedited review provisions” of PEPFAR, PHARMABIZ.com reports. Strides Arcolab “has so far received 16 PEPFAR approvals,” according to the news service (10/29). “The company supplies ARV [antiretroviral] products to global procurement agencies and this approval adds to the overall basket of medicines available,” according to a Strides Arcolab press release (.pdf) (10/29).