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Also In Global Health News: China Smoking Ban; Gates Foundation Grants; Global Consumer Taxes; Polio Vaccination In Uzbekistan; Maternal Mortality In Uganda

China Vows To Ban Smoking From Public Places By 2011

“China, the world’s biggest consumer of tobacco, has insisted it will honour a pledge to ban smoking in public places by 2011 in accordance with an international treaty, state media said Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Senior ministry official Yang Qing said the goal had been set in accordance with the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which came into force in early 2005,” the news service writes (5/11). “According to the health ministry, smoking will be against the law in all indoor public venues and workplaces, as well as in trains, buses and other modes of transportation. Some outdoor sites will also be subjected to the ban expected to be in place in January,” Xinhua reports. China’s Ministry of Health building will be the first central government department to ban smoking indoors, beginning May 31, according to China Daily/People’s Daily Online (5/11). “About 350 million of China’s 1.3 billion people smoke cigarettes, with the nation consuming up to one-third of the tobacco products sold annually worldwide, according to the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control,” AFP adds (5/11).

Gates Foundation Announces New Batch Of $100,000 Global Health Innovation Grants

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Tuesday announced 78 award recipients from 18 different countries that will each receive $100,000 for “scientific projects broadly aimed at improving global health,” Reuters reports. “We are convinced that some of these ideas will lead to innovations and eventually solutions that will save lives,” Tachi Yamada, who heads the foundation’s global health program, said in a statement (Kelland, 5/10). “Grants include the development of a low-cost cell phone microscope to diagnose malaria, study of the strategic placement of insect-eating plants to reduce insect-borne diseases, and investigation of nanoparticles to release vaccines when they come in contact with human sweat,” a Gates Foundation press release states (5/10). The grants are part of the foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations program – “a five-year $100 million initiative which seeks to promote innovation in global health,” Reuters reports (5/10). The BBC reports on the work of scientists at Strathclyde University, who were awarded one of the grants. “The cash will be used to develop a treatment for Leishmania. … They aim to combine immunology, parasitology and laser-based imaging to design and build a new vaccination system” (5/10).

World Health Assembly To Consider Global Consumer Taxes

FOXNews.com reports on a prospective “global consumer” tax on certain Internet transactions, which would be used by the WHO to “reorganize the research, development, production and distribution of medicines around the world, with greater emphasis on drugs for communicable diseases in poor countries.” According to the news service, “the proposals are headed for the four-day annual meeting of the 193-member World Health Assembly … which begins in Geneva on May 17” (Russell, 5/10). 

Uzbekistan To Begin Nationwide Polio Immunizations

“Uzbekistan will start mass immunisation against polio this month after an outbreak of the disease in neighbouring Tajikistan, officials in the Central Asian state said Monday,” Agence France-Presse reports. The national campaign will run from May 12 through June 13. Bakhtiyor Niyazmatov, the country’s deputy health minister, said the campaign, which is funded by the WHO and UNICEF, aims to vaccinate 2.8 million children under age five. “Since Uzbekistan shares borders with both Tajikistan and Afghanistan, where outbreaks of polio have been registered, it is very important for us to prevent the virus from entering the country,” said Niyazmatov (5/10).

Uganda Launches Campaign To Decrease Maternal Mortality

Uganda’s Ministry of Health along with Save the Children, the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and other partners recently launched a two-month campaign aimed at lowering the country’s maternal mortality rate, New Vision/allAfrica.com reports. The Ugandan program is part of the African Union’s Campaign on the Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA), which was announced in July at a meeting of health ministers in Addis Ababa. Janet Museveni, the country’s first lady, discussed how men can help prevent maternal mortality at an event marking the launch of the campaign, which coincided with the International Day of Midwives (Nyakato, 5/10). The campaign in Uganda outlines the role that different members of society could play in reducing maternal mortality, according to a UNFPA Uganda press release (5/5).