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Also In Global Health News: Clinton To Haiti; Global Fund Suspends Zambian Aid; Ugandan Health Workers; MDG Summit; Rwandan Health Insurance; HIV Drugs In Kenya

Former President Clinton To Return To Haiti

Reuters reports that former President Bill Clinton will return to Haiti to “jump-start” the country’s post-earthquake reconstruction. Clinton will head the first meeting of Haiti’s reconstruction commission, “part of a sorely needed effort to better coordinate international aid efforts, [Prime Minister Jean-Max] Bellerive said.” Bellerive hopes the meeting will “establish clear-cut guidelines” for distributing more than $5 billion in aid from 140 countries following the Jan. 12 earthquake (Brown, 6/16). Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that Bellerive is visiting Florida “seeking potential investors” for rebuilding projects (Kay, 6/16).

Global Fund Freezes Zambia Aid Over Fraud Concerns

“The Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] has suspended more than $300 million in health assistance to Zambia because of concerns about corruption,” Reuters reports. The cut comes one year after Sweden and the Netherlands suspended $33 million “due to a missing $5 million” (Mfula, 6/15). According to the Post Online, “[t]he Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has concluded that there was fraud in connection with one or more of the grants” (Saluseki, 6/16).

Uganda Lacks 50% Of Health Care Workers

“Uganda is short of 50% of the required health workers in the public service,” New Vision reports. The figure is part of a new report by USAID released at a meeting in Kampala, Uganda. Francis Runume, director of Uganda’s health ministry, said his country needs more funding, programs to recruit health workers and public-private partnerships in the health sector to counter the shortage (Businge, 6/15).

Organizations Push For Action Ahead Of MDG Meeting

Anti-poverty and human rights organizations are participating in informal meeting as “a major high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] approaches at U.N. headquarters in September,” Inter Press Service reports. “We are working to try and push governments across the world [to] meet their commitments to end extreme poverty by 2015,” said Rajiv Joshi of Global Call to Action Against Poverty. Participants signed an open letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon “containing recommendations for enhancing the MDG’s effectiveness,” according to IPS (Bransford, 6/15).

Most Rwandans Insured Under National Plan

The New York Times reports on Rwanda’s national health plan, which covers 92 percent of its 9.7 million people. The insurance “covers the basics” and premiums cost $2 per year, per person. The newspaper writes, “the most common causes of death – diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, malnutrition, infected cuts – are treated.” Since the insurance plan went into effect 11 years ago, “life expectancy has risen to 52 from 48,” and “[d]eaths in childbirth and from malaria are down sharply.” The article explores how donors, including the U.S., help supplement the care offered through the insurance program (McNeil, 6/14).

Kenya Allocates $11M For HIV Drugs

The Kenyan government has allocated $11 million to buy antiretrovirals (ARVs), the first time HIV drugs have been included in its national budget, PlusNews/IRIN reports. Advocates have praised the move. “However, the allocation covers just over one percent of the estimated $959 million gap in funding for treatment and care that Kenya faces over the next three and a half years,” according to the article, which also looks at donor funding for ARVs in the country (6/14).