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Also In Global Health News: Congo Security Warnings; Niger Food Crisis; Drug Cost In Developing Countries; Measles Vaccination In China

Congolese Community Leaders Warned U.N. About Security; 240 Rape Victims Now Identified

“Congolese community leaders say they begged local U.N. officials and army commanders to protect villagers days before rebels gang-raped scores of people, from a month-old baby boy to a 110-year-old great-great-grandmother,” the Associated Press reports. The Walikale Civil Association “first sounded the alarm on July 25,” in a meeting with the Congolese army and local authorities and first warned the U.N. on July 29, according to the association’s Charles Masudi Kisa. The article also quotes Roger Meece the U.N. mission chief in Congo; Miel Hendrickson of International Medical Corps; and Sylvain Ikenge, a Congolese army spokesman (Faul, 9/1). Meanwhile, Inter Press Service reports that the estimated number of women raped in the episode “has risen to over 240,” which is 75 more than were previously identified. The Congolese military is increasing their presence in the region and has started an investigation into the attacks. A U.N. statement notes that “one suspect has already been apprehended.” The U.N. is conducting “its own non-criminal investigation,” IPS writes (Muscara, 9/1).

Niger Food Shortage ‘Under Control,’ PM Says

Niger’s interim prime minister said the country’s “food crisis” is “now under control,” crediting “national solidarity and the support of the international community,” Agence France-Presse reports. Saying the food situation “was both a priority and an emergency,” Mahamadou Danda also told diplomats at a poverty meeting that the “consequences of this crisis will take time to clear away.” AFP notes that more than seven million people face food shortages in Niger, according to the U.N., which has allocated $35 million to aid the situation (9/1).

Researchers Analyze Financial Burden Of Four Drugs In Developing Countries

“Tens of millions of people in low- and middle-income countries would be pushed below the poverty line by buying common but vital medicines,” Dutch researchers found in a study published in PLoS Medicine, Reuters reports. The team looked at four different drugs available in both brand and generic forms to asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and bacterial infections. They then analyzed the number of people in 16 low- and middle- income countries “who would be pushed below an income level of $1.25 or $2 a day” by buying them. The researchers “said their findings showed that greater effort is needed to encourage the use of cheaper generic drugs in poor countries and to ensure more medicines are made available through the public sector” (9/1).

China To Vaccinate 100M Children Against Measles

Nearly 100 million children will be vaccinated against measles in China this month, according to Reuters. China experienced “more than 52,000 cases of measles” in 2009, and the country accounts for 86% of all the cases in the western Pacific. The campaign will be a “single-dose exercise,” meant to “catch up” and boost the immunity among children. The article quotes David Hipgrave, chief of health and nutrition at UNICEF China, and Michael O’Leary, WHO’s China representative, who noted that people in remote areas and migrant populations are at greater risk because they have less access to vaccines (9/1).