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Also In Global Health News: Contraception In India; Hunger In Chad; Malawi’s Anti-Gay Laws; Universal Flu Vaccine

TIME Examines Emergency Contraception In India

TIME examines the popularity of emergency contraception in India and the associated challenges. “New Delhi has promoted emergency contraception as an option for women since 2002 and made it available over the counter in 2005. But it wasn’t until Cipla came out with the i-pill in 2007, marketing it to modern young women through television and magazine advertising, that women took to it,” the magazine writes. The article discusses the possible health effects of taking emergency contraception too often and the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases for women who focus on pregnancy prevention and don’t use condoms. The article also looks at the Indian government’s role in the situation (Relph, 5/26).

FAO Highlights Funding Needs To Provide Food Aid In Chad 

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Tuesday highlighted its funding gap for food aid programs in Chad where two million people could go hungry, VOA News reports (DeCapua, 5/25). “Drought and pest infestation has slashed food production in the country, with cereal production estimated to have dropped 34 percent compared to 2008, according to FAO. The agency’s emergency operations expert, Fatouma Seid, said FAO has only been able to mobilize $2 million of the $11.8 million it requested last November for agricultural emergency operations in Chad as part of a U.N. inter-agency appeal,” the U.N. News Centre writes (5/25). Officials suggested that donors have been focusing on Niger, Reuters reports. “In comparison, there’s less awareness of what’s happening in Chad, although the situation there is just as critical,” Seid said (Ngarmbassa, 5/25).

UNAIDS, Global Fund Directors Meet With Malawi President Over Country’s Anti-Gay Laws; U.N. Secretary General To Travel To Country

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe together with Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Tuesday met with Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika to express their concern about the country’s anti-gay laws, after two homosexual men in the country were recently convicted and sentenced to 14 years of prison “for unnatural acts and gross indecency,” the Associated Press reports. “Kazatchkine said, ‘Criminalizing sexual behaviour drives people who engage in same-sex relations underground,’ hampering HIV programs,” the AP adds (5/25).

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will travel to Malawi this weekend to meet with the president and discuss this issue, the New York Times reports. “Ban said the sentence violated human rights principles that ban both discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as well as the criminalization of sexual acts between consenting adults,” the newspaper writes (MacFarquhar, 5/24).

Researchers May Be One Step Closer To Universal Flu Vaccine

Researchers may be one step closer to the development of a “so-called universal flu vaccine,” according to a study published Tuesday in a new journal mBio, Reuters reports (Fox, 5/25). “Current immunizations create antibodies that target a specific piece of a molecule on the surface of the virus that researchers call its ‘head,'” a piece that evolves quickly, requiring patients to receive “a different flu shot each year as new types of flu develop,” Wired Science writes. “The next-generation vaccine causes antibodies to go after a piece of the [virus] that changes less often and that is present in many influenza strains,” the magazine adds (Madrigal, 5/25). The researchers found that a vaccine against a “‘headless’ version of the influenza virus protected mice from several different strains of flu,” Reuters adds. “Years of work lie ahead but if it works in people the way it worked in mice, the new vaccine might transform the way people are now immunized against influenza, the team at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York reported,” the news service writes (5/25).