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Also In Global Health News: Flooding In Namibia; IUD For PMTCT; Global Drug Trials; ASEAN, WHO Fight Dengue

Up To 400,000 People Affected By Flooding In Northern Namibia

As many as 400,000 people in Namibia may be affected by severe flooding in the northern part of the country, according to authorities who are gaining access to hard-to-reach remote areas, News24 reports. This would be more people in need of humanitarian assistance than were affected during the 2009 floods in the same region. The U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (Cerf) has made grants to the WHO and UNICEF to assist victims, particularly with health and food security issues, the news agency notes. Though flood waters are beginning to recede, officials are concerned about the emergence of water-borne and mosquito-borne diseases, including cholera and malaria, News24 adds (Mare, 5/9).

Project Pays HIV-Positive Kenyan Women To Get IUD 

The Nation examines how Project Prevention, a California-based organization that “made headlines for offering to pay [U.S.] women addicted to drugs $300 if they agreed to be sterilized, or ongoing payments as long as addicted women used long-term contraception,” has now started a program in Kenya at the prompting of “an enterprising university student in western Kenya” named Willice Onyango. The article looks at how Onyango approached Project Prevention founder Barbara Harris to support a program in Kenya to prevent mother-to-child-transmission of HIV. The organization now “partners with a Kenyan doctor who inserts IUDs into HIV-positive women; the doctor, who receives $7 per insertion, screens women for their suitability for the device. … The first ten women paid for contraceptive use got IUDs last month. Onyango reported that the $40 each woman receives is pooled together and given to the group leader to support the women’s business – in the first group’s case, a tree nursery.” The article includes quotes from those in support of and against the program (Clark, 5/6).

Reuters Examines Increase In Drug Trials Abroad

In a special report on global drug trials, Reuters reports that pharmaceutical companies are “seek[ing] cheaper venues for studies and cast[ing] their net further afield for big pools of ‘treatment-naive’ patients who are not already taking other drugs that could make them unsuitable subjects for testing new ones. … The drug industry is also paying a lot more attention these days to the promise of emerging markets, whose healthcare authorities, just like those in the United States and Western Europe, are keen to see cutting-edge science conducted in their backyards.” The article looks at some of the questions raised as clinical trials increase in areas like Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America: “Is the quality of the data as reliable as that from a top U.S. medical center? Is it safe to extrapolate common clinical effects from studying patients with different lifestyles and genetic profiles? And are ethical standards in testing new drugs properly upheld in poorer countries?” (Hirschler, 5/6).

ASEAN, WHO To Assist Asia Pacific Nations With Dengue Fight

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the WHO are teaming up to assist countries in the region fight dengue, Xinhua reports (Yang, 5/6). The Asia Pacific region bears three quarters of the world’s burden of dengue, a mosquito-borne viral disease that has a “large impact on health, the economy and the entire society,” according to a statement from ASEAN. Representatives of ASEAN member nations gathered at a workshop in Manila, Philippines, last week recognized the need for expanded dengue prevention and control activities and shared their nation’s plans for the upcoming ASEAN Dengue Day on June 15, the statement notes. “Dengue will continue to be a problem as the world faces population growth, greater urbanization, increases in population movements and variations in climate,” Takeshi Kasai, director of the Division of Health Security and Emergencies, WHO-Western Pacific Regional Office, said, adding, “We have to go beyond reacting to taking action all year round” (5/5).