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Also In Global Health News: Germany To Withhold Global Fund Contribution; Protecting Pregnant Women From Malaria; FAO Food Price Warning; Polio In Angola « » The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Also In Global Health News: Germany To Withhold Global Fund Contribution; Protecting Pregnant Women From Malaria; FAO Food Price Warning; Polio In Angola

Germany To Withhold $270M Pledge To Global Fund Pending Investigation Of Corruption

Germany’s development ministry on Wednesday “said its pledge of euro200 million ($270 million) will be withheld from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria pending a full investigation by Germany into the corruption that the fund’s own investigators are turning up,” the Associated Press reports. A ministry spokesman who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity “said it was demanding that the fund shed more light on the $34 million in losses due to forged documents, improper bookkeeping and other widespread fraud and has summoned a Global Fund representative to discuss the reports,” the news service writes (Heilprin, 1/26). “The news of corruption couldn’t have come at a worse time – just days before the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, where the Global Fund traditionally maintains a high profile in the hope of attracting new support from the rich, the famous and the powerful,” Deutsche Welle reports (1/26).

Protection Against Malaria For Millions Of Pregnant Women In Sub-Saharan Africa Still Lacking, Study Finds

Despite efforts to reduce and control malaria during pregnancy, millions of pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa “lack adequate access to insecticide-treated bednets and intermittent preventive treatment,” according to a study published online Wednesday in Lancet Infectious Diseases, Africa Science News Service reports (Neondo, 1/26). The study, which examined national control strategies “found that 45 of 47 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had an bednet policy for pregnant women and that estimated coverage was 17 percent among the nearly 28 million pregnancies at risk of malaria in the 32 countries for which information was available,” according to a press release by Wellcome Trust, one of the groups that funded the research. “Among 39 countries with a policy on intermittent preventive treatment, just one in four pregnant women had received some treatment, despite more than three-quarters visiting an antenatal clinic,” the release adds (1/26). An accompanying comment describes some of the challenges associated with efforts to control malaria in pregnant women and calls for “cost-effective techniques to scale up malaria control” (Gutman/Slutsker, 1/26).

FAO Warns Countries Not To Take Hasty Actions About Food Price Spikes 

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “warned food producing countries on Wednesday against introducing export curbs to protect local markets as world food prices rose close to levels that triggered food riots in 2007/2008,” Reuters reports. “The agency has called upon countries not to take any policy actions that might appear useful in the short term but could undermine existing markets and have harmful longer-term effects or even aggravate the situation,” the news service notes.

“FAO strongly advises against such measures, as they often provoke more uncertainty and disruption on world markets and drive prices up further globally, while depressing prices domestically and hence curtailing incentives to produce more food,” Richard China, director of the FAO Policy and Programme Development Support Division, said in a press release (1/26). FAO also published a guide (.pdf) aimed at helping policy-makers in developing countries deal with high food prices, according to a press release from the organization (1/26). On Tuesday, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in a Nikkei business daily piece that there is “a pressing need for new measures of transparency and regulation to deal with speculation on agricultural commodity futures markets,” Reuters reports. “Higher prices and volatility will continue in the next years if we fail to tackle the structural causes of imbalances in the international agricultural system,” he said (1/25).

Global Health Partners Focus On Polio Fight In Angola

Representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UNICEF are in Angola this week as the government focuses on renewing efforts to eradicate polio, IRIN reports (1/25). “In 2010, 32 people contracted polio in Angola, a disappointing turnaround from 2004, when Angola celebrated three consecutive years free from the virus and the country stood ready to be declared polio-free. But by May of 2005, the disease returned and quickly spread to Namibia (2006), DR Congo (2006, 2008 and 2010), and the Republic of Congo (2010),” according to a UNICEF press release (1/21). On Monday, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation’s global health program met with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos who “reaffirmed the government’s commitment to eradicating polio,” IRIN writes (1/25). During their visit to the country, Lake and Yamada “will meet with senior government officials and partners in the fight against polio” and “visit families, volunteers and health services. Among other things, they will discuss how to support national, provincial and municipal efforts in Angola to interrupt transmission,” the U.N. News Centre writes (1/21).

Also on Monday, health experts discussed how  war damage in Luanda, Angola’s capital, “is complicating the fight against polio,” The Associated Press reports. “WHO official Matshidiso R. Moeti said the challenges in Luanda include the concentration of people. Waves of refugees have come to the capital … Lack of development in a countryside strewn with land mines has kept Angolans in their capital,” the AP writes (Kikolo, 1/25).