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Also In Global Health News: Global Life Expectancy Increases; Polio Campaign In Afghanistan, Pakistan; Plumpy’Nut Patent; HIV Testing In SA

Global Life Expectancy Is Up, U.N. Report Says

“Global life expectancy increased sharply from 47 years in 1950-55 to 68 years in 2005-2010, the U.N. has said in a report,” the U.K. Press Association reports. According to the report, “people are living longer mainly because of improvements in nutrition and hygiene, and advances in vaccines and medical treatments against infectious and parasitic diseases that are ‘communicable,'” the news service writes. A shift “from communicable to non-communicable diseases as the main cause of deaths has occurred in all regions of the world except sub-Saharan Africa, where the HIV/AIDS epidemic is widespread and infectious and parasitic diseases still claim many lives,” the Press Association reports. The study will be a topic of discussion this week at the U.N. Commission on Population and Development meeting April 12-16, the Press Association adds (4/10).

Afghanistan-Pakistan To Join Forces To Fight Polio

Marking the end of a two-day meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Friday, leaders from Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to join forces to fight the spread of polio and reduce the movement of the virus between the two countries, the International News reports (4/10). “Addressing the meeting, Federal Health Secretary Khushnood Akhtar Lashari called upon the World Health Organisation (WHO) in both the countries to develop a focus group which shall be tasked with ensuring coordination and dealing with cross-border issues,” DAWN.com reports. “Both the countries should hold immunisation campaigns on same dates to ensure synchronisation of efforts and also prevent cross-border movement of unvaccinated children, Mr Lashari suggested,” according to the news service (4/10).

BBC Examines Legal Battle Over Plumpy’Nut Patent

The BBC examines the legal battle over the commercial patent on the nutritional product Plumpy’nut, a product used to help severely malnourished children. The fight is between Nutriset, the inventors of the fortified peanut paste, who argue “the patent is needed to safeguard production of Plumpy’nut in the developing world, and to stop the market being swamped by cheap U.S. surpluses,” and two American non-profits, who “say they are being stopped by Nutriset from manufacturing similar – and cheaper – peanut-based food products, despite the proven demand from aid agencies,” the BBC writes. The article includes comments from parties on opposing sides of the legal fight (Schofield, 4/8).

Ahead Of South Africa’s HIV Testing Campaign, Zuma Gets HIV Test

South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday received an HIV test, kicking off the government’s campaign to encourage all South Africans to know their HIV status, TIMES Live reports. “Months after taking office as president of the country last year, Zuma unveiled his government’s new approach to the fight against HIV,” involving “a massive [HIV] testing campaign” and the expansion of HIV treatment services (Mahlangu, 4/8). Zuma stressed that the HIV tests will be voluntary and the results confidential, BuaNews/allAfrica.com writes. “Everybody’s privacy and dignity must be respected by health professionals and the public in general,” Zuma said. “We must also respect the HIV status of all South Africans, whether positive or negative, and support each other to deal with this epidemic,” he added (4/8).