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Also In Global Health News: GSK’s Interest In NTDs; Kenya’s Male Circumcision Drive; Dengue Fever; HIV Prevention In Jamaica; Food Shortages In Zimbabwe

GSK Head Discusses Company Interest In NTDs

The Associated Press features a Q&A with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) CEO Andrew Witty, who “is pushing to sell more products in fast-growing ‘emerging markets’ such as Brazil, Russia, India and China” while simultaneously “increasing efforts to bring medicines for tropical diseases to the poorest countries, at minimum profit.” The article examines Witty’s announcement last month the GSK would allow scientists access to its library of potential malaria treatments and provide free lab space for scientists working on finding cures for neglected tropical diseases (Johnson, 2/2).

90K Men Circumcised In Kenya Since Government Launched Drive In 2008

The Daily Nation/allAfrica.com reports 90,000 men have been circumcised since the government launched the national voluntary male circumcision drive in November 2008. “Kenya is one of 14 sub-Saharan countries that have expanded Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision programmes since ground-breaking randomised controlled trials conducted in Kisumu[, Kenya], South Africa, and Uganda revealed that the procedure reduced men’s chances of HIV infection by 60 percent,” the news service reports (2/2).

SciDev.Net Examines Spread Of Dengue Fever In The Americas

“Dengue cases in Central and Latin America have increased almost five-fold in incidence in the last 30 years, researchers have found. There were 4.8 million dengue cases reported to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) between 2000 and 2007, compared with 2.7 million in the 1990s and one million in the 1980s,” SciDev.Net reports in a story examining the spread of the disease in the region. Olivia Braithwaite, a PAHO Regional Program on Dengue researcher and co-author of a study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, said, “The pattern of dengue in the Americas is changing, becoming more similar to the Asian profile, with more paediatric cases rather than adult cases” (Leighton, 2/2).

USAID Official Addresses HIV Prevention In Jamaica

Karen Hilliard, the head of USAID in Jamaica, said USAID intends to give Jamaica a total of $10.7 million this year for HIV/AIDS prevention programs and also discussed research findings that showed coerced sex with adults, particularly middle-aged men, is a problem for adolescents, the Jamaica Observer reports. Hilliard said, “I think it’s fine to target adolescents with messages that they should postpone their sexual activities, but if they are not the ones in the driver’s seat I tend to think our messages are a little misdirected,” she said. “We are going to be working with the Ministry of Health to try to find more ways to get people to open up to the idea of being more sexually responsible,” Hilliard said. “Rather than preaching to the victims of the situation, we ought to be talking a little more openly and honestly to people of all ages, to both genders, about what they need to do to protect themselves” (Dunkley, 2/2).

Zimbabwe Farmer Groups Warn Of Food Shortages, Forecast Food Imports

Zimbabwe “may have to import as much as 1 million metric tons of corn, according to estimates from the Commercial Farmers’ Union and the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union [CFU], two of the country’s three main agriculture organizations,” after a drought destroyed crops and created a significant food shortage, Bloomberg reports (Latham, 2/1). “[B]oth black and white farmers’ unions have forecast production of maize, a staple in the nation’s diet, will be nowhere near” the unity government’s projection of 2.5 million tons, Reuters writes. Deon Theron, CFU president, said, “All indications are that this season will be a total disaster. We will be very lucky if we get more than 500,000 tonnes … We need about 1.8 million tonnes of maize, so over a million tonnes will have to be made up by imports” (Banya, 2/1).