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Also In Global Health News: Hospital Births In Guinea-Bissau; Drought In E. Africa; Drug-Resistant Malaria; U.S. Response To H1N1

IRIN Examines Increasing Number Of Hospital Births In Guinea-Bissau

IRIN examines the increase in the number of women giving birth in hospital settings rather than delivery by a traditional birth attendant – a behavior that health officials hope will lead to a drop in the country’s maternal mortality rate. “According to UNFPA, 38 percent of women gave birth in a hospital in 2009, up from 29 percent in 2003,” the news service writes. The article includes information about efforts by the government to reduce the maternal mortality rate, which include encouraging women to seek prenatal care. The article also includes comments by the director of a hospital in Guinea-Bissau and a traditional birth attendant who works in the capital (12/17).

Drought Compromises Living Conditions For People Of East Africa

The failure of rains to fall during East Africa’s rainy season for the sixth year in a row is causing devastation to the people of the region, Oxfam said, BBC reports (12/17). Roughly 23 million people are believed to be without water, Sky News reports. “Entire tribes in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Sudan and Somalia are being driven to starvation as East Africa is hit by its worst drought for 20 years,” according to the news service writes (Dean, 12/16). “Oxfam, which in September launched an emergency appeal for funds to combat the crisis, warned that malnutrition rates are up, livestock are dying, and cholera has claimed the lives of women and children where clean water supplies have run out,” the U.K. Press Association writes (12/16). The next rains are not expected until April 2010, VOA News reports (Boswell, 12/16).

Al Jazeera Examines Drug-Resistant Malaria In Thailand

Al Jazeera looks at the emergence of drug-resistant malaria in Thailand after the release of the WHO’s World Malaria Report 2009, earlier this week. Robert Newman, the director of the WHO’s global malaria program, said, “We’re concerned and have been concerned for sometime now,” he said. The strain, which is resistant to artemisinin, is being classified as an “urgency rather than an emergency,” Newman said. “We’re not really seeing patients dying from this strain and the problem remains relatively localised,” he said. A video, featuring an interview with a Thai professor, accompanies the article (Cullen, 12/16).

H1N1 Exposed Gaps In U.S. Response To Public Health Emergencies, Report Finds

A report released Tuesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust For America’s Health finds the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak highlighted flaws in the U.S.’s “ability to respond to public health emergencies,” HealthDay News/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (12/15). “Layoffs and spending cuts in the public health sector,” caused, in part, by the recession, “weakened U.S. efforts to battle the [H1N1 (swine flu)] pandemic, which has killed an estimated 10,000 Americans,” Reuters reports. “The Trust, which has repeatedly criticized U.S. preparedness for pandemics, recommended increased spending for public health and more funds to modernize flu vaccine production and for vaccine research and development,” the news service writes (Allen, 12/15).