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Also In Global Health News: Humanitarian, Development Aid; North Korea Asks For Food Aid; HIV/AIDS In Afghanistan; Peru’s Dengue Outbreak

Oxfam Report Says Aid Money Being Used To Promote Military, Security Objectives

Donor countries “are ‘increasingly concentrating’ both humanitarian and development aid on countries and regions seen to threaten their own immediate security interests, while neglecting other equally insecure, impoverished and conflict-afflicted places,” the humanitarian group Oxfam said in a report released Thursday that tracks this trend and offers recommendations on reversing it, Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C reports (2/10). According to the report, “[m]ore than 40% of the total $17.8bn (£11bn) increase in development aid from major industrialized countries since 2001 has gone to two countries – Afghanistan and Iraq – with the rest shared between about 150 others,” the Guardian writes (Norton-Taylor, 2/10). “Policy coordination across foreign, defence and development departments can help better address common obstacles to development … But recruiting aid and aid institutions for donors’ own national security objectives risks undermining the effectiveness of aid in meeting humanitarian needs and maximizing poverty reduction. Not only does this damage impartial attempts to provide aid and tackle poverty, but it often fails to build long-term security for recipient communities, their governments and donors themselves,” according to a summary (.pdf) of the report (2/10).

North Korea Asks U.S. To Resume Food Aid Shipments

South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported on Wednesday that Han Sang-Ryol, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the U.N., asked the U.S. to resume food aid and said the country would permit international monitors to oversee distribution, Agence France-Presse writes. Han “made the request on January 14 at a meeting with Robert King, the U.S. special envoy on human rights in North Korea,” according to the news service. “U.S. food aid was suspended in March 2009 after the North rejected a proposal to increase the number of Korean-speaking monitors, whose role was to ensure aid reached the general public and was not diverted to the military or the regime. But Washington does not believe Pyongyang has met its conditions, [a diplomatic] source told JoongAng, adding that even if it did, the resumption of shipments would take time because of congressional procedures” (2/9).

Reuters Reports On Afghanistan’s ‘Underground’ HIV/AIDS Problem

Reuters examines the rise of HIV/AIDS in Afghanistan, where “[s]ocial stigma in a deeply conservative Muslim country has driven the disease underground and is complicating efforts to coordinate a response.” According to the news service, “officially, there are 636 cases [of HIV/AIDS] in a population of about 30 million people,” but health experts feel the official counts underestimate the scope of the problem, which they believe is growing. “Set alongside an almost decade-old war, desperate poverty and a government dependent on military and financial aid to reach beyond its cities, the fight against HIV and AIDS struggles to compete for the country’s meager resources,” the news service writes, before describing how injecting drug use (IDU), as well as a lack of HIV prevention and testing services are contributing to the spread of the disease (Robinson, 2/9).

Media Outlets Continue To Track Dengue Outbreak In Peru

Agence France-Presse reports on efforts to contain the dengue outbreak in Peru, which a health official from northeastern Peru told the news service has infected “[s]ome 13,000 people,” leading to the hospitalization of 1,600 and the deaths of 14 since the start of the year. “Health officials in Iquitos, Peru’s main city on the Amazon river located some 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of Lima, has launched a fumigation program in an attempt to diminish the number of mosquitos,” according to the news service (2/8). According to Digital Journal, “[t]he new strain of dengue is particularly dangerous to children.” The article describes the uptick in the number of dengue cases in Australia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, as well as dengue prevention efforts in the Phillippines, where it is endemic (Wallis, 2/8).