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Also In Global Health News: Hunger In Guatemala; Flooding Worsens Niger’s Food Crisis; ‘New Delhi’ Gene Name Concerns

Effort To Combat Hunger ‘Indispensable’ In Guatemala; Advocates Say More Needed

“The efforts of public agencies, non-governmental organisations, private entities and international agencies have become indispensable in addressing the food crisis” in Guatemala, however “activists believe a greater public effort is necessary,” Inter Press Service reports. The article examines efforts by various agencies working in Guatemala including the Rural Development Programme for Las Verapaces (PRODEVER), and Accion Contra el Hambre, a local anti-hunger organization. IPS also discusses the country’s National Law on Food and Nutritional Security, which passed in 2005 but “has failed to fulfill its role as a coordinating and decision-making body,” said Nadia Sandoval of the International Centre for Human Rights Research (Valladares, 8/16).

Flooding Exacerbates Niger’s Food Crisis; IRIN Reports On U.N., NGO Response

Niger has experienced “devastating flooding” in a region already suffering from “crop failure combined with severe drought,” the U.K. Press Association writes. “Houses have collapsed and rotting animal carcasses are contaminating flood water, spreading disease, [Save the Children] said,” the article notes. According to the news service, more than 37,000 animals have drowned in the floodwaters (8/15). The World Food Program “estimates that 7.3 million people – almost half the country’s population – are in desperate need of food,” the Associated Press writes, also reporting that “up to one in six children” are suffering from acute malnutrition (Callimachi, 8/14).

IRIN notes that amid Niger’s food crisis, “early large-scale responses have so far helped prevent a rapid deterioration in the nutritional state of children.” The U.N. and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been distributing “fortified flour, oil and sugar to children under two years old” since May. “‘We managed to avoid the worst until now,’ said the coordinator of Niger’s early warning system, Harouna Hamani. ‘Even though the population is suffering and rates of malnutrition are very high, it could have been catastrophic without early interventions'” (8/13).

Indian Officials Express Frustration About Name Of ‘New Delhi’ Gene

Indian officials are taking issue with the name of a gene – New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1) – that enables bacteria to resist most antibiotics, the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog reports. The journal Lancet Infectious Diseases recently published a study about the gene. V. M. Katoch, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research in New Delhi, said, “It’s unfortunate that this new bug, which is an environmental thing, has been attached to a particular country.” India’s National Center for Disease Control is creating a group to issue protocol for hospital-acquired infections, including NDM-1-related ones, Katoch said, adding, “There is no public health threat and no need to unnecessarily sensationalize it.” According to the blog, the study about the gene “was squashed on the floor of the Parliament Thursday, with some parliamentarians calling the report propaganda” (Agarwal, 8/12).