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Also In Global Health News: Ill Russian Prisoners; Afghan Drug Users Risk Awareness; China’s AIDS Activists Face Pressure; Foreign Aid Documentary; World Bank Africa Strategy

More Than Half Of Russian Prisoners Ill, Many With HIV, TB

“Almost half of inmates in Russia’s notorious prison system are ill, many infected with HIV or with tuberculosis, the country’s Federal Prison Service said late Tuesday,” Reuters reports. Out of 846,000 prisoners, 55,000 are infected with HIV and 40,000 inmates have tuberculosis, the article states. The news service also writes that the numbers highlight “the country’s AIDS epidemic which Moscow blames on drug users who inject heroin from nearby Afghanistan.” According to Reuters, “[h]ealth campaigners have also blamed Russian prisons for the emergence of drug-resistant tuberculosis in recent decades, as inmates fail to complete courses of medication” (Ferris-Rotman, 7/14).

Knowledge Of Needle Risks Low In Afghanistan

“Over 85 percent of the injecting drug users (IDUs) interviewed in a joint survey (.pdf) by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Afghan government said they had shared a needle or syringe to inject drugs,” IRIN reports. The article notes that HIV prevalence among injection drug users (IDUs) in Kabul, Herat and Mazar “increased from 3 percent in 2006 to 7 percent in 2009,” according to a Kabul-based non-profit. “Drug addiction has increased sharply in Afghanistan over the past four years. … The surge in the number of IDUs could lead to an HIV epidemic in Afghanistan, where awareness about the deadly disease is minimal.” The article also examines the survey’s findings on harm reduction services, which are “limited to only about 10 percent of drug users” (7/14).

China’s AIDS Activists Face Pressure From Authorities

China’s HIV/AIDS activists face “ongoing pressure” and harassment from authorities, part of a situation that is “hampering” the country’s “efforts to improve HIV prevention and control,” Agence-France Presse reports. The government has “started talking more openly about HIV prevention and control in China, where people with AIDS still encounter huge discrimination in employment, education and health care,” but “the hassling of some independent campaigners and organizations … has nevertheless continued.” The news service notes that the topic is “likely to be discusses at the six-day International AIDS conference opening in Vienna on Sunday” (7/14).

Documentary Examines Negative Consequences Of Foreign Aid

PBS POV examines the documentary “Good Fortune,” which looks at how “international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit.” According to the story, “[m]any, both inside and outside the international development community, are asking how so much money could be spent to so little effect. A more explosive question might be why some communities in Africa are not only disillusioned by the aid projects, but even fighting to stop them.” The film focuses on a joint project by the Kenyan government and the U.N. aimed at improving “Nairobi’s Kibera neighborhood, Africa’s largest slum and home to an estimated one million people” (Van Soest/Levine, 7/13).

World Bank Recasts Africa Strategy

The World Bank has started a program to restructure its Africa strategy, “hoping to recapture its relevance in the changing economic landscape, Business Daily/allAfrica.com reports. The new approach departs from its “Washington-led approach” and will “allow its economic policies to be determined through country participation.” The new method is meant to “provide the region with an opportunity to prioritise its needs,” through “continental consultative forums” led by the Word Bank and including governments, development institutions, the private sector, academics and experts. The article includes comments from Shantayanan Devarajan, the chief economist of the World Bank’s Africa region, and Njuguna Ndung’u, the governor of the Central Bank of Kenya (Turana, 7/13).