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Also In Global Health News: Illegal Drug Trade In E. Africa; Somalia Humanitarian Crisis; Alcohol, IV Drug Use In Russia; HIV/AIDS In China; FBOs Engage In HIV Fight

Illegal Drug Trade Turning East Africa Into Major Crime Center, U.N. Official Says

In a speech to the U.N. Security Council Tuesday, Antonio Maria Costa, head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, said the unstable situation in Somalia is contributing to the spread of illegal drug trafficking and other illicit activities, turning East Africa into a major center of crime, Reuters reports (Charbonneau, 12/9). “He told the UN security council that the trade of west African cocaine for east African heroin was making drugs a new kind of currency in the region,” the Associated Press/Guardian writes (12/9). According to Xinhua: “‘The continent is facing a severe and complex drug problem,’ Costa told council members, saying that ‘serious consequences in terms of health, development and security are inevitable’ because of ‘new, worrisome developments’ in Africa on drug trafficking” (12/9).

Aid Shortage Creating ‘Life-Threatening’ Situation In

Somalia , U.N. Official Says

The global economic downturn, concerns over terrorist interceptions of aid and other factors could result in a “life-threatening” aid crisis in Somalia, Mark Bowden, the U.N.’s top envoy to the country, said on Tuesday, CNN reports (Japra, 12/8). “War-torn and drought-ravaged Somalia is facing a humanitarian crisis with no funding so far raised or pledged for next year for food, water, sanitation, health and other vital needs and the potential that the situation could spill over into a major regional crisis for its neighbours,” according to senior U.N. officials, the U.N. News Centre writes (12/8). According to Xinhua, “Bowden made a short-term appeal of 12 million U.S. dollars for the first quarter of 2010 to mitigate chronically high rates of acute malnutrition” (12/8).

Media Examines Alcohol, Drug Use In Russia, HIV Spread

NPR examines the prevalence of alcohol abuse and the more recent rise in intravenous drug use in Russia. “The rate of drug-related deaths, at 80 a day, is among the world’s highest. Researchers say alcohol is the cause of more than half of all deaths of people ages 15 to 54 — often from accidents, violence or alcohol poisoning,” according to the Web site (Garrels, 12/8). According to CNN, IV drug use is “fueling the spread of HIV” in Russia. CNN also reports that the country’s “top drugs adviser has called on the United States to use its troop surge into Afghanistan to help stem the flow of drugs entering its borders…” (Armstrong, 12/9).

Demonstrators Highlight Plight Of HIV-Positive People In China

“[D]ozens of people” from China’s Henan province who contracted HIV/AIDS from blood transfusions “demonstrated in front of the country’s health ministry in Beijing” to highlight the challenges facing Chinese AIDS patients, the Irish Times reports. Gao Yanping, a demonstrator, said, “The local governments only have clinics for us, which do not have appropriate medical supplies for our treatment. So, some of us have gone to hospitals elsewhere for treatment, but had to pay the bills ourselves. Our lives are ruined. We just want the right to live.” Chen Zhu, China’s health minister, said the government is “open and transparent” about the disease, but added that the country has “a long way to go to prevent and control HIV/AIDS.” The article includes data about HIV/AIDS in China (Coonan, 12/8).

PlusNews Examines Efforts To Enlist Faith-Based Organizations In Fight Against HIV/AIDS


PlusNews
examines new efforts by UNAIDS to enlist Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. “According to the [WHO], faith-based groups provide between 30 and 70 percent of all healthcare in Africa. UNAIDS’ new strategy aims to strengthen the capacity of FBOs to implement HIV prevention, treatment and care, and to help them raise funds,” according to the news service (12/8). In a second story, PlusNews examines one such project reaching out to religious leaders in Kenya. “Twaweza – which has been running since August – is part of a wider HIV prevention effort in the region that seeks to spread the word about HIV in culturally sensitive ways,” according to the news service. “Muslim clerics, for instance, are not expected to preach about condom use, but can speak about aspects of HIV prevention that are in line with Islamic teachings. The programme uses some Islamic texts to encourage the community not to take sexual risks” (12/8).