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Also In Global Health News: India Drug Patent Rejection; Iranian Female Health Minister; Hunger In North Korea; Rape In The Congo; Female Condom Deal; MDGs In Uganda; GSK Patent Pool

Indian Health Officials Welcome Patent Rejections Of HIV/AIDS Drugs

Reuters examines Indian health officials’ positive reaction to the recent decision by the country’s patent office to reject patent applications on two “life-saving HIV/AIDS drugs.” The decision, they say, will help to ensure patients living with HIV/AIDS have access to generic HIV/AIDS drugs, which cost a fraction of the price of patented drugs. The drug companies did not comment about their patents’ rejection for the story (Majumdar, 9/9).

Iran Appoints First Female Health Minister

Iranian members of parliament last week approved President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s nomination of Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, a certified gynecologist, to serve as the country’s health minister – “the first woman minister in the 30-year history of the Islamic republic,” the BBC reports (9/3). “In 1998 [Vahid Dastjerdi] drafted a proposal to segregate hospitals and other medical institutions by sex, but the plan was rejected on grounds of cost and for being impractical because of a shortage of female specialists in many parts of Iran,” the British Medical Journal writes. “Vahid-Dastjerdi is reported to have told parliament of the need to increase women’s roles in national affairs” (Kmietowicz, 9/8).

Globe And Mail Examines Huger In North Korea

“Despite having more arable land per capita than the United Kingdom or Belgium, North Korea is chronically, desperately short of food, and spiralling downward into its worst crisis in a decade,” the Globe and Mail writes in an article that examines the toll on the 8.7 million Koreans in need of food. According to the newspaper, the famine has caused a rise in malnutrition among children under age five, “a result of diarrhea caused by eating food scrounged from the wild” (MacKinnon, 9/9).

Washington Times Examines Rape In The Congo

The Washington Times examines “pervasive” rape in the Congo. “Although no one knows for sure how many in this country of 67 million are rape victims, the United Nations estimates that 200,000 women have been raped in the past decade,” the newspaper writes, adding, “Doctors and relief workers say the chronic need for treatment of all kinds far exceeds their capacity to help” (Pisik, 9/8).

Deal For 12 Million Female Condoms Supported By USAID

The female condom maker Female Health Co. on Tuesday announced it had signed a contract with John Snow, Inc., for an order of 12 million FC2 female condoms to be distributed to USAID-supported HIV/AIDS prevention programs in developing countries, the Associated Press/Forbes reports (9/8). New Vision/allAfrica.com examines the debate in Uganda over the government’s use of the product, and whether or not the female condom will receive funding from PEPFAR (Nabusoba, 9/6).

Uganda Is Only East African Country On Track To Achieve Child Mortality MDG

Uganda is the only country in the WHO’s East African region that is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal that deals with “reducing the under-five child mortality rate by two-thirds by the year 2015,” according to information presented at the 59th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, the East African reports. The other states in the region – Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda – are unlikely to achieve the MDG without more effort (David, 9/7).

Organizations Call On GSK To Join UNITAID Patent Pool

A letter from 15 organizations – including the Stop Aids Campaign, Medicines Sans Frontiers, UNICEF and Christian Aid – calls on drug company GlaxoSmithKline to join UNITAID’s patent pool, “which aims to improve access to drugs for HIV/AIDS and other diseases in poor countries,” the Guardian writes. Andrew Witty, the chief executive of GSK, has cut prices of drugs in developing countries and “launched a patent pool of his own, with more than 800 compounds and molecules that might be useful to researchers into neglected diseases,” but he says AIDS is not neglected (Boseley, 9/6).