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Also In Global Health News: Medical Tourism In Southeast Asia; Cholera, Yellow Fever In Ivory Coast; U.S. Aid To Egypt; Universal Coverage In Mexico; Pneumonia’s Evolution

IRIN Examines Medical Tourism’s Affect In Southeast Asia

IRIN examines how “rapid growth in medical tourism” in southeast Asian countries is affecting health systems in the region. According to the WHO, “medical tourism is leading to some highly skilled specialists, as well as other trained medical staff, leaving public health facilities for private ones. Further down the medical hierarchy unemployed or undertrained staff end up filling chronic shortages in remote areas,” the news service writes. “In total, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar are short of nearly 250,000 health professionals to meet WHO minimum standards of care (covering 80 percent of births and measles immunizations), based on country data” (1/31).

Amidst Political Violence In Ivory Coast, Cholera, Yellow Fever Emerge

The Canadian Press examines how political violence following the Ivory Coast’s disputed election in November has compromised sanitation services in parts of the country and made it difficult for the public to access health services. The article looks at a recent cholera outbreak in the country, which is reported to have killed seven and affected 35 others. Since the presidential election, sixty-six cases of yellow fever, predominately in the rural regions of the country have been reported, killing 11, according to the news service. The article describes how concerns over security have forced health and aid workers from being able to administer health services, such as vaccines in the country (Oved, 1/29).

Egyptian Unrest Might Result In U.S. Aid Cuts

“President Barack Obama said he personally told Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak Friday night to take ‘concrete steps’ to expand rights inside the Arab nation and refrain from violence against protesters flooding the streets of Cairo and other cities. The White House suggested U.S. aid could be at stake,” the Associated Press reports (1/29). Since 1975, Egypt has received $28 billion in assistance from the U.S., according to USAID, Al Jazeera notes. “While USAID’s website says the funds have gone to programs devoted to health, trade and education – among other things – most U.S. aid goes to Egypt’s military,” the news service writes (Al-Arian, 1/30). In related news, the Christian Science Monitor looks at whether U.S. aid to Egypt is likely to be cut. “But would the administration end or cut the $1.5 billion in military and economic aid it provides each year to Egypt? That’s unlikely. It’s been a mainstay of U.S. policy in the region ever since Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979,” the publication writes (Knickerbocker, 1/29).

New York Times Looks At Universal Health Coverage Plan In Mexico

The New York Times examines Mexico’s efforts to ensure all its citizens have access to health coverage. “A decade ago, half of all Mexicans had no health insurance at all. … By September, the government expects to have enrolled about 51 million people in the insurance plan it created six years ago — effectively reaching the target, at least on paper,” the newspaper writes. “The big question, critics contend, is whether all those people actually get the health care the government has promised.” The article looks at challenges involving care quality, coverage gaps and budget restrictions (Malkin, 1/29).

Study Examines How Pneumoniae Bacteria Evolved To Resist Antibiotics, Vaccines

“Researchers from seven countries have collaborated to analyze how a single strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria has morphed over 30 years and spread across the world, in an attempt to overcome the development of antibiotics and vaccines,” the New York Times reports. As the researchers described Friday in the journal Science, analysis of more than 240 samples of the bacteria collected from North and South America, Africa and Southeast Asia, “they found that since 1984, when the strain was first identified in Spain, it has turned over about three-quarters of its genome. … Over time, the bacteria mutated to better resist antibiotics and vaccines,” the newspaper writes (Bhanoo, 1/28).