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Also In Global Health News: N. Korea Harvest; Zimbabwe’s Health System; Malaria Parasite; Training India’s Rural Health Workers; Myanmar Recovery; Health In Uganda

Poor Grain Harvest To Worsen Food Shortages In N. Korea

A poor grain harvest in 2009 is likely to exacerbate North Korea’s severe food shortages, Agence France-Presse reports (2/9). “The North is estimated to have produced 4.1 million tons of grain last year, a drop of about 200,000 tons compared to 2008, the [South Korean] Unification Ministry official said on condition of anonymity,” Yonhap News reports. “The amount falls about 1.3 million tons short of what the impoverished country needs this year to feed its 24 million people, the official said” (2/10).

Zimbabwe’s Health System Shows Some Improvement, Health Minister Says

ZimOnline examines Zimbabwe’s health system, which the country’s health minister, Henry Madzorera, says has improved, but is still in need of additional progress. The article examines some of the factors contributing to difficulties in further improving the country’s health care, including funding. The newspaper also reports that Zimbabwe’s government was better able to contain a cholera outbreak in the country this rainy season compared to the previous year (Nyamhangambiri, 2/10). In related news, the Herald/allAfrica.com examines how Zimbabwe’s government is trying to contain a measles outbreak that has affected over 1,200 people since October 2009 (2/10).

Scientists Report Analysis Of Malaria Parasite Genome

A team of researchers recently completed an in-depth study of a malaria parasite’s genome, United Press International reports. In a study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology in January, researchers describe how they used a technique known as transcriptional profiling to measure the activity of thousands of Plasmodium falciparum’s genes at once, “to create a global picture of cellular function,” according to the news service. The scientists, from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Germany’s Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, “said their findings could lead to the development of more potent drugs or even a vaccine for malaria, which is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes and kills up to three million people each year,” the news service writes (2/9).

India Introduces Alternative Medical Ed Program To Train Rural Health Care Providers

BMJ News examines a recent move by the Indian government to introduce a medical education program to train rural health care workers to provide services in health centers where doctors are unavailable. The “alternative model of medical education that would be open only to students who have completed all their school education in villages,” the journal writes. “Graduates from the programme would be allowed to practise medicine only in rural areas and would be prohibited from offering services in urban areas.” The piece examines the challenges the country has faced in trying to get doctors to serve rural communities and reactions to this plan (Mudur, 2/9).

Report Analyzes Myanmar Rebuilding After Cyclone Nargis

“Almost two years after Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar’s Irrawaddy delta, killing nearly 140,000 and leaving 2.4 million destitute, survivors are still struggling to recover their livelihoods and many are living without adequate shelter, [according to] a report released on Tuesday” by the Tripartite Core Group (TCG), Reuters AlertNet reports (2/9). The review found that “thousands” of cyclone survivors “are benefiting from better healthcare and nutrition,” but that a full recovery could be delayed unless other factors are addressed, IRIN writes. “‘Unless livelihood-related needs are addressed, recovery will be prolonged, raising the potential for another crisis,’ said the [TCG], comprising the Myanmar government, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the U.N.,” the news service reports (2/9). According to the TCG, “Shelter remains severely under-funded, and most families have rebuilt their own homes. In mid-January 2010, over 100,000 households – around half a million people – were living in poor shelters that will not withstand another disaster,” Reuters AlertNet writes (2/9).

Monitor/allAfrica.com Examines How Health Issues Play Into Ugandan President’s Reelection Bid

The Monitor/allAfrica.com examines how improving health care is playing out in President Yoweri Museveni’s reelection campaign in Uganda, “with particular emphasis on improving access to health care in the rural areas.” The article lays out goals Museveni set forth during his last presidential bid and whether or not they have been met.  The Monitor/allAfrica.com includes comments from country leaders on the health care workforce, malaria and access to health care in the country (Mugerwa, 2/7). 

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