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Also In Global Health News: Nutritionally-Enhanced Products; Health Care In India; Cell Phones As Microscopes; GSK Pneumonia Vaccine; Men Fighting HIV/AIDS

News Outlets Examine Nutritionally-Enhanced Products

The East African examines the recent launch of a $21.25 million research project, at the International Sweet Potato Centre in Uganda, that aims to develop “nutritionally enhanced sweet potatoes … to reduce health problems related to vitamin A deficiency and improve food security in sub-Saharan Africa.” The five-year project, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will also focus on developing “at least 20 locally adapted” sweet potato varieties that will be resistant to “drought, virus and diseases” through conventional methods and biotechnology, the newspaper writes (Abdallah, 11/9).

The Danish chewing gum manufacturer, Gumlink Group, on Thursday announced the launch of a Vitamin A-packed chewing gum in Nairobi, Kenya, Agence France-Presse reports. “Each piece of sugar-free gum in a pack of six contains 375 microgrammes of Vitamin A – a recommended daily dose by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, according to the manufacturer,” the news service writes (11/6). Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, also reporting on the gum, writes, “Globally, it is estimated that 250 million children under the age of five are affected by vitamin A deficiency” (Wanja, 11/5).

Indian PM Pledges To Double Public Sector Spending On Health Care

During a World Economic Forum meeting in New Dehli Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “pledged … to spend more on health care and education and make it easier for foreign investors to participate in India’s $1.2 trillion economy, one of the fastest growing in the world,” the New York Times reports. “Singh said that public sector spending on health care would more than double to 2.5 percent of gross domestic product, and education spending would increase to 6 percent,” according to the newspaper (Timmons, 11/8).

New York Times Examines Cell Phone ‘That Substitute For Microscopes’

The New York Times examines a company tweaking cell phone systems to perform the functions of microscopes. “The adapted phones may be used for screening in places far from hospitals, technicians or diagnostic laboratories, Dr. [Aydogan] Ozcan [who created the devices] said. The “cellphone systems may be particularly helpful in screening for malaria, said Yvonne Bryson, a professor and chief of the pediatric infectious diseases division at the David Geffen School of Medicine at U.C.L.A.,” who has previously collaborated with Ozcan on projects. “Right now you need a microscope, and you need trained people,” Bryson said. “But this device would allow you to work without either in a remote area” (Eisenberg, 11/7).

WHO Approves GSK Pneumonia Vaccine

GlaxoSmithKline on Friday announced that its pneumonia vaccine, Synflorix, had been approved by the WHO, “clearing the way for it to be given to children in the developing world,” Reuters reports. The vaccine “is used to treat pneumococcal disease, a bacterial infection which can result in conditions such as pneumonia and meningitis in children,” the news service writes (Deighton, 11/6).

AFP Examines Efforts In South Africa To Enlist Men In HIV/AIDS Fight

Agence France-Presse examines recent efforts in South Africa to enlist men in the fight against HIV/AIDS. According to AFP, many programs currently focus “on health centres, which are used mainly by women. … What’s more, men tend to seek treatment later than women, when their immune systems are already weakened.” The article details efforts to bring men into clinics, including “consultations only for men,” and awareness campaigns in the national media, at football matches, bars and hostels (Plantive, 11/6).