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Also In Global Health News: Tanzania, MDGs; Malnutrition In Guatemala; Energy-Efficient Cookstoves; Health Issues Facing Refugees From Ivory Coast; China’s Pollution Problem

Tanzania Unlikely To Reach MDG Targets, Local Organizations Say

“Local organizations say that it’s unlikely for Tanzania to achieve targets set under the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 because the country is still besieged by pervasive unemployment, high levels of poverty, escalating child mortality and counterproductive rural-urban migration,” the Guardian/IPP Media reports. The article highlights several factors that have contributed to the country’s struggle to meet the MDG targets, including “shortages of trained medical professionals in the country.” The article includes comments from several advocates on the ground in Tanzania as well as a maternal health expert (McHekadona, 2/16).

PBS NewsHour Reports On Guatemala’s Chronically Malnourished Children

“About 49 percent of children in Guatemala are chronically malnourished according to the World Food Program – the fourth highest rate in the world. In indigenous communities the rate is closer to 70 percent,” PBS NewsHour reports in an article that examines how food security presents life-long challenges for this population. “Chronic malnutrition causes stunted growth, the most obvious and widespread indicator in Guatemala, but also increases the chances of children developing heart disease, diabetes and kidney damage down the line,” NewsHour writes. The article notes recent efforts to increase awareness about malnutrition in Guatemala and improve conditions on the ground. According to the news service, USAID “contributes between $16 to $18 million a year in food assistance to the country, including some higher protein commodities like beans and grains fortified with soy” (Miller, 2/16).

Heat-Conserving Cookstoves Can Improve Health, Environment In Developing Countries

National Geographic Daily News explores how the use of heat-conserving cookstoves outdoors instead of more traditional indoor cookstoves can offer populations living in developing countries from “high levels of toxic cooking smoke” that can be detrimental to their health while also cleaning up the atmosphere. The article describes the growing recognition of the health effects of traditional cookstoves, and notes the recent five-year $50 million commitment by the U.S. to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which aims to “help 100 million homes adopt clean and efficient cookstoves by 2020.” The article also provides details on a company in Ghana that is producing the energy-efficient cookstoves (Smith, 2/15).

Refugees From Ivory Coast Face Health Challenges

Populations from the Ivory Coast who have fled to Liberia as the result of ethnic tension and violence sparked by presidential elections held in November are facing increasing health risks due to cramped living conditions, VOA News reports (Schlein, 2/15). “The U.N. [High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)] said it has registered some 38,600 displaced people in western Ivory Coast, some of whom said they were victims of attacks in December or January,” according to Agence France-Presse (2/15). UNICEF estimates “85 percent of the Ivorian refugees in Liberia are women and children,” according to U.N. News Centre. “In some communities, especially those closest to the border, refugees outnumber local inhabitants, and residents are saying they cannot absorb more people. Severe food shortages and inadequate shelter are causing security concerns over the safety of the children and women.” The UNHCR said it plans to open a new camp in western Ivory Coat that can accommodate up to 6,000 internally displaced persons in hopes of easing pressure elsewhere (2/15).

China’s Water Issues Will Take Billions A Year To Fix, Says World Bank

“China is now the world’s second largest economy, but hundreds of millions of its people still rely on fouled water that will cost billions of dollars to clean,” Reuters reports in an article that examines the scope of the problem. “Growing cities, overuse of fertilizers, and factories that heedlessly dump wastewater have degraded China’s water supplies to the extent that half the nation’s rivers and lakes are severely polluted,” the news service writes, adding that the World Bank estimates the country will need to invest “up to $20 billion a year to bring its urban water supplies up to standard.” The article describes the disparities between larger, wealthier cities have greater access to clean water compared to those in smaller cities or rural areas, and the “strikingly low” water tariffs in the country (Hornby/Lee, 2/15).