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Also In Global Health News: U.N. Appeal For Sri Lanka; HIV Tests For Couples To Wed In Chechnya; Bush Reflects On PEPFAR « » The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Also In Global Health News: U.N. Appeal For Sri Lanka; HIV Tests For Couples To Wed In Chechnya; Bush Reflects On PEPFAR

U.N. Issues $51M For Sri Lankans Affected By Floods; Sri Lankan Government Says Agricultural, Nutrition, Sanitation Among Needs Priority Needs For Country

The U.N. on Wednesday issued an appeal of $51 million “to meet the urgent needs of more than one million people affected by recent monsoon floods in Sri Lanka,” Agence France-Presse reports (1/19). The appeal coincided with the arrival of U.N. Assistant-Secretary-General Catherine Bragg on the island Wednesday for a three-day visit “to assess the humanitarian needs required in the wake of the recent floods and decades-long civil war which ended less than two years ago,” RTT News reports (1/19). The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) “said in a report Tuesday that the world body and the Sri Lankan government have identified agriculture and livelihood, shelter, nutrition, sanitation and education as priority needs,” the Associated Press reports. According to the report, “67,000 wells are contaminated and 11,000 are destroyed, putting an estimated half million people at risk of waterborne diseases” (Francis, 1/19). In related news, IRIN tracks the return of health care workers to the “conflict-affected north of Sri Lanka, where only six doctors covered 1,279 sqkm and an estimated population of at least 300,000 during the height of fighting in 2009 in a region known as the Vanni.” The article notes additional efforts underway to improve health services on the ground in the region as well (1/19).

Muslim Clerics In Chechnya Order All Engaged Couples To Test For HIV Before Marrying

“The spiritual leaders of Muslim Chechnya have ordered that all couples who plan to marry prove they are HIV-negative, sparking outrage from activists and residents who say it violates Russian law,” Reuters reports in an article that explores the growing power of the spiritual leaders in the region and how intravenous drug use (IDU) is contributing to rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in Russia. “[T]he United Nations says at least 1 million people are HIV-positive – though Chechnya has been little affected by it,” according to the news service. “‘Any potential bride or groom is obliged to receive a medical certificate proving they are HIV-negative,’ the Chechen mufti’s press service said in a statement this week,” Reuters writes. “An imam can only approve of a marriage once the HIV-negative certificate is obtained,” the news service adds. The article notes “the mufti’s orders have no legal weight but are generally followed because he is a respected spiritual leader and because of his ties to Chechnya’s hardline leader Ramzan Kadyrov” (1/18).

Former President George W. Bush Reflects On Legacy Of PEPFAR

Southern Methodist University’s Daily Campus interviewed former President George W. Bush about PEPFAR’s impact in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. The article describes the origin of PEPFAR, and the program’s focus on partnering with African nations to treat, prevent and destigmatize HIV/AIDS. “The old model of foreign aid was to say ‘we’re going to write you a check and we’ll feel better about it,’” Bush said. “We said, we will support you if you design a program that is effective.” The article, which includes comments by former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Mark Dybul, describes some of the criticisms the administration faced for promoting abstinence as an HIV/AIDS prevention strategy. With PEPFAR, “Dybul said, the U.S. provided more condoms than the rest of the world put together – more than two billion of them,” the article reports. According to the paper, both Bush and Dybul “declined comment on [their] thoughts about the [Obama] administration’s handling of PEPFAR” (Huseman, 1/17).