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Also In Global Health News: U.S. Aid In Afghanistan; USAID Program To Improve Kenya’s Health Services; Diabetes In Middle East, North Africa; Regrets Over ‘New Delhi’ Superbug; Cholera In PNG

McClatchy Examines Ineffected U.S. Aid In Afghanistan

McClatchy news service reports that “[i]n the rush to rebuild Afghanistan, the U.S. government has charged ahead with ever-expanding development programs despite questions about their impact, cost and value to America’s multi-billion-dollar campaign to shore up the pro-Western Afghan president and prevent Taliban insurgents from seizing control.” The news service’s investigation “found that U.S. government funding for at least 15 large-scale programs and projects grew from just over $1 billion to nearly $3 billion despite the government’s questions about their effectiveness or cost. They include: A modest wheat program that’s ballooned into one of America’s biggest counterinsurgency projects in southern Afghanistan despite misgivings about its impact. A wayward multi-billion-dollar construction project that’s now scrambling to find money to rebuild dozens of schools, clinics and other public buildings that were so poorly constructed that they might not withstand a serious earthquake.” The article includes quotes from a variety of stakeholders including USAID and its contractors (Taylor/Nissenbaum, 1/12).

Daily Nation Reports On Launch Of Five-Year Program To Improve Health Services In Kenya

Daily Nation reports on the launch of a new USAID-backed five-year program aimed at improving the delivery of health services in Kenya. “The APHIA (AIDS, Population and Health Integrated Assistance) plus programme is aimed at strengthening the country’s ability to improve lives in the areas of HIV, malaria, family planning, reproductive health and tuberculosis,” the newspaper notes. “[U]nlike APHIA II that lumped the country’s health needs together, the new programme has divided it into five zones, each aimed at addressing the specific needs of the regions,” according to Daily Nation. “Our research showed that to improve on the success of APHIA II, we needed a more strategic and targeted approach to support Kenya’s health services,” Erna Kerst, USAID/Kenya Mission Director said during the program’s launch on Wednesday, according to the newspaper (1/12).

The Cost Of Rising Diabetes Rates In Middle East, N. Africa

“Rapidly increasing diabetes rates in the Middle East and North Africa are giving rise to concerns about containing the epidemic and the financial burden of health care costs to the region’s governments,” the New York Times reports. “The International Diabetes Foundation estimates that 26.6 million adults in the Middle East and North Africa currently have diabetes, accounting for 9.3 percent of the world’s adults with the disease. The region spends $5.5 billion annually on diabetes, accounting for 14 percent of its total health care expenditure,” according to the newspaper. The article notes how the disease “greatly increases the risk of serious, costly illnesses and conditions,” and how health ministries in the region are working to help control the disease (Hamdan, 1/12). 

Lancet Editor Expresses Regret For ‘New Delhi’ Superbug

“The naming of a drug-resistant superbug after New Delhi unfairly stigmatised India, [Richard Horton] the editor of the medical journal” Lancet acknowledged Tuesday during a visit to Delhi, Agence France-Presse reports (1/12). “A study published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases last August found the presence of a new gene called NDM-1, or New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, that gives certain kinds of bacteria the ability to produce a chemical that renders many antibiotics useless,” the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog reports. Though the article “said that the superbug had originated in three South Asian countries … the name appeared to signal a particularly strong association with India,” the blog adds, resulting in complaints from Indian health officials and physicians (Agarwal, 1/12). Though Horton emphasized he felt the study’s research “was strong, sound and correct,” Times of India reports he told the newspaper “that ‘it was an error of judgement’ on [the] part [of the journal] to allow the article get published with the name NDM-1” (Sinha, 1/12).

Radio Australia News Reports On Uptick In Cholera Cases In PNG

Radio Australia News reports on a recent increase in the number of cholera infections in Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby. Health authorities there have reported “there were 295 serious cases of cholera in Port Moresby in December,” and an additional 138 so far for the month of January, bringing the total number of cholera infections since the disease arrived in the capital city in April to around 4,000, Timothy Pyakalyia, the cholera task force leader for the city, told the news service (Fox, 1/12).