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Also In Global Health News: U.S. Rice Exports To Haiti; Somali Ambulance Workers; HIV In Kenya; Gates Foundation Global Health Work; U.N.’s Congo Mission; U.S. Involvement In Unethical Medical Research

U.S. Should Stop Subsidizing Rice Exports To Haiti, Oxfam Says

In a new report, aid agency Oxfam “has called on the United States to stop subsidising American rice exports to Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, because it says the policy undermines local production of food,” BBC reports. “Although Oxfam says the [food] aid was ‘unquestionably a necessity’ because it reduced food prices and allowed people to eat, the price reductions also ‘negatively affected rural Haitians,'” according to the new service. The report recommends that food aid be bought in local markets when possible and encouraged the Haitian government to enact policies that would benefit the rural poor, including access to credit (Doyle, 10/4). Philippe Mathieu, Oxfam’s  director in Haiti, said, “Currently, U.S. rice subsidies and in-kind food aid undercut Haitian farmers at the same time as the U.S. government is investing in Haitian agricultural development … The international community must abandon these conflicting trade and aid policies in order to support the growth of Haiti’s fragile rural economy,” Reuters reports (10/5).

AP Reports On Somali Ambulance Workers’ Dangerous Jobs, Challenges With Government

The Associated Press reports on Somali ambulance workers “who risk their lives to try to save people hit by the mortar fire, artillery shells and random gunfire that have been ricocheting around this crumbling seaside city [Mogadishu] for almost 20 years.” The article profiles the city’s Lifeline Africa Ambulance Service which “has seven vehicles and 11 staffers who are each paid $100 a month,” and looks at the service’s relation to the government. Ali Muse, director of the ambulance service said, “The distrust of our service in the government-controlled part of the capital is high” because of rumors of insurgent involvement in the service (Hassan, 10/4).

Kenya To Train Health Workers To Counsel HIV-Positive People, Prevent Further Transmission

“Kenyan health workers have been missing the opportunity to prevent HIV-positive people from infecting others because they lack the skills and knowledge to counsel this population, say specialists,” IRIN/PlusNews writes. The article examines a national health worker training effort by JHPIEGO, an NGO affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, as well as couple’s counseling and the need to identify HIV-positive people to prevent further transmission of the virus (10/4).

CBS’ 60 Minutes Looks At Gates Foundation’s Global Health Work

CBS’ 60 Minutes reports on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations’ efforts to improve global health. In response to a question about the foundation’s global priorities, Melinda Gates said, “HIV/AIDS, malaria, mother-and-child deaths, in that order.” 60 Minutes traveled with Melinda Gates to India where the foundation is working on “saving lives at birth.” According to the article, “[p]art of the foundation’s strategy is to team up with governments and other charities to make the money go farther and spread the best ideas.” The Gates’ approach to philanthropy and other topics are also discussed (Pelley, 10/3).

New York Times Examines U.N.’s “Failing” Congo Mission

The New York Times examines the U.N.’s Congo mission, following a recent mass rape of at least 200 women: “Despite more than 10 years of experience and billions of dollars, the peacekeeping force still seems to be failing at its most elemental task: protecting civilians.” The peacekeepers, the newspaper writes, are “considered the last line of defense in eastern Congo,” a region where the army “has a long history of abuses” and police “are often invisible or drunk.” The U.N.’s Assistant Secretary for Peacekeeping Atul Khare said, “I felt personally guilty and guilty toward the people I met there,” adding that peace and security is “something I cannot promise.” The article also examines current efforts of the peacekeepers including escorted market trips, better communication through solar-powered radios and a new office near the site of the rapes (10/3).

Commission Formed To Ensure Ethical Standards Of Research Abroad

“The United States revealed on Friday that the government conducted medical experiments in the 1940s in which doctors infected soldiers, prisoners and mental patients in Guatemala with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases,” the Washington Post reports. “The experiments, led by a federal doctor who helped conduct the famous Tuskegee syphilis study in Alabama, involved about 1,500 men and women who were unwittingly drafted into studies aimed at determining the effectiveness of penicillin” (Stein, 10/2). “The results of the Guatemalan research –which [Secretary of State Hillary Rodham] Clinton [on Friday] described as ‘reprehensible’ – were never published. The case only came to light when … records” were found, Science’s “ScienceInsider” blog reports (Minogue, 10/1). According to the Washington Post, the U.S. “Institute of Medicine will … investigate the experiment and the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues will form a panel of international experts to ‘ensure that all human medical research conducted around the globe today meets rigorous ethical standards,’ officials said” (10/2).