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Also In Global Health News: Uganda Bill; USAID; ARVs And Food; Polio Declines In Nigeria

News Outlets Examine Reaction To Uganda’s Anti-Gay Legislation Effect On HIV/AIDS Efforts

The Daily Monitor reports on a statement released Friday by U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), chair of the Senate’s Committee on Africa, on Uganda’s anti-gay legislation. “Its passage would hurt the close working relationship between our two countries, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” Feingold said in a written statement (Izama, 12/14). “Over the last month, I have conveyed these concerns to the State Department and directly to President Museveni, and I urge Uganda’s leaders to reject this bill,” Feingold said in the statement (12/11). Foreign Policy’s “Passport” blog report on U.S. Pastor Rick Warren’s decision to speak out about Uganda’s anti-gay legislation. The blog reports about a letter to Ugandan church leaders, in which Warren said the legislation “would have a chilling effect on your ministry to the hurting. As you know, in Africa, it is the churches that are bearing the primary burden of providing care for people infected with HIV/AIDS” (12/10).

GlobalPost, Reuters Report On USAID In Afghanistan, Pakistan

GlobalPost looks are USAID’s capacity to run development projects in Afghanistan. “Understaffing combined with unwieldy budgets on rushed schedules in an active war zone have severely undercut the U.S. Agency for International Development’s ability to deliver nearly $10 billion in aid for development projects in Afghanistan” (Sennott, 12/11).

In related news, Reuters reports on the new five-year $7.5 billion U.S. nonmilitary aid package for Pakistan, which senior U.S. officials say will include electricity and water projects as an “early priority.” One “senior Obama administration official said there were plans over the next year to double the number of USAID workers in Pakistan from the current 80 people and to do the same with local staff too.” According to the news service, specifications about the aid projects are still being discussed. “There are also worries about whether the U.S. government’s development agency, USAID, can cope with the new aid program” (Pleming, 12/13).

Guardian Examines Program In Katine To Provide Food To Patients On ARVs

The Guardian examines a program in Katine, Uganda, that is providing food rations to patients living with HIV/AIDS who take antiretrovirals (ARVs). The U.S.-based NGO ACDI/VOCA “supplies food to people in need for a year to give them enough energy to work and earn money to support themselves,” according to the newspaper. The article includes information about the challenges associated with taking ARVs without a steady food source, and how a growing number of patients enrolling in the program combined with rising food costs is challenging the reach of the program (Malinga, 12/11).

Polio Cases Decrese By 80% In High Risk States In Nigeria, WHO Rep. Says 

The number of children in high risk states in Nigeria who were paralyzed because of polio in 2009 decreased by more than 80 percent compared to the same period from the previous year, Peter Eriki, the WHO’s representative in the country, said, Daily Champion/allAfrica.com reports. “There is early evidence of improving quality of coverage of immunisation campaigns particularly in the highest risk states. The proportion of unimmunized and under immunized children in some of the highest risk states is declining,” he said (Udoh, 12/10).