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Also In Global Health News: West Africa Flooding; UNICEF Official Ordered To Leave Sri Lanka; South Africa Child Health Campaign; Rwanda Development; Southern Sudan At Risk For Epidemics; U.S. Training In Pakistan

Nearly 600,000 West Africans Affected By Flooding, U.N. Says

The U.N. on Monday “sharply increased its toll of the number of people affected by floods in West Africa, putting the number at more than 592,000 in no less than 10 countries,” Agence France-Presse reports. Yvon Edoumou, a spokesperson for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA), said the situation is the result of more rain, a lack of infrastructure and minimal preparation for the rainy-season by governments in the region (9/7). Almost 70 people in the area have died and hundreds of thousands still face health risks, said Herve Ludovic de Lys, OCHA region head, Reuters reports (Matthews, 9/6). “Sanitation and hygiene deteriorate quickly when West Africa floods. Sewage mixes with drinking water. Electricity fails. Health centers are damaged. Hectares of standing water become breeding grounds for mosquitoes that spread malaria,” VOA News (Stearns, 9/7).

Sri Lankan Government Orders UNICEF Official To Leave Country

James Elder, UNICEF’s communications head in Sri Lanka, was ordered to leave the country within two weeks and his visa canceled, after he expressed “concerns about the plight of Tamils in the government-run ‘welfare camps,'” the Guardian reports (Ramesh, 9/6). UNICEF issued a statement on Monday, defending Elder: “Through Mr. Elder, UNICEF has consistently spoken out against the suffering of children on both sides of the intense hostilities earlier this year and called for their protection … [we] will continue to uphold its mandate in Sri Lanka, and elsewhere, to advocate and speak out on behalf of vulnerable children and women” (9/7).

South Africa Launches Two Week Child Health Campaign

South Africa’s Health Ministry “launched a major campaign Monday to get vaccinations and immunity-boosting vitamins to 3 million children across the country over the next two weeks,” the SAPA/AP/Independent Online write. For the campaign, temporary clinics have been set up and health workers are going door-to-door to offer interventions aimed at reducing deaths from diarrhea, pneumonia and measles (9/7).

Christian Science Monitor Profiles Development Worker In Rwanda

The Christian Science Monitor profiles Josh Ruxin, who runs “several public-health projects in Rwanda,” including Rwanda Works. The organization “draws on Ruxin’s experience as founder of the Millennium Village in Rwanda, one of 80 experimental villages across Africa using community-based strategies to end extreme poverty. The village’s success – malaria rates have dropped; healthcare has improved; and where for years there had been chronic hunger, farmers are now reaping bumper harvests – partly inspired the Rwandan government to roll out a similar grass-roots antipoverty plan across the country” (Moore, 9/6).

High Risk Of Epidemics In Southern Sudan Area Attacked By LRA, WHO Says

Ezo County in southern Sudan — “largely inaccessible to humanitarian workers” — is at “high risk of epidemic-prone diseases,” because repeated attacks by the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army have significantly damaged health facilities in the area, the WHO says, VOA News reports. “By damaging health facilities you firstly damage a neutral target, something that should always be protected and then you prevent people from accessing health services by destroying and stopping that health facility from operating,” Paul Garwood, a WHO spokesperson, said (Schlein, 9/6).

U.S. Funding Helps To Train Health Professionals On How To Control The Spread Of Vector-Borne Diseases

The International News examines a U.S.-supported program in Pakistan that is training health professionals to help control the spread of vector-borne diseases. According to the newspaper, the project is “part of the over $3.4 billion aid that the U.S. government is providing to Pakistan over five years to improve economic growth, education, health and governance, and to assist with earthquake reconstruction” (9/4).