The UNDP on Thursday released a report, titled “Sex Work and the Law,” which “examines 48 countries in Asia and the Pacific to assess laws, legal policies and law enforcement practices that affect the human rights of sex workers and impact on the effectiveness of HIV responses,” according to a UNDP press release. “Where sex work has been decriminalized, there is a greater chance for safer sex practices through occupational health and safety standards across the industry,” the press release states, noting, “The report describes countries that use punitive law enforcement practices, confiscate condoms as evidence of illegal conduct, require compulsory or coerced HIV testing, deny government services and certain rights to sex workers, and have compulsory detention centers”; “highlights current laws, policies and practices that are helpful to HIV responses”; and “highlights how significant advances in recognition of the rights of sex workers can occur even in contexts where the sex industry is illegal” (10/18).
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The New York Times’ “IHT Rendezvous” blog examines factors contributing to the more than 13 million abortions that occur in China every year, the highest number of any country worldwide. Though China’s so-called “one-child policy” is a contributing factor, “with women coerced into aborting ‘out of plan’ children by the threat of heavy fines or the loss of a job — or, in some cases, physically forced to abort,” some “scholars are now pointing to a new factor — under-25 women who, if they are unmarried, do not directly fall within the remit of the family planners,” the blog writes. A recent survey by China’s Research Institute of the National Population and Family Planning Commission estimates six million abortions occur annually among this group, the blog adds. This highlights other issues, the blog notes, including young people’s increased sexual freedoms and a culture and tradition that remains reluctant to discuss sex education, leaving young women without the knowledge of how to use contraception. “Yet gradually, people are beginning to talk more openly about what had long often been discussed only in absolute privacy,” the blog writes and provides some examples (Tatlow, 10/19).
In its ongoing series examining efforts to eradicate polio, NPR’s “All Things Considered” on Thursday examined India’s continuing efforts to stamp out the disease, noting the country “marked a milestone when the World Health Organization struck it from the list of polio-endemic countries in February after no new cases were reported for more than a year.” The news service writes, “During national campaigns, which occur twice a year, two million volunteers fan out to India’s train stations, bus depots, temples, churches and mosques, armed with vials of polio vaccine.” NPR adds, “India has 175 million children aged five and younger, and all of them are tiny targets in this massive national immunization project that, since January 2011, has made India free of a disease that has afflicted it for millennia.” The news service notes the country “must remain polio-free for three years before the WHO will certify that India has eradicated polio” (McCarthy, 10/18).
Kaiser Family Foundation Report Examines Country-Level Response To U.S. GHI's Women, Girls, & Gender Equality Principle
“A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation examines how countries are responding to and implementing the women, girls, and gender equality principle of the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI),” an email alert from the Foundation states, noting, “This principle, one of seven core principles of the GHI, aims to sharpen the focus on women and girls across U.S. government global health efforts.” According to the alert, the report is “[b]ased on interviews conducted by the Foundation with representatives from 15 GHI country teams” and “identifies nine key themes and trends that could help inform U.S. policy discussions and the future directions of efforts related to the health of women and girls.” The alert adds, “The report builds on earlier work by the Foundation on the women, girls, and gender equality principle, including a roundtable discussion and an analysis of ‘GHI Plus’ country strategies” (10/19).
The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) reports on HIV in the Kingdom of Swaziland, writing the country “now has the dubious distinction of having the world’s highest rate of both HIV and tuberculosis (TB).” The journal notes “[a]bout 26 percent of adults aged 15-49, or about 202,000 of all the citizens of Africa’s last absolute monarchy, are HIV-positive, according to the Swaziland government,” and asks, “Why are the 1.2 million people of this landlocked kingdom … in such dire straits?” CMAJ writes, “A host of underlying factors appear to be at the root of its woes: politics, history, culture, economics, poverty, gender inequity, and much more.”
“An antibiotic used to treat severe bacterial infections showed promise at treating a highly drug-resistant and deadly form of tuberculosis [TB],” according to a study conducted by U.S. government and South Korean researchers and published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, Reuters reports (Steenhuysen, 10/17). The “small study offers a bit of cautious optimism about the prospects for treatment of tuberculosis, … showing that adding a 12-year-old antibiotic called linezolid, brand name Zyvox, to existing treatments cured nearly 90 percent of patients with a form of tuberculosis resistant to both first- and second-line antibiotics,” NPR’s “Shots” blog writes (Knox, 10/18). “However, most of the patients [in the study] — 82 percent — experienced side effects while on the treatment, which tempered the findings, the team reported,” Reuters notes. “Researchers are desperately looking for new treatments for drug-resistant forms of TB, which threatens to derail progress in the global fight to eradicate the disease,” according to the news agency (10/17).
“Not long ago, in Jinja, Uganda, along the grassy, damp banks of the Nile, I sat with six fellows from Global Health Corps, the organization that I helped to found in 2008,” Global Health Corps CEO and Co-founder Barbara Bush writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “[O]n this afternoon, we had come to the river as countless others have done for centuries to tell stories,” she writes, noting, “In African culture, storytelling is revered, and the storyteller is the one to impart not only lessons, but also inspiration.” Bush relays the stories of two fellows as well as her own and continues, “That day on the Nile, as the stories came full circle, I realized that each of us had taken a different path to arrive at the same destination: instead of becoming trapped by powerless situations, each of us had chosen to act, to do something about the injustices we had seen.”
“Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to see a more than 200 percent increase in the number of older people living with HIV in the next 30 years, thanks to improvements in life-saving treatment, experts said Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Three million people aged 50 or older currently live with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa and that figure is expected to rise to 9.1 million by 2040,” the news service notes. “It’s mainly driven by the fact that people are being treated with antiretroviral drugs and therefore will survive to be old,” Robert Cumming of the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney said at a conference on aging in Africa, according to AFP. Cumming added the problem is “being ignored,” and the news service writes, “Policy makers on the continent were also not acknowledging the growing age group which has doctors and others working in the field worried.”
IRIN this week published two articles examining the humanitarian response to the Sahel food crisis, which “put an estimated 18.7 million people at risk of hunger and 1.1 million children at risk of severe malnutrition.” In the first, the news service “spoke to aid agencies, donors and Sahel experts to find out where the crisis response worked better this year,” noting the “situation catalyzed the largest humanitarian response the region has ever seen and it is widely agreed that this helped avert a large-scale disaster.” The article discusses how early warning reports allowed donors and agencies to “respond earlier and more quickly” than they did to the Horn of Africa drought in July 2011 (10/24).
Partners In Health Haitian Food Security Program Easily 'Transplanted' To Other Areas Suffering Malnutrition
“It has been said that hundreds of thousands of dollars and equally as many hours have been spent searching for a cure for malnutrition,” Gillaine Warne, director of Zanmi Agrikol, the agricultural arm of Partners In Health that operates in Haiti, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “The good news is that a cure has been found — it’s called FOOD!,” she says, noting Zanmi Agrikol’s goal is “getting to the root causes of malnutrition [so] we can help create effective and sustainable change.” Warne says even before the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, “one of every three children under five years old suffer[ed] from malnutrition.” She continues, “Our programs at Zanmi Agrikol educate farmers about new and proven ways of planting, conservation, reforestation, and animal husbandry. … We want to enable each family to produce sufficient food for themselves, and enough excess to take to market.”