Inter Press Service examines gender discrimination and mortality in India, writing, “Global infant and child mortality rates have been on the decline in recent years, with a large portion of the world seeing young girls experiencing higher rates of survival than young boys; but India remains the exception to this positive trend.” A new report, “‘Sex Differentials in Childhood Mortality,’ a project of the U.N.’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), reveals that a girl aged between one and five years is 75 percent more likely to die than a boy in India, marking the world’s most extreme gender disparity in child mortality,” according to the news service.
The Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report summarizes the latest, most relevant information on U.S. global health policy developments and related news from hundreds of sources. RSS feeds are available.
A study published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Disease on Tuesday examines the relationship between political conflict in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and “the spread or re-emergence of a variety of tropical diseases — some previously eliminated or controlled — affecting an estimated 65 million people” in the region, VOA News reports (Sinha, 3/1). “The report, authored by global health leaders Dr. Peter Hotez, Dr. Lorenzo Savioli and professor Alan Fenwick, reveals the high prevalence and uneven distribution of [neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)] such as schistosomiasis, lymphatic filiariasis, dengue fever and Rift Valley fever in the MENA region and suggests opportunities for NTD control, especially in high-risk populations in Egypt and Yemen,” the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases writes in an article on its website.
USAID on Thursday unveiled a new policy that aims to ensure gender equality and empower the world’s women and girls, Deseret News reports. “While USAID has addressed gender issues in the past, results have been mixed, according to a report [.pdf] released Thursday in conjunction with the policy launch,” the news service writes. “‘We know that long-term, sustainable development will only be possible when women and men enjoy equal opportunity to rise to their potential,’ said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah during a White House event,” Deseret notes (Stuart, 3/1).
“A constitutional debate is under way in Nigeria over whether the government can prosecute parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated against polio, or if it has the power to force parents to have their children vaccinated against any communicable disease,” VOA News reports. “The debate comes on the heels of a resolution by the government of Nigeria’s northern Kano state to prosecute any parent who refuses to have their children receive the oral vaccine against the highly contagious disease,” the news service notes.
“North Korea announced on Wednesday that it would suspend its nuclear weapons tests and uranium enrichment and allow international inspectors to monitor activities at its main nuclear complex,” a move “signal[ing] that North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, is at least willing to consider a return to negotiations and to engage with the United States, which pledged in exchange to ship tons of food aid to the isolated, impoverished nation,” the New York Times reports. Some “analysts said the agreement allowed Mr. Kim to demonstrate his command and to use his early months in power to improve people’s lives after years of food shortages and a devastating famine,” the newspaper writes (Myers/Choe, 2/29).
An inexpensive test and single-dose treatment could help save the lives of nearly one million infants annually if pregnant women in low-income countries were offered rapid tests for syphilis, experts from the Global Congenital Syphilis Partnership said on Thursday, Reuters reports. “A team of researchers led by Rosanna Peeling and David Mabey at the [London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)] found in a study due to be published soon that introducing rapid tests to increase access to syphilis screening was both feasible and cost effective,” the news agency writes.
“In an effort to coordinate prevention and treatment of fistula across the globe, targeting outside help where it can do the most good,” the non-profit Direct Relief International has developed an interactive Global Fistula Care Map, “display[ing] more than 150 health facilities that provide fistula repair in 40 countries across Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East,” Miller-McCune reports. “‘Documenting where treatment is available is critical to providing care, raising resources, and restoring the health and dignity of women and girls living with fistula,’ Gillian Slinger, the United Nations Population Fund coordinator of the Campaign to End Fistula, was quoted in a release [.pdf] announcing the map,” the news service writes (Skenazy, 2/29).
Only weeks after the U.N. declared an end to the famine in Somalia, regional climate scientists meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 30th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum have said preventive measures should be taken to stem the effects of drought that likely will return to Somalia and other parts of the Horn of Africa over the next three months, IRIN reports. USAID’s “FEWS NET said people should expect erratic rain in southern Somalia and southeastern Kenya” and will “be releasing a detailed outlook in the coming weeks,” the news service notes. But “[o]ne of the problems highlighted was the lack of linkage between early warning and early action. ‘There is no framework that allows the trigger of funds when the early warning bell is sounded,’ said one aid worker,” IRIN writes (2/29).
With each of the three droughts in the Horn of Africa over the last decade, “the international community agreed that long-term measures were needed to prevent another tragedy. But each time, when the rains finally came, the world’s good intentions melted away,” Jose Graziano de Silva, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) writes in a Project Syndicate opinion piece. “We must ensure that this does not happen again by joining forces now to banish hunger from the region once and for all,” he continues.
In this Huffington Post “Black Voices” opinion piece, Vanessa Cullins, vice president for external medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, responds to an announcement by the WHO in February that the agency would not revise its contraception guidelines for women living with and at risk of HIV infection based on a “study suggesting that hormonal contraception increases women’s risk of [acquiring and] transmitting HIV to their partners.” A panel found “there was not enough evidence” to support women abandoning hormonal contraception and concluded there should be “no restrictions on hormonal contraception,” Cullins states.