“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) carried out the first in a series of air drops to replenish rapidly diminishing food stocks for more than 100,000 people in South Sudan who have fled fighting in Sudan,” the U.N. News Centre reports (8/15). “The refugees are severely malnourished going for days without supplies after being driven from their homes by the violence,” Examiner.com notes (Lambers, 8/15). “The first air drops were made Wednesday in Maban County in Upper Nile state,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes, adding that camps there — “along with another in the region called Yida — have received more than 160,000 refugees who have fled war on the other side of the border in Sudan.” According to the AP, “WFP plans to deliver up to 2,000 metric tons of food to Maban over the coming days and weeks” (8/16).
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This post in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines the use of stavudine, “also known as d4T, an antiretroviral treatment that was dropped in wealthy countries years ago and that the World Health Organization has recommended stop being included in treatment programs,” to treat HIV in Malawi. “[W]hile children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, as well as tuberculosis patients have access to less toxic treatments, stavudine continues to be the first treatment supplied to most Malawi patients under the terms of the country’s grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” the blog writes, adding, “In a letter [.pdf] to Global Fund General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo and [U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador] Eric Goosby, the Centre for Development of People (CEDEP), Health GAP (Global Access Project), and the Malawi Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (MANET+) are asking the Global Fund to find a way to switch to first line treatment in Malawi that is acceptable to patients and World Health Organization standards” (8/15).
In this post in the PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog, guest blogger Oliver Sabot, executive vice president of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, “reflects on the challenge and opportunity of scaling-up access to effective treatment for diarrhea, the second largest cause of child mortality globally.” In the post, Sabot “reflect[s] on a visit to a program to improve the use of zinc and oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhea in a rural area of the Indian state of Gujarat run by the nonprofit Family Health International 360” (8/15).
“Having just returned to New York from Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, I’m reminded how lucky we are in this city to have reliable water and sanitation services,” David Winder, chief executive of WaterAid USA, writes this post in Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “Increased investment in providing access to safe water and improved sanitation dramatically impacts child survival,” but “[i]n low-income areas of cities like Maputo, that is often a complex task,” he notes. “Often in low-income urban neighborhoods, the provision of piped water to homes is simply too expensive for ordinary families to afford,” he continues.
Haitian Government Hires Former Clinton Administration Official To Discuss Cholera Epidemic With Members Of U.S. Congress
“The Haitian government has hired a one-time Clinton administration official seeking to influence U.S. officials who pledged $3 billion after a 2010 earthquake devastated the impoverished nation’s capital,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. “Walter Corley, a former U.S. trade official, said Wednesday that he has been focusing on efforts to stem a cholera outbreak since he was hired by Haiti in April on a one-year contract that pays $5,000 a month,” the news service writes. According to AP, “Corley said he has discussed the cholera epidemic with members of Congressional Black Caucus, including Democratic Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Maxine Waters of California” (8/15).
“The developing world needs support for low-tech health innovations that do not compromise on effectiveness,” journalist Priya Shetty writes in this SciDev.Net opinion piece, adding that, against the backdrop of global economic recession and shrinking research and development (R&D) budgets in many developing countries, “a new movement of ‘frugal science’ is taking hold, in which researchers are hunting for the most cost-effective health technologies for developing countries.” Shetty writes, “Cost is rarely the only limiting factor; health technologies need to be ‘low-tech’ — as electricity supplies can be erratic, or hospital environments not always sterile, for instance — without being ‘low-spec,’” and continues, “Achieving this balance requires innovative thinking, which is why researchers from around the world are developing an evidence base for the most effective and innovative healthcare technologies for poorer countries.”
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, co-chair Bill Gates discusses the foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Fair, held this week in Seattle, which “brought together about 200 grantees, partners, and others who are passionate about creating safe, effective, and inexpensive sanitation services for people without access to flush toilets.” “The flush toilets we use in the wealthy world are irrelevant, impractical and impossible for 40 percent of the global population,” Gates writes, noting, “Worldwide, there are 2.5 billion people without access to safe sanitation — including one billion people who still defecate out in the open and more than one billion others who must use pit latrines” (8/14). A related post in the blog offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the Gates Foundation campus was transformed for the toilet fair (8/14).
“Ethiopia is preparing for a flood of medical doctors within ‘three to four years,’ an influx meant to save a public health system that has been losing doctors and specialists to internal and external migration,” IRIN reports. “‘We are now implementing strategies that intend to increase the current below-World Health Organization [WHO] standard number of medical doctors and retaining them in public hospitals,’ Tedros Adhanom, Ethiopia’s minister of health, told IRIN,” the news service writes. “‘We have now reached an enrollment rate of more than 3,100,’ [Adhanom] said,” adding, “The rate of enrollment in the country’s medical schools has increased tenfold from 2005, when it was below 300,” according to the news service.
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Tuesday “announced the winners of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge — an effort to develop ‘next-generation’ toilets that will deliver safe and sustainable sanitation to the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don’t have it,” according to a foundation press release (8/14). “To pass the foundation’s threshold for the world’s next toilet, it must operate without running water, electricity or a septic system, not discharge pollutants, preferably capture energy or other resources, and operate at a cost of five cents a day,” according to the Associated Press (Blankinship, 8/15). “The new commodes are being showcased at a ‘Reinvent the Toilet Fair’ Tuesday and Wednesday in Seattle,” CNN writes, adding, “The foundation also announced a second round of grants totaling some $3.4 million to organizations that are working to innovative latrines” (8/15).
In an article on the U.S. Department of Defense webpage, the American Forces Press Service reports on how a U.S. military medical team is helping the Botswana Defense Force “to promote Botswana’s national program of education, HIV screening and male circumcision surgeries to stem what’s become a national epidemic,” according to Army Col. (Dr.) Michael Kelly, an Army Reserve surgeon deployed in Botswana from the Army Reserve Medical Command in Washington. “The Botswana Ministry of Health’s goal, Kelly said, is to bring the number of new HIV diagnoses to zero by 2016, … an ambitious plan, in light of an HIV rate that has skyrocketed since the first case of AIDS was diagnosed in Botswana in 1985,” the news service writes (Miles, 8/14).