“The growing threat of nodding disease and increased pressure for action has spurred the Ugandan government to announce a $3 million (USD) plan to address the mystery illness,” Global Health Frontline News reports, adding, “Initial funds will be used to set up screening centers and treat those affected in Pader, Kitgum, and Lamwo districts in northern Uganda as early as this month.”
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Mobile phones are improving access to health care in the developing world, according to the series “The Future of mHealth” by Mobiledia, a Forbes contributor. “People in developing nations depend on mobile phones to access health services and prevent disease, as mobile technology creates a platform for improving health care in remote, underserved areas,” the news service writes. The article highlights public health programs in Haiti and Kenya that utilize mobile technology and notes, “Mobile banking is on the rise in the developing world, presenting another opportunity for mobile health to grow.”
Pakistan and Afghanistan, “the world’s two worst polio-affected countries,” have “decided to form a joint block under the World Health Organization to eradicate the infectious disease — which causes motor paralysis and the atrophy of skeletal muscles, often resulting in permanent physical disability or deformity — by December 2012,” Inter Press Service reports. “The decision was made last year by the Technical Advisory Board (TAG), which is responsible for developing new strategies to wipe out the disease globally,” the news service notes.
The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” examines how the government of Benin “is making headway in attempts to reduce deaths from malaria” by cracking down on counterfeit treatments, offering malaria treatment free-of-charge in public clinics and hospitals, and creating “an army of ordinary citizens in the battle against preventable diseases like malaria.” The article describes a UNICEF-supported program that trains and employs local residents as community health extension workers, who often serve as the front line in providing treatment for malaria or maternal and child health care (Smith, 2/10).
“A group of prominent activists from around the world known as ‘The Elders’ arrived in India Thursday to take a stand against the practice of child marriage” and promote its global “Girls Not Brides” movement, VOA’s “Breaking News” blog reports (2/9). South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the group’s chair, said India’s gross domestic product growth would be much greater if “women are given their proper place,” Reuters notes. Experts say approximately 10 million girls under the age of 18 are married worldwide every year, often to an older man, without consent and before they are mentally and physically mature, according to the news service, which adds, “The practice is most prevalent in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, despite laws in most countries banning it.”
NPR’s health blog “Shots” previews an upcoming WHO-convened meeting to discuss the recent news that two research teams have created H5N1 bird flu strains that are easily transmissible among ferrets, which are used as lab models for humans. Fears that terrorists possibly could use the information prompted the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity in December to request the scientists redact some information prior to publishing their study results and investigators in January to institute a 60-day moratorium on bird flu research, the blog notes.
Noting the successes of the first 10 years of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as the funding challenges it faces moving forward, Elisha Dunn-Georgiou, vice president of advocacy at Population Action International, writes in an opinion piece in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog that the Fund “has always upheld the idea that their work contributes to achievement of all of the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” and “always accepted and considered proposals that include reproductive, maternal, and child health interventions, when countries could demonstrate that they would have an impact on AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.”
PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog features an interview with Barbara Pierce Bush about her founding of and work with the Global Health Corps. PSI President and CEO Karl Hofmann speaks with Bush, who discusses how young people can make a difference in global health (2/9).
In this post in the ONE blog, Brooks Keene, policy adviser for CARE’s water team, “makes the argument that foreign aid should benefit the poor first and foremost,” noting, “As we approach World Water Day on March 22, CARE, [the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)] and WaterAid have published a report card [.pdf] on how well” the Water for the Poor Act, passed by Congress in 2005, “has been implemented seven years down the line.” She writes, “In the absence of a strategy, USAID has gone ahead with water, sanitation and hygiene programs, but much of the effort and dollars have not gone to benefit the poor.” She concludes by recommending several steps USAID could take “to spur concerted targeting” (2/9).
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Victoria Fan, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Felix Lam, a malaria research analyst, examine the discrepancies between the WHO’s estimated number of malaria deaths worldwide and the data recently released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). They ask, “Given the 1.2 billion dollars by donors to malaria in 2010, is it unreasonable to demand to know with more certainty, how many people are dying from malaria?” and go on to describe how each group analyzed data to get to their conclusions (2/9).