Monthly Archives: February 2011

HEALTH: Billions Lack Access to Life-Saving Surgery

More than two billion people, mostly in low-income countries, lack adequate access to life-saving surgical procedures, which is a potential obstacle to achieving health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), say specialists.

“It is not news that the poor have worse access to hospital services like surgery. But the size of the population is a shock,” said Atul Gawande, associate professor at Harvard School of Public Health and head of the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative, Safe Surgery Saves Lives.

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KENYA:HIV/Aids Stigma stops Maternal Health treatment

The stigma being seen attending HIV/Aids clinics stopped many HIV-positive pregnant women from accessing vital HIV treatment that could protect them and their unborn children.

However a programme to integrate maternal services and HIV/Aids treatment into a one-stop clinic has proved successful in the fourteen health facilities in Western Province so far been integrated through an initiative by the Kenyan government.

The Kenyan government estimates about 32,000 babies are infected with HIV at birth every year. Integration of maternal and child health is a major part of the country’s plan to reduce mother-to-child transmission to below 5 percent of the 100,000 mothers who test positive annually.

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ZIMBABWE: $45 million fund for HIV/Aid Maternal Health

About 13 percent of pregnant women in Zimbabwe are HIV positive, one of the highest rates of infection in Africa, according to EGPAF.

Marc Rubin, deputy country representative for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said eliminating paediatric HIV in Zimbabwe would require a massive scale-up of the PMTCT programme.

“New HIV infections are still occurring at alarmingly high rates, particularly amongst young women, and AIDS-defining conditions are the leading contributing factor to both maternal and child mortality,”

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INDONESIA: Swamp Fever Outbreak

Bantul regency in Indonesia’s central Java region has declared a state of emergency and health agencies nationwide are on alert following an outbreak of leptospirosis, commonly known as swamp fever, a fatal animal-borne disease that can result in high fever, internal bleeding and organ failure, said the Health Ministry.

Four of 15 people reported to have been infected with the bacterial disease have died since the onset of the outbreak in late January, a case fatality rate of 27 percent.

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SOUTH AFRICA: 55% of HIV Patients Go Missing Before Treatment

A study has found that about 55 percent of HIV patients in South Africa who are not eligible for treatment at the time of diagnosis will disappear from clinics within a year of initial monitoring, leaving a serious gap in HIV care and prevention, say researchers.
Most patients in South Africa must have a CD4 count – a measure of the immune system’s strength – of 200 or less to be eligible for antiretrovirals (ARVs), but previous research has shown that about two-thirds of people will not meet ARV treatment criteria at diagnosis.

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KENYA: HIV/Aids Forest Evictees Struggle for ARVs

Wesley Kipkoech, 21, may be illiterate and speak only his native Ndorobo tongue, but he understands all too well that if he does not have regular access to his HIV medication, he is likely to die.

Kipkoech is one of hundreds of internally displaced people living on the edges of the Mau Forest Complex in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province after the government began evicting them in 2009, in a bid to rehabilitate the forest after decades of farming, charcoal burning and other harmful activities.

An estimated 30,000 people have been affected, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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MYANMAR: Mass Vaccination to Target Polio

A rare strain of the polio virus is re-emerging in Myanmar after three years, say health workers. One case was confirmed in Myanmar last December – followed by two more of unknown origin reported but not yet confirmed in January – prompting health officials to organize a mass vaccination campaign to target millions of under-five children.

A seven-month old infant was infected with vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) in December in central Myanmar’s Mandalay division in Yamethin Township, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) office in Myanmar.

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