Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Impatient Blogger's News of the Day: Polio Vaccinations at a Toll Booth?

February 08, 2012

Pakistan finds an unusual way to provide polio vaccines to young children. According to Al Jazeera, "health workers are stopping vehicles at a busy toll booth outside of Islamabad to administer free polio drops to children under the age of 5."

The "college textbook racket"? Why are college textbooks are so expensive and what can be done about it? The textbook publishing industry is an $8 billion industry. In a column in USA Today, Peter Funt of Candid Camera fame writes that prices for books can run so high that some college students are trying to get by without purchasing the required books. What about digital versions or "e-books",  you ask? Those are not markedly cheaper on the whole; they cannot be shared or sold back to be used again, either. Still, some publishers are offering "open source" books, distributed online for free.

A Growing Resistance in Africa to Female Genital Cutting. February 6th marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, according to the World Health Organization. In an article online today, the LA Times reports that "...8000 communities have sworn off female genital excision." It's a practice that's been recognized not only as harmful but, says the WHO, also "a violation of the human rights of girls and women." One country in Africa is abandoning the practice in leaps and bounds. The number of incidents of female genital cutting in Kenya has fallen by 16 percent between 2003 and 2009, according to figures from the UN.

India's plan to distribute food to the poor. According to the Kaiser Daily Global Health News, India's Farm Minister said this week that the country's almost $72 billion plan to provide "foodgrains" to the poor and malnourished won't work unless they fix a "creaky distribution network" among other issues. The proposed law is being debated in Parliament.

What about the men? A new study reflects on how HIV/AIDS outreach in sub-Saharan Africa must include better methods to connect with men in those countries. While targeted outreach has decreased the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and children, the study found that not only do men typically have higher mortality rates from the disease but that they are more likely to visit a health clinic with the disease already advanced and to be "lost at follow up." As well, there is not as much effort to understand how and why both heterosexual men and men who have sex with men do - or do not - seek treatment.

How did India "win the fight" against polio? On the public health front, India has a lot to be proud of. In January, the country recognized one year with no recorded cases of polio. It's an incredible achievement for a country, notes William Thompson writing in The Diplomat, which suffers from extremely high rates of malnourishment, poor sanitation and more. Finally, writes Thompson, "The key to India’s success in the fight was to take ownership of the problem and the solution, allowing for locals to learn from the expertise of the international community while not becoming dependent."

 
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