…greater social empowerment of women will be associated with smaller mortality differences between women and men, which may seem counterintuitive from a nonevolutionary perspective. In other words, they predict that higher levels of societal patriarchy will be associated with greater levels of excess male mortality.
February 6, 2014
A deal was reportedly struck to allow the evacuation of civilians from the embattled town of Homs, in Syria. From Reuters:
The United Nations made clear that it was not a party to the deal and while it was ready to send in aid, it did not yet have the go-ahead from the government and opposition sides in Syria’s war to move on the reported agreement.
“The United Nations and humanitarian partners had pre-positioned food, medical and other basic supplies on the outskirts of Homs ready for immediate delivery as soon as the green light was given by the parties for safe passage,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said in a statement.
Syria earlier said it reached a deal to allow “innocent” civilians to leave the rebel-held old city of Homs, potentially the first positive result after deadlocked peace talks in Switzerland last week.
The government’s announcement came hours after rebels declared a new offensive in the northern province of Aleppo, in response to an escalated air assault by government forces trying to recapture territory and drive residents out of opposition-held areas.
President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have used siege tactics to surround and try to starve out rebels holding strategic areas, a technique increasingly copied by rebels as well.
The siege of the old city of Homs has gone on for over a year, and activists say 2,500 people are trapped inside the area struggling with hunger and malnourishment. They represent only a small fraction of besieged Syrians across the country in desperate need of aid.
“The agreement will allow innocent civilians surrounded in the neighborhoods of Old Homs – among them women and children, the wounded and the elderly – an opportunity to leave as soon as the necessary arrangements, in addition to offering them humanitarian aid,” said a Syrian foreign ministry statement, cited on Syria TV.
“It will also allow in aid to civilians who choose to stay inside the old city.”
A paper published recently in the Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE) provides a systematic review of recent studies on strategies to increase reproductive, maternal, and child health in mountainous locations.
Read on for some highlights.Read More
February 6, 2014
American pharmacy giant CVS announced it will no longer sell cigarettes in its 7,600 stores by November of this year. From the Wall Street Journal:
The move is a bold and expensive one for CVS, a unit of Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Caremark Corp. It reflects a major push by retail pharmacies away from simply dispensing drugs toward a more integrated role of providing basic health services to Americans—including millions of newly insured—amid an expected shortage of primary care doctors.
The news is another blow to the $100 billion tobacco industry that is wrestling with slumping sales, rising taxes, widening smoking bans and a resurgence of public information campaigns highlighting the perils of smoking.
For CVS, the move will be costly. The drugstore chain estimates it will lose $2 billion in annual revenue from tobacco and other sundries as a result, which amounts to about six to nine cents a share this year and about 17 cents annually from next year on. CVS, with annual revenue of more than $123 billion, projects its 2014 earnings will be $4.36 to $4.50 a share.
But it is banking the strategy will give it a competitive edge over rival pharmacies in forging partnerships with hospitals, insurers and physician groups. These types of alliances are critical to drugstores like CVS and Walgreen Co. as they redefine themselves in what has been a historic downturn in prescription drug sales.
CVS sees its future in making its in-store clinics a convenient health-care alternative to long waits at the doctor’s office, along with CVS pharmacists counseling patients. That strategy was increasingly at odds with racks of cigarettes, cigars and chewing-tobacco residing behind the cashier’s counter, said Larry Merlo, chief executive, in an interview.
“Cigarettes have no place in an environment where health care is being delivered,” said Mr. Merlo, a 58-year-old former pharmacist who became CEO of CVS Caremark in 2011. “This is the right decision at the right time as we evolve from a drugstore into a health-care company.”
CVS’s move is expected to put pressure on its main rivals—Walgreen, Rite Aid Corp. and even Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to adopt similar measures. Each of those competitors, like CVS, is wooing sick patients with the promise they could help them better manage their health—and make sure they stay on their prescription medications.
One of the biggest challenges in youth engagement is being able to involve young people that represent the heterogeneity of the youth population. It’s been noted in this forum and many others that oftentimes the young people that are able to sit ‘at the table’ and join the conversation about SRHR policy and practices, are only those that are highly educated, urban, from higher socioeconomic strata, and less marginalized than many of the young people that our programs set out to reach. There is no easy answer – however, policymakers can do a better job of thinking creatively about how to access young people, different types of young people, in the spaces that they already gather.
February 5, 2014
The UN’s World Food Programme announced it was airlifting supplies to northeastern Syria, where raging violence has made it nearly impossible to truck aid in. From AFP:
“WFP started airlifting on Tuesday enough food to feed close to 30,000 displaced people for a month from Iraq to Qamishli in northeast Syria,” spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said.
“This is for people who otherwise would be cut off from humanitarian assistance,” she told reporters.
The agency plans to fly in more than 400 tonnes of food and other items, mainly clothes, detergent and soap, supplied by UN children’s agency UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration.
In December, the WFP airlifted supplies for 62,000 in the northeast who had been deprived of food aid for more than five months.
The WFP’s operation is the only airlift currently under way in Syria.
Aid agencies have repeatedly sounded the alarm about their inability to supply regular aid by road — logistically simpler, but more dangerous — to the millions of Syrians who have been driven from their homes over nearly three years of civil war.
At UN-brokered peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition in Geneva last week, the only tangible pledge to emerge concerned aid for civilians in rebel-held parts of the central city of Homs, besieged by the military since June 2012.
But the warring sides have traded barbs over who is blocking an international aid convoy which agencies said had been standing ready for days.
UN agencies have steered clear of pinning blame, and repeatedly appealed for access to Syrians in desperate need.
“As of this morning, the convoy in Homs is not moving,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the United Nations’ humanitarian coordination arm.
The AIDS epidemic is relatively young. It was only 30 years ago this year that scientists first discovered HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Perhaps it’s because it’s relatively young that efforts to abate it could learn from history and adopt new approaches.
Now, according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP), it’s time to “Use lessons from fighting HIV to fend off new regional threats in Asia.” From their statement:
“The effective approaches to HIV in Asia and the Pacific have illustrated that a focus on law and human rights, and attention to the needs of marginalized people, can support the achievement of human development objectives,” says Clifton Cortez, UNDP’s HIV, Health and Development Team Leader in Bangkok. “We think the same lessons can be applied to reducing the threat posed by chronic non-communicable diseases that will have catastrophic human and financial impacts in this region,” he says.
February 4, 2014
The UN launched a new appeal to meet the problems facing 20 million people in the Sahel region of West Africa. From Reuters:
Conflicts in Mali, Nigeria, Sudan and Central African Republic have disrupted markets and caused food shortages across the savannah region, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned.
The problems in the Sahel, a semi-arid belt south of the Sahara Desert that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean eastward to the Red Sea, have also weighed on the United Nations’ efforts to protect refugees, another component of its aid appeal.
More than 1.6 million people have abandoned their homes and half of these have sought refuge in countries like Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, which are already under strain.
The impact is to distort local food production and make it harder for countries battling to feed their own populations.
However, funding may fall short because of a slow global economic recovery and a $6.5 billion appeal for Syria, the largest U.N. humanitarian campaign in history, said Robert Piper, the U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel.
Donors met just over 60 percent of the $1.72 billion U.N. appeal for Sahel last year.
“This year is make or break for the Sahel,” said Piper.
“It’s the year we see if we can translate theory into practice and start bringing aid workers together to work with national governments and reverse these trends that have been deteriorating year after year,” he said.
Food insecurity, which is a measure of hunger within a population due to conflict or climate, has almost doubled in the last year in the Sahel, a region that sees cyclical floods and droughts as well as locust infestations and epidemics.
IUD stands for intrauterine device. It’s a mouthful in English; now imagine trying to recommend using it in Nepalese, to a patient you’re not quite sure is eligible for it, and you’re not quite sure how manageable the side effects really are.
You’re probably not going to recommend it. That’s unfortunate because it’s safe enough for over 160 million women worldwide, can be as reliable as sterilization, has manageable side effects, and is completely reversible (source).
PSI recently did some research into the knowledge and perceptions of intrauterine devices among family planning providers in Nepal, publishing this research brief by Dr. Nirali Chakraborty, Caitlin Murphy, Mahesh Paudel, and Sriju Sharma.Read More
February 3, 2014
WFP chief executive Ertharin Cousin says the UN agency has been overwhelmed by demand for food in Syria, with thousands surviving without a regular supply of nourishment for more than a year because of civil war. From the AP:
The Rome-based American said gaining access to besieged areas was the biggest challenge in feeding the 6.5 million people in need within Syria’s borders. Another two million Syrians who had fled the conflict relied on food aid in neighboring Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt.
“The level of need is much higher than what we’re actually achieving in Syria,” Cousin said.
She said 45,000 families in the northeast province of Hassaka were among the Syrians who had survived without regular food deliveries for more than a year.
WFP airlifted food from Iraq to 6,000 families in Hassaka in December last year at a transport cost of $800,000. More airlifts were planned for next week.
“Despite the cost, we know that that’s the only way right now that we can reach those families in Hassaka,” Cousin said.
“What that means is that we can provide less food to fewer people when we use resources that should be going to feed people to pay for airplanes,” she added.
Cousin said she was aware of anecdotal reports of Syrians starving to death in areas of the country that aid agencies could not access. But WFP had no evidence to corroborate such reports of starvation.
“But when you know that people have no resources, no access to … food, and you’re not reaching them, those anecdotes become easier to believe,” she said.
Syria was forecast to cost the WFP more than $1 billion this year — a quarter of the organization’s global budget, Cousin said.
WFP had set a goal of feeding 4.25 million people in Syria, but was currently reaching fewer than 4 million, she said.
Other aid agencies including International Committee of the Red Cross were attempting to feed others among the 6.5 million Syrians in need, she said.
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