GLOBAL HEALTH -- February 10, 2011 at 3:58 PM EDT
Top 5 Global Health Headlines: Vatican to Host AIDS Conference
Vatican to Host Aids Conference
The Vatican has announced plans to host an international conference at the end of May focusing on AIDS prevention and care.
Last fall, Pope Benedict XVI grabbed headlines when he said during an interview that the use of condoms might be a sign of moral responsibility for someone like a male prostitute who has HIV. The Church has long opposed any form of birth control, including condoms, a position that AIDS advocates have criticized.
Monsignor Jean-Marie Mpendawatu Mate Musivi, undersecretary in the Vatican health office, told reporters that the Vatican's position on condoms would be clarified during the conference. "There is a problem of comprehension, of explaining things well and what the pope really said," Mate Musivi said.
First Lady Takes Anti-Obesity Messages Overseas
During a luncheon with reporters to mark the one year anniversary of her anti-obesity "Let's Move" campaign, Michelle Obama said she wants to take her message overseas this year.
"What I find internationally, and Barack says the same thing is whenever he meets with a world leader, one of the first things they ask him is about the garden because the issue of obesity is becoming an international issue," Obama said, according to the New York Times. "Many first ladies have begun to think about how they're going to deal with this issue," she added.
A recent study published in the Lancet found global obesity rates have doubled in the last three decades: 205 million men and 297 million women are obese and another 1.5 billion adults are overweight. In the U.S. almost 70 percent of adults and about a third of children and teens are overweight or obese, according to the CDC.
The PBS NewsHour's global health team recently reported on the rising number of obese in China.
World Food Prices Jump in 2010
According to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization, "world food prices surged to a new historic peak in January, for the seventh consecutive month." The Wall Street Journal reports the average cost of a metric ton of wheat rose to $246 in 2010 compared with $218 in 2009.
The World Food Program (WFP), the United Nations' food-relief agency, announced this week it increased food purchases by 22 percent last year and spent 30 percent more for a total of $1.25 billion.
"Rising food prices affect WFP in two ways: It costs us more to purchase food for the hungry, and at the same time the number of people needing food assistance increases," according to WFP spokeswoman Bettina Luescher. "For families who spend 60 to 80 percent of their meager incomes of less than $2 a day on food, those kinds of price hikes are just simply unsustainable."
Rising food costs have been blamed for the recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Newly Discovered "Outdoor" Mosquito More Susceptible to Malaria
Researchers have found a new mosquito subspecies in West Africa that is very susceptible to the malaria parasite and lives primarily outdoors. Most eradication efforts, such as insecticide spray and bed nets, have focused on mosquitoes which bite people indoors. Scientists say the discovery has significant implications for worldwide efforts to eradicate the disease.
According to the World Health Organization, 250 million people are infected and nearly 1 million people die from malaria every year. In Africa, a child dies from the disease every 45 seconds.
Click here to see a global health unit report on Tanzania's malaria eradication efforts.
Clinton Highlights Fight Against Child Marriage
In a new article in Glamour Magazine, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton writes about the need to end child marriages in countries like Yemen, where such unions are common. Clinton recently met with Nujood Ali, who gained international attention after she fought for a divorce at the age of ten, from a husband who was three times her age.
"Stopping child marriage is not just a must for moral or human rights reasons," Clinton writes. "It lays the foundation for so many other things we hope to achieve. Primary education. Improved child and maternal health. Sustainable economic development that includes girls."
Many women in the developing world marry and have children at a young age. The NewsHour's global health team is in Guatemala this week profiling some innovative programs to empower girls.