Top Global Health Headlines: Pakistan Aid After Bin Laden; Doctors Detained

BY Talea Miller  May 5, 2011 at 5:49 PM EST


Newsstand in Lahore on Tuesday. Photo by Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Bin Laden Hideout Raises Pakistan Aid Questions

The revelation that Osama bin Laden was living in a Pakistani city not far from Islamabad prior to his death has some members of Congress questioning the United States’ nearly $1.3 billion in annual aid to the country.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Congress may consider cutting Pakistani aid if it is discovered the government knew about bin Laden’s hideout, The Associated Press reported.

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, who chairs the House appropriations committee for foreign aid, expressed “grave concern” over cash aid going to Pakistani flood victims in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week.

“My opposition to the program has only been heightened by the discovery of the most notorious terrorist of the world living hundreds of yards from a Pakistani military installation,” she wrote.

But House Speaker John Boehner said talk of cutting foreign aid is premature and the United States needs more engagement, not less, with Pakistan at this time.

Medical Workers Detained in Bahrain

Bahrain announced Wednesday it is prosecuting 47 doctors and nurses in military court for allegedly participating in unlicensed protests and inciting hatred against the government.

“Hard evidence showed that the [medical] complex was used extensively for the activities of saboteurs who sought to spread chaos, cause disruptions and trouble and create sedition within the kingdom,” Bahrain’s Justice Ministry said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Human rights groups say the medical workers were detained for providing medical services to protesters and for publicizing the violence perpetrated by the government

Assistance for Libya Rebels

Some of Moammar Gadhafi’s seized billions will be freed to give Libyan rebels humanitarian and other financial assistance, the United States announced Thursday.

The U.S. has already authorized up to $26 million in non-lethal military assistance and pledged $53 million in humanitarian aid. More than $250 million in humanitarian aid has been pledged by 22 countries meeting in Rome this week.

Also Thursday, the World Food Program said Libya could run out of food in six to eight weeks because of the violence and disruptions to distribution of commodities.

Haiti Cholera Investigation Inconclusive

The cholera strain still plaguing Haiti is from South Asia, but the outbreak can’t be definitively tied to U.N. peacekeeping troops, an independent medical panel appointed by the United Nations said in its investigation released this week.

The epidemic “was not the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual,” the report stated, but did originate in the branch of the Artibonite River where Nepalese peacekeepers were stationed.

China Bans Smoking in Public Places

Starting this week, China’s Ministry of Health is strengthening its tobacco rules to require 28 types of businesses, including bars, coffee shops, hotels and stadiums to become 100 percent smoke-free.

The country has an estimated 350 million smokers, more people than the entire population of the United States. More than half of adult men smoke.

Fines for business owners who violate the rules range up to 30,000 yuan (about $4,600), but there are still questions about how the regulation will be enforced on a local level, and whether these fines will really be imposed.