Governments Make Big Commitments on Malnutrition

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This action is a reflection of growing attention that is being paid to both micronutrient deficiency and also the public health burdens of obesity. “More than 170 governments pledged Wednesday to do more to prevent malnutrition around the globe, adopting voluntary guidelines to promote healthy diets and reduce levels of obesity at the start of a three-day U.N. conference. Currently, 2 billion people — one-third of the world’s population — suffer from nutritional deficiencies, including vitamin A, iodine, iron and zinc. Such deficiencies caused 45 percent of all child deaths in 2013. At the same time, some 42 million children under age 5 are overweight and some 500 million adults were obese in 2010, U.N. figures show.” (AP

Some Actual Good News from the United States Congress…The Girls Count Act of 2014 passed the US House of Representatives. The legislation supports programs in developing countries that improve birth registration for girls and boys, and promotes policies that prevent discrimination against girls. (UN Foundation

Quote of the Day: From UNAIDS Chief Michel Sidibe, who says a “Fast Track Plan” on HIV/AIDS Could end the epidemic by 2030. “If we invest just $3 a day for each person living with HIV for the next five years, we would break the epidemic for good. And we know that each dollar invested will produce a $15 return.” (Reuters

On the Docket: The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves kicks off a two day summit in New York City. Hillary Clinton and Raj Shah are scheduled speakers.


The World Health Organization reports it is launching teo initiatives to stimulate the development of better and faster Ebola diagnostic tests for use in heavily disease-infected West African countries. (VOA

A Cuban doctor working in Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with Ebola, officials say, in what is thought to be a Cuban national’s  first case of the disease. (BBC

If a person can get treatment, he or she has nearly a 40 percent chance of surviving Ebola. But for a pregnant woman and her fetus, Ebola is almost a death sentence. One small study found a fatality rate around 95 percent. The woman invariably passes the virus to the fetus. And the fetus dies before labor, or it’s born and dies shortly after. (NPR

U.S. President Barack Obama says the fight against Ebola remains challenging, with cases increasing in Sierra Leone and a doctor contracting the disease there before dying in the United States on Monday. (VOA

Francisco Ferreira, the World Bank’s chief economist for Africa, told an audience in Johannesburg Wednesday that he expects the epidemic’s economic toll on West Africa will range from $3 to $4 billion, well below previous estimates of up to $32 billion.. (VOA

After five recent Ebola deaths, Mali has become a front line in the fight against the virus, especially in the border town of Kouremale which two of those victims passed through last month. Malian authorities, with help from the U.N. and aid groups, this week deployed medical teams at the border to try to stop the disease’s spread. (AP

The head of the World Health Organization refused Wednesday to respond to criticism about the U.N. agency’s performance in containing the Ebola outbreak, saying the focus now should be on helping countries contain it. (AP


Ex-rebels in the Central African Republic have been threatening to blow themselves up to protest a government attempt to relocate them from camps in the capital, Bangui. (VOA

The Miniskirt protest worked! Kenyan police arrested dozens of men suspected of stripping naked a woman in public on the grounds she was indecently dressed, just after a protest against similar attacks, local media reported. (Reuters

China’s “no strings attached” aid is being abused by African leaders who channel the lion’s share of funds to their home areas, U.S.-led researchers found in the first geo-referenced database of Chinese aid to the world’s poorest continent. (TRF

Boko Haram’s brief occupation of Chibok last week showed that no part of northeastern Nigerian is safe from the insurgency — not even the town where the militants kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls earlier this year. Analysts say the violent Islamist radicals are making gains along Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, and that the military has been unable to stop them. (VOA

Cameroon says it has pushed backed a group of suspected anti-Balaka rebels from the Central African Republic who attacked its territory Tuesday, apparently in an attempt to free one of their leaders. (VOA

The army officer who briefly seized power in Burkina Faso has been named prime minister of the country’s transitional government. (VOA

Around 4,000 workers in the Mauritius sugar industry went on indefinite strike on Wednesday over a pay dispute with sugar producers, potentially hitting output of the island’s key crop. (Reuters

United Nations and African human rights experts urged African countries and others around the world to lift bans on lobbying for gay rights after Botswana’s High Court ruled that a local group there had a right to be registered. (Reuters

About 500 schoolchildren broke classroom windows and damaged cars to protest a strike by their teachers in Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre, on Wednesday. (AP


An Egyptian woman died on Tuesday of H5N1 bird flu after coming into contact with infected birds, the second death from the disease in two days and the third in the country this year, a health ministry statement said. (Reuters

Syria’s once-promising economy has been set back more than 30 years by its brutal civil war, economists say, and it may never recover. Squeezed by sanctions and the fallout of the more than three-year-old conflict, the government faces dwindling revenues and is increasingly dependent on aid from key allies Iran and Russia. (AP

Libya’s warring parties in the eastern city of Benghazi agreed to a 12-hour humanitarian truce Wednesday. (AP


Half of all medicine available on the Afghan market has either been smuggled into the country or made under substandard conditions in neighboring Pakistan, according to a report released on Wednesday. (AP

The speaker of the parliament in Myanmar says the military-drafted constitution that bars opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president cannot be changed before elections next November. (VOA

India is racing to build toilets by 2019 for 600 million people or roughly half the population which lacks access to sanitization. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put it high on the national agenda, but the challenge could be daunting in a country where defecating in the open is a common sight and is accepted by many as normal. (VOA

The Americas

A Honduran beauty queen has been found murdered just days before she was due to compete in the Miss World pageant in London, police said. (VOA

Legislatures in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri passed right-to-try laws this year as part of a nationwide effort spearheaded by the conservative Goldwater Institute, which hopes to get right-to-try laws on the books in all 50 US states. (NPR

Emission levels of greenhouse gases in Latin America’s biggest country were almost 8 percent higher in 2013 than one year earlier, a Brazilian network of environmental groups said. (AP

Colombia’s largest rebel group energetically defended negotiations aimed at ending a half-century insurgency even as those talks hung in the balance following the rebels’ surprise capture of an army general. (AP

Squatters who invaded government-built, low-income housing units earlier this month in a Rio de Janeiro suburb are leaving the complex. (AP


Things are looking good for Burkina Faso! (UN Dispatch

Snakebites, diarrhoea and violence: why India’s women need toilets (The Guardian

A giant pair of sunglasses is being called an insult to the memory of Nelson Mandela (GlobalPost

Nigeria journalist puts faces to girls kidnapped by Boko Haram (TRF

A Game-Changing Week on Climate Change (IPS

How to Publish Your Government Contracts (Center For Global Development

Neat interactive tracking of actions by Ebola response donors from ONE (A View From The Cave

House of Wild Cards – How Effective Is South Africa’s Opposition? (Daily Maverick
World Toilet Day quiz: are you an expert on the loo? (Guardian Development