News in the Humanosphere: stark warning about Ebola’s effect on maternal mortality

On 19 September, a woman takes the temperature of a social mobilizer before he handles supplies, in Freetown, Sierra Leone. (Credit: UNICEF)

The nexus between the Ebola outbreak and maternal mortality is truly frightening. “The rate of women dying in childbirth in West African countries hit by the Ebola epidemic is soaring, with as many as one in seven at risk of death as fear of contact with bodily fluids prevents people helping them,” aid charities warned on Tuesday.  The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 800,000 women in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are due to give birth in the next 12 months. Of these, some 120,000 could face life-threatening complications if they don’t get the emergency care they need and tens of thousands could die, according to the DEC group of 13 leading U.K. charities, including Save The Children and ActionAid. Korto Williams, head of ActionAid in Liberia, said many women were being left to give birth alone because stigma and ignorance meant people around them feared they might have Ebola and stayed away. Too many women have died because of lack of care, she said, adding video clips on the internet show women giving birth in the streets of Monrovia with no one helping. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1sx9uh9)

Deadly consequences for sterilization. … Ten women have died in India and dozens more are in a critical condition after a state-run sterilization program designed to control the country’s billion-plus population went badly wrong, officials said Tuesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1sx3HYK)

Viral hemorrhagic fevers– the good news!  Authorities in Uganda said the country was free of Marburg, a virus similar to Ebola, after no new cases had been reported more than a month after a hospital worker died of the disease in the capital. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1sx8VDV)

What to watch for today:  President Obama lands in Myanmar, amid worsening human rights abuses against the Rohingya minority. We’ll have more on that tomorrow.

Ebola
Sierra Leone said Tuesday it was holding a journalist in a notorious prison because he had accused the government of provoking the kind of unrest seen in Burkina Faso through mismanagement of the Ebola crisis. (AFP http://yhoo.it/10VB1lV)

Medical experts are meeting at the World Health Organization in Geneva to figure out how to test potential Ebola drugs in Africa. In addition to determining which experimental drugs should be the highest priority, the experts are sorting through some difficult ethical issues. (NPR http://n.pr/1qCD0SW)

Africa

The IMF said the economy of central African states is vulnerable to a sharp decline due to decreasing oil prices, terrorism and armed conflicts. It also said the region’s progress on reducing poverty will be slow and hindered by high inequality. (VOA http://bit.ly/1xfjoeV)

Though Kenya has posted a strong economic performance, resulting in a recent middle income bracketing, experts say that achieving the targeted double-digit economic growth rate will not be easy. (IPS http://bit.ly/1xuyFXK)

Rwanda’s high court convicted eight people of inciting rebellion for processing to President Paul Kagame’s residence to deliver what they said was a message from God, and sentenced them to five years in prison. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1sx9g9D)

Corruption and intimidation deny justice to many survivors of sexual violence in Kenya, which campaigners say has reached “epidemic” proportions. One in three Kenyan girls experience sexual violence before age 18, a 2012 government survey found. Suspects try to bribe and threaten police, judges and survivors. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1sx9JIZ)

The expulsion of a major South African union from the ANC’s governing coalition is set to redraw the country’s political landscape. Beneath an avalanche of acronyms, arcane trade union processes and parochial infighting, something big is stirring in South African politics. (AP http://yhoo.it/1xuD8cS)

Malawi has jailed a second government official over the Cashgate scandal in which more than $30 million was looted from state coffers. Victor Sithole, an accounts assistant, was found guilty of stealing more than $66,000 and last week sentenced to nine years in jail. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1sxiySW)

Families of 34 striking South African miners shot dead in 2012 called on Tuesday for police who fired on them to be prosecuted as a judicial inquiry into what is known as the “Marikana massacre” neared its end. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1qCCDYx)

MENA

Jordan has flown humanitarian aid to Iraq’s western Anbar province, where jihadists from the Islamic State group have seized ground and sown fear among the population, the royal court said. (AP http://yhoo.it/1sxaX6U)

About 13.6 million people, equivalent to the population of London, have been displaced by conflicts in Syria and Iraq, many without food or shelter as winter starts, the U.N. refugee agency said on Tuesday. (TRF http://bit.ly/1xuyw6G)

Libya’s biggest oilfield, shut down by gunmen last week, may struggle to rebuild production as the conflict splintering the desert nation draws in ever more groups of fighters, including poor southern tribes staking a claim to land resources. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1sx5v4a)

Syria has freed around 11,000 detainees since President Bashar al-Assad declared a general amnesty in June, the country’s National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1xuGWuW)

Asia

A government-backed report highlighted the extent of malnutrition in Afghanistan, yet experts say efforts to tackle the problem are hampered by cultural norms, shrinking health budgets and the short-term nature of aid donations. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1sxi4MT)

Hong Kong’s acting chief executive on Tuesday called on pro-democracy protesters to clear sites they have occupied for more than six weeks and warned holdouts they could face arrest, a move that could swell protest numbers. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1xuCe03)

A head-on collision between a passenger bus and a truck on a highway in southern Pakistan killed 58 people on Tuesday, police said. The collision ignited a fuel fire and a rescuer later described how he carried out a survivor, a 4-year-old girl, from the burning bus. (AP http://yhoo.it/1xuCqN0)

For the third year in a row, government negotiators for 12 Pacific Rim countries have missed an internal deadline to reach agreement on a controversial U.S.-led trade deal. And though negotiators for the accord, known as the Trans Pacific Partnership, say the process is nearing completion, critics of the deal are expressing optimism that both public opinion and political timing are increasingly against the deal. (IPS http://bit.ly/1xuyP1h)

The Americas
U.S. authorities say they have found 70 Haitian migrants on an uninhabited island west of Puerto Rico. (AP http://yhoo.it/1xuBNmB)

Mexicans angry at the handling by the authorities of the disappearance of 43 students in Iguala six weeks ago block Acapulco airport. (BBC http://bbc.in/1sxhlLF)

The U.N. has expressed concern over the sentencing by an indigenous court in Colombia of seven Farc rebels over the killing of two indigenous leaders. (BBC http://bbc.in/1sxhwq3)

Opinion/Blogs

Africans to Geldof: We don’t need another Band Aid solution (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1ukZ35q)

How to end a neocolonialist approach to global health training (Devex http://bit.ly/1tDbTH8)

Ebola crisis: Three things Band Aid should really be singing about (Guardian http://bit.ly/1xuFTuX)

The case for including migration in the post-2015 agenda (IRIN http://bit.ly/1sxhbnm)

How ‘the hot zone’ got it wrong and other tales of Ebola’s history (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1xfhVp1)

How to tell if the G-20 is still serious about tax and corruption (CGD http://bit.ly/1qCEGM0)

How Ebola is robbing us of our humanity (African Arguments http://bit.ly/1xfl1cu)

Research/Reports
Forests, deserts and other habitats are suffering while decision makers are busy sifting through myriad indicators for effective land management – and different methods for collecting this sea of data only dilute the impact that research has on policy. (SciDevNet http://bit.ly/1xuyfke)
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About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]humanosphere.org.