The results of a study published this week found that the use of clean delivery kits could lead to a decline in neonatal (newborn) deaths in South Asia.

The facts:

  • There are approximately 3.3 million neonatal deaths around the world each year, 15% of which are due to sepsis, a systematic bacterial infection in the blood stream that leads to organ damage, which is harmful to developing babies.
  • Thirty to forty percent of the time sepsis is contracted during delivery.
  • 65% of deliveries occur at home in South Asia without a trained birth attendant
  • The largest absolute number of newborn deaths occurs in South Asia, with India contributing a quarter of the world total.

The use of each additional kit of the 2,885 distributed, resulted in a 16% relative reduction of neonatal deaths. The delivery kit and clean delivery practices include soap for hand washing, use of sterilized blade, use of boiled thread and plastic sheet, and a clean string to tie the umbilical cord. The idea to distribute clean delivery kits works to stand in for one of the most important factors that contributes to neonatal deaths, the lack of trained birth attendants. In the bigger scheme of things, this would hopefully help us reach Millennium Development Goal 4, which is to reduce deaths in children under 5 years by two-thirds by 2015.

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On Tuesday The Supreme Court heard opening arguments in a case that, at it’s resolution, will set a strong precedent regarding corporate liability for civil suits brought by foreign nationals for human rights violations committed abroad.

The case, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, involves a civil suit filed by 12 Nigerian Plaintiffs who allege that Royal Dutch Petroleum, a.k.a. Shell, “aided and abetted, and were otherwise complicit in, violations of international law;” specifically that the corporation “collaborated closely with Nigeria’s then-military government as it carried out a campaign of intimidation and violence” against the Ogoni people who opposed the development of their land for oil. At this stage the suit, filed under the umbrella of the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789, is immediately concerned with whether foreign nationals have any right to try such claims through the United States Judicial System at all.

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Worldwide protests are underway as trade talks between India and the European Union come closer to finalizing a free-trade agreement (FTA). Both sides argue that it will provide greater access to better medicines that treat HIV, AIDS, cancer and the like. However, humanitarian groups such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)is calling for international protests against the FTA because as India is the “pharmacy of the developing world,” this agreement would make generic drugs less available to developing countries. Currently, India frequently ignores patents, and the FTA promises “cheaper access to European goods & markets” in exchange for India’s compliance with intellectual property rights of pharmaceuticals. Another provision also makes it easier for  the companies that violate IP rights to be sued and any drugs that are shipped off, will be stopped at ports of entry.


Protesters of the India-E.U. pact in New Delhi carry a capsule-balloon to signify the importance of generic pharmaceuticals and stress rejection of the pact

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In an April 2011 report, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health set out an analytic framework for understanding the right to health.  His report also underscored the important role human rights play in securing the basic conditions necessary for living with dignity.



The report also notes that “securing a certain level of health-related development is a prerequisite for the overall economic development of a country.”

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