Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Jason Beaubien

Over the last week, South Sudanese authorities expelled two top officials from the Norwegian Refugee Council, one of the largest international aid groups working in the country.

"It's hugely concerning ... in part because we truly don't know why," says Joel Charny, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council's U.S. office. "For no reason whatsoever, our country director is detained for nearly 24 hours and then asked to leave. Now an area manager is asked to leave. It's puzzling because we don't know what we've done wrong."

In Bangladesh, a new report finds, impoverished children are working long hours in violation of that country's labor laws. Children under the age of 14 who've given up school for jobs are toiling an average 64 hours a week, according to a British think tank.

For six years, Haitian activists have demanded that the United Nations accept responsibility for cholera in Haiti.

Yet many seemed almost shocked on Thursday by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's apology for the U.N.'s role in the outbreak. Shocked — and pleased.

Each year, the United States gives $5 billion to $6 billion to fight HIV/AIDS around the world, with particular emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for two-thirds of the nearly 2 million new infections each year.

For World AIDS Day, we sat down with the U.S. Global AIDS coordinator, Deborah Birx, to talk about the state of the epidemic and the work of PEPFAR, set up by President George W. Bush in 2003 with the intention of saving the lives of people suffering from AIDS around the world.

While the HIV/AIDS epidemic no longer looks as menacing as it did in the 1980s and '90s, efforts to stop the spread of the disease have hit a brick wall.

The number of new Zika cases in Puerto Rico has dropped dramatically in recent weeks, yet health officials worry the full effect of the outbreak on the island may not be known for months or years to come.

Puerto Rico has confirmed more than 34,000 Zika infections since the virus was first detected on the island in November 2015.

Have bed nets lost their power to protect people from malaria-carrying mosquitoes?

That's the subject of debate among researchers looking for ways to cut down on malaria cases and deaths.

Over the past two decades, the insecticide-treated bed net has been one of the most powerful tools against malaria.

He wasn't sure he had the right name to run for student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His first name was pretty ordinary — Bradley. But his last name is Opere — definitely not a familiar-sounding name in the U.S.

"You have to have a white-sounding name to run for office," says Opere, a business major who's from Nairobi, Kenya. The ambitious 24-year-old ran anyway.

And with his air of quiet confidence – and the skills he gained from two-years spent at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg — he won 53 percent of the vote.

In Western and Central Africa a new technique to combat malaria is rapidly gaining traction across the Sahel. Health officials in 11 countries are now giving children antimalarial drugs during the rainy season in this semi-arid region and seeing a dramatic drop in the number of malaria cases.

The Ebola virus doesn't always make people incredibly sick, and some people who are infected don't even know they have it, according to research published Tuesday in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Haiti on Tuesday launched the largest emergency cholera vaccination campaign ever attempted. The plan is to try to vaccinate 800,000 people in parts of the country devastated by Hurricane Matthew.

Immediately after the Category 4 storm tore across southwest Haiti last month, the number of reported cholera cases across the country shot up dramatically. In some storm-ravaged areas it jumped tenfold.

Nationwide, the number of new cases went from roughly 75 a day to well over 200.

Cholera can kill a person in a matter of hours.

It's a severe gastro-intestinal disease, and it can trigger so much diarrhea and vomiting that patients can rapidly become dehydrated. They lose so much fluid that their internal organs shut down.

For years, the United Nations has refused to publicly acknowledge that its troops were the source of a massive cholera outbreak in Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.

But now the U.N. is accepting "moral responsibility" for the outbreak that has sickened nearly 800,000 people and killed more than 9,000 others.

Who's in charge of the aid?

That's the question in the hurricane-ravaged southwest of Haiti.

Should politicians hand it out? Or aid groups? Or religious leaders?

Pastor Louis Masil, who lives in the tiny village of Banatte, doesn't think the government should be in control.

"Since the independence of Haiti, the culture was always all governments, all officials only care for themselves," he says. "They only care for stealing the money and not helping the communities."

The Dumont section of Port Salut on Haiti's southwest coast is spread over rolling green hills that used to be rich with coconut, mango and banana trees. But Hurricane Matthew toppled most of those trees. It tore apart the simple concrete and sheet-metal houses in the area. It killed livestock, destroyed crops, smashed businesses.

Emmanuello Charlien is part of a team trying to tally the damage of Matthew here. Charlien points out a pile of metal that used to be a cellphone tower.

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