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HEALTH REPORT - Taking the Pulse of Public Opinion About Health Problems

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This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

What do you think of health in your country? Researchers asked people in forty-seven countries around the world. They also asked them what they think of the efforts of donor nations. The findings are in the new Kaiser/Pew Global Health Survey.

AIDS orphans wait for food in Manzini, Swaziland
AIDS orphans wait for food in Manzini, Swaziland

Majorities in almost every country said wealthier nations are not doing enough to help poorer ones. That includes help with economic development, reducing poverty and improving health.

But in countries that receive the most development aid, people were much more likely to say that wealthy nations are doing enough. And in wealthier nations, there was strong support to do more to help.

The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Pew Global Attitudes Project did the survey.

The top health concern in the Latin American and Middle Eastern countries in the survey was fighting hunger and poor nutrition. In Central and Eastern Europe, people said they worry most about their ability to get health care. And in parts of Africa and Asia, the most pressing health issue is preventing and treating H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

In some countries, large majorities said AIDS is a bigger problem now than it was five years ago. But in most countries, the survey found a strong sense of progress in treating and preventing H.I.V.

Yet finding new drugs and other treatments for public health problems is one thing. Putting them to use in developing countries where they could save thousands of lives each day is another.

Scientists at the Fogarty International Center in Maryland say more work in the area of implementation science could bridge the problem. Karen Hofman is head of international science policy at the center, part of the National Institutes of Health. She describes implementation science as the next level for health research.

One example she notes is male circumcision. Studies have found that it may help prevent the spread of H.I.V. But different cultures react differently to the idea of circumcision. Doctor Hofman says researchers must now study how best to employ this medical intervention in culturally sensitive ways.

Another example is drugs that are normally effective in suppressing H.I.V. In poor countries, these might not work in patients who also suffer from malaria, tuberculosis or bad nutrition. In other words, Doctor Hofman says, when it comes to treatments, one size does not fit all.

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Jill Moss. I'm Steve Ember.

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