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Health Highlights: July 11, 2012

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Billions Pledged for Family Planning in Developing Countries

Pledges made at an international summit Wednesday will direct more than $2.6 billion toward family planning in developing nations.

The goal of the summit in London was to secure new funding promises to provide an additional 120 million women and girls worldwide with access to birth control by 2020, Agence France-Presse reported.

The money was pledged by rich nations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The summit included more than 150 representatives from donor and developing countries, international agencies and the private sector.

"Enabling an additional 120 million women in the world's poorest countries to access and use contraception, something women in the developed world take for granted, will save millions of lives and enable girls and women to determine their own futures," said British International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, AFP reported.

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Climate Change Boosts Risk of Weather Extremes: Study

Human-created climate change makes major heat waves and other weather extremes around the world more likely, according to a new study.

For example, climate change made the severe heat wave that struck Texas last year 20 times as likely to happen as it would have been in the 1960s and made the extremely warm temperatures in Britain last November 62 times as likely, The New York Times reported.

For this study, researchers analyzed six weather events from 2011. The findings are to be published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

The research represents an increased effort by scientists to respond to public demand for information about what is happening to the world's climate, according to The Times.

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Republicans Continue Attack on Health Reform Law

They have no chance of succeeding, but House Republicans voted Wednesday to repeal the U.S. health care reform law.

It's the latest of more than 30 House Republican efforts to scrap the 2010 Affordable Care Act. But any House attempt to repeal the law is certain to be blocked in the Democrat-led Senate, and the White House told House leaders that President Barack Obama would veto such a measure, CNN reported.

Democrats say the issue was settled when the U.S. Supreme Court last month upheld the law's constitutionality, and that the House repeal vote is a waste of time and tax dollars. Republicans say the repeal vote is part of their effort to turn voters against the law and to defeat Obama in the November presidential election.

On Monday, the White House said repeal of the health care reform law "would cost millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage and care they deserve," CNN reported.

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Deadly Illness in Cambodia Caused by Mix of Pathogens

A combination of pathogens caused the mysterious illness that killed more than 60 children in Cambodia over the past four months.

That's the conclusion to be announced by the World Health Organization and the Cambodian Ministry of Health, doctors familiar with the investigation told CNN on Wednesday.

The pathogens responsible for the outbreak include enterovirus 71, streptococcus suis and dengue, according to the doctors. They also said that inappropriate use of steroids, which can suppress the immune system, worsened the illness in many of the patients.

No new cases of the illness have been confirmed since last Saturday, Dr. Beat Richner, head of Kantha Bopha Children's Hospitals in Phnom Penh, told CNN.

The illness kills children so fast that nearly all of those infected with it die within a day or two of being admitted to hospital. Of the 66 patients cared for at Kantha Bopha, 64 died, CNN reported.

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Bird Flu Outbreak Hits Mexican Poultry Farms

More than 2.5 million birds have been killed at poultry farms in western Mexico over the past three weeks in an effort to contain an outbreak of the H7N3 bird flu virus, according to the agriculture ministry.

The United Nations says the virus has occasionally caused human disease in some parts of the world but is not easily transmissible between people, Agence France-Presse reported.

The virus has been confirmed at 31 of 148 poultry farms visited by officials, while tests at 34 farms have been negative and the results for the rest of the farms were not yet available.

The outbreak was first detected on June 20 in Jalisco state and a national animal health emergency was declared by the Mexican government on July 2. Officials say they have developed a vaccine and that four laboratories will produce more than 80 million doses initially, AFP reported.


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