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February 24 & 27: from French Guiana - Kwa Dabekaa, South Africa - Mumbai, India - Liberia

A gold merchant at a guerilla mining camp weighs his payment. Photo/ © Narayan Mahon/Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Heroin's terrible handmaiden. An old drug hits the streets of South Africa bearing a deadly new additive.

It's Whack-a-Mole in the jungles of French Guiana as police crash illegal toxic gold mines and miners fix them up again.

Rushing to the maternity ward in a handcart:  We revisit the issue of maternal health care in the developing world. 


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Powdered whoonga is sprinkled on tobacco or marijuana providing an addictive and toxic high. Photo/Anders Kelto

Heroin's Handmaiden

They say addictive street drugs are poison, but there's a new one in South Africa that really is.

Junkies get sick if they take it, and sicker if they don't.

The other bitter irony is the way it's getting cover from the AIDS crisis, even as it starts one of its own.

Journalist Anders Kelto followed it from the streets of Kwa Dabekaa township near Durban, right into the laboratory, to discover what's hooking people on whoonga.

Listen now to Anders' dispatch.


Gendarmes from France have been deployed in Guiana to patrol for illegal miners.  Photo / © Narayan Mahon/Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting 

Guerilla mining in Guiana's midst

In the jungles of French Guiana, on the northern border of Brazil, police and illegal gold miners play this game.

Police raid them and blow up their equipment. Soon as they leave, the miners replace it all, and go back to work.

What makes their game worthwhile is the soaring price of gold, which has surged in recent years to more than fourteen-hundred dollars an ounce.

Also soaring is the amount of toxic mercury they're spewing into the air. Fifty tons a year, and counting.  Police are being dispatched all the way from France to try and interrupt the wildcat mining.

American journalist Damon Tabor slogged his way into the jungle to see them and the miners firsthand, and writes about it in this month's edition of Harper's Magazine.

He joined us from New York.  Hear Tabor's interview now.

Tabor's trip to French Guiana was funded in part by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.


Midwife, Henry Teh listens to life through a horn-like device. (Photo/Bonnie Allen)

Male Midwifery in Liberia 

Canada is committed to funding reproductive health care in the developing world, and the African state of Liberia is a dramatic case in point.

It's long and lethal civil war is over, but one of the biggest threats today is death by childbirth.

Henry Teh learned that the hard way, and it changed his life.  So he began training to become one of Liberia's few male midwives.

The country needs a lot more of them, but culture -- and cash -- stand in the way, as we hear from journalist Bonnie Allen on a paediatric ward in southeastern Liberia.

Listen to Bonnie's dispatch now.

And since that story first aired last summer, Henry Teh has graduated and is now delivering babies in Liberia. The country just needs a few thousand more like him.


India Pregnancy.jpgBhangru Lohar and sons outside their home in a tea plantation in Assam state in northeastern India. A month earlier, his wife died while pregnant with their third child. Photo/Hanna Ingber Win 

Dying for the basics

If Sulekha Lohar only had access to an ambulance instead of that handcart in rural India.

If the local clinic just had a doctor instead of empty shelves.

If the nearest hospital just had a blood bank, her children might still have their mother.

Troubling public health issues facing women in the developing world have been the focue of Hanna Ingber Win's work.  

Hear's Hanna's story now.

Hanna Ingber Win specializes in reporting on maternal mortality.  She joined Rick last June from Mumbai, India to talk about the wider picture.

Hear the interview with Hanna now.

Ingber Win writes for Global Post online. Her coverage from India and Africa has been sponsored by the UN, and the Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting.  See her photo gallery.



Vaccines for Africa: coming, but not fast

There is one very bright spot when it comes to women and children's health. This month, for the first time, kids in Kenya are getting a new vaccine against a bacteria that's the leading killer of children under five in poor countries.

Canada has two-hundred million dollars in the project that will eventually extend to forty countries.

So far the contract to make the pneumococcal vaccine is held by a couple of big drug companies, and some take issue with that.

In Nairobi, CBC Corrrespondent Carolyn Dunn raised it with Helen Evans, head of the organization co-ordinating the project, the Global Alliance for Vaccines And Immunization.

Listen to their chat now.


Coming up next week...

Join us for "The Unguarded Vineyard." Greece's fight to end its reputation as the gateway for illegal immigration into Europe.


This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann and Steve McNally. With technical producers Tim Lorimer and Victor Johnston. Our senior producer is Alan Guettel.

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