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HHS Secretary Sebelius Helps India Mark One Year Since Last Recorded Polio Case

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “administered polio vaccination drops to children in New Delhi on Friday as India marked one year since its last case of the crippling disease,” the Associated Press reports (1/13). The Hill’s “Healthwatch” reports that “[o]fficials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] say U.S. funding and experience were key to beating back the disease,” but “[t]he news comes as federal funding for global health programs now faces sharp cuts from Tea Party lawmakers and others worried about the deficit” (Pecquet, 1/12). “­Globally, the U.S. government has provided $2 billion for the polio eradication campaign, Rotary International has raised about $1 billion from its members, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated more than $1 billion,” and the CDC “weighed in with crucial expertise,” the Washington Post writes (Denyer, 1/12).

Haiti Faces ‘Largest’ Cholera Epidemic In Modern History, PAHO Says

“Almost two years after the devastating 7.0 earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince, full recovery appears to be years away,” the Miami Herald reports, noting that “[t]housands of people continue to live in makeshift shelters and tents [and] rubble from dilapidated buildings still line some streets” (Lee, 1/7). In addition, “[t]he cholera outbreak in Haiti is ‘one of the largest epidemics of the disease in modern history to affect a single country,’ the U.N. World Health Organization’s Pan-American Health Organization [PAHO] said in a news release,” according to United Press International (1/7).

Cote d’Ivoire Continues To Need Humanitarian Assistance, U.N. Official Says

“Cote d’Ivoire remains in great need of humanitarian assistance nine months after the end of the bloody post-election violence that displaced tens of thousands of people, a senior United Nations relief official said today, urging donors to continue their generosity to the West African country throughout this year,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Considerable needs remain in several areas such as protection of civilians, restoration of means of livelihood, shelter, access to basic services and voluntary return and reintegration of displaced persons and refugees,” Catherine Bragg, assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy U.N. emergency relief coordinator, said following a three-day visit to the nation, according to the news service (1/18).

Study Finds Global Abortion Rate ‘Virtually Unchanged’ From 2003 To 2008

“After a period of substantial decline, the global abortion rate has stalled, according to new research from the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization (WHO)” published in the Lancet on Wednesday, a Guttmacher press release reports. “Between 1995 and 2003, the overall number of abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (15-44 years) dropped from 35 to 29” but, “according to the new study, the global abortion rate in 2008 was virtually unchanged, at 28 per 1,000,” the press release states. “This plateau coincides with a slowdown, documented by the United Nations, in contraceptive uptake, which has been especially marked in developing countries,” according to the press release. “The researchers also found that nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, … almost all unsafe abortions occur in the developing world,” and “restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower rates of abortion,” the press release adds (1/18).

Blog Examines How Honduras Has Achieved Vaccination Coverage Averaging 99%

This post in the U.N. Foundation’s “Shot@Life” blog examines how Honduras, “one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere,” has achieved “one of the highest vaccination coverage rates in the world, averaging close to 99 percent.” The blog writes, “We wanted to see firsthand how Honduras has achieved such amazing results, so last week Shot@Life traveled there with a U.S. Congressional staff delegation to learn more about their extremely effective immunization programs” and details the vaccination efforts of the rural town La Cañada (Willingham, 1/23).

U.N. Official Urges Global Community To Act On Drought, Hunger In Africa’s Sahel Region

Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, on Tuesday “urged the global community to take quick action to prevent millions of people in Africa’s Sahel region from slipping into a full-scale food emergency, warning that drought, poor harvests and rising food prices have left the region on the brink of a humanitarian crisis,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The area currently affected by the crisis covers a vast swath of territory, including Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger but concerns have also been extended to other countries in the region such as Burking Faso and Senegal,” according to the news service (1/24).

Yemen Faces Child Malnutrition Crisis After Year Of Unrest

“A year of Yemen’s turmoil has exacerbated the number of malnourished children under the age of five to around 750,000, UNICEF said Tuesday, appealing to the government and the international community to help develop the country’s infrastructure to tackle the problem,” the Associated Press reports (Al-Haj/Batrawy, 1/24). “Conflict, poverty and drought, compounded by the unrest of the previous year, the high food and fuel prices, and the breakdown of social services, are putting children’s health at great risks and threatening their very survival,” UNICEF Regional Director Maria Calivis said today, concluding “a two-day visit to Yemen where she saw first-hand the impact of malnutrition on children’s health,” a UNICEF news note states (1/24).

WFP, Syrian Government Work To Address Food Insecurity, Rising Prices

“Hundreds of thousands of people are struggling to feed their families in the parts of Syria hardest hit by violence, activists and aid workers say, with access to food cut off by ruined infrastructure, rocketing prices and, say some, security forces who steal and spoil food supplies,” the Washington Post reports. Last month, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) “scaled up assistance to reach a quarter-million people” and “is planning to increase that to 500,000 by the end of this month,” according to the newspaper. “[T]he government in March introduced a system of price-fixing for essential foods that has stabilized the cost of bread, sugar and meat — although they remain much higher than they were a year ago,” the Washington Post writes, adding, “Despite efforts to mitigate the problem, around half of Syrians may live in poverty, said Salman Shaikh of the Brookings Institute in Doha, who argued that this is increasing anti-government feeling” (Fordham, 5/1).

Algeria, UNAIDS To Build First HIV/AIDS Research Center In MENA Region

“Algeria will partner with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to build the first HIV/AIDS research center in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA),” Nature Middle East reports. “The center, which should be operational by 2013, will be based in the city of Tamanrasset in southern Algeria” and “will bring together researchers from Africa, Europe and the United States working on treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS,” the magazine writes.