“Millions of children and women of child-bearing age in North Korea face malnutrition which can leave them at higher risk of death or disease, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. UNICEF urged donors to fill a funding gap to prevent a “nutrition crisis” in the country, the news agency states (Nebehay, 11/1). According to Agence France-Presse, “UNICEF had asked for $20.4 million for 2011, but has received just $4.6 million” (11/1).
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan on Tuesday at the opening session of the agency’s Executive Board special session on reform in Geneva “stressed that planned reforms are intended to make the agency more efficient as it strives to improve global health amid multiple challenges that have an impact on human well-being,” the U.N. News Centre reports (11/1). Chan said “proposed reforms would see the agency become more streamlined and deliver ‘measurable results’ at country level” and “acknowledged … that parts of the WHO had become rigid and unresponsive,” the Associated Press/CTV News writes. She “urged WHO’s 34 board members to safeguard the agency’s role as global health guardian despite growing competition and budget constraints,” according to the news agency (11/1).
Climate Change, Environmental Destruction Threaten Improvements Among World’s Poorest, UNDP Report Warns
“Unchecked environmental destruction will halt — or even reverse — the huge improvements seen in the living conditions of the world’s poorest people in recent decades,” the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) warns in its 2011 Human Development report, which was released on Wednesday, the Guardian reports (Carrington, 11/2). “[T]he annual report, titled ‘Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All,’ said that environmental sustainability can be ‘fairly’ reached if disparities in health, education, income and gender are addressed,” Xinhua writes (11/2). VOA News adds, “It says inaction on climate change and habitat destruction is jeopardizing health and the pursuit of higher income in developing countries” (Schlein, 11/2.)
“The cost of HIV/AIDS medicine is expected to drop by 30 percent in Kenya, enabling more people to access life-prolonging drugs, after the World Health Organization (WHO) gave the green light to a local company manufacturing generics, The Star newspaper reported on Wednesday,” AlertNet reports. Universal Corporation received WHO prequalification status for its generic combination antiretroviral Lamozido, which “will enable the company to bid for international tenders to supply drugs to governments and non-governmental organizations, who in turn give them to people living with HIV/AIDS,” the news service writes (Migiro, 11/2).
“The [U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization] FAO index of global food prices hit an 11-month low in October, reflecting sharp falls in grain, sugar and oils prices, the U.N. food agency said on Thursday, Reuters reports (11/3). “The agency attributes the decline to an improved supply outlook for a number of commodities and uncertainty about global economic prospects,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/3). “Nonetheless prices still remain generally higher than last year and very volatile, FAO said,” according to an FAO press release (11/3). On Tuesday, the World Bank Group released its Food Price Watch ahead of this week’s Group of 20 (G20) summit, stating that “[w]orld food prices remain high and are hitting the poorest countries hard,” according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C (11/1).
Health officials in the northern Angolan province of Uige are on high alert “after a 14-month-old boy tested positive for polio, which has made a resurgence in the country, UNICEF said Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports (11/3). “After eliminating new polio cases for three years in succession following its 27-year civil war, Angola saw a strain of the crippling virus reappear in 2005,” the news service adds.
The U.N. reported Friday “that it is increasing its joint efforts with Cambodian authorities and aid providers to offer food assistance to some of the thousands of people that have been displaced by severe flooding recently,” the U.N. News Centre reports. According to the news service, “Some 240,000 people have been displaced by heavy rains and according to the World Food Programme (WFP), 10 percent of the rice crops have been destroyed and 265,000 hectares of rice fields have been damaged, raising the price of rice by 12 percent” (11/4).
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “reports heavy rains and flooding in parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are causing havoc among thousands of displaced Somalis in the region” and “flood-damaged roads are hampering relief efforts to thousands affected by the heavy rains,” VOA News reports (Schlein, 11/4). “UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told a press briefing in Geneva that the agency has distributed 4,500 assistance kits so far, which include plastic sheets, plastic buckets and soap,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/4). “In addition to providing emergency relief for floods, other U.N. agencies continue to increase their efforts to help Somalis who suffer from famine and insecurity,” VOA notes (11/4).
“South Korea on Tuesday authorized the World Health Organization [WHO] to resume distribution of Seoul-funded medical aid to North Korea, amid growing calls for humanitarian assistance for malnourished North Korean children,” the New York Times reports (Sang-Hun, 11/8). “Seoul has authorized the WHO to release $6.94 million to equip hospitals in the North, said the official of the unification ministry, which handles cross-border ties,” Agence France-Presse writes. “Seoul decided to unblock its WHO funding ‘by taking into account its stance of maintaining its humanitarian aid for infants, children and other vulnerable people in the North, and the WHO’s request,’ [a South Korean] ministry official said on condition of anonymity,” AFP notes (11/8).
“Brazil is a world leader in the fight against hunger and its experience can be shared with other countries, visiting World Food Programme [WFP] chief Josette Sheeran said Monday … in the northeastern city of Salvador while inaugurating a local branch of a newly established Center of Excellence Against Hunger based in [the capital] Brasilia,” Agence France-Presse reports (11/7). The center “will assist governments in Africa, Asia and Latin America by drawing on the expertise of WFP and Brazil in the fight against hunger, while promoting sustainable school feeding models and other food and nutrition safety nets,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/7).