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U.S. Legislators Appeal To U.N. To Take Greater Role In Addressing Haiti's Cholera Outbreak

“U.S. legislators are appealing to the United Nations to take a greater role in addressing Haiti’s cholera outbreak, now in its third year and which has left thousands dead,” Inter Press Service reports. “In a letter addressed to U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice, 104 U.S. members of Congress urged Rice to help step up U.N. concern over the outbreak,” the news service writes. “‘It is imperative for the U.N. to now act decisively to control the cholera epidemic,’ Representative John Conyers, Jr. [D-Mich.] wrote,” adding, “A failure to act will not only lead to countless more deaths … [but] will pose a permanent public health threat,” IPS notes (Freedman, 7/20).

Global Humanitarian Assistance Report Says 38% Of U.N. Appeals Went Unfunded In 2011

Though the level of humanitarian needs in 2011 was lower than the previous year, “38 percent of appeals for financing made by the U.N. went unmet,” according to the Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) Report 2012,” the Guardian reports. “The U.N. had requested $8.9 billion to meet the humanitarian needs of 62 million people [in 2011] … compared with an appeal for $11.3 billion to help 74 million people in 2010. Nonetheless, it received only $5.5 billion of its 2011 request,” the newspaper notes. “The GHA 2012 report said aid had gone to recent larger humanitarian disasters at the expense of small, less high-profile crises,” the Guardian states (Mead/Bakosi, 7/20).

International AIDS Conference Kicks Off In Washington, D.C.

The XIX International AIDS Conference opened in Washington, D.C., on Sunday and “is expected to draw 25,000 people, including politicians, scientists and activists, as well as some of the estimated 34 million people living with HIV who will tell their stories,” Agence France-Presse reports (Sheridan, 7/22). “Researchers, doctors and patients attending the world’s largest AIDS conference are urging the world’s governments not to cut back on the fight against the epidemic when it is at a turning point,” the Associated Press writes, adding, “There is no cure or vaccine yet, but scientists say they have the tools to finally stem the spread of this intractable virus — largely by using treatment not just to save patients but to make them less infectious, too” (Neergaard, 7/22). “New breakthroughs in research will be announced, as will new efforts by governments and organizations to reduce the spread of HIV, to treat those who have it, and to work, eventually, toward a vaccine and a cure,” the Seattle Times writes (Tate, 7/22). According to the Washington Post’s “Blog Post,” three remaining challenges to be addressed at the conference include: “More research into treatment and prevention, and more ways to deliver treatments”; reaching marginalized populations, such as men who have sex with men and sex workers; and “[i]ncreasing funding for PEPFAR and other anti-AIDS programs” (Khazan, 7/20).

Health Ministers From Southeast Asia Asked To Support U.N. In Stemming Spread Of Drug-Resistant Malaria In Region

“Health ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are being asked to support United Nations efforts to stem the spread of drug-resistant strains of malaria, especially along the borders of Cambodia and Burma,” VOA News reports. “Scientists fear resistant strains of malaria may spread beyond Southeast Asia, reaching continents such as Africa, a region with many victims of the mosquito-borne parasite,” according to the news service. “Thomas Teuscher, executive director of the United Nations-backed Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), says more effort is needed to ensure that drug-resistant malaria at least remains localized in Southeast Asia,” VOA notes.

Health Officials Working To Identify Respiratory Illness Responsible For Deaths Of More Than 60 Cambodian Children

WHO and Cambodian health officials are investigating “the source of an unidentified illness” — characterized by high fevers, severe respiratory problems, “and in some cases neurological symptoms” — that has killed more than 60 children in the country since April, NPR’s health blog “Shots” reports (Hensley, 7/5). “The undiagnosed syndrome has been reported in 67 hospital patients since April, 66 of whom have died, said Aphaluck Bhatiasevi, a WHO spokeswoman, in a telephone interview from Phnom Penh today,” Bloomberg writes, adding, “It’s unlikely influenza is the cause, she said” (Gale, 7/6). To date, only one of the children admitted to hospital has survived the unknown disease, the Wall Street Journal notes.

Blog Posts Examine How Family Planning Money Will Be Spent, Who Will Oversee Program

The Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog on Thursday published two posts addressing family planning funding. In one, Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a research fellow at CGD, examines “what organization will actually allocate and spend these additional resources” pledged at the recent London Summit on Family Planning. After examining alternatives, she proposes a “combination” approach that includes USAID, UNFPA, the World Bank, and other international non-governmental organizations playing roles (7/12). In another post, Glassman and Rachel Silverman, a research assistant at CGD, examine what the money will go toward. They write, “A greater supply of contraception may help, but empirical studies show that conditional cash transfers or scholarships to encourage school continuation or return may be even more effective, both at lowering fertility rates and increasing women’s empowerment” (7/12).

IRIN Examines Food Security Issues

“With the help of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and food security experts, IRIN takes a closer look” at how droughts worldwide are affecting grain and cereal supplies, the resulting price fluctuations, and how these issues affect food aid operations. Though experts say a crisis is not imminent, “there is concern that staple grains like maize and wheat could become less affordable for the poor, and sharp fluctuations in prices or volatility could disrupt the efforts of grain-importing poor countries to stay within their budgets,” IRIN writes. In addition, “[t]he price of maize and wheat will affect agencies like WFP, said [Maximo Torero, director of the Markets, Trade and Institutions Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)],” IRIN notes, adding that Torero said, “But at this point I will not be alarmist, although cautious” (7/12).

Financial Boost To Malaria Fight Would Result In Beneficial Gains

“[A] surge in money for [insecticide-treated] nets and other interventions” to fight malaria over the past decade has reduced the malaria-related death rate by 26 percent since 2000, and a “new push” to fight the disease, which killed 655,000 people in 2010, would have beneficial results, according to a report set to be released by Ray Chambers, the U.N. special envoy for malaria, an Economist editorial notes. “But raising the cash will be tricky and getting the promised result harder still,” the editorial states. The African Leaders Malaria Alliance estimates that “[u]niversal deployment of good treatment, diagnostics and preventive measures, including bed nets, would — in theory — prevent 640 million malaria cases and three million deaths by 2015, the paper explains,” and notes “[t]his would cost at least $6.7 billion between 2012 and 2015,” the Economist writes.

Vatican Issues Communique To Clarify Pope’s Statement On Condoms

“The Vatican on Tuesday issued its most authoritative clarification on Pope Benedict XVI’s recent remarks that condoms could sometimes be used for disease prevention, saying that the pope in no way justified their use to prevent pregnancy,” the New York Times reports (Donadio, 12/21).