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U.N. Says Asia Pacific Region Making Strides Against HIV/AIDS, Must Address Social And Legal Barriers To Treatment, Prevention

The U.N. Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific (ESCAP) on Monday in Bangkok “opened a three-day meeting lauding impressive gains in recent years in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” but the body cautioned “there are still legal and social barriers that significantly set back eradication efforts,” VOA News reports. U.N. ESCAP Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer “note[d] the gains are uneven and there are still gaps in the goal of universal access to HIV treatment,” the news service writes.

World Recognizes 9th Annual International Day Of Zero Tolerance To FGM/C

As the international community on Monday marked the ninth annual International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), the U.N. and international and human rights organizations called for an end to FGM/C and are appealing for tougher legislation to halt the practice that has affected up to 140 million girls and women worldwide, according to WHO statistics, VOA News reports (Schlein, 2/6). “The United States stands in consensus with women, governments, and donors around the world in a commitment to provide the energy and resources necessary to end this harmful traditional practice that violates girls’ right to bodily integrity, harms their health, and reduces their status in society,” USAID writes on its website (2/6).

U.N. Supporting Yellow Fever Vaccination Campaigns In Cameroon, Ghana

Following an outbreak of the mosquito-borne yellow fever virus in Cameroon that has infected at least 23 people and killed at least seven people, U.N. and local officials are working to vaccinate “1.2 million people considered at high risk of contracting yellow fever, which has no cure,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the International Coordinating Group on Yellow Fever Provision (YF-ICG) — which includes WHO and the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) — and the public-private partnership known as the GAVI Alliance are funding the vaccination campaign,” the news service writes. In Ghana, YF-ICG is working with the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) to plan a vaccination campaign after at least three cases of yellow fever have been reported in the north of the country, the U.N. News Centre notes (2/3).

World Cancer Day Highlights Importance Of Detection, Prevention

“Early diagnosis is the key to reducing the nearly eight million deaths caused by cancer across the globe annually, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said” on Saturday to mark World Cancer Day, “stressing the importance of screening programs for healthy people to detect the disease promptly for easier treatment,” the U.N. News Centre reports (2/3). The theme of this year’s day, which is recognized annually on February 4, was “Together It Is Possible,” “reinforcing that it is only by every person, organization, and government individually doing their part that the world will be able to reduce premature deaths from cancer and other non-communicable diseases,” according to a press release from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (2/4). The WHO “reminded the world that cancer is responsible for close to 13 percent of deaths globally, accounting for 7.6 million deaths in 2008,” according to the U.N. News Centre (2/3).

Dispute Over Malaria Figures Highlights Lack Of Certainty In Data In Age Of ‘Information Overload’

In this post in TIME World’s “Global Spin” blog, TIME’s Africa bureau chief Alex Perry examines questions surrounding an Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) study published in the Lancet on Friday that suggests “malaria kills almost twice as many people a year as previously believed,” writing, “If correct, at a stroke that overturns medical consensus, makes a nonsense of decades of World Health Organization (WHO) statistics — the official malaria numbers — and plunges the current multibillion-dollars anti-malaria campaign, and the push to reach a 2015 deadline for achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals, into grave doubt.”

WHO Disputes Study’s Claims That Global Malaria Deaths Are Double Current Estimates

The WHO has disputed a study published last week in the Lancet “that claims nearly twice as many people are dying of malaria than current estimates,” VOA News reports. The WHO “says both its estimates of malaria deaths and those of the Lancet study are statistically the same for all groups in all regions,” with one exception, VOA writes, noting, “WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl says there’s a notable statistical difference in regard to children over five and adults in Africa.”

U.N. Says Famine Has Ended In Somalia But Emergency Conditions Remain For Millions

“Famine conditions have ended in war-torn Somalia six months after they were declared, but the situation remains dire with a third of the population needing emergency aid, the U.N. said on Friday,” Agence France-Presse reports (Vincenot, 2/3). “‘Long-awaited rains, coupled with substantial agricultural inputs and the humanitarian response deployed in the last six months, are the main reasons for this improvement,’ the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva told journalists in Nairobi after visiting southern Somalia,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C writes (2/3). “‘We have three months, let’s say, to work to avoid another possible famine from a drought. We cannot avoid the drought … but we can avoid famine from drought,’ Graziano da Silva said, stressing the need for long-term measures to strengthen agricultural capacity,” the Guardian reports (Chonghaile, 2/3).

WHO Finds Very High Levels Of Drug-Resistant TB In Russia, Moldova

“[T]he highest levels ever of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) have been found in Russia and Moldova,” the WHO reports in research published in the February edition of the WHO Bulletin, but “the agency didn’t have data from most of Africa and India, where tuberculosis rates are much higher,” the Associated Press/USA Today’s “Your Life” reports. According to the AP, the “experts reported that about 29 percent of new TB patients in parts of Russia were drug-resistant” and that “65 percent of previously treated patients in Moldova had resistance problems.” The news service notes, “Normally, less than five percent of TB cases are drug-resistant” (2/2).

India Has Worst Child Mortality Gender Differential Worldwide, New U.N. Data Show

An Indian girl between the ages of one and five years old is 75 percent more likely to die than an Indian boy, giving the country the worst gender differential in child mortality in the world, according to new data released by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Times of India reports. The “data for 150 countries over 40 years show that India and China are the only two countries in the world where female infant mortality is higher than male infant mortality in the 2000s,” the newspaper writes (Shrinivasan, 2/1). In India, for every 100 deaths among females one to five years old, 56 males of the same age group die, whereas the global average is 111 male child deaths to every 100 female children, India Today notes. “Higher mortality among girls is a powerful warning that differential treatment or access to resources is putting girls at a disadvantage,” the report said, according to the news service (2/1).

February Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

The February issue of the WHO Bulletin features an editorial on multidrug-resistant tuberculosis; a public health round-up; an article on the health care challenges posed by population aging; a research paper on the systems approach to improving maternal health in the Philippines; and a policy paper on reducing death rates from cyclones in Bangladesh (February 2012).