“Nearly 780 million people are deprived of safe drinking water — and 2.5 billion lack access to improved sanitation — all because governments aren’t spending scarce resources wisely, according to a joint report [.pdf] of the World Health Organization and U.N.-Water,” VOA News reports. Though “more than two billion people gained access to safe drinking water and 1.8 billion gained access to improved sanitation” between 1990 and 2010, billions of people still lack these basic services, the report noted, according to the news service.
IRIN examines how local Zimbabwean farmers’ usage of water containing raw sewage to irrigate their crops poses a risk of disease transmission to people who consume the vegetables. In the capital Harare, less than half of the raw sewage produced is treated before being sent back into tributaries, according to IRIN, which notes, “In a recent report, Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said 60 percent of the capital’s residents did not have access to clean water, and 10 percent relied on boreholes and unprotected wells.” Since a cholera outbreak in 2008, UNICEF and other international donors have been helping Zimbabwean municipalities treat their water, but the UNICEF program is winding down, leaving some unsure whether local authorities “can go it alone,” IRIN writes (4/16).
Yaws, a skin and bone disease caused by a treponematoses bacterium that can cause long-term deformities, “has recently been put on WHO’s list of 17 so-called neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)” and, along with Guinea worm, is “slated for eradication,” the Lancet reports. A “massive push to free the world from yaws failed in the 1950s and 1960s,” and the WHO in 1995 estimated “there were 2.5 million cases of endemic treponematoses (mostly yaws),” according to the Lancet. A study published in the Lancet in January showed a single dose of the antibiotic azithromycin was effective at curing the disease among children, a finding that “jump-started the NTD community into action,” the article states.
“We commend the 130th session of the WHO Executive Board for adopting a resolution calling for a comprehensive response to the global burden of mental illnesses,” Rebecca Hock of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Mental Health, and colleagues, write in this Lancet opinion piece. “The resolution for mental health, led by India, the U.S., and Switzerland, is the result of a crescendo of political support for addressing mental illnesses and received unanimous support from countries on the WHO Executive Board,” the authors write, noting, “The resolution urges countries to protect and promote the rights of persons with mental disorders and to combat stigma against mental illness.”
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has been asked by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to chair a “U.N. committee tasked with establishing a new set of U.N. millennium development goals [MDGs] to follow the present goals, which expire in 2015,” the Guardian reports. “The invitation, accepted by the prime minister, represents a political coup for Cameron, who has stuck to the government’s commitment to increase overseas aid to 0.7 percent of U.K. GDP, despite the recession,” the newspaper writes. The MDGs — which “range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015” — “decide the international targets of global aid channeled bilaterally and multilaterally through organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF,” the Guardian notes.
U.N. Appoints 27 International Leaders To ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ Group To Address Maternal, Child Nutrition
“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday announced the appointment of 27 world leaders to address the issue of maternal and child nutrition in order to secure a future for nations around the world,” Xinhua/Shanghai Daily reports (4/11). UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake chaired the first meeting of the Lead Group for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, which brought together the “leaders of countries, organizations and sectors working to improve nutrition,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The SUN Movement focuses on the critical 1,000-day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday, when proper nutrition can mean the difference between health and sickness, life and death,” according to the news service. “We must invest now in programs to prevent stunting or risk diminishing the impact of other investments in education, health and child protection,” Lake said, the news service notes (4/10).
Number Of People Worldwide With Dementia Expected To Triple By 2050; Caregivers Need Support, Report Says
The number of people living with dementia is expected to double to 65.7 million by 2030 and more than triple by 2050, with “the [current estimated] cost of treating and caring for those with the condition at $604 billion a year,” according to a report released Wednesday by the WHO and Alzheimer’s Disease International, Agence France-Presse reports (4/11). “Dementia affects people in all countries, with more than half (58 percent) living in low- and middle-income countries,” and “[b]y 2050, this is likely to rise to more than 70 percent,” according to a WHO press release.
“Senior United Nations officials [on Tuesday] made impassioned appeals to the international community to make more resources available to assist millions of people affected by the severe food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa, cautioning that global inaction could lead to a humanitarian disaster,” the U.N. News Centre reports (4/10). “UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake said at least one million — and possibly up to 1.5 million — children in the region face acute, severe malnutrition, putting them at risk of death from starvation or disease,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes, adding, “Unless donor countries provide more funds, ‘the result will be many children will die and many families will suffer,’ he said” (4/10).
“[I]n the developing world, an estimated 215 million women who want to delay or avoid their next pregnancy cannot exercise this right as they lack modern contraceptives, resulting in unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and more than 100,000 maternal deaths,” UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin writes in this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog post. He says that “[t]he United Kingdom government of David Cameron and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced plans for a summit in London in July to raise funds for voluntary family planning” and notes that “UNFPA … fully supports and is a partner in this historic initiative on an often-overlooked human right.”
The WHO “recently published a ‘Programmatic Update’ [.pdf] on the use of antiretrovirals (ARVs) to treat pregnant women and prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT),” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “According to the executive summary, the WHO has started a comprehensive revision of all ARV guidelines, to include ARVs for pregnant women, which it plans to release in early 2013,” the blog notes (Mazzotta, 4/9).