An electronic voucher system, introduced by the World Food Programme (WFP) and implemented by the health ministry and non-governmental organizations, is helping Zimbabweans living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) and their families obtain food and fight malnutrition, PlusNews reports. “The program supports about 5,000 patients and their families with essential food items and is operating at seven health facilities in the capital [Harare] and has been extended to the second-largest city, Bulawayo,” the news service writes.
Though the humanitarian response to the food crisis in the Horn of Africa has lessened the suffering of thousands of people in the region, “more resources are needed to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in famine-hit areas of Somalia, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said” in a progress report released Thursday, the U.N. News Centre reports. Releasing the report, Elhadj As Sy, UNICEF regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa, “called for the scaling up of integrated interventions in health, nutrition, food security, water and sanitation, education and child protection,” according to the news service (10/20).
“Wealthier countries need to put aside politics to help millions of North Koreans going hungry from food shortages, the U.N.’s top relief official said Friday, renewing an appeal for assistance that has largely gone unmet,” the Associated Press/CBS News reports. Following a five-day visit to North Korea, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos “said millions of North Koreans, particularly children, mothers and pregnant women, need help,” as they do not have access to protein- and nutrient-rich foods, according to the AP.
“The United Nations and the United States Peace Corps signed an agreement today to cooperate in combating worldwide hunger by increasing food security in the 76 countries where the more than 8,600 U.S. volunteers currently work,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The agreement, signed by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN World Food Programme (WFP) at their Rome headquarters, builds on years of cooperation with the 50-year-old U.S. organization,” the news service writes.
WHO Director-General Calls For Sustainable Development, Investment To Address Social Determinants Of Health
“Representatives from more than 100 governments around the world, health experts, civil society organizations and other stakeholders are converging in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for three days” at the WHO-convened World Conference on Social Determinants of Health “to discuss how social, economic and environmental conditions could be improved to reduce the health gaps within and between countries,” a WHO press release states (10/19). “The conference is expected to produce a political declaration expressing the commitment of WHO Member States to address the social determinants of health through national action plans and strategies,” European Hospital writes (10/20).
“The World Intellectual Property Organization, in conjunction with the World Health Organization, private sector and foundation partners, is preparing to launch a new voluntary database for the sharing of intellectual property for research and development on medicines, vaccines and diagnostics for neglected diseases, according to sources in Geneva,” Intellectual Property Watch…
Nearly One-Third Of All Countries Affected By Malaria On Course To Eliminate Disease, WHO Report Says
“Nearly a third of all countries affected by malaria are on course to eliminate the mosquito-borne disease over the next 10 years, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday … [i]n a progress report (.pdf) published by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership at the start of an international Malaria Forum conference in Seattle,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 10/17). “The [WHO] has awarded malaria-free certification to three nations in the past four years, according to the report,” Agence France-Presse notes, adding, “If current successes in the fight against malaria continue, more than three million lives can be saved by 2015 with the elimination of the disease in eight to 10 countries, RBM said” (10/17).
“During the past 24 hours, cholera has claimed the lives of nearly 200 women and children in famine-stricken Somalia,” a Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu reported on Sunday. “More than 800 children suffering from the disease in refugee camps were reportedly transported to medical centers in south Mogadishu,” the news service writes, adding, “As the number of sick is on the rise, doctors are facing a shortage of medicine.” Press TV notes, “According to the United Nations, drought, high food prices and fighting in Somalia have increased the number of those in need of humanitarian assistance across the Horn of Africa to 13.3 million” (10/16).
The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday approved legislation (HR 2829) that would withhold up to half of non-voluntary U.S. contributions to the United Nations “if, in two years, the United Nations is not collecting 80 percent of its regular budget in voluntary contributions,” Agence France-Presse reports. The panel “approved Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s (R-Fla.) bill by a party-line 23-15 vote after an angry debate over whether such a move would enhance or diminish U.S. global influence,” the news service writes. “The proposal could pass the Republican-led House of Representatives but faces stiff opposition in the Democratic-held Senate and from President Barack Obama, all but certainly dooming the measure,” AFP notes (10/14).
On Global Handwashing Day, recognized on Saturday, the U.N. “reminded people across the world that simply washing hands with soap and water remains the most cost-effective way to prevent diseases, and urged everyone to motivate others, especially children who are easily infected by disease-carrying germs present in dirty hands, to…