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Ghana To Contribute $1M To Fight NTDs

Ghana “will contribute about $1 million towards the prevention and control of endemic neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in order to protect the gains made by the country in Guinea worm eradication and the elimination of trachoma,” the country’s health minister announced on Monday at the opening of a Regional Stakeholders’ Consultative Meeting on NTDs, PANA/AfriqueJet reports. Health Minister Albin Bagbin “also called on African countries to support interventions to address NTDs and improve coordination among all stakeholders in implementing NTD programs,” the news agency writes.

UNFPA Executive Director Calls For International Community To Put Family Planning Back On 'Radar'

UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin on Tuesday told the Associated Press that the world should focus more on family planning issues, stating that “‘family planning seems to have fallen off the radar’ in the past two decades — a victim of politics, funding shortages and focus on other priorities such as fighting AIDS,” the news service reports. According to the AP, he said “that 220 million women lack adequate information about family planning or a regular supply of contraceptives,” and he “hopes a July 11 summit in London organized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the British government will increase attention to the need for better family planning in poor countries” (6/26).

Increase In Number Of Women With Access To Modern Contraception Has Stalled, Report Says

“Progress in ensuring that women in poor countries have access to modern methods of contraception has stalled,” according to a new report (.pdf) by the United Nations Population Fund and the Guttmacher Institute, BMJ reports. The study “found that this year 645 million women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years) are using modern methods of contraception in the developing world, 42 million more than in 2008,” but “this rise is less than half the increase of 100 million between 2003 and 2008,” the journal writes.

U.N. SG Ban Announces 'Zero Hunger Challenge' In Message To Rio+20 Summit

In a video message addressing the Rio+20 summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “announced a ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ to rid the world of malnutrition,” Bloomberg News reports. “‘In a world of plenty, no one, not a single person, should go hungry,’ Ban said. ‘I invite you all to join me in working for a future without hunger,’” the news agency notes. “Ending hunger would boost economic growth, reduce poverty and help protect the environment, as well as foster peace and stability, Ban said,” Bloomberg writes, adding that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 13 percent of the world’s population, or 900 million people, suffer from hunger. Barbara Stocking, CEO of Oxfam, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg, “This is the first big idea on food to come out of the Rio+20 debacle. … But it is in total contrast to the lack of any action in the summit conclusions” (Ruitenburg, 6/22).

U.N. Agencies Renew Commitment To REACH Initiative To Combat Child Hunger, Malnutrition

“United Nations agencies [on Wednesday] stressed the need to tackle child hunger and undernutrition in the pursuit of sustainable development, highlighting a joint initiative that offers practical and effective approaches to combat this problem in the most affected countries,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Under the REACH initiative, the World Food Programme (WFP), the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have committed to a renewed effort against child hunger and undernutrition,” the news service writes.

U.N. Food And Agriculture Agencies Urge G20 To Increase Efforts To Fight Hunger; G20 Launches AgResults Initiative

As G20 leaders wrapped up their meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, on Tuesday, the U.N. food and agriculture agencies — the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) — issued a joint statement “call[ing] on them to redouble their efforts to fight hunger” and “welcom[ing] the priority given to food and nutrition security at the summit,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The agencies “noted that food security is closely linked to other issues on the agenda of G20 — such as infrastructure development and restoring growth in countries in crisis” — and emphasized the role of partnerships in improving food security, according to the news agency. The “agencies also welcomed the continuing recognition by the G20 of the pivotal role of smallholder agriculture to global food security and to boosting productivity in a sustainable manner,” the news agency writes (6/19).

Blog, Opinion Piece, Press Release Address Health Aspects Of Rio+20

More than 100 world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, are meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this week for Rio+20, the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, to address ways to reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection. The following blog post, opinion piece, and press release address health aspects of the conference.

WHO Releases Programmatic Update On Antiretroviral Treatment As Prevention Of HIV, TB

“The potential for antiretroviral medicine to reduce transmission of HIV and tuberculosis has been demonstrated, but the challenges of using treatment to prevent infection will need to be tackled country by country, and with focus on people for whom it will have the biggest impact, the latest bulletin on HIV treatment from the World Health Organization says,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “WHO’s June 2012 Antiretroviral Treatment as Prevention (TasP) of HIV and TB Programmatic Update is the latest of a series of documents the organization says will lead to a completed set of guidelines on treatment and prevention in July 2013,” the blog reports, noting, “The organization also plans to release new recommendations in time for the July International AIDS Conference, addressing the preventative use of antiretroviral medicine by people who are uninfected but potentially exposed to HIV, including those involved in commercial sex work, in ongoing relationships with infected partners, and men who have sex with men” (6/18).

Yemen Facing Extremely High Levels Of Malnutrition, UNICEF Official Says

With “the highest level of chronic malnutrition after Afghanistan, affecting 60 percent of under fives,” Yemen is facing levels of acute malnutrition that are equal to or worse than those in Africa’s Horn or Sahel, UNICEF’s Yemen representative Geert Cappelaere said on Friday in London, AlertNet reports. “If you don’t do anything about these incredible high levels of malnutrition, in the short term you may have more and more children dying. In the long term, the cost of inaction for a country like Yemen may be up to $1.5 billion a year,” he said. According to AlertNet, “The figure comes from a World Bank estimate that the cost of failing to address malnutrition could be 2-3 percent of a country’s GDP.” Cappelaere “said that in some areas it had almost nothing to do with access to food, but rather to lack of access to drinking water or sanitation. He said bringing down malnutrition levels would require integrated investment in water, sanitation, nutrition, education, and health,” the news service writes (Batha, 6/15).

Opinion Pieces Address Child Survival Call to Action

The governments of the United States, India, and Ethiopia, in collaboration with UNICEF, on Thursday launched the Child Survival Call to Action in Washington, D.C., during a two-day event that brings together world leaders, public health experts, child health advocates and others in an effort to reduce child mortality to 20 per 1,000 by 2035 worldwide, with the ultimate goal of ending preventable child deaths. The following summarizes several opinion pieces addressing the effort.