The WHO “said on Monday it has received just one application for the U.N. health agency’s top post,” from China, which submitted Margaret Chan, the current WHO director-general and former Hong Kong health chief, Agence France-Presse reports. “An executive board meeting in Geneva between January 16 and 23 will decide whether to put the name forward to the World Health Assembly in May, which would make the final decision regarding the appointment,” the news agency writes (11/21).
UNAIDS on Monday released its World AIDS Day Report 2011 (.pdf), “which shows more people than ever living with HIV, but deaths and new infections steadily dropping,” the Guardian reports (Boseley, 11/21). The number of AIDS-related deaths in 2010 was 21 percent lower than its peak in 2005, and the number of new HIV infections in 2010 also was down 21 percent from its peak in 1997, according to the report, BBC News notes (11/21). The report credits more widespread treatment, behavior change and male circumcision for significant drops in the number of new cases, according to the Guardian (11/21). “Of the 14.2 million people eligible for treatment in low- and middle-income countries, around 6.6 million, or 47 percent, are now receiving it, UNAIDS said, and 11 poor- and mid-income countries now have universal access to HIV treatment, with coverage of 80 percent or more,” Reuters notes, adding, “This compares with 36 percent of the 15 million people needing treatment in 2009 who got AIDS drugs” (Kelland, 11/21).
More than one million Zimbabweans will need food aid between now and March 2012 because of poor harvests and food prices out of reach for vulnerable families, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said Monday, the Associated Press reports (11/21). The agency “said it was facing a $42 million funding shortfall for food aid it planned to provide to vulnerable households in Zimbabwe’s hardest-hit areas until the start of the harvest season in March,” Reuters writes (11/21). According to a recent survey, “12 percent of the rural population will not have the means to feed themselves adequately during the lean season,” a WFP press release notes, adding, “Most at risk are low-income families hit by failed harvests, and households with orphans and vulnerable children” (11/21).
The U.N. and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working to fight an outbreak of cholera that has infected more than 17,000 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) need an additional $5.5 million to help their efforts, Elisabeth Byrs, a spokesperson for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said on Friday, the U.N. News Centre reports (11/18). “The U.N. says donations received will go toward improving water and sanitation and providing medical assistance for victims,” the VOA “Breaking News” blog writes (11/19). “This $5.5 million is really urgently needed because the rainy season is set to begin,” Byrs said, Agence France-Presse notes (11/19).
“If we are to succeed in alleviating poverty and providing the necessary framework for sustainable development on our planet, there is no more pressing need than ensuring the supply of affordable food for our people,” Pascal Lamy, director-general of the World Trade Organization, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” He continues, “There are two keys to tackling this problem, enhancing production — particularly in Africa — and ensuring that trade in food flows unhindered from the lands of the plenty to the lands of the few. Without immediate action in these two areas, there is a risk that hunger will become even more widespread, with many million more lives at stake” (11/21).
“The United Nations independent expert on access to water and sanitation as a human right [on Saturday] urged States to allocate more resources to improving sanitation and promote efficient use of existing hygiene facilities, stressing that people are entitled to decent toilets,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘Lack of sanitation implies the loss of millions of school and work days as well as enormous health costs,’ said Catarina de Albuquerque, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, in a statement to mark the World Toilet Day, which is observed on 19 November each year,” the news service writes (11/19).
The Lancet examines Health 2020, “a ‘process of consultation’ between WHO Euro and its 53 diverse member states” that “will build partnerships to tackle the complex determinants and drivers of health and health equity.” The Lancet writes, “With the region’s aging populations, increasing rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and spiraling treatment costs, the whole government must be brought in, alongside ministries of health and health systems, in a new ‘movement for public health, believes” WHO Regional Director for Europe Zsuzsanna Jakab. WHO Euro will hold a high-level meeting on Health 2020 on November 27 in Jerusalem, the Lancet notes, adding that “[t]he results of this meeting are expected to feed into WHO’s Executive Board meeting in January 2012” (Walgate, 11/19).
U.S. and U.N. food agencies on Friday said three famine zones in Somalia had been downgraded to emergency status, as aid had reduced death rates, but “three other areas — including the refugee communities of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu — remain in the famine zone,” the Associated Press/CBSNews reports. The agencies “warn[ed] that a quarter million Somalis face imminent starvation, and that military battles are preventing food deliveries,” according to the AP (11/18). The U.N. Food Security Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) said in a statement, “Overall, food security outcomes remain the worst in the world, and the worst in Somalia since the 1991/92 famine,” Agence France-Presse notes (11/18).
“The pollution that has accompanied China’s spectacular rate of economic growth will have dire health consequences for its population, the United Nations has warned in a report,” the International Business Times reports. “Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), told media that already hundreds of thousands of Chinese people have suffered respiratory illnesses or died prematurely due to the heavy smog that envelops some cities in the country,” the news service writes.
High-Level Panel Releases Recommendations To Address Food Security, Climate Change In Anticipation Of U.N. Meeting
In advance of a U.N. climate change conference this month in Durban, South Africa, the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, a high-level international panel, on Wednesday announced its recommendations (.pdf) for achieving food security while addressing the effects of climate change, VOA News reports. The panel, which includes scientists from 13 countries who are experts in agriculture, climate, economics, trade, nutrition and ecology, “spent the past year analyzing many climate studies — a year that included climbing food prices, humanitarian disasters and political unrest — all of which, it says, threaten food security,” VOA writes (DeCapua, 11/16). “The seven high-level recommendations include significantly raising the level of global investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems in the next decade; sustainably intensifying agricultural production on the existing land base while reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and reducing losses and waste in the food system,” a commission press release states (11/16).