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World Humanitarian Day Honors Workers' Service

August 19 is recognized worldwide as World Humanitarian Day, when “[w]e honor … those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and those who continue to bring assistance and relief to millions,” a Manila Bulletin editorial states. “World Humanitarian Day is a collaborative global celebration of humanitarian aid work joining the United Nations and over 500 national and international non-governmental organizations aimed at engaging and inspiring the general public to get involved,” the editorial notes.

'Real Action' Needed On NCDs

“We were deeply perturbed to learn that the negotiations for the Outcomes Document of the U.N. High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), a mere month or so away, had stalled because member states failed to reach consensus,” Nalini Saligram, CEO of Arogya World, and Sandeep Kishore, an MD/PhD candidate at the Cornell/ Rockefeller/ Sloan-Kettering Institute, write in a Huffington Post opinion piece.

NCD Alliance Says U.S., Canada, E.U. Stalling Efforts To Fight NCDs

The NCD Alliance, which represents about 2,000 health organizations from around the world focused on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), “on Thursday accused the United States, Canada and Europe of harming efforts to fight cancer, diabetes, heart and other diseases because they will not agree to set United Nations targets,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 8/18). The first-ever U.N. High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of NCDs is scheduled for September 19-20 in New York.

U.K., Islamic Countries Pledge Additional Funds For Famine Aid In Somalia

During a visit to the Somali capital of Mogadishu, U.K. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell on Wednesday pledged an additional $41.5 million in aid to Somalia, to be distributed through UNICEF, BBC News reports. The funding will enable UNICEF “to provide supplementary rations for up to 192,000 people … supplies to vaccinate 800,000 children against measles … polio vaccines, vitamin A, and deworming supplies and equipment to help prevent malaria,” the news service writes (8/17). “Meanwhile, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) countries pledged $350 million in aid for Somalia at an emergency summit in Istanbul,” according to the Guardian.

USAID Confirms FY 2011 Funding Level For NTD Program

“USAID has recently confirmed that the fiscal year (FY) 2011 funding level for USAID’s [Neglected Tropical Disease] Program will be $77 million,” bringing the total funding appropriated by the U.S. toward NTD control and elimination programs over a six-year period to $212 million, according to the Global Network for Neglected Tropical…

UNHCR Reports 10 Children Dying Daily And Women Facing Risk Of Rape In Ethiopian Refugee Camps

“Ten Somali children under the age of five are dying every day of hunger-related causes in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, according to the U.N. refugee agency,” the Guardian reports (Rice, 8/16). UNHCR “said high child mortality levels had been compounded by a suspected measles outbreak at the 25,000-capacity Kobe camp,” but children are now receiving vaccinations, according to BBC News (8/16).

Humanitarian Agencies Stand By In Pakistan As Floods Kill Up To 25, Displace Estimated 50,000 Others

“Predictions by Pakistan’s Meteorological Department of more rain in the days ahead have raised flood fears, especially in Sindh Province, as the monsoon season peaks,” IRIN reports (8/17). “United Nations humanitarian agencies in Pakistan are on standby after sustained rains have reportedly affected up to 750,000 people in Punjab and Sindh provinces, killing up to 25 and displacing some 50,000 others,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) conducted informal assessments last week in some areas where there had been a significant loss of homes, and district authorities were already relocating families to shelters,” the news agency writes.

U.S., International Support For Somali Refugees Making A Difference

Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, U.S. representative to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome, writes about her recent visit to the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog. “There is something remarkable about seeing how U.S. contributions – both from our government and the private sector – can be transformed into something as concrete and life-saving as a simple meal for a little girl. Washington has committed around $580 million to the relief effort. Hopefully that will save a lot more children here in Dadaab and around the Horn. The international community has provided around $1.4 billion, but it’s not enough – I know that and we continue to push for more support from other donors. But it is a start and it is making a real and lasting difference,” she writes (8/12).

U.N. Should Make Reduction In Salt Intake A Global Health Priority, Researchers Say

Researchers from the Universities of Warwick and Liverpool in a report published on Thursday in the British Medical Journal called for the U.N. to “make reducing salt intake a global health priority,” stating that “a 15 percent cut in consumption could save 8.5 million lives around the world over the next decade,” BBC News reports. “The researchers say there is a ‘consistent, direct relation between salt intake and blood pressure,'” which “in turn is linked to heart disease, stroke and kidney problems,” and “[t]hey point to the U.S., where cutting salt intake by a third would save tens of thousands of lives and save up to $24 billion annually in health care costs,” the news agency reports.

PlusNews Examines Challenges To Burundi's PMTCT Program

“A shortage of health facilities and health workers, frequent drug shortages and a weak government policy mean HIV-positive pregnant women in Burundi often give birth without taking any precautions to prevent transmission of the virus to their children,” PlusNews reports.