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New Global Burden Of Disease Study Provides ‘Data-Rich Framework’ For Global Health Conversations

“The World Bank Group welcomes the publication of the new Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD),” published in the Lancet on Thursday, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim writes in a Lancet opinion piece, adding, “The GBD gives us a data-rich framework for comparing the importance of different diseases, injuries, and risk factors in causing premature death and disability within and across populations.” He continues, “Specifically, the GBD has sharpened thinking on issues as diverse as the measurement of comorbidities; the role of culture in mediating the experience of disease; the meaning of disability; and the impact of poverty on health.”

Though Progress Made, Global Burden Of HIV/AIDS Requires Greater, ‘Better’ Response

“Optimism and momentum has been building around the real possibility that an AIDS-free generation is imminent. … Yet, the most recent estimates of HIV prevalence and incidence and of AIDS-related mortality released by UNAIDS, together with data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 in the Lancet, make it clear that AIDS is not over,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe; Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and Mark Dybul, incoming executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, write in a Lancet opinion piece. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 and UNAIDS data “highlight a persistent, significant, and egregious burden of avoidable death,” the authors write, noting global statistics and recent success in reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths and incidence rates worldwide.

Some Diplomats, U.N. Observers Express ‘Concerns’ Over U.N. Appeal For Haitian Cholera Aid, Al Jazeera Reports

Following U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s announcement on Tuesday of a new initiative appealing for $2.2 billion over 10 years to fight cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Al Jazeera reports “there are concerns by some diplomats and U.N. observers that the funds necessary for the program would not be forthcoming from donors.” As part of the larger appeal covering the island of Hispaniola, in Haiti “[t]he new program dedicates $215 million from donors along with $23.5 million from U.N. funds towards programs in public health, capacity building, public education, and clean water systems,” according to the news service. However, “Haiti will need $500 million over the next two years for its own national cholera plan,” Al Jazeera writes, adding, “The funds allocated in the program would therefore cover only one year.”

U.N. General Assembly Votes In Favor Of Draft Resolution Supporting Universal Health Coverage

The U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday “voted in favor of a draft resolution supporting universal health coverage, signaling the importance of universal health care to the international development agenda,” the Washington Post’s “World Views” blog reports (Khazan, 12/12). “The U.N. resolution calls on its members to ensure they have health systems that avoid significant direct payments at the point of delivery and a mechanism to pool risks among the population to avoid catastrophic health care spending and impoverishment as a result of seeking care,” the Guardian notes (Tran, 12/12).

U.N. Report Calls On Afghanistan To Better Enforce Law Criminalizing Violence Against Women

“Afghan women are frequent victims of abuse, despite some success by authorities in prosecuting rape cases, forced marriages and domestic violence under a three-year-old law, according to a report [.pdf] issued Tuesday by the United Nations,” the Associated Press reports (Reichmann, 12/11). “Enacted in August 2009, the Afghan legislation criminalizes and specifies punishments for acts such as child marriage, forced marriage, selling and buying women under the pretext of marriage, giving away a woman or girl to settle a dispute, forced self-immolation, rape and beating,” VOA News notes (Gul, 12/11). For the report, “[t]he U.N. collected information from 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces over a 12-month period ending in September to find out how existing laws protecting women were being implemented,” Al Jazeera writes (Latifi, 12/12).

Madagascar Traditional Midwives Recruited To Bring Women In Labor To Clinics For Care

IRIN examines efforts to recruit Madagascar’s traditional midwives, called “matronnes,” to “a campaign to get women to deliver in clinics or hospitals, part of a move to lower maternal and newborn death rates.” The country, which has the highest adolescent fertility rate in Africa, has a “moderately high” maternal mortality ratio, despite having “dropped from 710 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 240 per 100,000 live births in 2010,” the news service notes. IRIN describes how health centers and non-governmental organizations are working to provide better maternal and newborn health care by convincing traditional midwives to accompany women in labor to clinics, where skilled birth attendants can attend to them (12/12).

U.N. Launches $2.2B Appeal For New Initiative To Eliminate Cholera In Haiti, Dominican Republic

“The United Nations [on Tuesday] announced a new initiative to help eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the two nations that make up the Caribbean island of Hispaniola,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘The new initiative will invest in prevention, treatment, and education — it will take a holistic approach to tackling the cholera challenge,’ said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the initiative’s launch,” according to the news service (12/11). “With the number of reported cases exceeding 620,000 since the epidemic started in October 2010, [Ban] acknowledged the ‘heavy toll’ as he launched the 10-year initiative,” Agence France-Presse writes.

U.N. Emergency Fund Receives $384M In Pledges To Respond To Natural Disasters, Crises In 2013

“United Nations member states pledged $384 million on Tuesday to an emergency fund that will allow the world body to respond quickly to natural disasters and other crises in 2013, U.N. aid chief Valerie Amos said,” Reuters reports. “The U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) … has raised more than $2.8 billion since it was launched in 2006,” and “[s]o far in 2012, the fund has allocated $465 million for humanitarian aid in 49 countries, including Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria, North Korea, Haiti and Pakistan,” the news agency notes (12/11). At a high-level conference on the CERF, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “From flood zones to war zones, CERF stops crises from turning into catastrophes. … The Fund does this through quick, targeted support when an emergency starts or by injecting funds in stubbornly under-funded situations,” according to the U.N. News Centre. “The rapid and flexible support offered by the CERF makes it a central pillar of the U.N. agencies’ humanitarian response,” Amos said at the conference, the news service notes (12/11).

More Than 850,000 Children Treated For Malnutrition In Sahel In 2012, UNICEF Says

“A UNICEF progress report [.pdf] says that more than 850,000 children are expected to have received life-saving treatment for severe acute malnutrition across nine countries in the Sahel region during the course of 2012,” according to a UNICEF press release, noting the number is “based on the more than 730,000 children under five treated at centers between January and the end of September.” The press release continues, “The report says early funding by donors such as the Swedish and Danish Governments, the European Union and USAID meant crucial supplies of ready-to-use therapeutic food were purchased in good time and pre-positioned.” Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s acting regional director, said in the press release, “In 2012 a tremendous effort meant we were able to give every child who was able to arrive at a treatment center appropriate care. But we need to get to the state where more robust systems are in place and treatment centers see far fewer children” (12/11).

Syrian Conflict Destroying Country’s Health Care System

“The nearly two-year conflict in Syria has taken tens of thousands of lives, destroyed entire neighborhoods and sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing. But more quietly, it has also eaten away at the country’s health care system,” IRIN reports. Many pharmaceutical factories, “which used to produce more than 90 percent of the country’s drug needs,” have shut down or cut production, the news service writes, adding, “Those medicines that are available have also risen in price, and amid skyrocketing unemployment and rising food prices, many Syrians — especially those displaced from their homes by the violence — are struggling to afford their usual medication.”