“More than two million people in Sudan’s Darfur region will be vaccinated against a rare yellow fever outbreak suspected of killing 107 people since late September, health officials said on Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse/France 24 reports (11/13). In a joint statement, the WHO and the Sudanese Ministry of Health said the mosquito-borne disease has spread throughout the western territory, which “has been plagued by conflict since rebels took up arms in 2003,” Reuters notes (Dziadosz, 11/13). The International Coordinating Group on Yellow Fever Vaccine Provision, a WHO partnership with vaccine manufacturers, will provide the vaccines, according to VOA News (Lipin, 11/13). Anshu Banerjee of the WHO office in Sudan “said that while no yellow fever cases have been found outside Darfur, the WHO is planning a risk assessment in the next two weeks on the assumption that all areas in Sudan may be at risk of infection,” the Associated Press reports. “The WHO estimates that more than 500 million people in 32 countries in Africa are at risk of yellow fever infection,” the news service notes (Fick, 11/13).
Objections From India Bar Experts Calling For Global Treaty Against Fake Drug Trade From WHO Meeting
“A group of experts calling for a global treaty to stop the lethal trade in fake medicines has been barred from attending a World Health Organization meeting, highlighting deep divisions that are blocking progress on the subject,” Reuters reports (Hirschler, 11/13). In an analysis published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on Tuesday, Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa and colleagues from the World Federation of Public Health Associations, International Pharmaceutical Federation, and the International Council of Nurses “urge the World Health Organization to set up a framework akin to its one [on] tobacco control to safeguard the public,” BBC News writes. The experts “say while governments and drug companies alike deplore unsafe medicines, it is difficult to achieve agreement on action because discussions too often trespass into conflict-prone areas such as pharmaceutical pricing or intellectual property rights,” the news service writes, adding, “Although some countries prohibit fake medicines under national law, there is no global treaty which means organized criminals can continue to trade using haven countries where laws are lax or absent” (Roberts, 11/13).
Joint U.N. Assessment Finds Better Harvests In DPR Korea But Warns Undernutrition Persists Among 2.8M Vulnerable People
“There has been an increase in staple food production in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) for the second year running, but undernutrition persists for nearly three million people, according to a new United Nations assessment released” Monday, the U.N. News Centre reports. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme’s (WFP) joint Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission “found that overall production for the main 2012 harvest and 2013 early season crops is expected to be 5.8 million metric tons, an improvement of 10 percent over last year,” the news service writes (11/12). “This, however, should not mask an ongoing struggle with undernutrition and a lack of vital protein and fat in the diet, especially for an estimated 2.8 million vulnerable people,” an FAO/WFP joint press release states (11/12). “DPR Korea still needs international help,” Kisan Gunjal, FAO economist and mission co-leader, said in a statement, adding, “The new harvest figures are good news, but the lack of proteins and fats in the diet is alarming,” Reuters writes (11/12).
Volume 3, Issue 6 of the Global Health Diplomacy Network’s “Health Diplomacy Monitor” (.pdf) is now available online. The issue includes an editorial on the fifth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), taking place in Seoul; an article examining universal health coverage in Mexico; and a paper discussing recommendations by the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG) advising WHO member states to establish a global agreement on financing and coordination of research and development (R&D), among other articles (November 2012).
U.N., Partners Call For Greater Efforts To Fight Number One Killer Of Children On World Pneumonia Day
On World Pneumonia Day (WPD), recognized on November 12, “[t]he United Nations and its partners … called for greater efforts to eradicate pneumonia, the number one killer of children under the age of five,” the U.N. News Centre reports. According to the WHO, “pneumonia, which is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs, kills an estimated 1.2 million children under the age of five years every year — more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined,” the news service notes (11/12). In a statement recognizing WPD, USAID said, “Thankfully, we have in our possession the tools needed to change the tide on these statistics. Now we need new ways to deliver badly needed health services and new ways to stimulate demand in the most rural pockets of the world” (11/12). “The Global Coalition Against Child Pneumonia, a partnership of more than 140 government, international and philanthropic organizations, sponsors WPD,” IIP Digital adds (Porter, 11/9).
WHO member states meeting in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday unanimously approved a new international treaty to combat the illegal tobacco trade, VOA News reports (11/12). “The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products commits countries to establishing, as a central measure, a global tracking and tracing system to reduce the illicit trade of tobacco products,” a WHO press release states (11/12). “I can think of no other undertaking that can make such a huge contribution to better health in every corner of the world. And that includes the health of young children and unborn babies,” WHO Executive Director Margaret Chan said at the opening of the Fifth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the U.N. News Centre reports. “Tobacco use is responsible for five million, or 12 percent, of all deaths of adults above the age of 30 globally each year — equivalent to one death every six seconds — noted a WHO mortality report released in March this year,” the news service adds (11/12).
Sometimes “[w]hen the international aid community descends on a vulnerable place … good intentions make a bad situation even worse,” a Boston Globe editorial states, adding that is “what happened two years ago, when United Nations peacekeepers arrived in Haiti in the wake of a devastating earthquake, bringing the deadly disease cholera with them.” According to a panel of U.N. experts, poor sanitation in the peacekeepers’ camp likely caused the outbreak, which has killed 7,000 people and sickened 500,000, the editorial notes. “So far, the United Nations has declined to apologize for its role, or even admit it — perhaps because it is facing a deluge of expensive legal claims brought by the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti on behalf of the victim’s families,” the editorial states, noting that after a year, the “U.N. says it is still studying the claims.”
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Food Price Index, “which measures monthly price changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar,” fell slightly in October, “largely because of falling cereals and oils prices, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday,” Reuters reports (11/8). According to an FAO press release, the index “averaged 213 points in October 2012, down two points (one percent) from September.” Prices of cereals and oils fell, while the prices of sugar and dairy increased and meat prices remained stable, the press release notes, adding, “Food prices averaged eight percent lower during the first 10 months of this year compared to the same period last year” (11/8).
“A yellow fever outbreak in Sudan’s Darfur region has killed 67 people so far,” and “the number of cases has more than doubled since the start of the epidemic last month,” the WHO said in a statement on Wednesday, the U.N. News Centre reports. The report “stated that the outbreak has now affected 17 localities in central, south, west and north Darfur, with 194 cases reported — a significant increase from the 84 initial cases reported at the start of the outbreak,” according to the news service (11/7). “WHO announced in the report a plan of action to counter the spread of the disease, including a vaccination campaign and training of medical cadres,” the Sudan Tribune writes. The Ministry of Health “said it needs four million vaccine units to counter the outbreak,” according to the newspaper (11/7). “The report’s recommendations also include strengthening disease surveillance in eastern Darfur, continuing laboratory testing of patients from newly affected localities, and finalizing a vaccination plan that identifies resources available as well as partners to implement it,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/7).
Medical Aid Group Reports Syrian Troops Seizing Foreign Aid; WFP Warns Of Increasing Food Needs Among Refugees
“A medical aid group said on Wednesday Syrian troops are seizing foreign aid and reselling it or channeling it towards government loyalists, putting millions of lives at risk,” Reuters reports (11/7). “Almost all international aid sent to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is being confiscated by the regime and never reaches civilians in need, [Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organisations (UOSSM),] an umbrella relief group for the war-ravaged country, said,” Lebanon’s Daily Star reports. “However, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), which both work closely with the Syrian Red Crescent, denied their aid was being seized,” the newspaper adds (Larson, 11/7).