“Cholera epidemics have hit tens of thousands of people and killed more than 1,400 others in seven West and Central African countries since the start of the year, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report on Tuesday,” AlertNet reports. According to the news service, affected countries include Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Republic of Congo (Fominyen, 9/7). The Red Cross, which said the outbreak was spreading, expressed concern that it could hit refugee camps along the Sudanese border, according to Agence France-Presse (9/7).
Family Planning, Contraceptives A National Priority For Saving Women's Lives, U.N. Meeting Participants Say
First ladies, health and finance ministers, and parliamentarians from 12 developing countries participating in the U.N. Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Global Programme to Enhance Reproductive Health Commodity Security, which was launched in 2007, declared at a U.N. meeting held on Wednesday that “voluntary family planning, secured by a steady supply of contraceptives, is a national priority for saving women’s lives,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “More than 215 million women in developing countries want to avoid or space pregnancies but are not using modern methods of contraception, according to the UNFPA,” the news service writes.
In this Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece, Boyd Swinburn, a professor and director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University in Australia, examines how “rich countries, … particularly the U.S. and European Union but also Australia, Canada and New Zealand, … are joining forces with tobacco, food, alcohol and pharmaceutical corporations to water down commitments that might flow from” this month’s U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in New York.
In anticipation of the September 2011 U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) “should not only look at the lessons learned in the control of NCDs in developed countries, but also those from other areas of public health, especially AIDS, which can inform the design of an effective and sustainable response to NCDs in developing countries,” Rebecca Dirks from FHI 360 and colleagues write in this PLoS Medicine Policy Forum editorial piece.
The U.N.’s Pan-American Health Organization, the United States and the international community “should be working with the Haitian Health Ministry to wage a more aggressive and effective effort” against the cholera epidemic that hit the country last year, and those efforts “should include not only clean water and sanitation systems but more antibiotics and cholera vaccinations,” a New York Times editorial says. “Ramping up manufacturing” of the cholera vaccine — of which there are less than 400,000 doses worldwide — “could be readily done and would have global benefits,” the editorial states.
Nancy Lindborg, USAIDâ€™s assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, writes in this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog” that the U.S. “continue[s] to call on all parties involved to allow unfettered humanitarian access to Somalis in need.” She continues, “The unfortunate reality is that Somalia is the most difficult operating environment for humanitarians in the world today,” adding that “unless we — the international community — can get access to provide humanitarian assistance to southern Somalia, the already horrific situation will get worse. Without access, the number of people in crisis will increase, and famine will continue to spread in Somalia” (9/6).
“There is no doubt that” a 10 percent reduction in funding from donor governments for the AIDS response in low- and middle-income countries in 2010 from the previous year’s levels “is linked to economic strain felt by countries across the globe,” a VOA News editorial says. “UNAIDS estimates that an investment of at least $22 billion will be needed by 2015 in order to avert more than seven million deaths,” the editorial states, adding, “It is clear that continued support to HIV prevention and treatment is a necessary investment, even in these difficult times.”
After the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “last week voiced concern about the appearance in Vietnam and China of” a mutant strain of the H5N1 avian flu virus, the WHO and FAO on Monday “said in a joint statement issued in response to questions from Agence France-Presse” that “[t]here is no evidence to suggest yet that this new virus strain will have any increased risk to human health,” the news agency reports. “‘Nevertheless, poultry producers and the general public should always take simple precautions to reduce exposure to the virus from infected poultry,’ it said,” the news agency writes, noting the “H5N1 virus typically spreads from birds to humans via direct contact” (9/5).
The U.N. “announced Monday that Somalia’s famine had spread to a sixth area within the country, with officials warning that 750,000 people could die in the next few months unless aid efforts were scaled up,” the New York Times reports (Gettleman/Kyama, 9/5).
Speaking at the 61st session of the WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire, on Thursday, African Regional Director of WHO Luis Sambo said “that 46 Africa member countries still had remarkable challenges to scale before meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” Nigeria’s The Nation reports.