“Only a binding global accord on cutting greenhouse gases will spare Africa, the world’s poorest continent, more devastating floods, droughts and famine, a senior African climate change official said on Tuesday” at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, Reuters reports. “The talks, bringing together nearly 200 nations, have repeatedly struggled to get a new deal to update the Kyoto Protocol, whose crucial clause on enforcing targets on carbon cuts expires at the end of next year,” the news service writes. Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, chair of the Africa Group, “said legal force was the only way to make polluters take the necessary action and states who failed to deliver should in effect be ‘named and shamed,'” according to the news service (Lewis, 12/7).
A U.N. expert on Monday “urged Vietnam … to close down its compulsory rehabilitation centers for sex workers and drug users, stressing that detention and forced treatment violate their right to health and perpetuate stigmatization and discrimination of those groups in the society,” the U.N. News Centre reports (12/5). “‘It’s essential to ensure that the considerable resources now invested in these centers are used instead to expand alternative treatments for injecting drug users,’ said” U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health Anand Grover, the Associated Press/Washington Post writes (12/5).
Heavy rains and flooding in Kenya, which have affected more than 40,000 people and caused at least a dozen deaths, are “complicating efforts to reach thousands of people made homeless by the flooding, an official of the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) told IRIN.” Nelly Muluka, KRCS public relations and communications officer, said on Monday that in some areas “there is the danger of waterborne diseases breaking out after latrines and boreholes were submerged and in other areas, water pipelines have burst,” according to IRIN. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said those affected by flooding “urgently require relief aid such as food, mosquito nets, tents, blankets, cooking utensils and medicine,” the news service writes, adding, “Teams comprising government, KRCS and U.N. officials are involved in rapid assessments of the flooding situation, a humanitarian official, who requested anonymity, told IRIN” (12/6).
“South Korea said on Monday that it would send 6.5 billion won, or $5.7 million, in aid to North Korea through UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency,” the New York Times reports. South Korea last year suspended aid to North Korea through UNICEF and the WHO, but Seoul last month resumed aid through the WHO, the newspaper notes (Choe, 12/5). “Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Monday it will donate about $5.7 million to UNICEF programs to send medicines and vaccines and help malnourished North Korean children,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes (12/5).
The WHO on Friday issued a measles warning for Europe, where measles outbreaks “have caused nine deaths, including six in France, and 7,288 hospitalizations,” BBC News reports. A WHO report “says there were over 26,000 measles cases in 36 European countries from January to October 2011.” According to the news service, “Western European countries reported 83 percent of those cases, with 14,000 in France alone,” and “[i]n England and Wales, there were just under 1,000 confirmed measles cases in that period — compared with just 374 in the whole of 2010.”
“Zambian President Michael Sata on Friday told former U.S. president George W. Bush that the West should help fight the scourge of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa,” Agence France-Presse reports, adding, “Bush is in Zambia on the second stop of a three-nation trip aimed at promoting efforts to fight diseases like cancer, AIDS and malaria” (12/3). While in Zambia, “Bush and his wife … launched a project … to expand the availability of cervical cancer screening, treatment and breast care education,” making the country “the first … to become part of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon project,” the Associated Press/Seattle Times writes (12/2).
The 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in Africa (ICASA) opened Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, “with mixed messages of hope and fear,” Afrique en ligne reports, adding, “With about 7,000 people in attendance, the opening ceremony witnessed the celebration of past successes and fear over future uncertainties in funding for HIV/AIDS” (12/4). According to Next, the conference “will provide a platform for effective African solution toward defeating the scourge once and for all” (12/5).
A number of government leaders made statements on Thursday in recognition of World AIDS Day. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a press statement said, “We have come a long way in the fight against AIDS, but there is still a long road ahead to realize our ambitious goals. If we continue to work together and coordinate a global effort guided by science, we may one day live in an AIDS-free generation” (12/1). In a post on the White House Blog, Gayle Smith, special assistant to the President, and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby write, “As President Obama made clear, the fight against global AIDS is a shared responsibility, not one the U.S. can meet alone. â€¦ As we move forward, we will work with a growing number of partners as the global community joins the U.S. in a heightened focus on this fight” (12/1).
“As the world heads into the fourth decade of AIDS, it is finally in a position to end the epidemic, [U.N.] Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said [Thursday], leading a chorus of United Nations officials in calling for the political will, investments and determination to reach this goal,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘Momentum is on our side. Let us use it to end AIDS — once and for all,’ Mr. Ban said in his message for World AIDS Day,” the news service writes (12/1).
The December issue of the WHO Bulletin features an editorial on effective aid in complex settings; a public health round-up; an article on the “One World” approach to global health; a research paper on U.S. aid policy and induced abortion in sub-Saharan Africa; and a policy article on lay health worker attrition (December 2011).