The U.S. and the WHO on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) “to help developing nations strengthen their capabilities to support the International Health Regulations (IHR),” which is “an international agreement that requires WHO Member States to prevent and respond to acute public health risks that have the potential…
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday is expected “to announce a significant expansion of the organization’s ambitious global program to tackle infant and maternal mortality and boost access to reproductive health over coming years,” the Financial Times reports. The announcement “will highlight the doubling of commitments from governments, the private sector and non-profit organizations on funding and policy initiatives for the ‘Every Woman Every Child’ program,” the newspaper writes (Raval et al., 9/19). The announcement comes “[a]s the U.N. General Assembly opens a new session” and is “being called on [by the international community] to provide more family planning services to hundreds of millions of women,” according to VOA News (DeCapua, 9/19).
World leaders attending the first-ever U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) kicked off the summit on Monday by “unanimously approving a ‘political declaration’ meant to stem a rising tide of [NCDs], now the world’s leading killer,” CNN reports (Ariosto, 9/19). The declaration “call[s] for a multi-pronged campaign by governments, industry and civil society to set up by 2013 the plans needed to curb the risk factors behind the four groups of NCDs — cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes,” according to the U.N. News Centre.
Foreign Affairs on Tuesday published an analysis examining the history of negotiations behind the political declaration approved on Monday by leaders attending the U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
The World Bank’s annual World Development Report, which was released on Sunday and this year “focuses on gender equality around the world, offers some stark facts about how women and girls fare in developing countries despite decades of progress,” the Wall Street Journal reports (Reddy, 9/18). “The most glaring disparity is the rate at which girls and women die relative to men in developing countries, according to” the report, Reuters/AlertNet reports (Curtis, 9/19).
Low-income countries “could introduce measures to prevent and treat millions of cases of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and lung disease for a little as $1.20 per person per year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday” in a report released on the eve of the U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) taking place this week in New York, Reuters reports (Kelland, 9/19).
NCD Draft Declaration Lacks Specific Targets, Calls For Nations To Adopt Recommendations For Reducing Chronic Disease Deaths
“World leaders at a meeting of the United Nations on Monday will agree to a deal to try to curb the spread of preventable ‘lifestyle’ diseases,” including heart disease, cancers and diabetes, also known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs), “amid concern that progress is already being hampered by powerful lobbyists from the food, alcohol and tobacco industries,” the Guardian reports. “The scale and disastrous potential of these diseases has led the U.N. to call only its second high-level summit on a health issue on Monday — the first was over AIDS in 2001. Months of negotiation have led to a draft declaration [.pdf] that will be signed at the summit,” the newspaper writes (Boseley, 9/16).
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday expressed concern over widespread flooding in Pakistan and “pledged the United Nations’ continued commitment to supporting the government in its efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of the more than five million people in the affected areas,” the U.N. News Centre reports. In a statement, Ban said he is “particularly worried about the situation in the southern area of Sindh province where people are in urgent need of food, shelter, safe water and access to health services,” according to the news service.
“A group of public health organizations said on Friday they were concerned that industries selling fatty foods, alcohol and cigarettes could hijack a United Nations meeting on how to tackle chronic disease in order to protect their own interests,” Reuters reports. “In a letter to the Lancet medical journal, more than 140 international health organizations and campaign groups said the United Nations should ensure industry lobby groups are not able to manipulate the September 19-20 meeting and its outcome,” writing, “There are clear conflicts for the corporations that contribute to and profit from the sales of alcoholic beverages, foods with high fat, salt, and sugar contents, and tobacco products — all of which are important causes of [non-communicable diseases (NCDs)],” according to the news service (Kelland, 9/15).
“Afghanistan is intensifying efforts to eradicate polio by the end of next year, but security remains a major challenge especially in the southern provinces where the virus is localized, says” Arshad Quddus, head of the WHO polio program in Afghanistan, IRIN reports. Polio remains endemic in Afghanistan, according to the WHO, IRIN notes, adding that Afghan “[g]overnment data show that 85 percent of the population now live in polio-free areas, but the virus is still circulating in 13 districts, including the seven where  recent cases have been detected.” In addition to security issues, “low literacy rates, poor hygiene practices and low awareness of the benefits of vaccination” are hindering campaigns, according to IRIN (9/15).