A video report in USAID’s “IMPACTblog” examines a cash transfer program in Zimbabwe, where, following a drought this year, “the numbers needing food assistance will rise to nearly 1.6 million people in coming months.” “In parts of Zimbabwe where market conditions allow, the World Food Programme is arranging for cash…
“A rebel takeover of several key towns in the Central African Republic (CAR) has placed additional strain on humanitarian conditions that were already precarious due to years of armed conflict,” IRIN reports (1/4). “Humanitarian groups have expressed alarm at the lack of access to more than 300,000 civilians caught up in the fighting,” the Guardian notes, adding, “The U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and the [U.N.] security council have condemned the attacks and called on the rebels to halt hostilities” (Tran, 1/4). “In many areas, basic health care and education are provided by aid groups or not at all,” IRIN writes (1/4). “The Central African Republic has been wracked by political unrest since gaining independence from France in 1960,” the Guardian notes (1/4).
“A month after Typhoon Bopha hit the southern Philippines, up to one million people need food assistance and thousands of others could be displaced for a second time, the United Nations says,” AlertNet reports. The December 4 storm killed more than 1,000 people and more than 800 remain missing, the news service notes. “‘Overall the need (for food assistance) is for about 800,000 to a million people across several regions,’ said Dipayan Bhattacharyya, head of food security with the World Food Programme (WFP) in the Philippines,” AlertNet writes, adding, “WFP has been distributing food since the immediate aftermath of the storm and recently started food-for-work activities such as cleaning drainage and clearing debris” (Win, 1/4). International Organization for Migration spokesperson Jumbe Omari Jumbe said the agency is distributing non-food aid in the most-affected regions, VOA News reports. “Jumbe said the lack of sufficient latrines and availability of clean water can cause diseases, such as upper respiratory tract infections, diarrhea and skin infections,” the news agency writes, adding, “Of greatest concern, he said, are people living in 13 sites, with little to no health services” (Schlein, 1/4).
Noting that the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “estimates that 25 percent of Syria’s population needs humanitarian relief,” Rachel Brandenburg, a U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) program officer for the Middle East, writes in a USIP blog post, “Within Syria and around its borders, residents and those who’ve fled the fighting face dangerous shortages of food, fuel, medical supplies, and shelter.” She says the onset of winter will increase the need for shelter, clothing, and food. Brandenburg notes that two plans call for $1.5 billion in aid during the first half of 2013, but she adds aid workers are in short supply. “As of early December, only 20 international and 100 Syrian national WFP staff remained in-country to support an operation aimed at feeding 1.5 million Syrians,” she says (1/3).
The January issue of the WHO Bulletin features an editorial examining universal health coverage and the right to health, a public health news roundup, a research article examining research priorities for adolescent sexual and reproductive health in low- and middle-income countries, and a systematic review examining the integration of antiretroviral therapy into antenatal care and maternal and child health settings, among others (January 2013).
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “has appointed renowned United States physician Paul Farmer to help galvanize support to eliminate cholera in Haiti, where the disease has already claimed over 7,750 lives,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “He will also be charged with advising ‘on lessons learned’ from the epidemic and ‘how those can be applied in Haiti and other settings,'” according to a U.N. statement, Agence France-Presse notes, adding, “Farmer, 53, heads Harvard’s department of global health and social medicine. From 2009 to 2012, he also served as deputy to the U.N. special envoy for Haiti under former U.S. President Bill Clinton” (12/29). “The naming of the Special Adviser for Community-Based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti comes just weeks after Mr. Ban launched 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 writes (12/28).
Several newspapers published opinion pieces regarding the recent murders of polio vaccination workers in Pakistan. The following summarizes two opinion pieces and one editorial on the issue.
“The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on Thursday urging countries to ban female genital mutilation, calling it an ‘irreparable, irreversible abuse’ that threatens about three million girls annually,” Reuters reports. “The resolution, which is not legally binding, asks the 193 U.N. members to ‘take all necessary measures, including enacting and enforcing legislation to prohibit female genital mutilations and to protect women and girls from this form of violence,'” the news agency notes (Nichols, 12/20).
“The fight to eliminate the scourge of female genital mutilation is breaking new ground,” following the adoption of a U.N. General Assembly resolution on Thursday “calling on all states to enact legislation banning this egregious human rights violation,” Emma Bonino, vice president of the Italian Senate and founder of No Peace Without Justice, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. Adopted by consensus, the resolution “demonstrat[es] the international community’s unified stance,” she writes, noting, “The consensus is strengthened by the fact that two thirds of U.N. member states are co-sponsoring the resolution, with 67 states joining the 54 nations of the African Group, which initially introduced the text.”
“Scientists say the cholera outbreak that struck more than 7,000 people in Guinea this year was caused by a more toxic and more contagious generation of the bacteria,” and they “suspect the same strain killed nearly 300 people and struck more than 22,000 others in neighboring Sierra Leone,” VOA News reports. “Through genetic sequencing of the cholera bacteria found in Guinea, epidemiologists working with the United Nations Children’s Fund [UNICEF] have identified them as atypical variants of the O1 El Tor strain,” the news service writes. Francois Bellet, a member of UNICEF’s regional office for West and Central Africa, “said this discovery raises the alert level, requiring stronger epidemiological surveillance, preparedness and response to cholera outbreaks in Guinea and throughout the region,” according to VOA (Palus, 12/20). “This type of strain was present in Zimbabwe in 2009, in the Lake Chad Basin in 2009, and is found in Haiti currently,” IRIN notes (12/18).