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E.U., UNICEF Launch $430M Fund In Zimbabwe To Provide Medical Care To Children, Pregnant Women

“A $430 million fund which will give Zimbabwean children and pregnant women free medical care at public hospitals was launched Monday with the help of the E.U. and UNICEF,” Agence France-Press reports. “The Zimbabwe health care system which has collapsed from years of economic crisis requires $436 million over the next five years to improve capacity, particularly in the delivery of maternal care, according to UNICEF,” AFP notes.

Several West African Nations Facing Food Insecurity; WFP Steps Up Efforts In Niger

Several countries in West Africa, including Niger, Mauritania and Chad, are facing food insecurity crises “unless the international community acts now, the United Nations warned on Friday,” AlertNet reports. “Communities in the Sahel, which faces increasingly frequent droughts, have not had time to recover from the last food crisis,” which hit the region last year, the news service reports.

Targets For Somalia Aid Likely To Be Missed In 2011, U.N. Draft Report Says

“Despite a massive increase in humanitarian operations and international funding since famine was formally declared 100 days ago, the relief effort in Somalia is expected to miss almost all its key targets for 2011, a draft United Nations report reveals,” the Guardian reports, adding, “[m]alnutrition rates have more than doubled, less than 60 percent of the 3.7 million people targeted have received monthly food assistance, and only 58 percent of a targeted 1.2 million people received critical non-food aid items.”

U.N. Calls For Concerted Efforts On Food Security Issues; Australia Drives Food Security As Commonwealth Meeting Theme

“United Nations officials [on Thursday] called for concerted efforts to ensure the world’s fast-growing population has enough food, stressing that global food production will have to double by 2050 when the planet is expected to host one billion inhabitants,” according to the U.N. News Centre. “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that guaranteeing sustainable food and nutrition security for all will require the full engagement of governments and the private sector” and “said he was encouraged by the renewed political interest in food security, including the prominence that is being given to the issue by the Group of 20 of the world’s largest economies,” the news service adds (10/27).

DRC Government, UNICEF Campaign Immunizes 14M Children Against Polio

“Thousands of vaccination teams have traversed the vast Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on foot, by motorbike, boat and car, in a campaign to immunize at least 14 million children against polio, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said,” IRIN reports. The campaign, which was run over three days beginning October 20 by the government with support from UNICEF, also provided vitamin A supplements and deworming, IRIN notes.

Seasonal Rains, Flooding Lead To Cholera Outbreak In Nigeria

“Seasonal rains cause massive damage and disease throughout Nigeria each year, and this year’s onslaught comes as international experts warn West Africa is suffering from its worst cholera outbreaks in years,” the Associated Press/ABC News reports. According to UNICEF, Nigeria “had recorded more than 21,000 cholera cases this year by the end of September” and “[a]t least 694 people have died from the disease,” the news agency writes. Twenty-five of Nigeria’s 36 states have reported cholera cases, with most coinciding with local flooding, the AP notes, adding that “almost half of Nigeria’s 150 million people lack access to clean water and proper sanitation, according to the World Health Organization” (Gambrell, 10/26).

WHO Releases Updated NTD Report

The WHO has released an updated version (.pdf) of its first report on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which was released last year. In the introduction of the new report, Lorenzo Savioli, director of the WHO Department of Control of NTDs, writes, “Despite a difficult economic outlook, we believe that immense opportunities exist…

Virtual Platform For Intellectual Property Sharing Aims To Speed Development Of Drug Treatments

“The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) launched a consortium on Wednesday that would allow the public and private sector to share intellectual property to promote the development of new drugs to treat diseases such as malaria,” Reuters reports (10/26). “Under the agreement between [WIPO], … the companies and the non-profit BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), public and private sector organizations will share valuable intellectual property (IP) and expertise with the global health research community on WIPO Re:Search, a virtual platform,” the U.N. News Centre writes (10/26).

U.N. Report Calls For Investment In Health, Education As World Population Approaches 7 Billion

“Instead of worrying about sheer numbers when the world’s population hits seven billion next week, we should think about how to make the planet a better place for people to live in, the United Nations said” in its report, “The State of World Population 2011,” released Wednesday, Reuters reports (Ormsby, 10/26). “The world must seize the opportunity to invest in the health and education of its youth to reap the full benefits of future economic development or else face a continuation of the sorry state of disparities in which hundreds of millions of people in developing nations lack the most basic ingredients for a decent life, U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said in the foreword of the study,” the U.N. News Centre writes.

Disconnecting Global AIDS From Reproductive Health Stalled Efforts to Expand Family Planning Services, UNFPA Head Says

Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the U.N. Population Fund (UNPFA), said in an interview with the Guardian that “efforts to expand family planning services in the developing world stalled for a decade while global health organizations turned their energies to fighting HIV/AIDS. ‘We made a mistake. We disconnected HIV from reproductive health. We should never have done that because it is part and parcel,’ he said.” The newspaper adds, “Osotimehin said the international community was regaining momentum in its efforts to make family planning services available to women in all countries” and “argued it was crucial for developing countries to devote a larger share of their own resources to family planning and health.”