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Access To Modern Contraceptives, Family Planning Services Is Human Right

“[I]n the developing world, an estimated 215 million women who want to delay or avoid their next pregnancy cannot exercise this right as they lack modern contraceptives, resulting in unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and more than 100,000 maternal deaths,” UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin writes in this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog post. He says that “[t]he United Kingdom government of David Cameron and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced plans for a summit in London in July to raise funds for voluntary family planning” and notes that “UNFPA … fully supports and is a partner in this historic initiative on an often-overlooked human right.”

WHO Publishes ‘Programmatic Update’ On Use Of ARVs To Treat Pregnant Women, Prevent PMTCT

The WHO “recently published a ‘Programmatic Update’ [.pdf] on the use of antiretrovirals (ARVs) to treat pregnant women and prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT),” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “According to the executive summary, the WHO has started a comprehensive revision of all ARV guidelines, to include ARVs for pregnant women, which it plans to release in early 2013,” the blog notes (Mazzotta, 4/9).

Children Under Five At Risk Of Malnutrition, Death From Looming Sahel Famine, UNICEF Warns

The Guardian examines child malnutrition in Chad, where “[r]ising therapeutic feeding center admissions highlight the growing urgency of the situation in one of Sahel’s driest, most remote areas.” Chad’s Kanem region “is one of the worst-hit regions in the current food crisis, which UNICEF estimates is affecting approximately 15 million people in the Sahel,” the news service writes. “‘The needs are many and varied in Chad, as we are facing multiple crises,’ said Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF, during a visit to Mao,” according to the Guardian. The news service writes, “Chad has a cereal deficit of about 400,000 tons this year, and stocks of only about 40,000 tons” (Hicks, 4/10). “The United Nations has warned that at least one million children under the age of five across Africa’s Sahel region are at risk of dying from severe famine and malnutrition due to drought,” Press TV reports, adding, “UNICEF said it needs $120 million to tackle the looming crisis” (4/10).

Act Now ‘To Prevent Tragedy’ In Africa’s Sahel Food Security Crisis

“The world appears reluctant to open its wallets to relief organizations dedicated to saving the lives of Africa’s children until it’s official. They want the United Nations to declare a famine,” a Globe and Mail editorial states. “UNICEF is to be credited for its preemptive global effort to break this tragic cycle of paralysis and delayed response in the case of the Sahel,” where “[o]ne million children are currently at risk of dying of acute malnutrition,” the editorial continues, and highlights a fundraising campaign launched by the organization last week, called #SahelNOW.

Wall Street Journal Examines Jim Kim’s Nomination To Head World Bank

The Wall Street Journal reports that “[a] long list of development experts, government officials and news organizations around the world have mounted a rebellion of sorts” in response to the nomination of Jim Yong Kim, a global health expert and Dartmouth College president, to head the World Bank, as “[m]any of them say the two other candidates, Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo, are better qualified for the post.” According to the newspaper, “The race marks the first time the selection of a World Bank president has been contested,” but “[d]espite the controversy” surrounding the nomination, Kim “is still virtually certain to secure the post because of his support from the U.S., the bank’s largest shareholder.”

WHO Celebrates Birthday, Commemorates World Health Day With Focus On Healthy Aging

The WHO on April 7 celebrated the founding of the organization in 1948 and World Health Day, “by focusing on aging, including a host of events, research and information under the theme, ‘Good health adds life to years,'” CNN reports (4/7). “Contrary to common perceptions, the WHO reports by 2050, 80 percent of the world’s older people will be living in low-and middle-income countries — not in the wealthier nations,” and “a new analysis shows the key reasons for ill health in older people are from non-communicable diseases,” VOA News writes (Schlein, 4/7).

Delegates At 126th IPU Assembly In Uganda Focus On Child, Maternal Health

“Over 600 parliamentarians from more than 100 countries” met in Kampala, Uganda, this week for the 126th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly, where participants discussed child and maternal health and nutrition, UNICEF reports in a news article. Speaking at the opening session, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said, “The damage [malnutrition] causes to a child’s development is irreversible. … I can’t think of any greater inequity than condemning children, while in the womb, to a loss of their ability, of their right, to live fully … to learn fully … and to realize their potential,” according to the article (Ponet, 4/5). “During a panel discussion on tackling malnutrition, Dr. Werner Schultink, the UNICEF Chief of Nutrition, urged legislators to be at the vanguard of the fight against malnutrition through application of their legislative power and influence,” Uganda’s The Observer notes (Kakaire, 4/4).

U.S. Suspends $13M In Aid To Mali Following Coup; U.N. Security Council Expresses Concern Over Humanitarian Crisis In Mali, Sahel Region

“The United States is suspending at least $13 million of its roughly $140 million in annual aid to Mali following last month’s coup in the West African nation, the State Department said on Wednesday,” Reuters reports, noting the “suspension affects U.S. assistance for Mali’s ministry of health, public school construction and the government’s efforts to boost agricultural production.” According to the news agency, “U.S. law bars aid ‘to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.'” State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said, “These are worthwhile programs that are now suspended because that aid goes directly to the government of Mali,” Reuters notes (4/5). France and the European Union also immediately suspended all but essential humanitarian aid to the country, according to the Associated Press/USA Today.

WHO Drafts Treaty To Fight Illicit Tobacco Trade; WTO Demands Obama Administration Drop Ban On Flavored Cigarettes

“Nations have crafted a draft treaty to fight a booming trade in illicit tobacco products that’s costing governments as much as $50 billion a year in lost tax revenue, officials said Wednesday,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. “But there are notable holdouts to the negotiations — the United States, Indonesia and more than a dozen other nations — where the treaty would have no effect,” the news agency writes (4/4). According to the WHO, tobacco-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, and other illnesses, kill almost six million people annually, Reuters notes. “Formally a protocol to the 2005 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world’s first public health pact, the new agreement was reached after nearly five years of negotiations, including a fifth and final round this past week,” the news agency writes (Nebehay, 4/4).

U.N. Reports Increase In Cholera Cases In Haiti As Rains Begin

In a monthly bulletin (.pdf) on the humanitarian response in Haiti, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that an increase of new cholera cases has been recorded in the western and northern parts of the country and “that Haitian health officials recorded 77 new cases a day for the whole country in early March, when the rains began,” the Associated Press/USA Today reports. “The new cholera cases come after a steady decline since June of last year when aid workers saw peaks of more than 1,000 cases on certain days,” the news agency writes.