“The United States said Thursday it will contribute an initial $125 million to the [U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR)] 2012 operations, including support for refugees returning to Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Agence France-Presse reports, noting, “The State Department said the funds â€¦ will also help care for refugees and internally displaced people in Iraq, Yemen, Nepal, Pakistan, Georgia, South Sudan, Chad and Kenya.” According to AFP, “In 2011, the United States contributed a total of more than $690 million dollars to UNHCR operations, including for emergencies” (12/30).
“The World Health Organization issued a stern warning on Friday to scientists who have engineered a highly pathogenic form of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, saying their work carries significant risks and must be tightly controlled,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 12/30). The agency “warned … that while such studies were important, they could have deadly consequences,” the New York Times writes (McNeil/Grady, 1/2).
This Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) special report highlights the top 10 stories of 2011 regarding access to essential medicines, according to MSF. The list includes the findings of the HPTN 052 clinical trial, which “show that providing people with HIV treatment early not only saves their lives but can reduce the risk…
IRIN reports how “[a]n exchange between two leading world officials on how trade affects food insecurity in countries has helped focus attention on the stalled Doha trade talks.” A debate between Olivier de Schutter, the U.N. Human Rights Council special rapporteur on the right to food, and Pascal Lamy, director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), “has reopened issues around the Doha talks which have been going on, in stop-start mode, for the last 10 years,” IRIN writes.
A UNICEF measles immunization campaign in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) aimed to vaccinate 1.7 million children under age five between December 19 and December 21, IRIN reports. “At least 128,965 measles cases, with 1,573 deaths, have been recorded in the DRC in 2011, and 89 wild polio-virus type 1 cases had been reported up to 13 December, UNICEF said,” the news service writes (12/21).
“Richard Cibulskis and colleagues at the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland present a critique of different estimation methods of the worldwide incidence of malaria in this week’s PLoS Medicine,” according to a post in the PLoS Medicine “Community Blog.” The blog states, “In this study, the authors produced their estimate by analyzing…
Reaching the Millennium Development Goal of “[r]educing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015” likely will be reached, “but large numbers of people in the world’s least developed regions will still not benefit,” according to a report (.pdf) released Tuesday by UNICEF and the WHO, the U.N. News Centre reports (12/20). The report “found that between 1990 and 2008, the proportion of the world’s population with access to improved drinking water sources increased from 77 percent to 87 percent,” which means 1.8 billion more people have drinking water access, according to Medical Daily (Daley, 12/20).
“Haiti has seen a steady decline in the number of cholera cases, as the Caribbean nation settles into its dry season, humanitarian groups said Tuesday,” the Associated Press reports, adding, “The seasonal decline in the number of cholera cases is consistent with the findings of a report released Tuesday by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.” According to the report, health officials are recording about 300 cases nationwide per day, compared with 500 cases one month ago, and the mortality rate has dropped or leveled in nearly all of Haiti’s 10 departments, the AP notes (Daniel, 12/20).
“Philippine authorities are warning of the spread of diseases in cramped evacuation centers, days after flash floods hit the southern Philippines and claimed more than a thousand lives,” ABC/Asia Pacific News reports, noting that flooding also has affected the country’s northern provinces, displacing at least 50,000 people (Escalante, 12/20). Tropical Storm Washi “hit the main southern island of Mindanao over the weekend, bringing heavy rains, flash floods and overflowing rivers that swept whole coastal villages away,” forcing 44,000 people to evacuate the area, Agence France-Presse/Inquirer News writes (Celis, 12/21). Officials say hundreds of thousands of people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and the U.N. has stepped up its efforts in the area, the U.N. News Centre reports (12/20).
In this Guardian opinion piece, Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., writes that the U.N. “must face up” to a cholera outbreak allegedly brought to Haiti by peacekeeping troops in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake. “More than 500,000 have been infected, and the disease — which Haiti has not had in more than a century — is now endemic to the country and will be killing people there for many years to come,” he writes.