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Afghanistan, U.N. Agencies Working To Improve Routine Immunization As Winter Approaches

“Afghanistan is taking steps to improve its routine immunization coverage, after a drop in coverage led to a sharp increase in measles outbreaks last year, killing more than 300 children,” IRIN reports. “Experts say nearly 30 percent of the population has no or very poor access to primary health care, including immunization, and the percentage is estimated to be as high as 70 percent in areas of conflict in the south,” the news service writes, adding “decreasing vaccination coverage [is] due to rising insecurity, decreased access, difficult terrain and harsh winters,” as well as last year’s severe drought. “In the National Priority Programmes, which outline government priorities until 2015, the government admits many vaccinators lack initial training, and that budget shortages in past years prevented supervisory and monitoring visits by provincial level management teams,” IRIN states, adding that the WHO this year has implemented training programs and, along with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health, has combined the measles and polio vaccination campaigns to better utilize resources (11/1).

U.N. Agencies Publish 'Atlas' Linking Climate, Health

“Two U.N. agencies on Monday presented a new tool to map health risks linked to climate change and extreme weather conditions, enabling authorities to give advance warnings and act to prevent ‘climate-sensitive’ diseases from spreading,” Agence France-Presse reports (10/30). “As the world’s climate continues to change, hazards to human health are increasing,” according to the “Atlas of health and climate,” published jointly by WHO and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a press release from the agencies states (10/29). “Climate variability and extreme conditions such as floods can trigger epidemics of diseases, such as diarrhea, malaria, dengue, and meningitis-diseases, which cause death and suffering for millions of people,” VOA News writes (Schlein, 10/29).

U.N. Refugee Agency Prepared To Send Emergency Aid Into Previously Unreachable Syrian Communities If Cease Fire Holds

The U.N. refugee agency “said Thursday it is ready to send emergency aid to thousands of Syrian families in previously unreachable areas” if a four-day U.N. Security Council-backed ceasefire set to begin Friday holds, Agence France-Presse reports. In an press release, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said, “In all, some 550 tons of supplies are being made available for distribution to up to 13,000 affected families — some 65,000 people — in several previously inaccessible areas,” the news agency notes (10/25). “UNHCR, which currently has more than 350 staff in three offices across Syria, said it has been working closely with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other partners to provide aid,” the U.N. News Centre reports.

Examining Human Rights Program Integration Into National HIV Plans

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance has been providing technical support for UNAIDS since 2011 to assist policymakers in integrating human rights programs into National Strategic Plans for HIV (NSPs), the organization’s blog states and notes, “As part of the project, three regional workshops were held for: East and Southern Africa; the Middle East and North Africa; and the Asia/Pacific regions.” The blog continues, “The workshops aimed to increase participants’ knowledge of why human rights and HIV programs must be connected, and how a lack of integration is undermining the effectiveness of the HIV response.” A report, co-published by UNAIDS and the Alliance and titled “Making it Work,” provides “some short-term outcomes and lessons learnt from this initiative,” according to the blog (10/24).

Contradictions Among Member State, Donor Priorities Must Be Resolved For Current WHO Reform To Be Successful

In a BMJ analysis examining the future of the WHO, David Legge, scholar emeritus at Australia’s La Trobe University, notes “[a] substantial shortfall in the funds available for basic administrative functions led WHO’s director general, Margaret Chan, to initiate another reform of the WHO in 2010,” and “outlines the problems and what the reforms are trying to achieve.” He writes, “Success of the current reform program depends on resolving the contradiction between member state priorities and donor control and requires the freeze on assessed contributions to be lifted,” adding, “To achieve this, member states must be persuaded to prioritize global health over parochial interests.”

UNICEF Calls For 'Finishing' Global Polio Eradication; Rotary International Warns Of Funding Shortfall In India

UNICEF on Wednesday “called for continued dedication in ‘finishing the job’ in eradicating polio, while also applauding India for being ‘declared polio free’ for the first time in history,” Xinhua reports. “UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a statement released … on World Polio Day, which falls on Oct. 24, that ‘fewer children than ever before suffer the debilitating effects of this cruel disease,'” the news service writes (10/24). “Lake added that the world must concentrate its efforts in reaching children that are most at risk: children with disabilities, living in extreme poverty and in conflict zones in remote areas,” the U.N. News Centre writes (10/24).

Central African Republic Town Struggling To Provide Health Care Since Withdrawal Of Foreign Companies, VOA Reports

VOA News examines how the 2009 withdrawal of foreign diamond-mining companies from the small town of Carnot in the Central African Republic (CAR) affected the local economy and access to health care for residents. Initially, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) “ran emergency nutrition programs for the first year, but then discovered deeper health problems in the region, including a child mortality rate that is three times above what is considered an emergency level, as well as elevated rates of HIV and tuberculosis,” the news service writes.

WFP Infographic Provides Data On Operations

The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday posted an infographic that answers such questions as “how many people does WFP feed each year?” and “[h]ow much does that cost and where does it get the money?” According to the infographic, WFP provided 3.6 million tons of food aid in 2011, which is equivalent to the weight of 36 cruise ships, and 71 percent of the food bought came from developing countries (10/23).

Communicable Diseases Responsible For Majority Of Deaths In Africa, WHO Official Says

Speaking on Monday in Luanda, Angola, at the opening session of the inaugural meeting on Medical Education, sponsored by the Faculty of Medicine of Agostinho Neto University, WHO Regional Director for Africa Luis Gomes Sambo said communicable diseases account for 63 percent of deaths in Africa, with HIV and tuberculosis (TB) responsible for the majority of those, the Angola Press reports. Nonetheless, Africa has made significant progress against HIV/AIDS and malaria, as well as in improving child and maternal mortality, he said, according to the news service (10/22). Sambo also “said on Monday in Luanda that the population’s health depends on the provision of health care for those [in] need, as well as the efforts made by the society to protect, promote and re-establish the people’s well-being,” another article from Angola Press notes (10/23).