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U.N. Report Highlights Innovations Aimed At Improving Maternal And Child Health

PBS NewsHour’s blog “The Rundown” examines a “report from the U.N.’s Every Woman, Every Child Innovation Working Group, out in the Lancet Monday, [which] looks at some of the promising and innovative projects” aimed at improving maternal and child health. “More than 350,000 women die each year around the globe from complications of childbirth, and three million children die in the first month of life,” according to the blog (Miller, 9/12). The report “was prepared as part of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s ‘Every Woman Every Child’ Initiative, a global strategy for improving women and children’s health, launched last year,” according to a U.N. Foundation press release (9/12).

U.N. Haiti Mission Should Acknowledge Waste Dumping And Apologize For Cholera Outbreak

Yves Engler, a Canadian writer and author, writes in a post on the Guardian’s “Comment Is Free” blog that local citizens and investigative journalists have alleged that the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah) dumped feces and other waste in holes a few feet from water used for drinking and bathing in the central plateau city of Hinche on August 6 and again 10 miles from Hinche on August 21, as well as cites a report (.pdf) stating that sewage disposal at the U.N. base near Mirebalais 10 months ago caused a devastating cholera outbreak.

U.N. Agencies, Pakistan Government Launch Rapid Needs Assessment, Provide Aid In Flood-Affected Regions

“United Nations humanitarian agencies have begun to assist communities in southern Pakistan that have been pummeled by monsoon rains which have claimed the lives of almost 200 people and destroyed or damaged nearly one million homes in an area still recovering from last year’s catastrophic floods,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The U.N. and the Pakistan government “have begun a rapid needs assessment in Sindh, with shelter, food, water, sanitation, hygiene and health care expected to be the priorities,” the news service writes (9/10).

Human Rights Watch Report Says Foreign Aid Indirectly Supporting Forced Labor In Vietnam's Drug Rehabilitation Centers

In a report released Wednesday, New York-based Human Rights Watch “accused the United States government, the World Bank and other international donors of indirectly funding forced labor in Vietnam’s drug rehabilitation centers,” Inter Press Service reports. The report “said that Vietnam’s system of forced labor centers for people who use drugs has expanded over the last decade” and they “have been sustained by a variety of international donors, none of which has made objections,” the news service writes.

U.N. Member States Reach Tentative Agreement On NCD Declaration

U.N. member state representatives recently reached an agreement “on a political declaration document for the 19 September U.N. high-level meeting on the prevention and control of on non-communicable diseases (NCDs),” although the document is “somewhat watered down from an original version,” ScienceInsider reports (Reardon, 9/7). “The process has hit delays and setbacks, including resistance from some member countries to setting hard targets for reducing disease,” according to the PBS Newshour blog “The Rundown” (Miller, 9/7).

Cholera Epidemics Spread Through West And Central Africa Affecting Tens Of Thousands, OCHA Reports

“Cholera epidemics have hit tens of thousands of people and killed more than 1,400 others in seven West and Central African countries since the start of the year, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report on Tuesday,” AlertNet reports. According to the news service, affected countries include Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Republic of Congo (Fominyen, 9/7). The Red Cross, which said the outbreak was spreading, expressed concern that it could hit refugee camps along the Sudanese border, according to Agence France-Presse (9/7).

Family Planning, Contraceptives A National Priority For Saving Women's Lives, U.N. Meeting Participants Say

First ladies, health and finance ministers, and parliamentarians from 12 developing countries participating in the U.N. Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Global Programme to Enhance Reproductive Health Commodity Security, which was launched in 2007, declared at a U.N. meeting held on Wednesday that “voluntary family planning, secured by a steady supply of contraceptives, is a national priority for saving women’s lives,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “More than 215 million women in developing countries want to avoid or space pregnancies but are not using modern methods of contraception, according to the UNFPA,” the news service writes.

Rich Countries Watering Down NCD Commitments To Appease Multinational Companies

In this Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece, Boyd Swinburn, a professor and director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University in Australia, examines how “rich countries, … particularly the U.S. and European Union but also Australia, Canada and New Zealand, … are joining forces with tobacco, food, alcohol and pharmaceutical corporations to water down commitments that might flow from” this month’s U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in New York.

Apply Lessons From The AIDS Response To NCD Control And Prevention In Developing Countries

In anticipation of the September 2011 U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) “should not only look at the lessons learned in the control of NCDs in developed countries, but also those from other areas of public health, especially AIDS, which can inform the design of an effective and sustainable response to NCDs in developing countries,” Rebecca Dirks from FHI 360 and colleagues write in this PLoS Medicine Policy Forum editorial piece.

Building Up Public Sector In Haiti Key To Controlling Cholera

The U.N.’s Pan-American Health Organization, the United States and the international community “should be working with the Haitian Health Ministry to wage a more aggressive and effective effort” against the cholera epidemic that hit the country last year, and those efforts “should include not only clean water and sanitation systems but more antibiotics and cholera vaccinations,” a New York Times editorial says. “Ramping up manufacturing” of the cholera vaccine — of which there are less than 400,000 doses worldwide — “could be readily done and would have global benefits,” the editorial states.