IRIN examines how a lack of sanitation facilities and access to clean water, as well as the onset of the rainy season, are increasing the risk of waterborne diseases in rural areas of Zimbabwe. A 2009 survey, “compiled by the government and U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), listed diarrhea as one of the major causes of infant mortality resulting in around 4,000 deaths in Zimbabwe annually” and “showed a 20 percent increase in under-five mortality since 1990,” IRIN writes.
Water and Sanitation
“Sri Lanka is making progress in the battle against mosquito-borne dengue fever, say health officials,” IRIN reports. According to the health ministry, 26,722 dengue cases were reported in 2011, down from 34,105 cases in 2010, and the number of dengue-related deaths dropped from 246 to 172, IRIN notes. Officials credit the establishment in May 2010 of an “anti-dengue Presidential Task Force — involving the ministries of health, defense, the environment, education, and local government, and headed by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa” — for the drop in cases, IRIN writes. The agencies worked together to launch widespread education campaigns, “clea[n] up areas suspected of being mosquito breeding grounds,” and impose fines for illegal dumping, according to the news agency (12/29).
In this Huffington Post “Impact” blog post, Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of PSI, outlines 10 “milestones for the global health community” that occurred in 2011. Among the achievements, Hofmann says governments avoided making major cuts to foreign aid budgets despite a global economic downturn; studies supported “treatment as prevention” as an HIV prevention strategy; the number of malaria cases and deaths worldwide continued to decline; research showed a promising vaccine candidate to prevent malaria among children; and more women gained access to long-acting, reversible contraceptives. Hofmann also lists advances in social franchising; maternal health; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights; pneumonia prevention and treatment; and sanitation, hygiene and access to clean water (12/29).
“In the Horn of Africa, millions of people face each day without knowing if they will have clean water to drink or food to eat,” but “American assistance to the Horn of Africa is beginning to make a difference, however, and in this series about water security in the Horn,…
Scientific American examines the interface between climate change and human health, writing, “WHO research suggests that current warming of global average temperatures of just under one degree Celsius is responsible for an additional 150,000 deaths per year, largely due to agricultural failures and diarrheal disease in developing countries. … As a result, WHO — and a consortium of other public health organizations — declared climate change to be among the most pressing emerging health issues in the world at the recent climate negotiations … in South Africa.”
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.
The U.N. on Sunday released its Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan 2012, asking for $447 million in humanitarian assistance targeted toward four million vulnerable people in the country, Reuters reports (Fuchs, 12/18). A statement from the U.N. Inter-Agency Standing Committee said more than half of those at risk will be “severely food insecure” in the coming year, Agence France-Presse notes.