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Also In Global Health News: Nuclear Accidents; Measles Outbreak In Europe; Funding Shortfall In Zimbabwe; Drinking Water In Pakistan; Agricultural Development In S. Asia

World Must Prepare For More Nuclear Accidents, U.N. Secretary-General Says

The world must prepare for more major nuclear accidents, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday at a Kiev conference marking the explosion of a reactor at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear reactor 25 years ago, the Associated Press reports. “To many, nuclear energy looks to be a relatively clean and logical choice in an era of increasing resource scarcity. Yet the record requires us to ask painful questions: have we correctly calculated its risks and costs? Are we doing all we can to keep the world’s people safe?” Ban said. “Climate change means more incidents of freak weather,” he said, referring to the earthquake and tsunami that damaged a nuclear reactor in Japan. He added, “Our vulnerability will only grow.”

Also at the conference, the WHO’s Zsuzsanna Jacab said that about 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer had been diagnosed among people who were children and teens when exposed to the Chernobyl fallout. Additional cases are expected, but “the magnitude is difficult to quantify,” she said (4/20).

WHO Updates Numbers On Measles Outbreak In Europe

The WHO on Thursday released updated figures on the measles outbreak in Europe that has reached more than 6,500 cases in 33 countries, with close to 5,000 reported in France, the Associated Press reports. Britain, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain and Switzerland also have reported cases and worsening outbreaks, the news service writes (4/21). CNN’s “The Chart” blog says resistance from some Europeans to receiving the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine could be contributing to the outbreaks (4/20).

Growing Concerns Over Funding Shortfall, Violence In Zimbabwe

A funding shortfall and growing political violence in Zimbabwe are threatening the health of people in the country, VOA News reports. According to the U.N. Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Zimbabwe, $54 million of the $415 million requested by the U.N. has been raised to date. The article describes growing food shortages and reports of cholera in the region (Gumbo, 4/20).

Report Highlights Threat Of Unsafe Drinking Water In Pakistan

A five-year study by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources has found that “82 percent of water sources tested in 24 (of the country’s more than 100) districts across all four provinces … provided water that is unsafe to drink,” IRIN reports. According to the news service, “[t]he report, which has yet to be formally released, … notes that 250,000 children die in the country each year as a result of diarrhoeal disease originating from impure water.” The article describes how water shortages can exacerbate the challenges of finding safe drinking water and how a low-cost water filtration could help protect the population (4/19).

IFAD Report Highlights Role Agricultural Development Can Play In Poverty Alleviation

Despite progress reducing rural poverty over the past decade, 70 percent of the poor in Asia live in rural areas, according to a U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) report (.pdf) that highlights the role agricultural development can play in poverty alleviation, according to U.N. News Centre. “The IFAD study outlines policy and investment strategies aimed at helping smallholder farmers and other rural people manage the risks they face, as well as enabling them to access emerging agricultural markets and opportunities in the non-farm economy and thus improve their chances of financial success,” according to the news service (4/19).