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General Assembly on HIV/AIDS

Note:  A complete summary of today's General Assembly meeting will be available after its conclusion.

Opening Remarks

MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, said it was hard to believe that some 34 million people had died from AIDS-related diseased and that 14 million had been orphaned as a result.  It was harder to believe that approximately 6,000 new HIV infections occurred daily and that some 36.9 million people were living with AIDS.  That was unacceptable in a world of incredible possibility.  “Today is the moment, therefore, that collectively, we signal our intentions to strike out for victory, to fast-track efforts over the next five years and to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” he said, emphasizing the impact of HIV/AIDS on development, economic growth and conflict and post-conflict situations.  He also noted how the epidemic had affected women and girls more than any other group, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, and had an impact on young people, those who injected drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people and prisoners.

In recent years, he said, there had been strong progress towards the goals and targets set out in 2011.  While reflecting on that progress and preparing for the next five years, the high-level meeting would identify best practices and lessons learned while determining how to overcome obstacles, plug gaps and address evolving challenges and opportunities.  “If we want to reach our 2030 target,” he said, “all stakeholders must now step up to the plate”, with greater global solidarity, more resources and greater collaboration and partnership.  More attention needed to be paid to equality, inclusion and the empowerment of women and girls by ensuring that key populations were included in AIDS responses and services were made available to them.  Ultimately, he said, there needed to be accountability for commitments made.  “Ending the AIDS epidemic would be one of the greatest achievements of our lifetime,” he said.  “It can be done and it must be done.”

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that a decade ago, AIDS was devastating families and communities.  In many low-income countries, treatment had been scarce.  In 2007, only 3 million people – one third of those in need – had access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs.

Enormous progress had been made, he said.  Since 2000, the global total of people receiving that treatment had doubled every three to four years because of less expensive drugs, increased competition and new funding.  Today, more than 17 million people were being treated, saving millions of lives and billions of dollars.  Moreover, the world had achieved Millennium Development Goal 6, to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and had halted and begun to reverse its spread.  New HIV infections had declined by 35 per cent since 2000, while AIDS-related deaths had fallen by 43 per cent since 2003.

He said such success could not have happened without the leadership of people living with HIV and civil society partners, who had broken the silence and shone a light on discrimination and intolerance.  Investment in the AIDS response had strengthened health systems, social protection and community resilience.

Yet, AIDS was far from over, he went on to say.  In the next five years, there was a window of opportunity to “radically change” the epidemic’s trajectory and end AIDS forever.  “If we do not act, there is a danger the epidemic will rebound in low- and middle-income countries,” he said.  Action now could avert an estimated 17.6 million new infections and 11 million premature deaths between 2016 and 2030.  Such successes would require commitment at every level, from the global health infrastructure to all Member States, civil society and non-governmental organizations, and to the Security Council, which had addressed AIDS as a threat to human and national security.

“I call on the international community to reinforce and expand the unique, multisector, multi-actor approach of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS),” he asserted, and ensure that the annual target of $26 billion in funding, including $13 billion over the next three years, was met through the Global Fund’s fifth replenishment.  That required continued advocacy and approaches that promoted gender equality and women’s empowerment.  It also meant removing punitive laws, policies and practices and providing access to HIV services without discrimination.

The future of people with HIV/AIDS must be central to every decision, he said.  Indeed, the AIDS response was a source of innovation and inspiration, showing what was possible when science, community activism, political leadership, passion and compassion came together.

MICHEL SIDIBÉ, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said today’s important Political Declaration would open a new door for ending AIDS.  “We, the peoples, have broken the trajectory of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” he declared, highlighting that the number of new infections and related deaths had significantly been lowered and results had been delivered on the 2011 Political Declaration.  Recalling that in the General Assembly Hall, in 2001, someone had stated that treatment could not be provided to the poor, as it would be too expensive, he pointed out that at that time, treatment for each individual had cost $15,000 annually whereas today, that figure had dropped to less than $100 per person per year.

Providing some concrete results, he said it was the first time in history of HIV/AIDS that Africa had reached the “tipping point”, with more people on treatment than being newly infected.  While that was truly amazing, West Africa and Central Africa had been left behind, he said, urging leaders to mobilize energy to triple the initiation rate of treatment within three years.  It was important, after all, not to have a “two-speed” approach to the disease on the continent.

In addition, he said, the once distant dream to end mother-to-child transmission and create an AIDS-free generation was becoming a reality.  Cuba had eliminated such transmission and, yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) had certified that Thailand, Belarus and Armenia had done the same.  Many other countries would follow, he said.

Continuing, he said that four years ago, more than 58,000 babies in South Africa had been born with HIV/AIDS.  Today, there were less than 6,000 such cases.  Further, more than 80 countries had shown they would soon achieve the goal, as they had less than 50 babies born each year with HIV.  One by one, the bonds of discrimination and exclusion were being broken, he said, underlining the importance of including prisoners, migrants, people with disabilities, men having sex with men, people who used drugs, sex workers and transgender people.

“The door to the United Nations should be open to all,” he stressed.  “We cannot afford to silence their voices, as we come together to chart a course towards ending AIDS.”  The rights to health and dignity must be universal, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  The AIDS response had always been about partnership, innovation and social transformation and had produced unprecedented results:  8.8 million deaths had been averted.

But, those gains were fragile, he said.  Women were being raped, exploited and infected at the same rates as 20 years ago.  Adolescent girls remained “shockingly” vulnerable, with discrimination still pushing people into the shadows and preventing them from accessing life-saving treatment.  A prevention revolution was needed that placed young people at its centre.  It was unacceptable that 20 million people continued to die because of a lack of access.

“AIDS is not over,” he stressed, emphasizing that the next five years would be critical in placing countries on the “fast track”.  Testing should be normalized and the 90 million people who did not know their status must be reached.  “If we do not act now to break the backbone of the epidemic, once and for all, the world will never forgive us,” he said.  “We can do it.  We must do it.”

LOYCE MATURU, from Zimbabwe, described how in 2002 she lost her mother and brother to tuberculosis and AIDS and how, two years later, at the age of 12, she learned that she too had the same illnesses.  “It was the most depressing moment for me,” she said.  “I cried.  I thought I was going to die, but here I am today.”  In 2010, facing emotional and verbal abuse from a family member, she tried to kill herself with an overdose of medication.  After going to the hospital and receiving “massive counselling”, she told herself she would live to make sure that peers living with HIV became confident, healthy and hopeful for the future.  She said that today, she was thankful to be among 17 million people who represented the success of HIV treatment, but she was tired to see others with HIV die every day.

Identifying access and availability of treatment as a major challenge, she went on to emphasize the need for Governments not to exclude such persons as sex workers, those who inject drugs, prisoners and migrants.  While HIV treatment might be free, most clinics charged administrative fees that many could not afford.  Stigma remained a big barrier that had led to adolescents being denied jobs and scholarships, she said, appealing for investment in support mechanisms and advocacy for adolescents and young people with HIV/AIDS.  Without training for health-care workers on providing client-friendly treatment services, the next generation would face the same problems as the current one.  Noting that ending the epidemic would require teamwork, she said the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS must take advantage of the upcoming International AIDS Conference to start drawing a road map towards that objective, and for the Global Fund to End AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to be fully funded.  She concluded by urging participants to trust and believe adolescents and young people in their countries to help shape the way society thought about HIV/AIDS.

NDOBA MANDELA, a grandson of former President Nelson Mandela, from South Africa, recalled the death of his father from AIDS.  Citing his grandfather’s determination that his only son would not die in vain, he said the former president had prompted a national dialogue on AIDS in South Africa and global action around the world.  Given those efforts, he asked that participants at the high-level meeting continued Madiba’s legacy and ensured that none of the 34 million people who had died with AIDS did so in vain.  Going forward, “90-90-90 by 2020” should be a milestone for every country.  Yet, the epidemic would not be ended by treatment alone.  It would be a crime for the tools that stopped HIV infections were not used fully and immediately, he said, asking participants to ensure that persons at risk were able to live unafraid of arrest, physical danger or discrimination simply because of who they were or who they loved.

“Bigotry and fear do nothing but spread the [HIV] virus,” he said, asking the 35 countries with travel restrictions on foreigners living with HIV/AIDS to lift them immediately.  Echoing the call of his mentor, Michel Sidibé, he called for the end of AIDS to be the first target of the Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by his generation.  Asking that all high-level meeting participants get tested for HIV, he said “always carry two condoms — one for you to use without fail and another to give to someone who isn’t carrying their own”.  Doing so did not cost much, but its impact would be priceless.  Lives would be saved and it would be the best down payment on ending AIDS.  The eyes of millions of people living with HIV were on the high-level meeting and they were counting on delegates to make an unprecedented commitment to end AIDS and for promises to be kept.

Action

A number of delegations took the floor before the vote on the draft resolution titled “Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS:  On the fast-track to accelerate the fight against HIV and to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030” (document A/70/L.52).

The representative of Argentina, speaking also for Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Croatia, Czech, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay, welcomed gains achieved in addressing HIV/AIDS.  At the same time, he acknowledged critical gaps, reaffirming the commitment to full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the International Conference on Population and Development and its Programme of Action and the outcomes of their review conferences, and the previous HIV/AIDS political declarations.

He strongly reaffirmed the commitment to end new HIV/AIDS infections by 2030, including in conflict, post-conflict and other humanitarian crises.  Through evidence-based policies, he reaffirmed all human rights for all without distinction, with an emphasis on addressing structural inequalities for those who were living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.  He called for enhancing health-care systems and capacities for broad public health measures, condemning discrimination, stigma and violence, including hate crimes, against people living with, presumed to have, at risk of and affected by HIV, including by strengthening legal protections.  He committed to respecting the full enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, expressing grave concern that AIDS was the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally.

The representative of Cuba said he had joined consensus on the Political Declaration, recognizing with concern that some challenges it contained should have been reflected more clearly.  The right to health must prevail over material, technological or intellectual ownership.  No legislation or practice should limit universal access to treatment, he said, stressing that it was unacceptable that price limited such access.  Comprehensive sexual education was essential to working with young people and adolescents, requiring resources to transfer the best technologies without conditions, under the auspices of the WHO and UNAIDS.  Realization of the right to development would ensure victory over HIV/AIDS, he said.

The General Assembly then adopted draft resolution “L.52”.

Speaking in explanation of position after the action, the representative of Iceland said he had joined consensus on the text and aligned with Argentina’s statement, reiterating the commitment to end the AIDS epidemic.  Iceland was against the term “sex worker”, as it was an incomplete reference to a key population group.  Thirty-five per cent of women globally would experience sexual and intimate violence in their lifetimes.  Bold actions were needed through a health system response and a multisectoral approach.  Also, Iceland qualified prostitution in all its forms as sexual violence, as the act of buying sex was incompatible with human dignity.  Iceland’s approach supported access for those who sold sex to health commodities.  The term “sex work” implied that selling sex was legalized, which was not the case in a large majority of countries.  In that context, it was important to recall the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women referred to prostitution, rather than “sex work”.  When referring to “sex workers”, there was a risk that those who did not sell sex for a profession were not covered by that term.  It excluded those forcibly sold into the sex industry.  UNAIDS had defined the sale of sex of those under 18 as “sexual exploitation”.  The term also excluded people younger than 18 years old.

He proposed that “people who sell sex” was a more complete reference to those vulnerable to HIV as a result of selling sex.  It was the term UNAIDS had used for those under and over the age of 18 years, and had allowed for variation among countries that had different legal frameworks, such as his own, which criminalized only the buyer.  Nothing in the text gave UNAIDS a mandate to advocate for the legalization of sex work.  The aim was to focus on the equitable deliver of treatment, care and support to those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

The representative of Singapore reaffirmed her country’s commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS.  While joining consensus on the Political Declaration, she said the reference to “harm reduction” in paragraph 43 called on States to consider ensuring access to such approaches.  However, a range of approaches should be available to States.  It was not useful to attempt to prioritize strategies at the global level.  In Singapore, harm-reduction strategies were not relevant, since it had only a few cases of transmission through drug use.  Singapore took a balanced approach to drug policies, with effective enforcement, rehabilitation and community partnerships to facilitate reintegration.

The representative of Canada said his delegation would have preferred that the Political Declaration had contained a call to end stigma, discrimination and violence against key populations.  Canada strongly supported evidence-based harm-reduction measures and called upon Member States to consider their implementation.  Going forward, Canada would continue to work in close partnership with civil society and those at risk of infection.

The representative of Sudan, expressing a number of reservations, said the Political Declaration included several not-agreed-upon terms, such as “sexuality”, which ran counter to the legal frameworks of several countries, and “comprehensive education”, which meant comprehensive sexual education, a notion that violated the United Nations Charter and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  “Key populations” referred to a few groups and other parts of the Political Declaration included principles that contradicted several traditions and religions.  Sudan supported the principle of sovereignty, which was every Member State’s right, and renewed its commitment to ending the proliferation of HIV/AIDS.

The representative of the United States said that while the Political Declaration was necessary step, it was far from perfect and its language could have been stronger with regard leaving no one behind.  Despite medical advances, there had not been so much progress on preserving human rights and preventing stigma, discrimination and violence against those living with HIV/AIDS.  Comprehensive services needed to reach the most vulnerable populations and it was imperative to measure and change the dynamics driving stigma and discrimination, she said, adding that AIDS would not end without the protection of sexual and reproductive rights.  She went on to express a number of reservations, including the United States’ concern regarding the right to development, which had no internationally agreed meaning.

The representative of Australia called the Political Declaration “a milestone” in the fight against HIV/AIDS, placing a human rights approach to ending HIV at its core, and recognizing the need empower women and girls, including their sexual and reproductive rights, as central to ending HIV.  She urged States to see it as a minimum starting point to ending AIDS.  The Political Declaration should have gone further to include key populations.  Australia’s HIV/AIDS response was informed by “evidence of what works”, which included engaging key populations with services that delivered a high impact at lower cost.  Disappointed the text did not call to end stigma violence facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender people globally, she condemned any efforts to interpret HIV/AIDS transmission as a criminal issue.

The representative of Djibouti underscored a national determination to implement non-discriminatory policies to eliminate AIDS by 2030.  Emphasizing the importance of leadership and national ownership in those efforts, she welcomed paragraph 4 for reaffirming States’ sovereign rights and the need to implement the Political Declaration in line with federal laws, development priorities and different cultural, religious and other values.  For Djibouti, key and vulnerable populations were women and young people.  References to sexual and reproductive health should not be interpreted as an appeal for people living with HIV/AIDS to interrupt their pregnancies, she said.  National efforts on that issue consisted of eliminating mother-to-child transmission and she urged continued support for those initiatives.  Djibouti ensured access to sexual and reproductive health services for all women under commitments made at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo.  Paragraphs 14 and 61 of the Political Declaration did not imply a reinterpretation of the Cairo Programme of Action and could not be interpreted as a guarantee of uncontrolled access to sexual and reproductive health services.

The representative of Trinidad and Tobago recognized the importance of paragraph 4, noting that health-care services, including in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care, were provided to all citizens.  The provision of pre-exposure prophylaxis, however, went against his country’s post-exposure prophylactic policy.  Such an approach could give a false sense of security and encourage risky behaviour.  He was pleased to join consensus and pledged to implement the Political Declaration in line with national priorities.

The representative of Indonesia said the most effective way to eradicate HIV/AIDS was outlined in paragraph 57, through differentiated responses based on national ownership, local priorities, drivers, vulnerabilities and aggravating factors.  Paragraph 42 emphasized that each country should define vulnerable populations.  For its part, Indonesia recognized that such populations included those at a higher risk of HIV transmission.  On paragraph 39, he supported reducing risk-taking behaviour.  Stopping the virus required encouraging avoidance behaviours, such as abstinence and fidelity, which were the most effective ways to stop transmission.  Any reference made to adolescents should be interpreted as a reference to a “child”.  He was concerned at the use of “people who use drugs” as it had a different meaning than the agreed term.  More broadly, he said terms used in the Political Declaration would not serve as precedents for future decisions in other fora.

The representative of Egypt said his country had joined consensus on the Political Declaration, despite that it contained controversial points that did not reflect consensus on social, cultural and religious diversity.  His Government would implement its commitments as part of international and regional strategies to combat HIV/AIDS.  He dissociated himself from paragraphs 42, 62 (e), (g) and (h), as well as 61 (n) and (j), expressing concern at the multiple terms used, such as “people at high risk”, “key populations”, “high-risk populations” and “populations at risk because of epidemiological evidence”, which were not in line with Egypt’s values.

The representative of Iran said his country was committed to providing the widest possible access to care, treatment and support to people living with HIV/AIDS.  It was a public health issue and Governments were obliged to ensure the highest attainable health and well-being standards for all citizens.  It was expected that the Political Declaration would have avoided discriminatory approaches, but it was unacceptable that it had avoided appreciating risk-avoiding measures, such as fidelity and abstinence.  He expressed a reservation to any part of the Declaration that contravened Iran’s legal framework or religious and cultural values.  He reserved Iran’s position on de facto definitions, in paragraphs 42 and 62 (e), as they disregarded national circumstances.  Also, any reference to “children and adolescents” would take into account the roles and responsibilities of their parents.  He expressed concern that such misplaced terms as “people who misused drugs” were being used in the context of HIV/AIDS.

The representative of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, reiterated States’ sovereign right to implement national programmes that were in line with legislation and religious, ethical and cultural values.  He expressed reservations about paragraphs 42 and 62 €, which used “key populations”, 60 (h) and 62 (g), which discussed “vulnerable populations”, as well as paragraph 61 (l).  Forced and early marriage was a crime under various conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  He expressed a reservation about the term “sexual rights”, as it was important to consider national and regional specificities, cultural values and other aspects.

The representative of Mauritania said it was clear that AIDS was a serious danger and a huge challenge.  However, the Political Declaration included principles with which he could not agree, he said, expressing reservations about all concepts that ran counter to national legislation.

The representative of Libya echoed the view expressed by some other delegations that the Political Declaration ran counter to national legislation and Muslim traditions.  However, his delegation had joined consensus, mindful of the need to address the illness.  Once his country had achieved stability, it would contribute to eliminating the illness so that Africa could enjoy sustainable development by 2030.

The representative of the Russian Federation said there was no doubt about the need to step up efforts to combat the spread of HIV infections.  However, she said, the main responsibility for protecting populations from infections rested with the States themselves.  She expressed disappointment that, unlike the 2011 declaration, the focus had shifted from real measures to help countries to end the epidemic to other questions that did not enjoy a large consensus.  She expressed a number of reservations, including the obligation to reform national legislation with respect to infected populations and the language regarding key groups and sexual education.  In her country, implementation would be carried out only in line with national policies and traditions.

The representative of Yemen, echoing concerns that had been raised by some of his counterparts, expressed reservations about terminology that ran counter to national legislation.

The representative of the Holy See said that, in combating discrimination and stigmatization, a difference needed to be made with measures to prevent risk-taking behaviour.  The only safe and reliable method of preventing the sexual transmission of AIDS was abstinence before marriage and respect for fidelity in marriage.  The Holy See did not consider abortion as a dimension of reproductive health.  Regarding contraception and condom use, he reaffirmed his support for the family planning methods that the Catholic Church considered morally acceptable.  Among other reservations, he said his delegation understood the term gender as referring to persons born male or female.

Statements

ROCH MARC CHRISTIAN KABORÉ, President of Burkina Faso, said the fourth national HIV response document covering 2016 to 2020 was part of national strategic plans that prioritized high-impact methods.  In turn, the strategic national framework was part of international efforts to end HIV/AIDS by 2030.  Citing gains, he said Burkina Faso had lowered and stabilized HIV/AIDS prevalence, increased access to treatment and was seeking innovative ways to mobilize resources.  Prevalence had fallen to 0.9 per cent in 2014 from 1.2 per cent in 2011, with priority given to reducing mother-to-child transmission.  The Government had been providing free antiretroviral treatment to people with HIV/AIDS since 2010, he said.

Urging more needs-based adaptions of strategies, including for vulnerable and high risk groups, in order to control transmission, better target interventions and strengthen both the gender and human rights aspects of care and support, he said additional efforts were needed to reduce new infections among women and young people and from mother-to-child with a view to achieving the 90-90-90 objective by 2020.  For its part, Burkina Faso was also determined to improve budget allocations to fight HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, he said.

ROXANA GUEVARA, Vice-President of Honduras, said intelligent investments were needed to reduce new HIV/AIDS infections and related deaths, stressing the strategic importance of prevention and guaranteed access to key populations, with an emphasis on adolescents and young people.  Condemning the assassination of a well-known leader of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and/or intersex community of Honduras, a crime that had had homophobic characteristics, she stressed that the Government had ordered an investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.  Honduras was limited by resources, but had the will to enhance care, treatment and support for people living with HIV.  She appealed to donors to continue their support and to others that had withdrawn their assistance to restore it.  Violence and discrimination persisted, she said, urging that barriers to testing and care be dismantled.  Emphasis must be placed on young people and their rights.  Resources must also be used to target key populations, people of African descent, indigenous peoples, migrants, women, men, adolescents and young people, she said, calling for the allocation of resources, increased availability of diagnostic tests, promotion of responsible sexual conduct and the protection of the lives of the unborn.

TIMOTHY HARRIS, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the region had made great strides between 2006 and 2015.  The HIV prevalence rate had been halved and the estimated number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy had increased from 5 to 44 per cent.  Despite progress made, the region was second to sub-Saharan Africa in its prevalence rate.  The vast majority of people living with HIV were concentrated in three countries, where prevalence among the key risk groups could be as high as 32 per cent.

Expressing support for the global and regional leadership of UNAIDS, he noted that the organization had demonstrated what could be achieved through coordinated policies.  As the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provided new challenges and opportunities, CARICOM placed greater emphasis on capacity-building, lessons learned, universal health-care coverage and affordable medicine.  In 2002, the region had become the first to negotiate and sign an agreement with six pharmaceutical companies, reducing drug prices by about 85 to 90 per cent.  Turning to the Political Declaration, he recognized that it provided useful guidelines, but stressed the need to take into consideration cultural, political, social and economic circumstances.  On the financing required to end AIDS, he decried the calculations of contributions based on gross domestic product (GDP) alone because it had failed to include other factors that were impeding small economies.

BARNABAS SIBUSISO DLAMINI, Prime Minister of Swaziland, expressed his country’s hope to end AIDS by 2022.  That meant accelerating efforts in reducing new infections and eliminating all forms of stigma and discrimination.  It would require greater involvement of people living with HIV and of men as strategic partners, he said, underscoring the need to address the vulnerabilities of young women and girls.  He then went on to stress that HIV treatment must be extended beyond the health-care system by strengthening the role of communities.  That would improve adherence to life-long treatment, create efficiencies in service delivery and reduce new infections, he pointed out.

While his country remained committed to financing the HIV/AIDS response, he said it was crucial that global development fora prioritized discussions about sustainable financing.  The agenda for ending the epidemic by 2030 would be accomplished through the improved collaboration within regional blocs, he said, noting that it would create efficiencies in areas including HIV research.

RUHAKANA RUGUNDA, Prime Minister of Uganda, said national strategies had attached great importance to fast-tracking the fight against HIV and ending the AIDS epidemic.  In partnership with development partners, the private sector, civil society, religious and cultural leaders and local communities, Uganda had made significant strides in combating that epidemic since 2011.  The focus of national efforts had been to implement high-impact structural, behavioural and biomedical interventions on a sufficient scale and intensity.

Sharing the outcomes of some of those initiatives, he noted that the number of new HIV infections had declined to 83,265 from 162,000, and prevalence among HIV-exposed infants had fallen to 3 per cent from 19 per cent in 2007.  Furthermore, the number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy had increased to 834,931 in 2015 from 588,039 in 2013.  Regarding efforts to achieve the 90-90-90 targets, he noted that 65 per cent of the HIV-infected population had been diagnosed and given access to care.  In that regard, Uganda’s population HIV impact assessment survey, which would begin in July, would provide the Government with better and current estimates.  Despite those achievements, challenges remained in order to fast track the response, he said, expressing concern that only 55 per cent of Ugandans had ever been tested for HIV and 43 per cent of those eligible for antiretroviral therapy were not receiving treatment.

MOTHETJOA METSING, Deputy Prime Minister of Lesotho, said his country had one of the highest adult HIV prevalence as there were an estimated 52 new infections and 26 deaths each day.  Although the epidemic had been stable over the years, the level was too high to realize the target of 90-90-90.  Lesotho had adopted the WHO 2015 HIV testing services and prevention, care and treatment guidelines and the Prime Minister had launched a “test and treat” strategy in April.  “We are focusing on innovative targeted community-based HIV testing services,” he said, emphasizing that the aim was to reach key populations, such as sex workers, people with disabilities and tuberculosis patients.  To ensure that no one was left behind, the international community must do more to reach the most affected populations.  While Lesotho was on the right path, existing testing and treatment were not enough and the global community must provide support through increased and innovative funding, he concluded.

PAUL BIYOGHE MBA, Deputy Prime Minister of Gabon, said that HIV in Africa remained a major public health threat, like malaria and non-transmittable diseases.  Gabon had not escaped its multiple devastating effects and despite enormous efforts, the struggle against HIV/AIDS was far from being won.  More needed to be done, he said, emphasizing the impact of the economic and financial crisis on developing countries.  Progress that had been made so far on HIV/AIDS would be in vain if some countries, including middle-income countries like Gabon, were excluded from international aid.  Only greater solidarity and the intensive mobilization of meaningful financing would enable a fast-tracked response to HIV/AIDS, he said.

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UN General Assembly adopts political declaration to fast-track progress on ending AIDS

8 June 2016 – At a high-level meeting on ending AIDS that opened at the United Nations General Assembly today, Member States adopted a new political declaration that includes a set of time-bound targets to fast-track the pace of progress towards combating the worldwide scourge of HIV and AIDS over the next five years and end the epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.

“AIDS is far from over,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized at the opening of the meeting.

“Over the next five years, we have a window of opportunity to radically change the trajectory of the epidemic and put an end to AIDS forever. Despite remarkable progress, if we do not act, there is a danger the epidemic will rebound in low- and middle-income countries,” he added.

The high-level meeting, which runs through Friday, brings together heads of State and Government, ministers, people living with HIV, representatives from civil society and international organizations, the private sector, scientists and researchers to build on the commitments made in the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS and to set the world on course to end the epidemic by 2030 within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Specifically, participants will focus on the importance of a fast-track approach to HIV during the next five years in order to ensure that global efforts are accelerated during that time, as highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report, On the fast track to ending the AIDs epidemic.

The Fast-Track approach of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) aims to achieve such targets as fewer than 500,000 people newly infected with HIV; fewer than 500,000 people dying from AIDS-related illnesses; and eliminating HIV-related discrimination.

In his remarks, Mr. Ban noted that when he became Secretary-General 10 years ago, AIDS was still devastating families, communities and nations. In many low-income countries, treatment was scare – in 2007, only 3 million people, or one-third of those in need, had access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the General Assembly High-level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

“We have made enormous progress. Since 2000 the global total of people receiving antiretroviral treatment doubled every three to four years, thanks to cheaper drugs, increased competition and new funding. Today, more than 17 billion people are being treated, saving millions of lives and billions of dollars,” the Secretary-General said.

Furthermore, the world has achieved Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6 – which included halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic – and new HIV infections have declined by 35 per cent since 2000, the UN chief said.

Noting that he was particularly happy that new HIV infections among children were down by 56 per cent in the past 15 years, the Secretary-General said that four countries had eliminating them completely: Armenia, Belarus, Cuba and Thailand.

“None of this could have happened without the leadership of people living with HIV, and civil society partners on the ground around the world. They believed that more equitable treatment and access was possible, and they made sure that we responded,” Mr. Ban said.

“They broke the silence and shone a light on discrimination, intolerance and stigma. They brought their passion to their fight, and that passion will make the end of AIDS a reality,” he added.

Reiterating that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development affirms the global commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic within 15 years, the Secretary-General stressed that action now could avert an estimated 17.6 million new infections and 11 million premature deaths between 2016 and 2030.

“But we must make a radical change within the next five years, if we are to achieve that goal,” Mr. Ban said. “That requires commitment at every level: from the global health infrastructure, to all Member States, civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations, to the United Nations Security Council that has dealt with AIDS as a humanitarian issue and a threat to human and national security.”

The Secretary-General called on the international community to reinforce and expand on the “unique, multi-sector, multi-actor approach” of UNAIDS, and to ensure that the annual target of $26 billion in funding, including $13 billion for the next three years, is met.

“It means continued advocacy to the most vulnerable groups; and approaches that promote gender equality and empower women. It means leaving no one behind and removing punitive laws, policies and practices that violate people’s dignity and human rights,” Mr. Ban said.

‘One of the greatest achievements of our lifetime’

Also speaking at the opening of the high-level meeting was the UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft, who emphasized that the meeting was laying the groundwork for future progress in creating healthier outcomes for everyone affected by HIV, as well as building stronger societies prepared for future challenges.

Mogens Lykketoft, President of the seventieth session of the General Assembly, chairs the High-level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

“Today is the moment, therefore, that collectively, we signal our intentions to strike out for victory, to fast-track efforts over the next five years and to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” he said.

“This is an epidemic that undermines development, significantly impacts on economic growth and can be a major concern in conflict and post-conflict situations,” he added.

Encouraging participants to be mindful of and listen to the various speakers who will be participating in the meeting over the coming days, Mr. Lykketoft called on all stakeholders to “step up to the plate.”

“We have to deliver greater global solidarity, bring more resources and spend them more effectively. We have to bring even greater collaboration and partnership, building on the many excellent initiatives created these past two decades aimed at prevention, treatment, care and support,” he added.

Mr. Lykketoft also stressed that stakeholders must also ensure that key populations are fully included in AIDS responses and that services are made available to them.

“Ending the AIDS epidemic would be one of the greatest achievements of our lifetimes. It can be done and it must be done,” he said.

‘Door of the UN should be open to all’

Also speaking today, Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said that the meeting represented an opportunity to end an epidemic that had defined public health for a generation.

“I know it was not easy, I know it was complex, but this political declaration will certainly help us to close a door and open a new one for ending AIDS,” he said.

Referencing the UN Charter, Mr. Sidibé thanked all stakeholders for their collective efforts, commitment and support in combatting the AIDS epidemic.

“We the people have broken the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic,” he stressed.

“We the people made this commitment together, and we delivered this result together. It was not a few of us. It was not some of us. The United Nations must always represent all of us,” he added.

Indeed, he said, the decisions made during the meeting will provide the springboard for the implementation of an innovative and socially just agenda to end the AIDS epidemic.

“One by one, we are breaking the bonds of stigma, discrimination, prejudice and exclusion. We should work to ensure that no one is left behind because of who they are or who they love,” he said.

“The door of the UN should be open to all. We cannot afford to silence their voices as we come together to chart a course towards ending the AIDS epidemic,” he added.

‘It is in our hands’

Participants at today’s meeting also heard from Loyce Maturu, a 24-year-old activist living in Zimbabwe, who shared her story about being born with HIV and later contracting tuberculosis.

Ms. Matura stressed that among the barriers that hinder progress in combating the AIDS epidemic are stigma and access by people living with and affected by the disease to treatment, care and support services.

“For us to accelerate ending AIDS among adolescents and young people, there is a need to invest in evidence-based adherence support interventions,” she said.

The opening ceremony concluded with Ndaba Mandela, the grandson of the late Nelson Mandela, who recalled that, when he was 21 years old, his father had died of AIDS.

Ndaba Mandela, grandson of former South African President Nelson Mandela and activist engaged in the response to HIV/AIDS, addresses the General Assembly High-level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

“But my grandfather was not afraid of the truth. Nelson Mandela instead spoke out loudly and with dignity: His only son, Makgatho Lewanika Mandela, had died of AIDS,” he said.

Noting that his father’s death was the beginning of a national dialogue on AIDS in South Africa and global action around the world, Mr. Mandela said he was participating in the meeting to ask stakeholders to continue the legacy of leadership and unity.

“I am here to ask you to ensure that each of the 34 million people who have died of AIDS have not died in vain,” he said.

“Like Nelson Mandela said, ‘It is in our hands,’” he added.

The high-level meeting is being co-facilitated by Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN, and Patricia Mwaba Kasese-Bota, Permanent Representative of Zambia to the UN.

Activities will include a series of panel discussions and side events, including on leveraging the end of AIDS for social transformation and sustainable development, financing and sustaining the end of AIDS and stopping new HIV infections.

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UPDATE ON TYPHOID FEVER

The Ministry informs the public that in addition to the outbreak of Typhoid Fever in South Africa, Zimbabwe has also registered about six cases of typhoid fever. This brings the number of confirmed typhoid fever cases in Southern Africa (SADC region) t...
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India May Drop Gay Sex Ban

India’s top court on Tuesday agreed to re-examine a colonial-era law that makes homosexual acts punishable by up to a decade in prison. The Supreme Court set up a five-judge panel to reconsider its 2013 ruling that only Parliament can change the 1861 law banning gay sex. “It’s a very positive development and we are confident that we will get our rights,” said Vaijanti, an activist who uses one name. (AP http://yhoo.it/1PxiwdI)

Zika has become an STD in the USA…The first known case of Zika virus transmission in the United States was reported in Texas on Tuesday by local health officials, who said it was contracted through sexual contact and not the bite of a mosquito, a day after the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency….Dallas County Health and Human Services said it received confirmation of the case in Dallas from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The county department said on Twitter that the person was infected through sexual contact with someone who had traveled to Venezuela. The person infected did not travel to the South American country, county health officials said.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/1RYUYk5)

Where’s the money for Libya? The U.N. says that international donors have only pledged a “paltry” one per cent of the $166 million funding appeal launched to assist over one million Libyans affected by the country’s raging conflict. (AP http://yhoo.it/1TABTV6)

Comings and Goings… Alesha Black joined the Chicago Council on Global Affairs as head of the Global Food and Agriculture Program. She comes to the Council from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Have a personnel announcement? Send us an email! –> DAWNSDigest@gmail.com

Africa

The Kenyan authorities are holding three trucks carrying food aid on behalf of World Food Programme at the border with Somalia because of suspicions the supplies could fall into the hands of militants, a senior regional official said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/206y9dI)

South Sudanese civilians are dying of starvation as warring forces flout a peace deal, the chief ceasefire monitor said Tuesday, adding he was “staggered” at conditions after two years of war. (AFP http://yhoo.it/206y4a0)

A Ugandan general arrested after criticizing President Yoweri Museveni and voicing support for the opposition was charged in a military court on Tuesday and sent to a maximum security prison, according to his lawyer. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1SCTD16)

At least one person was killed in a grenade attack on a bar in Burundi on Monday night, witnesses said, in more violence since the African Union backed away from sending in peacekeepers without the government’s consent. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1X0OAbF)

Uganda dispatched a team of more than 370 health workers to the northern part of the country where a malaria epidemic ravaging the region since July has killed about 658 people. (VOA http://bit.ly/1nDMAts)

Harare has developed a huge appetite for bottled water. An estimated 300,000 liters change hands daily in this city of just over 1.6 million inhabitants, with Zimbabwe’s finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, saying that imports have reached “crazy” proportions. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1SqNLtO)

The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday passed the Electrify Africa Act, after nearly two years of trying to get the measure through both chambers of Congress. It now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature. (VOA http://bit.ly/1Pxc1Yj)

One of Africa’s biggest dams, the Kariba Dam between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is falling apart. (New Yorker http://bit.ly/1RYVUoD)

MENA

Jordan’s King Abdullah says his country needs long-term aid from the international community to cope with a huge influx of Syrian refugees, warning that unless it received support the “dam is going to burst.” (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1TACDcH)

The Lebanese government prevents most refugees from working or even residing legally, meaning child labor and early marriage are widespread. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1SqNLKl)

An international coalition is pushing back Islamic State militants in their Syrian and Iraqi strongholds but the group is threatening Libya and could seize the nation’s oil wealth, U.S Secretary of State John Kerry said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Pe2hyE)

While humanitarian actors meet in London on Thursday to fund the education of Syrian refugees, a multitude of anonymous shoestring initiatives are filling the gap on the ground. (AP http://yhoo.it/1SCO82y)

Asia

Malaysia may have absolved its prime minister in a huge corruption scandal, but foreign authorities investigating suspicious global fund flows are making clear the affair is far from over and that the net may be tightening. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Pe2imf)

A man has contracted the Zika virus in Thailand, officials said Tuesday, as a global alert intensifies over the mosquito-borne infection blamed for a surge in serious birth defects in South America. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1X0Ou3C)

A special war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh on Tuesday sentenced two more men to death after finding them guilty of killing, kidnapping and looting during the country’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Pe2kKI)

North Korea told U.N. agencies on Tuesday it plans to launch a satellite as early as next week, a move that could advance the country’s long-range missile technology after its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6. (Reuters http://reut.rs/1RYVNJQ)

The Americas

Drugmaker Sanofi Pasteur said it is launching an effort to research and develop a vaccine to prevent the Zika virus, after the World Health Organization declared a global emergency over its explosive spread across the Americas. (AP http://yhoo.it/206uIUv)

Escalating homicide rates in Mexico are affecting the country’s average life expectancy. According to research published in the journal Health Affairs, the life expectancy for Mexican men aged 15 to 50 fell by 0.6 percent from 2005 to 2010. (NY Times http://nyti.ms/1PxdyxE)

Haiti’s prime minister resigned as part of an effort to clear the way for a temporary government to replace outgoing President Michel Martelly after a botched election and violent street protests last month, government sources said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/206uInc

A Haitian opposition alliance is declining to meet with a regional mission that traveled to this troubled Caribbean nation to help ease a political crisis that has postponed elections indefinitely. (VOA http://bit.ly/1nDMHFr)

Brazil has warned pregnant women to stay away from the Summer Olympics after the World Health Organization declared an international emergency over the Zika virus, blamed for causing a surge in brain-damaged babies. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1nDMFgL)

…and the rest

Nine people, including two babies, were found drowned off the coast of western Turkey on Tuesday after a boat carrying people to Greece partly capsized, the coast guard said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1X0OwZn)

World health officials mobilized with emergency response plans and funding pleas Tuesday as fears grow that the Zika virus. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1o3nh4B)

Denmark on Tuesday extended random identification checks on its border with Germany until February 23 to curb the tide of migrants into the country and “guarantee public order,” the immigration ministry said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/206y8Xi)

Opinion/Blogs

What you need to know about the ICC trial of former Cote D’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo. (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1SVQACH)

How can we harness the power of drones in the humanitarian sector?’ (Innovating Health http://bit.ly/1RYUcDU)

From victims to agents of change: empowering Myanmar’s LGBT community (Guardian http://bit.ly/206uLPS)

How likely is international military intervention in Libya? (AFP http://yhoo.it/1maUSba)

Are African Heads of State Dropping the Ball in Burundi? (ISS http://bit.ly/1X0OAs7)

Canada: Stop bean-counting Syrian refugees (Open Canada http://bit.ly/1X0SYav)

Aid and national interest needn’t be uneasy bedfellows if the balance is right (Guardian http://bit.ly/1X0OxfO)

This is probably the best argument I’ve ever heard for admitting Syrian refugees, or really anyone (Chris Blattman http://bit.ly/1PeavXC)

Yes, There Are African Solutions That Can Deliver a Peaceful and Prosperous Future (The East African http://bit.ly/206uInq)

Enhancing aid architecture in the regional response to the Syria crisis (ODI http://bit.ly/1PeagM9)

A new roadmap for Power Africa (Devex http://bit.ly/1SqVxUr)

The One Thing We Still Need In Order To Get To A Low-Carbon Economy (Policy Innovations http://bit.ly/1o3tZr2)

We must not let Syria’s health service fail (Guardian http://bit.ly/1X0Opgj)

Discussion

comments...

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WHO Convenes Zika Meeting

They are also holding a press conference later in the day. The key question is whether the WHO will formally declare Zika a “public health emergency of international concern,” which sets into motion certain bureaucratic processes to facilitate a global response to the emerging crisis. (Reuters http://reut.rs/1UrUG32)

Zika reaches more European countries…Denmark and Switzerland on Wednesday joined a growing number of European countries to report Zika infections among travellers returning from Latin America, where the mosquito-borne virus has been blamed for a surge in birth defects. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KFcjXy)

The Zika-Poverty Nexus….Mark interviews Dr. Peter Hotez about the outbreak, it’s potential impact on the health systems of countries like Haiti, and why poverty in the southern United States may exacerbate the crisis. (Global Dispatches Podcast http://bit.ly/1Sc9OEd)

Stat of the day: More than 6 billion people live in countries where serious levels of public sector corruption are fuelling inequality and exploitation and locking millions of men, women and children into poverty, according to the annual index of perceived corruption. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1OYU41c)

Africa

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar is taking his campaign against President Salva Kiir’s plan to create 28 states to the African Union today. (VOA http://bit.ly/1OYSMTM)

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has ordered the opening of his country’s border with South Sudan for the first time since the latter seceded in 2011. (BBC http://bbc.in/1UrTQmS )

Three youths were seriously injured in clashes with police in Sierra Leone after authorities ordered village traders to shut up shop while they hunted for people who may have had contact with an Ebola victim, witnesses said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1PE66CE)

African states are trying to push President Pierre Nkurunziza to accept peacekeeping troops at a summit this week to prevent Burundi sliding back into ethnic conflict but there is little hope that he will agree, officials said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1SJXyur)

Cameroon closed most of its northern markets on the border with Nigeria after a series of bomb attacks Monday left at least 35 people dead and 70 wounded in the town of Bodo. (VOA http://bit.ly/1PB5kjR)

With El Nino affecting countries in southern Africa, threatening agricultural production due to a massive heat wave, the World Food Programme has urged the international community to support the upscaling of climate smart agricultural technology for resilience. (IPS http://bit.ly/1KFcpym)

Namibia is currently experiencing chronic food insecurity as a result of drought. Assessments indicate it is the worst crop performance in 80 years. An estimated 578,480 people have been affected with at least 16 per cent of the population in need of urgent food support, now and through the next harvest in April. (ICRC http://bit.ly/1PB5h7x)

As the humanitarian system debates how to reshape the way aid is delivered, Dadaab offers some practical examples of how camp-based communities can play a positive role in the management of their own affairs. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1PE4au4)

South African comedian Trevor Noah, the host of America’s “The Daily Show”, will release a book about being the child of an illegal mixed race relationship under apartheid, his publishers said Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KFcn9K)

MENA

Italy’s coast guard said on Tuesday it had coordinated the rescue of 1,271 migrants from rubber and wooden boats in several operations off the coast of Libya. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1OYSOen)

A U.N. panel is asking the Security Council to set up an inquiry into alleged violations of international law by all sides in Yemen. (VOA http://bit.ly/1OYU3KA)

With new peace talks set to begin this week, humanitarian agencies called Tuesday for unimpeded access to millions of besieged people in Syria and for the funds needed to support lifesaving operations there. (VOA http://bit.ly/1PE66To)
Asia

The United Nations launched an appeal on Wednesday for $393 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to help millions of vulnerable people this year. (AP http://yhoo.it/1PE4kld)

Amnesty International says scores of youths in Iran are languishing on death row for crimes committed under the age of 18, under laws that permit girls as young as 9 and boys as young as 15 to be executed. (VOA http://bit.ly/1OYU1m5)

As worsening levels of air pollution in the Indian capital impact the health of citizens, New Delhi has begun taking steps to tackle the menace. But experts are urging long-term action to clean up what the World Health Organization said is the world’s dirtiest air. (VOA http://bit.ly/1KFcrGI)

The head of the bureau that gathers China’s economic data is under investigation by the anti-graft agency in a possible expansion of an anticorruption campaign that has shaken state companies and securities firms. (AP http://yhoo.it/1PE6bq9)

The Americas

Brazil’s Federal Police on Wednesday launched the latest stage of a sweeping investigation into corruption at state-controlled firms, with six arrest and 15 search warrants issued in the states of São Paulo and Santa Catarina. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1SJXwmk)

U.S. President Obama will propose in his 2017 budget next month that families who qualify for subsidized school meals be given a special electronic benefits card that will allow them to buy an additional $45 in groceries per child each month when school is out. (NPR http://n.pr/1KFcnH1)

The outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil and other countries has raised concern that the pathogen could start spreading widely in the United States, as well. But federal health officials and other infectious disease specialists say so far that seems unlikely. (NPR http://n.pr/1OYU15m)

The rapid spread of the Zika virus has raised interest in a British company that has developed a genetically modified mosquito. Oxitec has produced a genetically engineered line of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the mosquito that carries dengue fever and chikungunya. (NPR http://n.pr/1OYTXCX)

…and the rest

More aggressive tactics by authoritarian regimes, an upsurge in terrorist attacks and a global economic downturn have contributed to a disturbing decline in global freedom in 2015, according to a U.S.-based international human rights group. (VOA http://bit.ly/1PB5hUX)

Opinion/Blogs

The World is Ever Shrinking for Syrians. And Not Just for Refugees. (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1PEaxO0)

Focus On Poverty – Could Half-Built Homes End Slums? (SciDevNet http://bit.ly/1OYSPPD)

Analysis: US student arrest renews scrutiny of NKorean tours (AP http://yhoo.it/1SJXr1R)

Is it time to redefine ODA? (Devex http://bit.ly/1SK0FCx)

Fighting ISIS on social media: Why swing back when we can swing first? (The Interpreter http://bit.ly/1Qs6C3C)

Introducing the Australian Aid Tracker (DevPolicy http://bit.ly/1JEPnwR)

Secret aid worker: ‘I was the obscure African girl in a room full of white faces’ (Guardian http://bit.ly/1OYWexM)

What’s really going on with Zimbabwe? (Cherokee Gothic http://bit.ly/1PE9o97)

More Phony Numbers–This Time on the Anticorruption Impact of Open Data (Global Anticorruption Blog http://bit.ly/1PEaEcn)

Seven ideas on how to finance the SDGs (Guardian http://bit.ly/1JERiBE)

Discussion

comments...

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WFP Issues Warning on Southern Africa

Malawi, Madagascar, and Zimbabwe are the worst affected. “The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is increasingly concerned about food security in southern Africa where an estimated 14 million people are facing hunger following prolonged dry spells that led to a poor harvest last year. The El Niño global weather event, which is leading to even worse drought across the region, is already affecting this year’s crop. With little or no rain falling in many areas and the window for the planting of cereals closing fast or already closed in some countries, the outlook is alarming. The number of people without enough food could rise significantly over coming months as the region moves deeper into the so-called lean season, the period before the April harvest when food and cash stocks become increasingly depleted. Particularly vulnerable are smallholder farmers who account for most agricultural production.” (WFP http://bit.ly/1PmN8u4)

It’s a Dirty World…This report comes on the heels of record levels of pollutants in Beijing and Delhi. “New data on deadly levels of air pollution in cities across the globe are scheduled to be released soon by the World Health Organisation (WHO), whose top public health expert has already called it a global “public health emergency” that involves heavy costs on society. Air pollution in cities such as Delhi and Beijing is killing millions of people and threatened to overwhelm public services in countries across the globe that will have major financial implications for governments, the Geneva-based organisation said. New WHO figures scheduled for release in February are expected to show that air pollution has worsened since 2014 in hundreds of already blighted urban areas. The data is taken from 2,000 cities.” (Hindustan Times http://bit.ly/1PmMDQE)

The Long Arm of Human Rights Law…A 95-year-old man who was a medical attendant at the Nazis’ Auschwitz camp will go on trial in Germany next month on charges of being an accessory to the murder of more than 3,000 people. (TIME http://ti.me/1PmMexw)

Africa

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Monday named three gunmen behind a deadly attack on a top Burkina Faso hotel that has highlighted the growing reach of jihadist groups in west Africa, as French police joined in the probe. (AFP http://bit.ly/1PmOgOl)

Waves of Mozambicans fleeing violence seek refuge in Malawi. (MSF  http://bit.ly/1PmOtRw )

A group of women in the dry heartland of central Kenya have almost entirely excluded men from their lives to protect themselves from domestic violence and rape. (ABC-Australia http://ab.co/1PmM7Cn)

Expressing concern over the impact on vital remittances from diaspora countries into Somalia caused by “necessary but less considered counter-terrorism regulations,” United Nations rights experts today warned the measures may “severely affect the human rights” of Somali people, while urging regulation-setting governments to guarantee the flow of such funds. (UN News Center http://bit.ly/1PmNnFA)

Four worshippers were killed in a suicide bombing at a mosque in northern Cameroon on Monday, a security source said, five days after a similar attack left 12 people dead. (AFP http://bit.ly/1PmOCEu )

MENA

United Nations humanitarian agencies expressed concern today that an estimated 200,000 people are facing “sharply deteriorating conditions” in the besieged western side of Deir-Ez-Zor city in Syria, while the top UN relief official stressed that the world body continues to act “impartially, neutrally and independently” to reach people in need throughout the country. (UN News Center http://bit.ly/1PmNkcG)

One person was killed and one more seriously wounded Monday when a rocket fired from a jihadist-controlled area in Syria slammed into a schoolyard in a Turkish border town, officials said. (AFP http://bit.ly/1PmOrch)

Saudi-led airstrikes killed at least 26 people at a police facility in Yemen’s capital overnight, adding to a death toll of nearly 6,000 people since Riyadh began its military campaign against the Houthi militia that controls Sana’a. (VOA http://bit.ly/1PmM7C8)

In an effort to defuse the controversy over the brief capture of 10 Navy sailors last week, the Defense Department on Monday released a timeline of events surrounding the seizure, but the account was spare on new details and left several fundamental questions unanswered. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1PmM5dr)

Asia

India will put up laser fences at more than 40 “vulnerable” stretches along the border with Pakistan, reports say. (BBC http://bit.ly/1PmM7C8)

The Americas

Obama’s State of the Union pledge to eradicate malaria may not be possible. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1PmLVCZ)

Nearly a decade after the UN Human Rights Committee agreed that a Peruvian woman’s rights were violated for having been denied an abortion – and recommended that the Government compensate her – the UN human rights office announced today that Peru has said it will pay compensation for having refused her access to a legal medical procedure. (UN News Center http://bit.ly/1PmNv7U)

…and the rest

Opinion/Blogs

Obama’s Upbeat Message About Ending Malaria Omits Discouraging Signs (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1ZwhAHP)

Politicising drought relief in Papua New Guinea (Dev Policy http://bit.ly/1ZwhIHi)

Not bugs, but features: Or, adaptation is harder than you’d think (Open the Echo Chamber http://bit.ly/1NgloWx)

Who lives in the real world: global south pessimists or northern optimists? (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Nglqh8)

The world already had a refugee crisis (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/1KmEydz)

Poverty and inequality are challenges for the UK, not just poorer countries (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Pbm1s3)

What does former DfID chief Andrew Mitchell think of the UK’s aid strategy? (Devex http://bit.ly/1neA7Nk)

Why did Burkina Faso become al-Qaida’s latest target? (Daily Maverick http://bit.ly/1ZwikN5)

Domestic Violence and Poverty in Africa: When the Husband’s Beating Stick is Like Butter (Africa Can End Poverty http://bit.ly/1JcLfUy)

Are female politicians less warlike than men? Some evidence from European queens (Chris Blattman http://bit.ly/1Pbmhar)

Great new IMF paper puts women’s rights at the heart of tackling income inequality (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1KmI1sx)

Discussion

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