Tuesday, September 30, 2008

WHO works to ban tobacco advertising (and does not like electronic cigarettes either)

On May 30th of this year, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), as part of its “World No Tobacco Day” campaign, called on all governments to ban the promotion, sponsorship, and advertising of tobacco and cigarettes as a result of shocking statistics on youth smoking due to ‘predatory marketing and advertising strategies’ ,aimed at youth populations. At the same time, other companies creating “quitting methods” and products to quit smoking, the electronic cigarette for example, are not considered safe either by the WHO. The electronic cigarette is a battery-powered product usually made of stainless steel and resembling a real cigarette that claims to be a nicotine replacement has not been proven to be safe or legitimate. Users puff on the electronic cigarette as they would a real cigarette, but producing no smoke. Rather, the product, which has a chamber for storing liquid nicotine in various concentrations, produces a fine, heated mist, which is absorbed into the lungs. The WHO study group on tobacco product regulation is set to address the issues surrounding the electronic cigarette, among other topics, when it meets from 12 to 14 November in Durban, South Africa.

Monday, September 29, 2008

World Leaders Optimistic Malaria Will be Eradicated by 2015

On Thursday, September 25, world leaders announced the goal of ending deaths from malaria by 2015 is within reach. Malaria, the single greatest cause of death for the world’s children, causes more than one million deaths each year. A celebratory mood could be felt at the Malaria Summit as data released by the World Health Organization suggested malaria rates are falling. The decline is credited to scientific advancements, including the development of a possible vaccine, as well as increased prevention efforts. Historically, malaria has been a blight on the world’s health record, since it is a largely preventable disease. However, news that the instance of malaria has decreased creates excitement and momentum for this campaign. An unprecedented pledge by a number philanthropic organizations for $3 billion for malaria programs was also announced on Thursday, providing the funds that will hopefully eradicate this disease. "Everyone needs victories," said Timothy Wirth, president of the U.N. Foundation, “and this is a good one.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

UN Helps Settle over 5,000 Refugees from Bhutan

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] helped more than 5,000 refugees from Bhutan leave their camps in Nepal for resettlement in other countries. The United States accepted the largest number of refugees with 4,833, followed by 131 refugees in Australia and 129 in New Zealand. The program hopes to resettle another 2,000 to 3,000 before the end of the year. There are currently 107,000 refugees originating from Bhutan living in seven camps in eastern Nepal. Nearly half of them have expressed an interest in resettlement. Some of the refugees have been in exile for as long as 17 years. The resettlement process has run smoothly due to the collaborative efforts of UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration [IOM], the Nepalese government and the resettlement countries. The program has created opportunities for success for the refugees by holding English classes and skill-training at the camps. "Although starting over is not easy, there is a program for everyone with the resettling agencies, no matter what age, qualification or gender. We have seen other former refugees doing well, so we can do it as well," says one refugee who recently arrived in the U.S.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Hope in Somali Conflict

The United Nations Political Office for Somalia reached a new level of peace in Somalia through its inter-party, international dialogues. According to a communication document released on Sunday September 21st, two parties The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) held a second round of High Level Committee and Joint Security Committee (Djibouti) meetings from the 17th through the 21st. Also present were the United Nations, African Union, European Union, League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Conference, representatives from other countries, and Somali civilians. During the meeting, both parties solidified their efforts to continue peace talks, and set up sub-committees in order to implement the outlines already established by the Djibouti agreement. In addition, both parties agreed to conduct field assessments, and form a Board that would coordinate with the humanitarian efforts in the region.
The meeting proved to be another step in what the international community hopes, is a successful solution to the current humanitarian crisis in Somalia.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

United Nations Quickly Tackles Cholera Outbreak in Zimbabwe

The United Nations has rapidly responded to a deadly outbreak of Cholera outside of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. Marie Okabe, a U.N. spokesperson, has reported that more than 90 people have contracted the disease, and that the primary cause stems from a lack of clean domestic water. To combat this, the U.N. has established a means by which to deliver 30,000 liters of water for each day of the outbreak, until the local water is once again sanitary. In addition, the United Nations Children's Fund and the World Health Organization have created two treatment clinics in the area for those who need help. These clinics are being operated jointly with the NGO Doctors Without Borders.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hurricane Disaster Averted with Help from UNDP

When Hurricane Gustav passed through Haiti late last month, damage and destruction were much less than in previous years thanks to efforts to avert flooding in and around the capital city by removing trash and other excess waste, eventually recycling the materials into highly useful cooking materials. In a country that already suffers from tremendous developmental challenges, it is important to ensure that setbacks and destruction as a result of the Atlantic hurricane season are as minimal as possible. Working alongside various agencies within Haiti, the UNDP is making tremendous strides in improving the lives of Haitian citizens in a multitude of vital areas.