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Tuesday:  October 27, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in UNFPA (3)

Wednesday
Oct262011

World Population Hits Seven Billion (NEWS BRIEF)

Balogun market in the Central Business District of Lagos, Nigeria. By 2015 Lagos will become the most populous city in Africa, with some 17 million people. ©UNFPA/Akintunde Akinleye(HN, UPDATED OCTOBER 27, 2011) - The world population is projected to reach seven billion at the end of October.

However impressive, the milestone is being greeted with concern as vast inequalities remain - especially in poor, developing countries - and wealthy countries have been lagging behind on meeting commitments such as funding of family planning services in Africa and elsewhere.

The milestone reveals that almost half of the world population is 25 years old and younger and that some countries have 60 percent of people that are 18 and under.

The UN says the planet's response will determine whether the global population enjoys a healthy, sustainable and prosperous future or one that is marked by inequalities, environmental decline and economic setbacks.

The findings were published in The State of World Population 2011 report, published today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

“With planning and the right investments in people now—to empower them to make choices that are not only good for themselves, but also for our global commons—our world of 7 billion can have thriving sustainable cities, productive labour forces that fuel economies, and youth populations that contribute to the well-being of their societies,” says UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin in the foreword of the report, entitled People and Possibilities in a World of 7 Billion.

The record population size can be viewed in many ways as a success for humanity because it means that people are living longer and more of our children are surviving worldwide, the report shows. But not everyone has benefited from this achievement or the higher quality of life that this implies. Great disparities exist among and within countries. Disparities in rights and opportunities also exist between men and women, girls and boys. Charting a path now to development that promotes equality, rather than exacerbates or reinforces inequalities, is more important than ever.

The 7 billion milestone “is a challenge, an opportunity and a call to action,” said Osotimehin at the report’s launch in London. The report is also being launched in more than 100 other cities worldwide.

UNFPA says that too many people don't have the means to control their fertility.

"We must ensure that reproductive health services and family planning are better funded and that they become available to everyone who wants them," said Alanna Armitage, director of the UNFPA office in Geneva.

Of the world’s 7 billion, 1.8 billion are young people between the ages of 10 and 24, Osotimehin, a former minister of health in Nigeria, noted.

“Young people hold the key to the future, with the potential to transform the global political landscape and to propel economies through their creativity and capacities for innovation. But the opportunity to realize youth’s great potential must be seized now,” Osotimehin said. “We should be investing in the health and education of our youth. This would yield enormous returns in economic growth and development for generations to come.”

Osotimehin echoed his colleague's remarks about a lack of access to family planning - a recourse some governments in the developed world have trouble funding.

He said: "Consider that there are 215 million women of childbearing age in developing countries who lack access to voluntary family planning. There are millions of adolescent girls and boys in the developing world who have too little access to sexuality education and information about how to prevent pregnancies or protect themselves from HIV. In pockets of the world where women’s status is low, infant and child survival are also low. And we must tear down economic, legal and social barriers, to put women and men and boys and girls on an equal footing in all spheres of life.”

Sandeep Prasad, executive director of Action Canada for Population and Development, said Canada and other developed nations have unmet commitments..

"There are 250 million women who want family planning globally and they're not getting it," he said. "This unmet need for contraception will grow by 40 per cent by 2050 with the largest generation of young people ever entering their reproductive years."

While people under 25 years old make up close to half of the world's population, life expectancy is climbing. The global average life expectancy has climbed to 68 by the end of the last decade. Infant mortality, meanwhile, has plunged from about 133 deaths in 1,000 births in the 1950s to 46 per 1,000 in the period from 2005 to 2010, the report says.

Women's fertility, meanwhile, has dropped.

The State of World Population 2011 is mainly a report from the field, where demographers, policymakers, governments, civil society and individuals are grappling with population trends ranging from ageing to rapidly rising numbers of young people, from high population growth rates to shrinking populations, and from high rates of urbanization to rising international migration. The countries featured in this report are China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, India, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

- HUMNEWS staff, UNFPA

Monday
Feb072011

Over 6,000 Communities Across Africa Abandon Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (Report)

(HN, February 7, 2011) - Over 6,000 communities have chosen to abandon the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), according to a joint United Nations programme designed to eliminate this practice, and the number is growing.Youth Federation representative Asiya Oumer speaks at a declaration ceremony on abandonment of FGM/C in northern Ethiopia's Awash-Fentale District. UNICEF
  
“We are working in 12 out of 17 priority African countries and have seen real results - the years of hard work are paying off with FGM/C prevalence rates decreasing,” said Nafissatou Diop, Coordinator of the joint programme run by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.
 
“In Ethiopia, the prevalence rate has fallen from 80 per cent to 74 per cent, in Kenya from 32 per cent to 27 per cent, and in Egypt from 97 per cent to 91 per cent. There is still a lot of work to do.”
 
Three million girls face FGM/C every year in Africa and worldwide, and up to 140 million women and girls have already undergone the practice. Research indicates that mothers and grandmothers of women have enormous influence over their decisions on whether to put their daughters through the dangerous procedure. In countries such as Egypt, the procedure is often administered by women with no medical credentials.

It is little wonder then that experts have concluded that FGM/C is a practice with serious immediate and long-term health effects.

In some countries, the influence of religious and clan leaders, local government officials and former circumcisers has brought a remarkable reduction in female cutting. Some Muslim scholars have called for banning FGM and for legislation criminalizing the practice.

Last year, a 13-year-old girl died after undergoing FGM in a public hospital in Egypt - even though the procedure had been made illegal since 2008.

“We must break the wall of silence that surrounds this issue and step up our national campaign to prevent the practice being passed on to the next generation”, Egyptian Minister of Family and Population Mushira Khattab said last year. “Our target is to make it clear that the practice will not be tolerated in Egypt.”

The UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme, set up in 2008, encourages communities to collectively abandon FGM/C - it is also known as positive deviance. It uses a culturally sensitive approach, including dialogue and social networking, leading to abandonment within one generation. The programme is anchored in human rights and involves all groups within a community, including religious leaders and young girls themselves. Rather than condemn FGM/C, it encourages collective abandonment to avoid alienating those that practice it and instead bring about their voluntary renunciation.
 
To mark the International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, UNFPA and UNICEF are renewing their commitment to put an end to the practice, and call on the global community to join in this critical effort. They also believe that FGM/C can be abandoned in one generation, which would help millions of girls and women to live healthier, fuller lives.
 
“Three years into the programme, more than 6,000 communities in Ethiopia, Egypt, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Gambia, Guinea and Somalia have already abandoned FGM/C,” according to a joint statement.

“Social norms and cultural practices are changing, and women and men in communities are uniting to protect the rights of girls. UNFPA and UNICEF are working with partners to end this harmful practice in one generation and we believe that reaching this goal is possible.”

FGM/C refers to the removal of all or part of the female genitalia. Despite global efforts to promote abandonment of the practice, FGM/C remains widespread in many developing countries, and has spread to other parts of the world, such as Europe and North America, where some immigrant families have now settled. The majority of girls who have undergone the practice live in 28 countries in Africa and Western Asia. 

- UN, HUMNEWS staff

Saturday
Sep182010

(REPORT) Child Mortality Rate Drops by a Third Since 1990 

Fewer children are dying before they reach their fifth birthdays, with the total number of under-five deaths falling by one third in the past two decades, according to fresh estimates by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Between 1990 and 2009, the number of children below the age of five who died annually fell from 12.4 million to 8.1 million. The global under-five mortality rate dipped from 89 deaths per 1,000 live births to 60 during that period. “The good news is that these estimates suggest that 12,000 fewer children are dying each day around the world compared to 1990,” UNICEF said in a press release accompanying the data, issued ahead of next week’s UN-hosted world leaders’ summit in New York on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). However, the agency stressed, “the tragedy of preventable child deaths continues.” Some 22,000 children under the age of five continue to die every day, with 70 per cent of these deaths occurring within their first year of life. Under-five mortality increasingly becoming concentrated in a few countries, with half of all deaths of children below five occurring in just five countries in 2009: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Pakistan and China. Sub-Saharan Africa – where one in eight children do not live to see their fifth birthday – continues to be home to the highest rates of child mortality. That is nearly 20 times the average for developed regions. UNICEF cautioned that although the pace of decline of child mortality has picked up in the past decade, it is still not enough to meet the MDG target of a two-thirds decline between 1990 and 2015. The new figures were published in this year’s Levels & Trends in Child Mortality, issued by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, bringing together several UN entities, The estimates are developed with oversight and advice from independent experts from academic institutions. Earlier this week, a new report by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank found that the number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth has decreased by 34 per cent from an estimated 546,000 in 1990 to 358,000 in 2008. While the progress is notable, the annual rate of decline is less than half of what is needed to achieve the MDG target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by 75 per cent between 1990 and 2015, the publication stressed.

- UN News, UNICEF