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Global community environment chief warns of ‘tsunami’ of e-waste at conference on chemical treaties

INTERNATIONAL – The head of the United Nations body tasked with setting the global environmental agenda stressed the need to limit the use of dangerous chemicals and to find a solution to the masses of electronic waste building up around the world, as a Conference of Parties to three major Conventions on the subject began in Geneva today.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), told journalists that the “tsunami of e-waste rolling out over the world” not only accounted for a large portion of the world’s non-recyclable “waste mountain” but also needed dealing with because many elements found in electronic equipment are potentially hazardous to people and the environment.

“Never mind that it is also an economic stupidity because we are throwing away an enormous amount of raw materials that are essentially re-useable,” said Mr. Steiner. “Whether it is gold, silver or some of the rare earths that you have heard about perhaps in recent years, it is still an incredible amount.”

Mr. Steiner said that the amount of some such materials that are available above ground in unused electronics now exceeds the amount still in the ground and he looked to the potential of the Basel Convention to help access ‘urban mines’ by working to better inform people of how to dispose of their e-waste.

As well as the Basel Convention, for which the Geneva meeting is the 12th Conference of Parties, the eleven-day ‘2015 Triple COPs: Setting the Scene for Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Waste, Worldwide’ will also cover the Seventh Conference of Parties to both the Rotterdam and the Stockholm Conventions. Over 1,500 delegates are expected to take part in the talks, which aim to improve three international conventions contributing to global controls on hazardous chemicals and waste.

The Executive Director said the three Conventions were not about stopping the use of chemicals but about providing a clear platform from which to inform policy-makers of science that can inform decisions to help protect citizens from toxicity and about signalling to the market that alternatives are needed.

He pointed out how materials used in production of various items are becoming ever more present in people’s daily lives, and he said people were becoming “increasingly a repository for the chemical footprint of the 21st century,” often in ways that damage health.

“Annually, one million people die from occupational poisoning,” Mr. Steiner said, referring to the effects of the use of chemicals on people’s bodies. “This is something that is, in this day and age, not only unnecessary it’s really intolerable. And this is why the sound management of chemicals is something that has brought Governments, civil society but also the private sector and the chemical industry together.”

The Executive Secretary of Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, Rolph Payet, echoed Mr. Steiner’s concerns about the number of people dying from occupational poisoning and described the wide reach of chemicals, with DDT found in polar bear and fat because of its transport in water and in the air. While the number of those dying from occupational poisoning was notable, he also pointed to the “silent crisis,” whereby the accumulation of chemicals in people’s bodies was possibly slowly killing them.

Clayton Campanhola, the Executive Secretary of Rotterdam Convention and a representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the agency was particularly focused on the prevention of use and safe disposal of obsolete pesticides. About 500,000 tonnes of obsolete pesticides scattered around the developing wold posed serious risks to people and environment, he said.

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#SaveKidsLives campaign launched to boost road safety for children

INTERNATIONAL – Each day some 500 children die from road traffic crashes, thousands more are injured and the situation is only getting worse, the United Nations warned on 4th of May as it launched#SaveKidsLives, a global campaign to generate action to make streets safe for children.

According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), every four minutes, a child dies from a traffic accident. For adolescents aged 15 to 17, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death worldwide, with boys accounting for nearly twice as many road traffic deaths as girls. And one third of these deaths are children in cars but two thirds outside cars.

“It’s a manmade disaster where we are killing our young children on the roads by not providing them with safe places to play, safe places to walk, or cycle to school,” Dr. Etienne Krug of WHO said in an interview withUN Radio.

The third UNGlobal Road Safety Week, which kicks off today and runs through 10 May, under the theme ‘Children and road safety,’ features hundreds of events to highlight WHO’s package of 10 key strategies for keeping children safe on the road. The campaign is part of a largerDecade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020plan of action to save five million lives across the world.

“Really what [the Week] aims for is to draw attention to the appalling number of 186,000 children dying in road traffic crashes every year,” said Dr. Krug, who is the Director at WHO’s Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention said.

“We should plan our transportation system in such a way that children can be safe when they go to school, where they go to the park, when they go visit a friend,” he added.

The highest rates of deaths are found in middle and lower income countries, he continued. Countries that are “rapidly motorizing” in Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Eastern Mediterranean have “more and more cars, and more and more roads” but an absence of road safety measures. Political will is needed for change to happen and leaders to take action.

In Sweden, where the Government has taken initiative to combat traffic deaths, there has not been a single child death on the road in the past few years, Dr. Krug said.

The new WHO document10 strategies for keeping children safe on the roadproposes ways to keep children safe on the roads. These include building road safety management capacity, improving the safety of road infrastructure and broader transport networks, producing safer vehicles, enhancing the safety of road users through enacting and enforcing legislation around key risks, such as speeding, drinking and driving, helmets, seat-belts and child restraints behaviour of road users, and improving post-crash emergency and trauma care for the injured.

In 2007, 400 delegates to the first World Youth Assembly for Road Safety, in Geneva, adopted the Declaration, committing to practical measures to improve road safety and calls on adults to play their part as parents and leaders. The Declaration calls on all young people to "stand up and participate in local and national campaigns and programmes" and urges adults to do more.

The UN General Assembly adopted aresolutionon 10 April 2014 to improve road safety.

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On World Press Freedom Day, free expression vital for global sustainability

INTERNATIONAL – Freedom of expression and press freedom are critical to the successful implementation of good governance and human rights around the world, top United Nations officials declared today as they inaugurated the 2015 edition of World Press Freedom Day with a reminder that both freedoms were “essential” for the shaping of a new global sustainable development agenda.

In a joint message,Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon, the Director-General of the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, observed that quality journalism “enables citizens to make informed decisions about their society's development” while also working “to expose injustice, corruption, and the abuse of power.”

“For peace to be lasting and development to be sustainable, human rights must be respected,” the UN officials affirmed in theirstatement. “Everyone must be free to seek, receive and impart knowledge and information on all media, online and offline.”

World Press Freedom Day, which was established by the UN General Assembly and is celebrated annually on 3 May, is designated by UNESCO as an opportunity to celebrate worldwide the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend the media from attacks on their independence; and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This year's theme – 'Let Journalism Thrive!'– is a three-pronged message that advocates for quality journalism, the tackling of gender imbalances in media, and digital safety.

Ahead of the 2015 observance of the Day, UNESCO, the United Nations agency mandated to promote and protect press freedom worldwide,namedrenowned journalist and CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour as its Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression and Journalist Safety.

“We need every voice to speak out and be heard – especially those of women,” the UN officials' statement continued. “Twenty years after theBeijing Declaration and Platform for Action, women remain underrepresented throughout the media, at decision-making level but also in the coverage of issues.”

“We cannot let this stand,” they added. “Men and women must participate equally in making and sharing the news.”

At the same time, Mr. Ban, Ms. Bokova, and Mr. Zeid underscored the troubling scenario of violence and insecurity in which thousands of journalists operate in every day, noting that at least one journalist is killed each week in both conflict and non-conflict zones.

“Journalism must be able to thrive, in an enabling environment in which they can work independently and without undue interference and in conditions of safety,” the statement declared. “This is our message today, to let journalism thrive!”

In aseparate message, Mr. Ban said that around the globe, journalists are attacked every day as they try to carry out their work. In the last year alone, 61 journalists were killed. Many more languish in jails without charges or any sign of due process, the victims of governments and others that prohibit free inquiry and use the power of the state to intimidate the press.

“As we mark World Press Freedom Day this year, let us honour the memory of those who lost their lives, and intensify our efforts to uphold the fundamental human right to freedom of expression and press freedom,” said the Secretary-General, adding that this year's theme emphasizes the importance of ensuring a free and pluralistic media against the backdrop of a fast-paced and ever-changing digital world.

Digital technology has been exploited to spread hate speech or incite violence, but it is also a force for good, bringing people together in a global conversation about how to build a better world. In particular, digital technology can have a positive impact as leaders strive this year to formulate an ambitious agenda to advance sustainable development for years to come.

However digital journalists and bloggers are also facing retribution and curbs on their freedom to report, he said.

“Thriving journalism – whether in digital or more traditional form – must be anchored in quality reporting and information dissemination to all segments of society. Women play a critical, yet far too neglected, role in in today's media landscape,” said the UN chief, calling on all governments, societies and individuals to uphold the principles put forward by Member States on the need for the free exchange of information and ideas, both within and among nations.

“We must commit to ensure that the safety and human rights of journalists are protected, independent of the political, socio-economic or cultural pressures that may threaten, impede or deter their freedom to keep the world informed,” he declared.

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'Nepal is not alone,' UN and EU aid chiefs say, reaffirming commitment to assist quake-hit country

INTERNATIONAL – Wrapping up visit to Nepal, the United Nations (UN) and European aid chiefs stressed that while relief teams are working around the clock to assist the thousands of people affected by the devastating earthquake that struck the tiny Himalayan nation one week ago today, aircraft and helicopters are urgently needed, as are emergency shelters, particularly for people in hard-hit rural areas.

According to apress releasetoday from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, and the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides have concluded their joint three-day visit to Nepal.

On the last day of their visit they met with Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, and reaffirmed the commitment of the international community to support the country in this time of crisis.

“My thanks to the Prime Minister for his clear message on the importance of working in partnership to speed up aid delivery,” said Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. “I assured him of the international community's strong commitment to provide the necessary support.”

For his part, Mr. Stylianides said that a disaster of such magnitude would test the capacities of any government in the world. “The Nepalese people can rest assured that we will stand by them, Nepal is not alone in this crisis.”

During their visit, the UN and EU aid officials witnessed the devastation caused by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck a week ago and met with people who were directly affected.

They also had an opportunity to meet those on the front lines of the relief effort, including search and rescue (SAR) teams, medical professionals, and aid workers. Ms. Amos and Mr. Stylianides also met with senior representatives of local and national authorities, as well as financial and technical partners.

Seven days into the relief operation, a significant amount of national and international aid and responders are being used. Teams are working around the clock to reach those affected. Helicopters and aircraft are particularly needed to reach those in the most remote areas.

The UN and EU aid chiefs repeatedly stressed the urgent need to provide emergency shelter to hundreds of thousands of people, particularly in the rural areas. This is especially important given the fast approaching monsoon season. Healthcare and sanitation are also priorities.

Meanwhile, the UN Children's Fund is (UNICEF)warningthat the health and wellbeing of children affected by the disaster are hanging in the balance – as many have been left homeless, in deep shock and with no access to basic care. With the monsoon season only a few weeks away, children will be at heightened risk of diseases like cholera and diarrhoeal infections, as well as being more vulnerable to the threat of landslides and floods.

“The earthquake has caused unimaginable destruction,” said Rownak Khan, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Nepal. “Hospitals are overflowing, water is scarce, bodies are still buried under the rubble and people are still sleeping in the open. This is a perfect breeding ground for diseases.”

UNICEF is broadening its response so that children in the most severely affected communities, including those in hard-to-reach areas beyond Kathmandu, are provided with lifesaving services and supplies.

"We have a small window of time to put in place measures that will keep earthquake-affected children safe from infectious disease outbreaks – a danger that would be exacerbated by the wet and muddy conditions brought on with the rains," said Ms. Khan. “That's why it's so crucial to get essential medicine, medical equipment, tents and water supplies out to these areas now.”

OCHA – the UN relief wing headed up by Ms. Amos – has launched a joint humanitarian response plan alongside other UN agencies and partners in an effort to support Government-led efforts in addressing the most critical needs of millions of people in need of shelter, water and sanitation, emergency health, food, and protection for the next three months.

A $415 million emergency appeal, which was jump-started with $15 million made available through the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), will help partners provide emergency shelter to 500,000 people who remain in the open, braving the damp and cold weather. Emergency health services and medical supplies and facilities, and safe drinking water and sanitation facilities are also urgently needed for up to 4.2 million people.

As many as 1.4 million people will benefit from food assistance, including 750,000 in hard-to-reach areas. Some 2.1 million children and 525,000 women will benefit from protection assistance.

To date, some $68 million was provided in support of the ongoing response, according to OCHA.

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Expo in Milan spotlights need to ensure healthy, safe and sufficient food for all

INTERNATIONAL – The world produces more than enough food to “feed every member of the human family,” yet one in nine people still go hungry, United NationsSecretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon underscored today in a message for the opening ceremony of a six-month long expo in Milan, Italy, in which the UN is participating to demonstrate that ending hunger in our lifetime is possible.

“The UN is proud to be here to highlight the cause of food security,” Mr. Ban said in his welcome videomessagescreened in the UN Garden, an open-air area close to ‘Pavilion Zero’ and the Expo’s entrance, where visitors will be introduced to the UN theme for Expo 2015, ‘The Zero Hunger Challenge: United for a Sustainable World.’

Expo Milano 2015runs through 31 October. Over this six-month period, Milan will become a global showcase where more than 140 participating countries, will showcase the best of their technology that offers a concrete answer to a vital need: being able to guarantee healthy, safe food for everyone, while respecting the planet.

The Expoalso involvesinternational organizations, and expects to welcome over 20 million visitors to its 1.1 million square meters of exhibition area. A platform for the exchange of ideas on the theme of food, and promoting innovation for a sustainable future, Expo 2015 will give everyone the opportunity to find out about, and taste, the world’s best dishes, while discovering the best of the agri-food and gastronomic traditions of each of the exhibitor countries.

Today, the Secretary-General also emphasized the need to urgently redress the dramatic imbalance in the global distribution of food, reiterating his global call-to-action for a world without hunger.

“Everyone has a role to play,” stressed Mr. Ban, inviting visitors to discover UN content throughout the Expo site and learn how theZero Hunger Challengerelates to each and every one of us.

“This is why I launched the Zero Hunger Challenge, a global call to action for a world without hungry. We have brought this challenge to Expo Milano 2015. All of you have a role to play. We can do it if we can work together,” the UN chief said.

Mr. Ban’s initiative encourages participation by a range of organizations, social movements and people to end hunger in this lifetime. It promotes more investments and increased development cooperation, in line with existing national and international agreements.

For the first time in the history of universal expositions, the UN will not have a single pavilion but a horizontal presence, with content spread across numerous areas of the Expo site. Eighteen giant spoon installations comprise the UN presence, representing the five pillars of the Zero Hunger Challenge, women’s empowerment and gender equality and other UN content related to Expo’s thematic areas.

Each spoon will be positioned in a UN space at the Expo site, including at the Pavilion Zero, which is expected to attract some 40 per cent of all Expo visitors. A number of UN panels or stele will be located throughout the Pavilion informing visitors, in a simple storytelling style, about the links between the concepts present in each of the rooms.

The UN presence will emphasize the strong link between the theme, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” and one of the fundamental UN missions: ensuring that all people have the access to safe and nutritious food to lead healthy and active lives, without compromising the needs of future generations.

Expo Milano 2015 will run through 31 October 2015 on the theme, “Feeding the Planet. Energy for Life.” The participation of the UN provides a unique opportunity to build momentum around food-related issues. In this regard, Mr. Ban has designated the Organization’s Rome-based agencies – Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP) – under the Director-General of FAO, to lead in the coordination of the 20 UN agencies participating at Expo.

Yesterday, the Expo held an inaugural concert which featuredUN Messenger of PeaceLang Lang, who performed with the Teatro alla Scala chorus and orchestra and by the Teatro alla Scala Academy orchestra.

“As a United Nations Messenger of Peace, I can’t help but think of the extreme suffering in nearby countries and in the Mediterranean Sea,” said Mr. Lang in remarks to the press.

“Exploitation, abuse and the criminals associated with it, represent a form of modern slavery that can’t be tolerated,” he added, calling for global attention to address the crisis.

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Security Council demands immediate end to hostilities in Mali, urges parties to abide by ceasefire

INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations Security Council today 1 May expressed its deep concern at the outbreak of violence that has occurred in Mali this past week, which “threatens to undermine the peace process, and demanded that the hostilities cease immediately.”

In astatementto the press, the 15-member Council urged the parties to demonstrate their commitment to the peace process and adhere to their obligations under the cease fire agreement of 23 May 2014, and the declarations of cessation of hostilities of 24 July 2014 and 19 February 2015.

Council members also stressed that the attacks perpetrated since 27 April 2015, notably in the northern Malian cities of Ménaka, Goundam and Léré, violate the ceasefire. They recalled the statement by the Council’s President released on 6 February 2015 and another one on 10 April 2015, expressing the Council’s readiness to consider targeted sanctions against those who resume hostilities and violate the ceasefire.

“In this regard, the members of the Security Council expressed their intention to evaluate next steps in light of these violations and events on the ground,” the statement said.

They also reiterated full support to Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali, Mr. Mongi Hamdi, and to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), to engage with all parties to de-escalate tensions and continue dialogue.

They urged the parties, including the armed groups of the Coordination, to remain committed to the peace process in which they engaged.

Members also encouraged parties to continue to engage constructively with sustained political will and in good faith, supported by the members of the international mediation team, with the view to sign the draft Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali on 15 May 2015 in Bamako.

“The Security Council expressed its full support to the members of the international mediation team for their efforts to support the parties in this regard,” the statement concluded.

In recent years, Mali has been confronted by a crisis with serious political, security, socio-economic, humanitarian and human rights consequences. The crisis stems from long-standing structural conditions such as weak State institutions, ineffective governance, deep-seated feelings among communities in the north of being marginalized and the effects of environmental degradation, climate change and economic shocks.

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Air pollution in Europe costs $1.6 trillion a year in deaths and diseases, UN study shows

INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations health agency, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in first-of-its-kind study that air pollution across Europe is costing “a staggering” $1.6 trillion a year in deaths and diseases, which amounts to nearly one tenth of the region’s gross domestic product.

The economic cost of the health impact of air pollution in Europe is the first assessment of the economic burden of deaths and diseases resulting from outdoor and indoor air pollution in the 53 countries of the region, according to thestudy, which was carried out by the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The study was published as more than 200 representatives from European countries and international and non-governmental organizations gathered in Haifa, Israel, from 28 to 30 April to look at achievements, gaps and challenges and set future priorities. The cost of the health impacts of air pollution is one of many studies that will provide evidence on the environmental impacts on health to be released at the Haifa meeting.

“Reducing air pollution has become a top political priority,” Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) said.

According to the WHO announcement, “a staggering $1.6 trillion is the economic cost of the approximate 600,000 premature deaths and of the diseases caused by air pollution in the WHO European Region in 2010, according to the first-ever study of these costs conducted for the Region.”

“The economic cost of deaths alone accounts for over $1.4 trillion,” according to the study. “Adding another 10% to this, as the cost of diseases from air pollution, results in a total of almost $1.6 trillion.”

In addition, the study showed that “in no less than 10 of the 53 countries of the Region, this cost is at or above 20 per cent of national gross domestic product (GDP), and amounted to nearly one tenth of the GDP of the entire European Union in 2013.

“The economic value of deaths and diseases due to air pollution – $1,600,000, 000, 000 – corresponds to the amount societies are willing to pay to avoid these deaths and diseases with necessary interventions,” it explained. “In these calculations, a value is attached to each death and disease, independent of the age of the person and which varies according to the national economic context.”

WHO said another new report,From Parma to Haifa: how far have we gotten?, jointly published by WHO and UN-ECE, informs that one in four Europeans still falls sick or dies prematurely from environmental pollution.

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In Paris, UN SG discusses Mediterranean crisis and climate change with President Hollande. French Republic President to arrive in the French Caribbean May 8

INTERNATIONAL – During his visit to Paris, United Nations (UN) Secretary General (SG) Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday 29, April met with French President François Hollande, to discuss, among other issues the crisis in the Mediterranean, climate change and sustainable development.

With regard to the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea, Mr. Ban welcomed “with satisfaction the measures announced last week by the Heads of State and Government of the European countries,” on the Mediterranean crisis.

“They represent an important first step towards European collective action,” he added at a joint press conference with French President, François Hollande.

“This is a humanitarian crisis, not a safety issue. We need to defeat the criminals who are trafficking in human beings. But we must also concern ourselves with the root causes of migration, so that people are not forced to leave their homes,” the UN chiefadded.

“If there are so many migrants, it is because people fleeing war and persecution. Violent extremism is fuelled by conflict and poor governance.”

The Secretary-General said that to “confront this threat against global security; we must deploy comprehensive and complex solutions. In a few months, I will present to the General Assembly at its 70th session, a plan to fight against violent extremism.”

Mr. Ban also delivered aspeechto students of the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, where he encouraged students to express themselves and become global citizens.

He urged them to take action on climate change and welcomed initiatives to organize momentum for the upcoming conference on the issue, which will be held later this year in Paris.

“Young people have more ideas and I really count on your commitment,” said the Secretary-General. "The world must find ways to adapt to the changes already underway.”

“We will need to do is considerable resources. Developed countries must clear path that will allow them to collect 100 billion by 2020 to finance climate action in developing countries. And theGreen Climate Fund should start operating effectively and making payments before we meet in Paris,” he emphasized.

“SOUALIGA REPORT: President of the French Republic Hollande is scheduled to arrive in the Caribbean on May 8. He will arrive in French St. Martin (French West Indies) at the Esperance Grand Case Airport at 6.30pm, May 8.  From there he will drive to the Government Offices Hotel Collectivite.

“There he will lay a wreath in the garden of the Government Complex.  President Hollande will meet behind closed doors with elected Territorial Council officials.  He will deliver a speech which will be broadcasted on a large screen on the façade of the Government Complex.

“The area around Hotel Collectivite in Marigot will be closed off to motorized traffic allowing the public to be present for the ceremony.”    

While he was in France, the Secretary General alsoannouncedthe appointment of French national Jean Todt as his Special Envoy for Road Safety. Mr Todt is the President of the International Automobile Federation (FIA).

Each year about 1.3 million people are killed and nearly 50 million more injured on the roads worldwide. Half of the deaths are pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists, according to the UN.

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Country health systems to combat antibiotic resistance lacking globally, WHO warns

INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations World Health Organization announced that only 34 countries, or a quarter of those surveyed, have national plans to fight growing resistance to antibiotics, warning that the trend posed as “the single greatest challenge in infectious diseases today” and appealing for all countries to do their part to tackle the global threat.

“All types of microbes – including many viruses and parasites – are becoming resistant to medicines. Of particularly urgent concern is the development of bacteria that are progressively less treatable by available antibiotics,” WHO quoted Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security as saying in apress release.

“This is happening in all parts of the world, so all countries must do their part to tackle this global threat,” according to Dr. Fukuda.

According to the new reportWorldwide country situation analysis: Response to antimicrobial resistanceonly 34 of 133 countries that responded to a WHO survey have comprehensive national plans to preserve antimicrobial medicines like antibiotics, but many more countries must also step up.

Another key finding is that “in many countries, poor laboratory capacity, infrastructure and data management are preventing effective surveillance, which can reveal patterns of resistance and identify trends and outbreaks.”

WHO also noted that the sales of antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines without prescription remain widespread, with many countries lacking standard treatment guidelines, which increases the potential for overuse of antimicrobial medicines by the public and medical professionals.

And “public awareness of the issue is low in all regions, with many people still believing that antibiotics are effective against viral infections,” according to the report.

“This situation is alarming, particularly in countries where antimicrobial medicines are readily available without a prescription,” according to WHO. “Among professional groups, academics were generally more aware of the problem of antimicrobial resistance than others, including health care workers.”

WHO warned that “the general lack of awareness in these sectors would indicate that antimicrobial resistance is likely to spread further.”

Issued a year after WHO’s first report on the extent of antimicrobial resistance globally, which warned of a ‘post-antibiotic era,’ the new survey, carried out in 2013 and 2014, is the first to capture governments’ own assessments of their response to resistance to antimicrobial medicines used to treat conditions such as bloodstream infections, pneumonia, tuberculosis, malaria and HIV.

WHO, countries and partners have developed a draftGlobal Action Planto combat antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance, which has been submitted to the 68th World Health Assembly, scheduled to take place next month.

“One essential step in implementing the Global Action Plan would be the development of comprehensive national plans in countries where they are now lacking and further develop and strengthen existing plans,” the UN health agency said.

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UN envoy Gordon Brown welcomes release of 200 Nigerian girls held captive by Boko Haram

INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, has welcomed the release of 200 girls from captivity by Boko Haram and called for the immediate release of all abducted girls, ahead of his meeting tomorrow with Nigerian President-Elect.

“It is time to end the nightmare,”saidMr. Brown, who will have talks with Nigerian President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari tomorrow about the missing girls.

Some 276 girls were abducted by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, located in Nigeria’s restive north-eastern Borno state, in April 2014, as the militant group ramped up brutal attacks targeting the African country’s children.

“I will talk to President-Elect Buhari tomorrow about how the international community can provide air and military help to free the girls. And I will also offer help for safe schools which allow girls to participate in education, free of fear,” he added.

“For a year families have not known whether their daughters are dead or alive, married off, sold off or violated as a result of their captivity,” the Global Education Envoy emphasized.

“Now that some girls have been released we want all girls released. And we want them home with their families in days - not months or years,” Mr. Brown urged.

Since Boko Haram began targeting schools and children, hundreds of thousands of children have been displaced from their homes and deprived of their rights to live and grow up in safety and peace.

“We need more secure, better prepared, safe schools to make girls and parents know everything is being done to protect them,” Mr. Brown emphasized.

“Today 10 million children don’t go to school in Nigeria,” Mr. Brown said. “By creating safe schools and communities where girls are free of fear we can get every child into school and learning.”

According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than 300 schools were damaged or destroyed and at least 196 teachers and 314 schoolchildren killed by the end of 2014 as a result of the conflict in northeast Nigeria between Boko Haram and military forces.

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