U.N. - Related Issues
Up to date news and comment
about UN related public health issues.
November 21, 2007
U.N. Agency Denies Inflating Cases of H.I.V. Deliberately
After releasing new figures showing that the global AIDS epidemic is smaller than it previously reported, the United Nations' AIDS-fighting agency denied yesterday that it had inflated estimates for years in an alarmist effort to raise funds.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)
Comment: AIDS is now a billion-dollar industry and inflated AIDS statistics are being used to obtain financial support from governments for treatment programmes based upon the use of toxic anti-retroviral drugs. The sole beneficiary from this multi-billion dollar fraud is the pharmaceutical industry and its "Business with Disease".
October 25, 2007
UN rights expert unveils draft guidelines for drug companies on vital medicine
Noting that nearly two billion people worldwide lack access to essential medicines, a United Nations independent expert on health today introduced into the General Assembly draft human rights guidelines for pharmaceutical companies to expand that reach. Paul Hunt, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, told the Assembly's third committee that the guidelines are designed to help both the companies and those monitoring their activities. Using non-binding language, the 48 guidelines – which are being circulated for comment until the end of the year – deal with specific issues regarding access to medicines, such as pricing, ethical marketing, clinical trials, corruption, and research and development for neglected diseases. Professor Hunt said he expected to finalize the guidelines for release next year. "I have tried to be practical and constructive," he said, stressing that the draft does not suggest that pharmaceutical companies are legally bound by international human rights law.
Read news report on the United Nations website
Comment: Yes, you did read that last sentence correctly. Significantly, therefore, during the committee's debate, the representative of Libya said that pharmaceutical companies nowadays had a great influence on everything, adding that their status was reminiscent of arms companies long ago who had great influence on politicians. In his response, Paul Hunt confirmed that the draft human rights guidelines would not be legally binding upon the drug industry, adding that they were "a tool to assist pharmaceutical companies."
September 10, 2007
FAO Promotes Organic Agriculture
FAO Report says organic farming fights hunger, tackles climate change, good for farmers, consumers and the environment.
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has come out in favour of organic agriculture. Its report Organic Agriculture and Food Security explicitly states that organic agriculture can address local and global food security challenges.
Read press release on the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) website (UK)
July 31, 2007
UN cries wolf about AIDS
The UN agency coordinating global action against AIDS is wiping egg off its face after reluctantly admitting it had overestimated India's AIDS problem by more than half – following numerous similar exaggerations world-wide. In 2005 the joint UN Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) claimed there were 5.7 million infected with HIV in India, giving India the highest number in the world, but the Indian National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) figures for 2006 released recently lowered the number to 2.5 million – and UNAIDS has had to admit the new estimate is more accurate.
Read article in the Economic Times (India)
Comment: Since 2001, UNAIDS has been forced to acknowledge drastically-reduced HIV prevalence estimates in over a dozen African, Caribbean and Asian countries.
June 10, 2007
Putin blames WTO members for protectionism
Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the World Trade Organization could not cope with protectionism originating from industrialized countries and urges the reform of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. “The existing organizations cannot properly control the global market. Some structures that were designed for a small number of active players look archaic, non-democratic and slow and cannot take into account modern world balance,” he told the 11th St. Petersburg international economic forum on Sunday. “Therefore old methods of decision-making simply do not work. It can be well seen in the World Trade Organization and the Doha round negotiations that are in fact stalled,” he said. “Today protectionism emanates from developed economies that established the organization (WTO),” he said.
Read article on the ITAR-TASS News Agency website (Russia)
May 27, 2007
Scientists call on WTO to slash fishing subsidies
A group of 125 international marine scientists on Thursday called on the head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to push for a global agreement that slashes subsidies paid by many countries to their fishing industries. In a declaration addressed to WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, the group warned that overfishing would damage the ecosystem of the globe’s oceans beyond recovery unless government subsidies were reduced soon, Reuters reports. "The WTO has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to demonstrate that it can not only balance trade and the environment, but make one of the greatest contributions to protecting the world`s oceans," said Andrew Sharpless, one of the signatories.
Read article at mercopress.com (Uruguay)
May 15, 2007
WHO assembly rejects proposal on Taiwan membership
The 60th World Health Assembly (WHA) announced Monday that a proposal on making Taiwan a "member state" of the World Health Organization (WHO) will not be included in the conference's provisional agenda. The announcement was made by Jane Halton, president of the Assembly and secretary of the Department of Health and Aging of Australia , following a recommendation from the 25-member General Committee and then a roll call vote by member states at the plenary session. The result of the vote showed that an overwhelming majority of WHO member states are opposed to including the Taiwan-related proposal in the agenda. This is the 11th time in as many years that a Taiwan-related proposal was rejected in the assembly.
Read article in the People's Daily (China)
May 14, 2007
FAO looks to organics for food security
The leading proponents of the benefits of organic agriculture put their heads together last week to discuss how organic methods could help preserve food security into the future. The UN's FAO held a conference in Rome last week on Organic Agriculture and Food Security, in partnership with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). The aim was to shed light on the contribution of organic agricultural methods in preserving food security, identify its potential and the conditions needed for its success.
Read article at foodnavigator.com
May 8, 2007
WHO Criticized for Neglecting Evidence
When developing "evidence-based" guidelines, the World Health Organization routinely forgets one key ingredient: evidence. That is the verdict from a study published in The Lancet online Tuesday. The medical journal's criticism of WHO could shock many in the global health community, as one of WHO's main jobs is to produce guidelines on everything from fighting the spread of bird flu and malaria control to enacting anti-tobacco legislation. "This is a pretty seismic event," Lancet editor Dr. Richard Horton, who was not involved in the research for the article. "It undermines the very purpose of WHO."
Read article at physorg.com
U.N.: Food prices could offset biofuels benefits
Biofuels like ethanol can help reduce global warming and create jobs for the rural poor, but the benefits may be offset by serious environmental problems and increased food prices for the hungry, the United Nations concluded Tuesday in its first major report on bioenergy.
Read article in USA Today
May 3, 2007
Medical error affects 10% of patients worldwide – WHO
Errors in medical care affected 10% of patients worldwide, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said yesterday. The UN's health agency issued a checklist to help doctors and nurses avoid common mistakes. The nine key points listed by the WHO included double-checking similar-sounding medication names, ensuring patients were correctly identified, and improving hand hygiene to avoid preventable infections. "Health care errors affect one in every 10 patients around the world," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement. "Implementing these solutions is a way to improve patient safety."
Read article in the Cape Times (South Africa)
April 26, 2007
UN: Iraq withholding figures on civilian deaths
The UN is unable to determine how many Iraqi civilians have been killed so far this year because the Iraqi government won't share the information, a UN agency said in a Wednesday report. An Iraqi government official denied that the information was withheld to cover up the number of civilian deaths in the war-ravaged nation, and the prime minister's office said the UN report "lacks accuracy." Even without the numbers, the report delivers a grim message: Iraq is facing "immense security challenges in the face of growing violence and armed opposition to its authority and the rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis."
Read article in the Tehran Times (Iran)
April 12, 2007
Let Us Live and Let Them Die
Social scientist, Alison Katz has left the World Health Organisation (WHO) after 17 years of devoted service, condemning its “Let us live and let them die” attitude, which sums up the neglect of millions of people over the past three decades, suffering and dying from diseases of poverty, including notably HIV/AIDS. She is the second AIDS researcher to leave within the past 12 months. “For over twenty years now, the international AIDS community has persisted in a reductionist obsession with individual behaviour and an implicit acceptance of a deeply flawed and essentially racist theory.” Katz writes. She believes that the narrow and totalitarian approach to AIDS by the WHO not only has had negligible effect, but also has betrayed public health principles and perversely forbidden exploration of any alternative perspectives. Like many others, Katz questions the exclusion of a plethora of co-factors known to increase biological susceptibility to infection by all disease agents, including HIV, among which are under-nutrition, poverty, powerlessness, and the basic necessities for a healthy and dignified life. She believes that the WHO has fallen victim to neoliberal globalisation, and by default, to the economic interests of powerful nations and the transnational corporations.
Read article on the Institute of Science in Society website (UK)
Read Alison Katz's Open Letter to Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO
April 2, 2007
Glaxo in WHO talks on mass avian flu vaccination
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Britain ’s largest drugs company, is in talks with the World Health Organisation (WHO) about a proposal for a subsidised mass vaccination programme against avian flu for developing countries, The Times has learnt.
Read article The Times (UK)
March 23, 2007
New TB infections rise to 8.8m
The epidemic of tuberculosis, one of the world's most lethal and costly infectious diseases, has risen to record levels of 8.8m new infections a year and drug resistant forms are on the rise, according to data released yesterday. The World Health Organisation's Global Tuberculosis Control report for 2007 showed the total number of infections rose slightly in 2005 over 2004 - the latest data available - although the incidence rate fell because it was outstripped by population growth. Total deaths rose to 1.6m, while drug-resistant TB, for patients who do not respond to first-line drugs over six months of treatment, accounted for more than 400,000 cases a year andmultiple-drug-resistant strains were increasingly identified. There are currently 14m people sick with TB, says the WHO.
Read article in the Financial Times (UK)
March 1, 2007
UN calls on new generation to take better care of planet earth
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Friday on the world’s younger generation to take better care of Planet Earth in the face of global warming than his own. “We are all complicit in the process of global warming. Unsustainable practices are deeply entrenched in our everyday lives. But in the absence of decisive measures, the true cost of our actions will be borne by succeeding generations, starting with yours,” Mr. Ban told a UN International School conference in the General Assembly Hall in New York. “That would be an unconscionable legacy; one which we must all join hands to avert. As it stands, the damage already inflicted on our ecosystem will take decades, perhaps centuries, to reverse – if we act now. “Unfortunately, my generation has been somewhat careless in looking after our one and only planet. But I am hopeful that is finally changing. And I am also hopeful that your generation will prove far better stewards of our environment; in fact, looking around this hall today, I have a strong sense that you already are,” he added.
Read article at mercopress.com (Uruguay)
February 27, 2007
Nearly 1 in 6 of world’s population suffer from neurological disorders – UN report
Up to 1 billion people, nearly one in six of the world’s population, suffer from neurological disorders, from Alzheimer and Parkinson disease, strokes, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy to migraine, brain injuries and neuroinfections, with some 6.8 million dying of the maladies each year, according to a new United Nations report issued today. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) study – Neurological disorders: Public health challenges – shows that people in all countries, irrespective of age, sex, education or income are affected, that the economic cost of such diseases in Europe reached some €139 billion in 2004, and that access to appropriate care is lacking in many parts of the world.
Read article on United Nations website
February 16, 2007
The World Health Organisation, the drugs company and the $10,000 funding offer
· Patients' group 'was asked to act as covert channel'
· UN body denies attempt to bend donation rules
The World Health Organisation is facing allegations that it attempted to secure a $10,000 (£5,100) donation from a drugs company by asking a patients' group to act as a covert channel for the funds, in the light of documents published today. The alleged arrangement would have broken the WHO's own rules on accepting money from the pharmaceutical industry. Emails between Benedetto Saraceno, the WHO's director of mental health and substance abuse, and the European Parkinson's Disease Association appear to suggest that the WHO was willing to take $10,000 from Britain's biggest drug company, GlaxoSmithKline, to help pay for the preparation of a report on neurological disorders, for which GSK makes drugs.
Read article in The Guardian (UK)
February 14, 2007
Firms accused of bribing Saddam to be investigated by fraud office
· British companies named in United Nations report
· Kickbacks 'enabled Iraqi leader to amass $1.8bn'
The Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into allegations that a number of major UK-based firms paid bribes to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq . The firms being targeted include the drug giants GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly. The international oil traders and UK bridge-builders Mabey and Johnson are also to be investigated. They are on a long list of international companies accused in a UN report of paying kickbacks under the discredited oil-for-food sanctions regime, which enabled Saddam to illicitly amass an estimated $1.8bn.
Read article in The Guardian (UK)
February 8, 2007
AIDS warning from the UN
The UNAIDS Pacific Program has warned the interim government it must try harder in its fight against HIV/AIDS or pay dearly later. In a statement, program co-ordinator Stuart Watson said HIV/AIDS numbers were worrying and the disease could have a crippling socio-economic and political effect on the country. "Numbers do not lie and AIDS in the Pacific is fast approaching a critical point,'' said Mr Watson. The call was made after the Ministry of Health released figures showing an increase in the number of people living with the disease in Fiji .
Read article at Fiji Times Online
January 17, 2007
Iraqi Death Toll Exceeded 34,000 in '06, U.N. Says
The United Nations reported Tuesday that more than 34,000 Iraqis were killed in violence last year, a figure that represents the first comprehensive annual count of civilian deaths and a vivid measure of the failure of the Iraqi government and American military to provide security. The report was the first attempt at hand-counting individual deaths for an entire year. It was compiled using reports from morgues, hospitals and municipal authorities across Iraq, and was nearly three times higher than an estimate for 2006 compiled from Iraqi ministry tallies by The Associated Press earlier this month.
Read article at New York Times (US)