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Diphtheria kills 48, infects more than 500 in Yemen – WHO

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

At least 514 people in Yemen are believed to have been infected with diphtheria, with the disease killing 48 of them since the outbreak began in mid-august, as reported by the World Health 0rganization (WHO) on Tuesday.

“We need to highlight that the age group that has been hit most is the young adults particularly the age group between five and 15 years of age and children under five years of age,” said Dr. Nevio Zagaria.

Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, is embroiled in a proxy war between the Houthi armed movement, allied with Iran, and a U.S.-backed military coalition headed by Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations calls Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 8 million people on the brink of famine and a failing health system.

WHO Representative Dr. Nevio Zagaria warned that the spread of diphtheria was significantly more dangerous than the already widespread cholera because of its higher fatality rate.

“Cholera is also a very serious disease. We expect a maximum of case fatality rate of below one percent of the [cholera] cases. But just to give a comparison of how much serious is the disease and more difficult to treat the disease. The expected case fatality rate of diphtheria is between five and 10 percent of the cases,” said Zagaria.

Almost 100 districts in Yemen have reported at least one diphtheria case with a heavy concentration in the province of Ibb, which reported approximately 50 percent of the total infections across the country. — Reuters

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1 million species threatened with extinction, study says

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

Courtesy : IPBES

Scientists warned on Monday (May 6) that species extinction rates are ‘accelerating’ as one million species are threatened with extinction because of humans.

This is according to the comprehensive global assessment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Results of the assessment show that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction including 40% amphibian species, 33% reef-forming corals, and more than 1/3 of marine animals.

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson.

Some of the main drivers of species loss, according to IPBES, are human exploitation, pollution, and invasive alien species.

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Malacañang: EO creating Zero Hunger task force out soon

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, April 29th, 2019

A father and daughter enjoy a free meal at a feeding program

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to sign an executive order (EO) seeking to establish a Zero Hunger Task Force, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Monday (April 29).

“An executive order creating the Zero Hunger task force is expected to be signed by President Duterte anytime soon,” Nograles said in a statement.

The creation of an inter-agency task force, which will roll out policies aimed at eradicating hunger by 2030, is part of the government’s commitment to supporting the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN), Nograles said.

“We’ve set a lofty aim of reducing hunger by 25 percent every two and a half years and we have identified a little more than 30 provinces to focus on,” he said.

Nograles made the remark after members of the UN Country Team visited Malacañang last April 25.

The body encompasses all the entities of the UN system which carry out operational activities for development, emergency, recovery and transition in host countries.

“We specifically discussed the administration’s ongoing initiatives in the field of food security, ‘green economy’ and peace, highlighting the impending creation of a Zero Hunger Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the goal of which is to eradicate hunger in the country by 2030, laying down a sustainable and effective national environmental policy, as well as pushing the peace process in Mindanao forward with the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)” the Cabinet official noted.

Nograles added that the meeting focused on exploring “common alignments” between domestic Philippine policy and overall UN objectives.

“The UN has likewise targeted zero hunger as a key goal, stressing ‘better access to food and the widespread promotion of sustainable agriculture’,” he said.

According to the international body, the task “entails improving the productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers by promoting equal access to land, technology and markets, sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices. It also requires increased investments through international cooperation to bolster the productive capacity of agriculture in developing countries.”

For his part, the Cabinet Secretary noted the “commonalities of synergies during the gathering, which is not surprising.”

“We just need more discussions and further explorations on how to best use our resources and make the greatest impact in achieving our shared goals,” Nograles emphasized.

He also noted that the Philippines is ready to collaborate on programs that are essential to improving living conditions and quality of life while working to preserve the environment at the same time. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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UN warns of acute food insecurity worldwide as 113 million experienced hunger in 2018

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Thursday, April 4th, 2019

A father and daughter enjoy a free meal at a feeding program

A new joint United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) report released on Tuesday (April 2) showed that approximately 113 million people in 53 countries experienced high levels of food insecurity in 2018.

This report by the two international bodies warns that these crises are primarily driven by conflict and climate-related disasters.

According to the UN, “the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and EU “Global Report on Food Crises 2019” shows that the number going chronically-hungry has remained well over 100 million over the past three years, with the number of countries affected, rising.”

It further said that only eight countries; namely, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen constitute nearly two-thirds of those facing acute hunger.

And although there were 11 million fewer people believed to be in food crisis in 2018 compared to that in 2017, acute hunger either remained the same or increased in 17 countries, as indicated in the report.

The report added that “an additional 143 million people in another 42 countries are just one step away from acute hunger.”

The UN-EU study also found out that climate and natural disasters have pushed another 29 million people into acute food insecurity in 2018.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, speaking at a two-day conference to discuss the findings in Brussels, stressed that “we must act at scale across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus to build the resilience of affected and vulnerable populations. To save lives, we also have to save livelihoods.”

WFP Executive Director David Beasley who also spoke in the Brussels forum also pointed out that “while critical to saving lives and alleviating human suffering, humanitarian assistance does not address the root causes of food crises.”

He further highlighted the importance of “attacking the root causes of hunger: conflict, instability, the impact of climate shocks”.

“Programmes that make a community resilient and more stable will also reduce the number of hungry people. And one thing we need world leaders to do as well: step up to the plate and help solve these conflicts, right now”, Beasley added.

The report also said that from 2014 to 2020, “the EU will have provided nearly €9 billion for initiatives on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture in over 60 countries.”

EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, said, “over the last three years, the EU allocated the biggest humanitarian food and nutrition assistance budget ever, with nearly €2 billion overall. Food crises are becoming more acute and complex and we need innovative ways to tackle and prevent them from happening.” – Maris Federez

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