Joint statement by heads of UN humanitarian agencies on Syria [23 April 2014

Joint statement by heads of UN humanitarian agencies on Syria
[Full text]
NEW YORK, GENEVA, ROME, 23 April, 2014. One year ago, as leaders of UN agencies struggling to deal with the growing human impact of the Syrian crisis, we issued an urgent ap-peal on behalf of millions of people whose lives and futures hang in the balance: Enough, we said, enough!

That appeal has gone largely unanswered. The war escalates in many areas. The humanitarian situation deteriorates day after day. And for the civilians remaining in the cities of Aleppo and the Old City of Homs, as well as other parts of the country experiencing heavy fighting, the worst days seem yet to come.

As the fighting has intensified in recent weeks, at least one million people are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in Aleppo alone. The road from Damascus to Aleppo – a vital lifeline – has often been cut. 1.25 million people are in need of food in Aleppo city and rural parts of the governorate. Other key roads are blocked by different armed forces and groups.

All too often, humanitarian access to those in need is being denied by all sides. Aerial bombardment, rockets, mortars and other indiscriminate attacks slaughter innocent men, women, and children. In Aleppo it is reported that there are now only 40 doctors for a population of 2.5 mil-lion people – once there were more than 2,000 – and medical supplies are scarce. The city is surrounded on all sides.

Across Syria, the lives of more than 9.3 million people are now affected in this, the fourth year of conflict. With a third of the nation’s water treatment plants no longer functioning, with 60 per cent of health centres destroyed, and with some 3.5 million people living in areas under siege or unable to be reached with humanitarian assistance, the innocent civilians of Syria seem to be surviving on sheer courage.

As humanitarian agencies, working closely with international and national non-governmental organizations, we are doing all we can to save lives and alleviate suffering – even in the face of great danger to, and sacrifice by, our colleagues on the ground. But we know that what we can do is not sufficient. Not nearly so.

If we are to do more, to reach and help more people, those engaged in this horrific conflict, and those with influence over them, must do more.

Today, we call upon all parties to this brutal conflict to take urgent action to:
– Enable unconditional humanitarian access to all people in need, using all available routes either across lines inside Syria or across its borders.
– Lift the sieges on civilians currently being imposed by all sides, such as those now sealing off parts of Aleppo, the Old City of Homs, Yarmouk, East Ghouta, Moadhamieh, Nubl and Zahra.
– End the indiscriminate bombing and shelling of civilians by the Government and opposition groups and stop all other violations of international humanitarian law.

Thus far, diplomatic efforts designed to end years of suffering have failed. What have not failed are the courage and determination of extraordinary Syrian civilians to survive. Can those with the responsibility and the power and the influence to stop this terrible, tragic war find the same courage? The same will?

For if the civilians of Syria have not given up, how can the world give up on its efforts to save them – and save Syria?

– Valerie Amos
UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
– Anthony Lake
Executive Director, UNICEF
– António Guterres
UN High Commissioner for Refugees
– Ertharin Cousin
Executive Director, World Food Programme
– Dr. Margaret Chan
Director-General, World Health Organization

UNICEF and Global Fund Coordinate Efforts to Reach Mothers, Newborns and Children

UNICEF and Global Fund Coordinate Efforts to Reach Mothers, Newborns and Children
22 April 2014
Full Release
GENEVA/NEW YORK – UNICEF and the Global Fund today reinforced their long-standing partnership through a new agreement to better coordinate efforts aimed at reducing the burden of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria and improving the health of mothers, newborns, and children.

Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake signed a new Memorandum of Understanding that emphasizes the importance of coordinating investments in commodities to prevent and treat HIV, tuberculosis and malaria with those designed to improve overall maternal, newborn, and child health.

“The Global Fund has helped expand access for millions of mothers and children to lifesaving commodities that prevent and treat HIV, TB, and malaria,” said Lake. “This new agreement will help governments integrate these critical investments with health services that support basic maternal, newborn, and child health. This integration will increase the effectiveness of both efforts and potentially save millions of lives.”

Specifically, the Global Fund and UNICEF agreed to jointly identify countries where HIV and malaria investments for mothers and children could be better aligned with investments in basic maternal, newborn and child health. As a first step, these commodities could include iron and folic acid, tetanus vaccinations, syphilis screening and treatment for pregnant women, and antibiotics to treat pneumonia and oral rehydration salts and zinc to treat diarrheal disease in children.

Under the new agreement, the Global Fund and UNICEF will encourage governments and Country Coordinating Mechanisms to integrate packages of care and support for mothers and children, and to apply for Global Fund grants that align HIV, TB and malaria programming with broader maternal, newborn and child health efforts. UNICEF will support governments that wish to review and revise national strategies to strengthen this alignment and will help mobilize additional funding where necessary to purchase supplies and equipment for the care of mothers, newborns and children.
“This partnership between UNICEF and the Global Fund strengthens what is already operating on the ground in many countries,” said Dr. Dybul. “We have much further to go, and by working together we can achieve tremendous progress for women and children around the world.”

http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/mediacenter/newsreleases/2014-04-22_UNICEF_and_Global_Fund_Coordinate_Efforts_to_Reach_Mothers_Newborns_and_Children/

Stockholm 2014: 6th International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD (International Conference on Population and Development) Programme of Action (IPCI)

Stockholm 2014: 6th International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD (International Conference on Population and Development) Programme of Action (IPCI)

The 6th International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (IPCI) aims to promote dialogue among parliamentarians from all regions of the world on the implementation of the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action, with a view to achieving further commitment to collective action in the areas of resource mobilization and the creation of an enabling policy environment for population and development.

The 6th IPCI/ICPD conference marks the 20th anniversary of the ICPD and the end of the original Cairo mandate. Despite the passage of time, the Cairo Programme of Action has proved to remain relevant and still resonates today as it did in 1994. Therefore, we should redouble our efforts to promote its visionary recommendations in any future development framework, as has already been done with the Millennium Development Goals.

The conference produced a forward-looking and action-oriented declaration and action plan that will build upon previous IPCI Commitments. It will also serve as a launching pad for the second phase of the visionary Cairo Programme and provide parliamentarians with a chance to consider strategic actions needed to significantly boost the implementation of the ICPD.
:: Stockholm Statement of Commitment

:: Declaration on Human Rights:
Declaration adopted by acclamation at the 6th IPCI held in Stockholm, Sweden from 23-25 April 2014 at the request of conference participants
The principles of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development affirm “that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”, and are entitled to all rights and freedoms as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, without distinction of any kind. These principles underscore the urgent need to eradicate all forms of discrimination and establish the link between dignity and human rights and individual well-being. Yet many people throughout the world, in particular children, adolescent girls, youth, women, older persons, indigenous people, ethnic and visible minorities, LGBTQI, people with disabilities, migrants, refugees and displaced persons, including hosting communities, among others continue to suffer from discrimination, a fact affirmed at the ICPD beyond 2014 regional review meetings.

We express concern that LGBTQI in particular suffer from risk of harassment and physical violence in parts of the world. The commitment to individual well-being cannot co-exist with tolerance of hate crimes or any other form of discrimination against any person, and we request that this issue will be taken up at the 7th IPCI.

We support calls on States and the international community to express grave concern at acts of violence, discrimination and hate crimes committed against individuals on the grounds of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

We note that the ICPD beyond 2014 regional review outcomes contain various commitments requiring States to protect the human rights of all individuals, including the right to gainful employment, residence, access to services and equality before the law.

We call on all States to guarantee equality before the law and non-discrimination for all people, by adopting laws and policies to protect the human rights of all individuals, without distinction of any kind, in the exercise of their social, cultural, economic, civil and political rights.

We also call on all States to promulgate, where absent, and enforce laws to prevent and punish any kind of violence or hate crimes, and to take active steps to protect all persons from discrimination, stigma, and violence, without distinction of any kind.

The Relationship of Health Aid to Population Health Improvements

JAMA Internal Medicine
Online First
Original Investigation | April 21, 2014
The Relationship of Health Aid to Population Health Improvements
Eran Bendavid, MD1,2; Jay Bhattacharya, MD, PhD2
Author Affiliations
JAMA Intern Med. Published online April 21, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.292
Abstract [Editor’s bolded text]
Importance
International aid to the health sector is an important component of all health spending in many developing countries. The relationship between health aid and changes in population health among aid recipients remains unknown.
Objective
To quantify the relationship between health aid and changes in life expectancy and mortality in children younger than 5 years (under-5 mortality) among aid recipient nations.
Design
Cross-country panel data analysis of the relationship between measures of health aid, life expectancy, and under-5 mortality. Using difference models for longitudinal data with fixed effects for countries and years, we estimated the unique relationship between health aid and changes in life expectancy and under-5 mortality, controlling for gross domestic product per capita, urbanization, and total fertility rate.
Setting and Participants
A total of 140 aid-recipient countries between 1974 and 2010.
Exposure
Annual amount of development assistance directed to the health sector in constant 2010 US dollars.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Improvements in under-5 mortality and life expectancy in the period following aid receipt.
Results
Between 1974 and 2010, each 1% increase in health aid was associated with 0.24 months greater increase in life expectancy (95% CI, 0.02-0.46) (P=.03) and a 0.14 per 1000 live births faster decline in the probability of under-5 deaths per 1000 live births (95% CI, 0.02-0.26) (P=.02). The association between health aid and health improvements has strengthened over time, with the closest association occurring between 2000 and 2010. Health improvements associated with health aid are measurable for 3 to 5 years after aid disbursement. These findings imply that an increase of $1 billion in health aid could be associated with 364,800 fewer under-5 deaths (95% CI, 98 400-630 000).
Conclusions and Relevance
International aid to the health sector is related to increasing life expectancy and declining under-5 mortality. The benefits from aid appear to last for several years and have been greatest between 2000 and 2010, possibly because of improving health technologies or effective targeting of aid.

The Mobile-Finance Revolution

Foreign Affairs
March/April 2014 Issue

The Mobile-Finance Revolution
How Cell Phones Can Spur Development
By Jake Kendall and Rodger Voorhies
Excerpt
The roughly 2.5 billion people in the world who live on less than $2 a day are not destined to remain in a state of chronic poverty. Every few years, somewhere between ten and 30 percent of the world’s poorest households manage to escape poverty, typically by finding steady employment or through entrepreneurial activities such as growing a business or improving agricultural harvests. During that same period, however, roughly an equal number of households slip below the poverty line. Health-related emergencies are the most common cause, but there are many more: crop failures, livestock deaths, farming-equipment breakdowns, even wedding expenses.

In many such situations, the most important buffers against crippling setbacks are financial tools such as personal savings, insurance, credit, or cash transfers from family and friends. Yet these are rarely available because most of the world’s poor lack access to even the most basic banking services. Globally, 77 percent of them do not have a savings account; in sub-Saharan Africa, the figure is 85 percent. An even greater number of poor people lack access to formal credit or insurance products. The main problem is not that the poor have nothing to save — studies show that they do — but rather that they are not profitable customers, so banks and other service providers do not try to reach them. As a result, poor people usually struggle to stitch together a patchwork of informal, often precarious arrangements to manage their financial lives.

Over the last few decades, microcredit programs — through which lenders have granted millions of small loans to poor people — have worked to address the problem. Institutions such as the Grameen Bank, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, have demonstrated impressive results with new financial arrangements, such as group loans that require weekly payments. Today, the microfinance industry provides loans to roughly 200 million borrowers — an impressive number to be sure, but only enough to make a dent in the over two billion people who lack access to formal financial services…

Amref Health Africa [to 26 April 2014]

Amref Health Africa [to 26 April 2014]

Amref Health Africa Calls for Increased Investment to Consolidate Gains in Malaria Control –
25 April 2014
Excerpt
…As the world celebrates the World Malaria Day, Amref Health Africa renews its commitment to lasting health change in African communities. Our new name, which better reflects the scope of our work and our mandate, also underlines our commitment to working side by side with communities to combat major diseases, including malaria. It is notable that Amref Health Africa has since its inception 57 years ago prioritised malaria prevention and control programming at community level because we are convinced that investing in malaria is critical to improving the quality of life of present and future generations.

Amref Health Africa strengthens community systems for effective malaria response with better access to prevention measures, prompt diagnostics and treatment. In this regard, the organisation has implemented numerous successful and sustainable community-based malaria programmes in Africa. The most recent one is the Community Case Management Programme, implemented by Amref Health Africa in Kenya since 2012 as the principal recipient of the Round 10 Global Fund grant for civil society organisations. More than 3,600 community health workers in malaria-endemic regions have been trained and equipped to be the first point of contact to health care services, providing prompt diagnostics using rapid tests and adequate care to patients close to their homes. So far about 40,000 confirmed malaria cases have been treated with appropriate drugs by the community volunteers.

Implemented together with the Government of Kenya and development partners in line with the National Malaria Strategy, the programme has resulted in significant gains in malaria control that need to be scaled up and consolidated to ensure that they are sustainable. It is therefore encouraging that the Global Fund, the Government of Kenya, and Amref Health Africa recently signed grant agreements worth US$80 million to support Kenya’s continuing fight against malaria in the second phase of the programme. Main interventions under this phase include maintenance of universal coverage through widespread use of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and access to prompt diagnostic services and quality-assured treatment at community and public health facility levels. This is supported by focused advocacy, communication and social mobilisation. The investment aims to scale up community case management in a total population of 3,175,416, which will definitely reduce the burden of malaria and improve the health and lives of the target communities.

Amref Health Africa calls on governments, donors, the private sector and partners to reinforce and renew their commitment to investing in malaria control and elimination, and to build strong partnerships to scale up interventions and strengthen community systems for sustainable malaria responses in Africa.

.

Amref Health Africa @AMREF_UK Apr 25
World #Malaria day. #Defeatmalaria &maintain commitment to wiping it out. Amref Health Africa’s statement: http://www.amrefuk.org/homepage-items/item/377-world-malaria-day-amref-health-africas-statement …

BRAC [to 26 April 2014]

BRAC [to 26 April 2014]

BRAC listed 32 amongst Global Think Tanks
27 April 2014, Dhaka. BRAC has been listed number 32 in the 2013 Global Go-To Think Tank Index report by the University of Pennsylvania. BRAC secured this position in the category of social policy as the first organisation from South Asia amongst 50 countries worldwide. The list includes Brookings Institution, Urban Institute, RAND Corporation and Fraser Institute. The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania conducts research on the role…

BRAC USA contributes $1.25 million to Bangladesh garment workers
Excerpt
22 April 2014, New York — The Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund, an initiative of BRAC USA, announces a grant of $1.25 million to create employment opportunities and secure sustainable futures for 250 garment workers from the Rana Plaza factory complex, which collapsed last year near Dhaka, Bangladesh.
BRAC USA is seeking additional donations to this fund. “Rana Plaza was like Bangladesh’s 9/11,” says Susan Davis, president and CEO of BRAC USA. “Those who died on April 24 did so working in dangerous conditions to provide a better future for their families and make our own clothing more affordable. For those still grieving, there’s nothing that can offset the loss of their loved ones. But we can and should show our solidarity with those who survived…
…“Bangladesh has seen significant gains in living standards, halving poverty rates in the last 20 years, thanks largely to women’s empowerment. The garment industry has played a tremendous role in this,” said Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chairperson of BRAC, last month when the Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund was announced. “But these gains will mean little if we allow tragedies like Rana Plaza to continue. The words ‘Made in Bangladesh’ should be a mark of pride, not shame.”
BRAC’s involvement in Rana Plaza relief began in the immediate hours after the building’s collapse, when first-response medical teams from BRAC’s health, nutrition and population program worked alongside the Bangladesh Army’s medical teams at the site. Later, staff and counselors from BRAC, BRAC University and Dhaka University provided psychosocial support to 473 survivors and victims’ families. The BRAC Limb and Brace Center in Savar, the Dhaka subdistrict in which Rana Plaza was located, provided braces to 29 survivors with spinal injuries and prosthetic limbs to an additional 12 survivors…

BRAC @BRACworld • Apr 24
Meet Khadija, a client of BRAC who survived the #RanaPlaza tragedy (which completes its 1 year mark today) – http://brac.net/node/1607#.U1jUteaSzXF …

BRAC @BRACworld • Apr 22
BRAC Chairperson Sir Abed will deliver the #Mahindra Lecture on 4/24 @HarvardSAI. Register – http://bit.ly/1mhxQND