WHO launches first World Report on Vision

Health – Vision

WHO launches first World Report on Vision
At least 2.2 billion people have vision impairment or blindness, of which over 1 billion cases could have been prevented or have yet to be addressed
8 October 2019 News release Geneva
More than 1 billion people worldwide are living with vision impairment because they do not get the care they need for conditions like short and far sightedness, glaucoma and cataract, according to the first World report on vision issued by the World Health Organization.

The report, launched ahead of World Sight Day on 10 October, found that ageing populations, changing lifestyles and limited access to eye care, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, are among the main drivers of the rising numbers of people living with vision impairment.
“Eye conditions and vision impairment are widespread, and far too often they still go untreated,” says

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “People who need eye care must be able to receive quality interventions without suffering financial hardship. Including eye care in national health plans and essential packages of care is an important part of every country’s journey towards universal health coverage.”

Dr Tedros adds: “It is unacceptable that 65 million people are blind or have impaired sight when their vision could have been corrected overnight with a cataract operation, or that over 800 million struggle in everyday activities because they lack access to a pair of glasses.”

Globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment or blindness, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed.

Other main findings of the report include:
:: The burden of eye conditions and vision impairment is not borne equally: it is often far greater in people living in rural areas, those with low incomes, women, older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations.

:: The unmet need of distance vision impairment in low- and middle-income regions is estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions.

:: Low- and middle-income regions of western and eastern sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have rates of blindness that are eight times higher than in all high-income countries. Rates of cataract and trachomatous trichiasis are higher among women, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

:: US$14.3 billion is needed to address the backlog of 1 billion people living with vision impairment or blindness due to short and far sightedness, and cataracts.

UNICEF launches Cryptocurrency Fund

Cryptocurrency – UN Agencies

UNICEF launches Cryptocurrency Fund
UN Children’s agency becomes first UN Organization to hold and make transactions in cryptocurrency
NEW YORK, 9 October 2019 – UNICEF will now be able to receive, hold and disburse donations of cryptocurrencies ether and bitcoin, through its newly-established UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund. In a first for United Nations organizations, UNICEF will use cryptocurrencies to fund open source technology benefiting children and young people around the world.

Under the structure of the UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund, contributions will be held in their cryptocurrency of contribution, and granted out in the same cryptocurrency.

“This is a new and exciting venture for UNICEF,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “If digital economies and currencies have the potential to shape the lives of coming generations, it is important that we explore the opportunities they offer. That’s why the creation of our Cryptocurrency Fund is a significant and welcome step forward in humanitarian and development work.”

The first contributions to the UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund will be received from the Ethereum Foundation and will benefit three grantees of the UNICEF Innovation Fund – and a project coordinated by the GIGA initiative to connect schools across the world to the internet…

The Ethereum Foundation will make its initial donation through the French National Committee for UNICEF. UNICEF national committees of USA, Australia and New Zealand also accept cryptocurrency…



Ebola – DRC+
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Ebola Outbreak in DRC 62: 08 October 2019
Situation Update
In the past week, from 30 September to 6 October, 14 new confirmed Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases, with an additional nine deaths, have been reported from seven health zones in two affected provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although the decline in the number of new cases is encouraging, the recent fluctuations in case numbers per week must be interpreted with caution, as case reporting is contingent upon the level of access and security.
During mid-September, serious security incidents in Lwemba Health Area, Mandima Health Zone, stalled outbreak response activities for more than two weeks. Response activities have since resumed but remain limited. Last week, an open forum for discussion and reconciliation was held in Lwemba with partners and civil society to dispel mistrust and enhance engagement in future response activities. Improved access may result in enhanced case finding and an increase in the number of reported cases from the area…


As measles deaths in the Democratic Republic of the Congo top 4,000, UNICEF rushes medical kits to health centers and vaccinates thousands more children
KINSHASA/DAKAR/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 9 October 2019 – UNICEF is vaccinating thousands more children against measles and rushing life-saving medicines to health centers across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as deaths from the world’s largest measles outbreak top 4,000.

Since January, 203,179 cases of measles have been reported in all 26 provinces of the country, and 4,096 have died.  Children under the age of five represent 74 per cent of infections and nearly 90 per cent of deaths. The number of measles cases in DRC this year is more than triple the number recorded for all of 2018. The measles outbreak in DRC has become far deadlier than Ebola, which to date, has taken 2,143 lives.

“We’re fighting the measles epidemic on two fronts – preventing infections and preventing deaths,” said UNICEF Representative in the DRC, Edouard Beigbeder. “Along with the government and key partners, UNICEF has been racing to vaccinate children against measles, and at the same time, supplying clinics with medicines that treat symptoms and improve the chance of survival for those already infected.”

This week and next, an additional 1,111 medical kits are being delivered to health centers in measles hot-spots. The kits contain antibiotics, rehydration salts, Vitamin A, pain relievers, antipyretics and other supplies to care for over 111,000 people infected with the highly contagious and potentially deadly viral disease.

Over the past year, UNICEF supplied more than 8.6 million doses of the measles vaccine for emergency outbreak responses rolled out by multiple organizations. UNICEF has led outbreak responses in eight hard-hit provinces—vaccinating more than 1.4 million children.  The most recent concluded last month in Kasai Central, where over 210,000 children were vaccinated…


Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Polio this week as of 09 October 2019
:: On 24 October 2019, World Polio Day, an event will be held at the WHO to mark the potential certification of eradication of wild poliovirus type 3. With no poliovirus type 3 detected anywhere in the world since 2012, the Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (GCC) is anticipated to officially declare this strain as globally eradicated. The event will also be broadcast on the internet. Viewers are welcome to follow the proceedings through a WebEx broadcast that will be available here.

:: In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an Outbreak Response Assessment (OBRA) conducted in the country noted operational and Coordination improvements and strengthened government ownership in support of the outbreak response.  As a result, three genetically-distinct outbreak strains have been successfully stopped and recommended for closure, demonstrating the effectiveness of outbreak response measures, if fully implemented. At the same time, however, the OBRA noted that the strengthened political ownership now needed to rapidly translate into uniformly high-quality outbreak response, including through appropriate use and management of mOPV2, effective implementation of accountability framework to ensure high quality campaigns to urgently stop the remaining outbreak lineages and prevent further strains from emerging in the future.

:: On 16 September 2019, the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) held its twenty-second meeting. Read the committee’s report of progress for affected IHR States Parties subject to Temporary Recommendations.

Summary of new viruses this week:
:: Pakistan — three WPV1 cases and 13 WPV1-positive environmental samples;
:: Central African Republic— four cVDPV2 cases and two cVDPV2 positive environmental samples;
:: Democratic Republic of the Congo — three circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) cases;
:: Philippines — three cVDPV2 positive environmental samples.


Editor’s Note:
WHO has posted a refreshed emergencies page which presents an updated listing of Grade 3,2,1 emergencies as below.

WHO Grade 3 Emergencies [to 12 Oct 2019]

Democratic Republic of the Congo
:: Ebola Outbreak in DRC 62: 08 October 2019
[See Ebola above for detail]

Mozambique floods – No new digest announcements identified
Nigeria – No new digest announcements identified
South Sudan – No new digest announcements identified
Syrian Arab Republic – No new digest announcements identified
Somalia – No new digest announcements identified
Yemen – No new digest announcements identified


WHO Grade 2 Emergencies [to 12 Oct 2019]

Iran floods 2019
:: WHO mobile clinics deployed to Islamic Republic of Iran 9 October 2019

:: WHO provides support for treatment of leishmaniasis in Libya 7 October 2019

Afghanistan – No new digest announcements identified
Angola – No new digest announcements identified
Burkina Faso [in French] – No new digest announcements identified
Burundi – No new digest announcements identified
Cameroon – No new digest announcements identified
Central African Republic – No new digest announcements identified
Ethiopia – No new digest announcements identified
HIV in Pakistan – No new digest announcements identified
Iraq – No new digest announcements identified
Malawi floods – No new digest announcements identified
Measles in Europe – No new digest announcements identified
MERS-CoV – No new digest announcements identified
Myanmar – No new digest announcements identified
Niger No new digest announcements identified
occupied Palestinian territory – No new digest announcements identified
Sudan – No new digest announcements identified
Ukraine – No new digest announcements identified
Zimbabwe – No new digest announcements identified


WHO Grade 1 Emergencies [to 12 Oct 2019]

Chad – No new digest announcements identified
Djibouti – No new digest announcements identified
Kenya – No new digest announcements identified
Mali – No new digest announcements identified
Namibia – viral hepatitis – No new digest announcements identified
Tanzania – No new digest announcements identified


UN OCHA – L3 Emergencies
The UN and its humanitarian partners are currently responding to three ‘L3’ emergencies. This is the global humanitarian system’s classification for the response to the most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises. 
Syrian Arab Republic
:: Syria ǀ Flash Update #2, Humanitarian impact of the military operation in north-eastern Syria, 11 October 2019
:: Syrian Arab Republic: Recent Developments in Northwestern Syria Situation Report No. 13 – as of 8 October 2019

Yemen – No new digest announcements identified


UN OCHA – Corporate Emergencies
When the USG/ERC declares a Corporate Emergency Response, all OCHA offices, branches and sections provide their full support to response activities both at HQ and in the field.
Editor’s Note:
Ebola in the DRC has bene added as a OCHA “Corporate Emergency” this week:
CYCLONE IDAI and Kenneth
:: 06 Oct 2019 Cholera response plan launched in Sudan

EBOLA OUTBREAK IN THE DRC – No new digest announcements identified


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The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 5 October 2019

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
GE2P2 Global Foundation – Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

PDF: The Sentinel_ period ending 5 Oct 2019

:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities   [see PDF]
:: INGO/Consortia/Joint Initiatives Watch – Media Releases, Major Initiatives, Research:: Foundation/Major Donor Watch -Selected Updates
:: Journal Watch – Key articles and abstracts from 100+ peer-reviewed journals  [see PDF]

Global wildlife trade across the tree of life

Featured Journal Content

04 October 2019 Vol 366, Issue 6461
Research Articles
Global wildlife trade across the tree of life
By Brett R. Scheffers, Brunno F. Oliveira, Ieuan Lamb, David P. Edwards
Science 04 Oct 2019 : 71-76 Full Access
A heavy toll
Trade in wildlife, and their parts, is well recognized for a few key species, such as elephants and rhinos, but it occurs globally, across a wide array of species. Scheffers et al. looked across tens of thousands of vertebrate species and found that one in every five species is affected by trade of some sort. The impacts of trade tend to be concentrated in certain phylogenetic groups, thus the potential for long-term impact on certain lineages is substantial. This analysis allows for prediction of potential for trade where it does not yet occur, facilitating proactive prevention.
Wildlife trade is a multibillion dollar industry that is driving species toward extinction. Of >31,500 terrestrial bird, mammal, amphibian, and squamate reptile species, ~18% (N = 5579) are traded globally. Trade is strongly phylogenetically conserved, and the hotspots of this trade are concentrated in the biologically diverse tropics. Using different assessment approaches, we predict that, owing to their phylogenetic replacement and trait similarity to currently traded species, future trade will affect up to 3196 additional species—totaling 8775 species at risk of extinction from trade. Our assessment underscores the need for a strategic plan to combat trade with policies that are proactive rather than reactive, which is especially important because species can quickly transition from being safe to being endangered as humans continue to harvest and trade across the tree of life.

Yemen — Joint NGO Statement on Yemen – 74th UN General Assembly


Joint NGO Statement on Yemen – 74th UN General Assembly
September 2019
Humanitarian Crisis in Free Fall
After almost five years of conflict, and despite all efforts to halt displacement, hunger and disease, Yemen remains the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The suffering inflicted on Yemeni people is entirely manmade and will continue to deteriorate rapidly on all fronts without urgent action to end the violence, and to address humanitarian needs. Unfortunately, despite the Stockholm agreement, the situation for ordinary Yemenis has altered little since last year, with growing numbers of humanitarian need , and escalating violence all highlighting the deteriorating situation.

Increased fighting risks pushing the country into utter devastation: Conflict continues on many fronts particularly in Al Dhale, Taizz, Hodeidah, Hajjah, and Aden. Increased conflict and political stalemate in Hodeidah, as well as the recent flare in fighting and escalation of conflict in Aden, both of which are major port cities, jeopardises the safety of civilians and threatens channels for critical fuel, food and medical supplies to the rest of the country. It is crucial that these remain open and fully functional. Millions of Yemeni women, men and children are dependent on these lifelines for their survival.

Civilians continue to bear the brunt: Civilians and civilian infrastructure including hospitals, schools, water facilities, food transport, farms and market places, continue to be hit by all parties with impunity, along with the potential use of starvation as a tactic of war continuing to exacerbate an already dire humanitarian situation as reported by the UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, as well as in the UN Secretary General’s Annual Report on the Situation of Children and Armed Conflict.

A lost generation of Yemeni children: The two million children and young people who remain out of school are being deprived of an education, exposing them to violence and exploitation. Millions of displaced children cannot access education, and ongoing attacks on schools or their use and occupation by armed groups mean children’s safety at school cannot be guaranteed. In 2018 alone, there were 44 verified attacks on schools and 32 instances of military uses of schools , highlighting the extent of the issue.

Populations on the brink of starvation: Approximately 17 million people, over 60 percent of the population, are food insecure. Although increased humanitarian food assistance has lessened the severity of the impact over the past year, without this vital assistance, many areas of the country would likely be facing higher levels of food insecurity . The gains in preventing starvation are undermined by fighting and continued bureaucratic impediments, delays and denial of access by conflict parties, and donors failing to meet their funding pledges. The impact of food insecurity is especially dire for children, as an estimated 2 million children are acutely malnourished, including 360,000 who suffer from severe acute malnourishment. There are also over one million acutely malnourished pregnant and breastfeeding women. Yemen’s conflict remains the main driver of food insecurity, along with high levels of unemployment coupled with extremely high food prices and a currency crisis.

A struggling economy continues to falter: A crippled economy continues to weaken, with the Yemeni Riyal depreciating in recent weeks to the lowest levels since 2018. Deteriorating public services and failure to pay civil servants further constrains peoples’ ability to purchase food and medicine, with many having to make agonising choices between the two, and many others left with too little to access either. Protracted conflict and eroding safety nets have left millions of Yemenis without access to livelihoods or the ability to deal with economic shocks; this is particularly concerning for female-headed households, which are more vulnerable in conflict.

Barriers to access continue: Imports of commercial goods, food and fuel continue to fluctuate due to restrictions on imports. The closure of land, sea and air trade routes has led to severely reduced supplies of vital commodities and resulted in high prices for these goods. In addition to uncertainty about the accessibility of Yemen’s seaports – particularly Hodeidah and Aden – Sana’a’s airport has been closed to commercial flights since August 2016 and containerised cargo through Hodeidah continues to be impeded. Aden’s airport has recently been temporarily closed multiple times due to resurgences in fighting, further restricting the mobility of the Yemeni population. The majority of Yemeni people are trapped in a conflict without the freedom to escape, particularly the sick who are unable to leave the country for medical treatment.

In addition, 5.1 million people in need live in areas where it is difficult for them to access aid. The UN estimates that 6.5 million people are affected by delays in project implementation resulting from bureaucratic impediments imposed by authorities. Escalation in fighting has exacerbated these challenges, with hundreds of thousands displaced over the past five years of conflict. In 2019 alone, it is estimated at least 350,000 have been displaced , with families and communities scattered by the conflict.

We call on the international community to apply concerted pressure to all parties to the conflict to:
:: Comply with their obligations under international law, and take immediate measures to prevent and end all violations of international humanitarian law, including grave violations against children and gender-based violence; including by cooperating with the Group of Eminent Experts Report (GEE) and implementing their recommendations; engaging with the Panel of Experts on Yemen and UN special representatives and rapporteurs, as well as with the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict;

:: Engage in good faith and without pre-conditions in efforts to expand the political process beyond the Stockholm Agreement, in an inclusive process that involves the meaningful participation of women, youth, civil society and other traditionally marginalised groups;

:: Agree and implement a nation-wide ceasefire; and

:: Ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian and commercial access of essential goods and services to and throughout Yemen.

A political solution can bring the war to an end and reinstate peace in Yemen and support lasting solutions to the dire humanitarian situation. All parties must immediately cease hostilities, agree to a nationwide ceasefire, and cooperate in ‘good faith’ with UN Special Envoy Martin Griffith’s, and help restart a broader peace process.

Signed by:
Action Contre la Faim
Adventist Development and Relief Agency
Danish Refugee Council- Danish Demining Group
FHI 360
Future Forum
Global Communities
Handicap International – Humanity and Inclusion
Human Appeal
International Medical Corps
International Rescue Committee
Islamic Help
Islamic Relief Worldwide
Medecins du Monde
Mercy Corps
Norwegian Refugee Council
Première Urgence – Aide Médicale Internationale
Relief International
Save the Children
Search for Common Ground
War Child

Majority of States signal support for action against bombing populated areas

Urban Warfare

[Editor’s Note: We paused when we read the headline in the press release below, suggesting a kind of triumph that a majority of states might “signal support for action against bombing in populated areas”…]

Majority of States signal support for action against bombing populated areas
Humanity & Inclusion Press Release
October 02, 2019
Vienna, Austria—A historic, two-day meeting in Vienna attracted 133 States to discuss the civilian suffering caused by bombing and shelling in urban areas, as well as the technical, legal and military aspects of urban warfare. “The Vienna Conference on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare” marked an important success, as a majority of States announced their willingness to work on a political declaration to end the human traumas caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas…

…Armed conflicts are increasingly fought in populated areas—mainly cities. The impact of the use of explosive weapons is devastating for civilians. According to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), 20,384 civilians were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2018 alone. When explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 90% of the victims are civilians.

The urgency to right this wrong was clear on the final day, when a majority of States at the conference publicly stated their willingness to negotiate a political declaration to end human suffering caused by the use of explosive weapons.

“We are very happy to see States finally acting, and ready to negotiate a political declaration—something we have been requesting for a long time,” Anne Héry notes. “We will constructively participate in this process, providing evidence from affected areas, and reinforcing our global, public campaigns to ensure that the declaration brings an end to the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas, and improve support to affected people.”

The use of explosive weapons in populated areas also leads to the destruction of essential infrastructure like houses, hospitals, schools, water and electricity supply systems, leaves massive unexploded ordnance contamination, and is one of the key drivers of population displacement.

In the next six months, discussions will be decisive to protect millions of civilians living in war zones, or fleeing their homes or even their countries as conflict approaches. The next phase of the negotiation process kicks off on Nov. 18, in Geneva. This meeting should result in a set date for a Conference in early 2020, when a political declaration should open for endorsements. Humanity & Inclusion, alongside fellow INEW members, will continue to meet with States to convince them to fully support a strong political declaration to end the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas and to support the affected people…