"The negative impacts of the illicit drug trade touch every society in the world. This year's World Drug Report estimates that 200 million people, or 5% of the global population age 15-64, have consumed illicit drugs at least once in the last 12 months. The drug trade is pernicious and large. UNODC estimates its retail value at US$ 321bn. It impacts almost every level of human security from individual health, to safety and social welfare. Its consequences are especially devastating for countries with limited resources available to fight against it. The World Drug Report 2005 provides one of the most comprehensive overviews of illicit drug trends at the international level."
UN News Service: "On "World No Tobacco Day", the UN World Health Organization (WHO) is urging health professionals to be more proactive in minimizing the problems caused by tobacco addiction, consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke. "Tobacco continues to be a leading global killer, with nearly five million deaths a year", notes Dr Lee Jong-wook, WHO Director-General, and "Health professionals are on the frontline. They need the skills to help people stop smoking, and they need to lead by example, and quit tobacco use themselves."
UN News Service: "Four Central Asian countries which have suffered a dramatic increase in HIV infection rates in recent years today launched a nearly $27 million project to lessen the human and economic impact of the pandemic ... At a project launch workshop, whose organizers included the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Bank, representatives of the four countries signed agreements for a $25 million grant from the Bank's International Development Association (IDA) and a 1 million pound sterling grant from the Department for International Development (DfID) in the United Kingdom."
"The United Nations Commission on Population and Development has called on the international community to assist developing countries in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic by scaling up development aid. In a unanimously adopted resolution at the end of its thirty-eighth session yesterday, the Commission urged "the international community to complement and supplement, through increased international development assistance, efforts of the developing countries that commit increased national funds to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic." It drew particular attention to the problematic situation "in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, and the Caribbean, countries at high risk of expansion of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and countries in other affected regions whose resources for dealing with the epidemic are seriously limited." The Commission stressed that HIV/AIDS has been intensifying poverty in many countries, affecting individuals, families and communities, reducing human capital and having profound and long-lasting effects on a country's social and economic development." Full Story
"The emergence of new diseases, sudden changes in water quality, creation of coastal "dead zones," the collapse of fisheries and shifts in regional climate are just some of the potential consequences of humankind's degradation of the planet's ecosystems, according to a new United Nations-backed report launched today. Humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively in the last 50 years than in any other period; some 60 per cent of ecosystem elements supporting life on Earth, such as fresh water, clean air or a relatively stable climate, are being degraded or used unsustainably; and the situation could become significantly worse during the first half of this century, according to the study." Read the rest...
"A senior United Nations bird flu expert has gone to North Korea to try to prevent the spread of the virus. North Korea confirmed on Saturday that bird flu had been detected in several farms near the capital, Pyongyang. State media said hundreds of thousands of chickens had been destroyed to prevent the virus from spreading, and no humans had been affected. The UN has also sent diagnostic kits to help the North Koreans determine if the birds died from the deadly H5N1 strain." Full Story
United Nations Marks World Water Day "The United Nations says more than 1.1 billion people around the world lack safe water and 2.4 billion have no access to sanitation, leading to over 3 million deaths every year. "People who can turn on a tap and have safe and clean water to drink, to cook with and to bathe in often take it for granted, and yet more than 1 billion of our fellow human beings have little choice but to use potentially harmful sources of water," said Dr. Lee Jong-Wook, head of the World Health Organization." Read More
"Social determinants are the conditions in which people live and work. They are the "causes behind the causes" of ill-health. They include poverty, social exclusion, inappropriate housing, shortcomings in safeguarding early childhood development, unsafe employment conditions, and lack of quality health systems. Social determinants are intrinsically linked to inequities in health. They help to explain why poor and marginalized people get sick and die sooner than people in better social positions. They are a significant reason behind the world's vast difference in average life expectancy, which ranges from 34 years in Sierra Leone (lowest in the world) to 81.9 in Japan (highest in the world)." More from the WHO...
Good news in today's NYT: "The world should be able to meet a goal of reducing by half the number of measles deaths by the end of the year, two United Nations agencies said today. The number of deaths from the highly contagious viral disease has dropped by 39 percent, to about 530,000 in 2003 from 873,000 in 1999, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund said in a joint report."