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David Beasley of United States appointed as head of UN emergency food agency

29 March 2017 – The United Nations today announced the appointment of David Beasley of the United States as the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which delivers emergency food assistance around the world and works with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres and José Graziano da Silva, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), announced the appointment today after consulting with the WFP Board at a special session in Rome.

In a statement, Secretary-General Guterres said that Mr. Beasley &#8220brings to the position extensive experience with key governmental and business leaders and stakeholders around the world, with very strong resource mobilisation skills.&#8221

Mr. Beasley, who is the Chair of the Center for Global Strategies, was Governor of the state of South Carolina from 1995 to 1999.

He will replace Ertharin Cousin, also a US national, whose five-year term expires on 4 April.

Ms. Cousin said she was &#8220impressed&#8221 with Mr. Beasley’s understanding of the organization and the strategic plan that guides WFP’s work, as well as his commitment to the UN agency’s work and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ms. Cousin led WFP from April 2012 through &#8220a period of unprecedented number of major emergencies,&#8221 according to the UN agency.

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Medicines should help, not harm, says UN health agency launching global patient safety ‘challenge’

29 March 2017 – Medicines should help, not harm, says UN health agency launching new global patient safety ‘challenge’

Underlining that medicines should fulfil their real purpose &#8211 help people, not harm them &#8211 the United Nations health agency today launched a world-wide ‘Challenge’ that that seeks to reduce severe, avoidable medication-associated damage across the globe by half over the next five years.

&#8220We all expect to be helped, not harmed, when we take medication,&#8221 said the Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, announcing the new campaign Global Patient Safety Challenge on Medication Safety.

&#8220Apart from the human cost, medication errors place an enormous and unnecessary strain on health budgets. Preventing errors saves money and saves lives.&#8221

According to estimates, the global cost associated with medication errors has been estimated at $42 billion annually or almost 1 per cent of total global health expenditure. In terms of impact on the health of people, for instance in the United States, medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually.

While low- and middle-income countries are estimated to have similar rates of medication-related adverse events to high-income countries, the impact is about twice as much in terms of the number of years of healthy life lost.

Furthermore, many countries lack good data, something that the new initiative will attempt to address.

The initiative will also improve the way medicines are prescribed, distributed and consumed, and increase awareness among patients about the risks associated with the improper use of medication.

It also urges countries to take early priority action to address key factors, including medicines with a high risk of harm if used improperly, patients who take multiple medications for different diseases and conditions, and patients going through transitions of care, in order to reduce medication errors and harm to patients.

The actions in the Challenge will focus on four areas: patients and the public, health care professionals, medicines as products, and systems and practices of medication.

The initiative also aims to make improvements in each stage of the medication use process including prescribing, dispensing, administering, monitoring and use and the UN health agency will disseminate guidance, and develop strategies, plans and tools to ensure that the medication process has the safety of patients at its core, in all health care facilities.

&#8220Over the years, I have spoken to many people who have lost loved ones to medication-related errors,&#8221 said Sir Liam Donaldson, the WHO Envoy for Patient Safety. &#8220Their stories, their quiet dignity and their acceptance of situations that should never have arisen have moved me deeply. It is to the memories of all those who have died due to incidents of unsafe care that this Challenge should be dedicated.&#8221

This is WHO’s third global patient safety initiative, following the Clean Care is Safe Care challenge on hand hygiene in 2005 and the Safe Surgery Saves Lives challenge in 2008.

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In special address, Chile’s President spotlights efficacy of UN Human Rights Council

29 March 2017 – Addressing a special meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Chilean President today stressed the importance of multilateralism and the work of the 47-member body.

&#8220I raise my voice in support of the efficacy of the United Nations and the Human Rights Council,&#8221 said Michelle Bachelet, stressing the need for the UN to increase a regular budget allocation to the human rights agenda from the current three per cent.

&#8220In my opinion, it is important to preserve the essence of the Council and to prevent it from being used for alternative purposes by any one State. We are all responsible for ensuring that the international system works as it is supposed to,&#8221 she said.

&#8220One fundamental element is the principle of adherence to international law, which includes respect for treaties and preventing the misuse of mechanisms or institutions designed to resolve differences,&#8221 she added.

Chile has resisted dictatorship and has taken charge of the burdensome legacy of brutal human rights violations, she said.

Among other things, Chile has made a commitment to head an initiative against torture to prevent this crime from occurring and promote ratification of international instruments related to the issue, said Ms. Bachelet.

After having received numerous recommendations, Chile in November 2016 modified the Penal Code that defined the crime of torture according to three categories: physical, psychological and sexual violence.

The Government is also working on efforts to present a bill that would create a national preventative mechanism against torture within the national human rights institution.

In his video message, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said that Chile has long been a strong human rights advocate at the international stage.

Chile has made great strides since the end of the dictatorship, but too many families still do not know the truth about what happened to their loved ones.

The right to truth for victims of gross human rights violations is inalienable. Any potential measure of pardon or early release for perpetrators must be carefully considered in light of human rights law, he said.

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UN chief confirms the remains found in DRC those of the two missing experts

29 March 2017 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has confirmed the deaths of Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan, two members of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo who had been missing since 12 March, and vowed that the Organization would do &#8220everything possible&#8221 to ensure that justice is done.

In a statement late yesterday, the UN chief expressed his deepest condolences to the families, loved ones and colleagues of Mr. Sharp (United States) and Ms. Catalan (Sweden) and said that the Organization will honour their memory by continuing to support the work of the Group of Experts and the whole UN family in the DRC.

&#8220Michael and Zaida lost their lives seeking to understand the causes of conflict and insecurity in the DRC in order to help bring peace to the country and its people,&#8221 said Mr. Guterres.

He also called on the national authorities to continue to search for the four Congolese nationals who were accompanying the experts and said that the UN would cooperate with them in the continuing search.

Also in the statement, the Secretary General underscored that the UN will conduct an inquiry into the deaths.

&#8220In case of criminal acts, the UN will do everything possible to ensure that justice is done,&#8221 he stressed.

Mr. Guterres also expressed hope that the cause of their deaths will be determined following a thorough examination and that the Congolese authorities will conduct a full investigation into the incident.

On Monday, peacekeepers from the UN Mission in the country (MONUSCO) discovered the two experts’ remains outside the city of Kananga in the DRC’s Kasaï-Central province.

The Group of Experts on the DRC has been supporting the work of a Committee established by the Security Council to oversee sanctions measures, including arms embargo, travel ban and assets freeze imposed upon armed groups in the country.

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Starving children in famine-facing countries threatened by lack of water, sanitation – UN agency

29 March 2017 – In African and Middle Eastern countries facing famine, unsafe water is as dangerous for severely malnourished children as lack of food, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today warned, noting that nearly 27 million people are at risk in northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

&#8220Unsafe water can cause malnutrition or make it worse, no matter how much food a malnourished child eats, he or she will not get better if the water they are drinking is not safe,&#8221 said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes.

The UN agency is warning that a combination of malnutrition, dirty water and poor sanitation sets off a vicious cycle from which many children never recover.

In northeast Nigeria, where the fight on Boko Haram damaged or destroyed 75 per cent of water and sanitation infrastructure, some 3.8 million people have no access to safe water, according to UNICEF.

In Somalia, about one-third of the population is expected to need access to water and sanitation in the coming weeks, according to the UN agency, pushing the current needs from 3.3 million to 4.5 million of people.

Some 5.1 million people lack safe water, sanitation and hygiene in South Sudan, where half of the water points in the country have been damaged or destroyed.

RELATED: UN aid chief calls for access, funds to prevent spread of South Sudan’s famine

The fighting in Yemen has displaced at least 14.5 million people, leaving them without basic sanitation and adequate drinking water, UNICEF cautioned. According to the latest figures, almost 2 million children are at risk of diarrheal diseases which, even before the conflict, were the second leading cause of death among children under the age of five.

UNICEF is working with other UN agencies, national authorities and local partners to provide safe water and sanitation to children.

&#8220But without an end to the conflicts plaguing these countries, without sustainable and unimpeded access to the children in need of support and without more resources, even our best efforts will not be enough,&#8221 Mr. Fontaine said.

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