News in Brief 13 December 2017 (AM)

13 December 2017

Half the world lacks access to “essential health services”

At least half of the world’s population lacks access to essential health services, with around 100 million people forced to live in “extreme poverty” due to the cost of health care.

That’s the grim reality highlighted by a new report from the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), published on Wednesday.

The findings of the Global Monitoring report, entitled Tracking Universal Health Coverage, in 2017, also reveal that 800 million people spend at least 10 per cent of their earnings on health expenses because they lack universal coverage.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said it was “completely unacceptable that half the world still lacks coverage for the most essential health services”.

He said that universal health coverage would allow everyone “to obtain the health services they need, when and where they need them, without facing financial hardship”.

For the 100 million forced into extreme poverty by health costs, this means surviving on just $1.90 per day, or less.

A two-day international forum on how to achieve universal coverage began in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday and UN chief António Guterres will be among the world leaders attending.

“Growing need” in South Sudan prompts $1.7 billion humanitarian appeal

The UN and partners launched an appeal on Wednesday for $1.72 billion to provide life-saving assistance to around 6 million people across South Sudan.

Alain Noudéhou, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, said need was growing due to “rising food insecurity, malnutrition, violence and economic decline”, all of which was “taking a toll on the health, safety and livelihoods” of civilians.

Launching the appeal, he emphasized that vulnerable groups, such as women and children, needed to be a priority in the new humanitarian response plan.

Since conflict between rival factions erupted four years ago, around 4 million people have been forced to flee their homes, including nearly 1.9 million people who have been internally displaced and about 2.1 million who have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries.

Unless action is taken now, thousands are at risk of famine next year, the UN warned.

According to nutrition surveys, approximately half of all South Sudanese children under 5 experience acute malnutrition.

More cities join international finance network for sustainable development

An international UN-backed network for promoting sustainability added five new cities to its ranks on Wednesday, during the so-called One Planet Summit, taking place in Paris.

Frankfurt, Geneva, Shenzhen, Toronto and Zurich will all be joining the International Network of Financial Centres for Sustainability, which aims to advance the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and decrease the rate of global warming.

The network was launched in September this year in order to harness financial expertise and capital to drive action on climate change and smart development.

Founding members include Astana, Casablanca, Dublin, Hong Kong, London, Luxembourg, Milan, Paris, Qatar, Shanghai and Stockholm.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’51”


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