This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Fears over rising Ebola infections in DR Congo, lack of funding for safe burials
Ensuring the safe and dignified burial of people who have died from Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – regarded as a key way to prevent disease transmission – is under threat from a lack of funding, a key UN-partner said on Thursday.
Amid an uptick in the number of infections in north Kivu and Ituri provinces, the Red Cross says it has just two weeks’ worth of funding to support its burial teams.
Since the start of the latest Ebola epidemic in DRC last August, the virus has claimed more than 1,100 lives and infected 1,671 people, making it the second deadliest outbreak to date.
Twenty per cent of those cases occurred in the last three weeks, according to DRC authorities, who are grappling with insecurity and attacks on health centres by armed groups in north-eastern DRC.
Highlighting the value of the work of the burial teams, Emanuele Capobianco, Director of Health and Care at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), explained that in the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, up to 80 per cent of people were infected during unsafe burials.
Faced with a $16 million shortfall, IFRC has called on the international community to urgently increase its investment in Ebola response, before the outbreak escalates further.
More than 20 million babies born with a low birthweight, warns UN report
Countries need to take greater action to reduce the number of babies born with low birth weights, which put their health at risk, a new UN-backed medical study is urging.
According to the report, around one-in-seven babies worldwide weighed less than 5.5 pounds, or 2.5 kilogrammes at birth, according to latest data, from 2015.
The call for a bigger investment to tackle the low birth weight issue comes from experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who report that 80 per cent of the 2.5 million low weight newborns, die every year.
Highlighting the lack of progress, lead author and academic, Hannah Blencowe, said that in 2012, WHO’s 195-member States committed to reduce low birthweight by 30 per cent up to 2025, but so far there’s only been a decrease of 1.2 per cent worldwide.
Healthy diets vital for progress in Laos say UN food agencies
Good nutrition depends not only on raising awareness about healthy foods and choices, but also on sustainable systems of delivery.
With that in mind, UN agencies have been working with the government and population of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, or Laos as it’s commonly known, to achieve Zero Hunger, with initiatives that help farming families’ lives and livelihoods.
The heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) ended a three-day visit on Thursday, with a call for greater investment in nutrition, after seeing first-hand the impacts of their joint programmes.
WFP Executive Director David Beasley said that he “could feel the sense of optimism from people in the communities” and that the work being done “helps create a better future for schoolchildren, for farmers and for families throughout the country."
Laos has made good progress over the past twenty years in reducing poverty and hunger, but malnutrition remains an obstacle to the country's aim of becoming a middle-income country.
Matt Wells, UN News.