This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Tobacco use falling at last among males, says WHO
Two decades of increasing tobacco use around the world are set to go into reverse, UN health experts have said, after publishing data indicating that fewer men and boys are smoking than before.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this is the first time that nicotine product use have begun to fall among men and boys, who represent four in five smokers.
Around one billion males use tobacco and that number rose by 40 million between the year 2000 and 2018.
But thanks to tough Government measures against smoking, the WHO believes that by 2020, at least two million fewer males will be using tobacco and five million by 2025.
South-East Asian nations have the highest rate of tobacco use, with more than 45 per cent of males and females concerned.
But this trend is projected to fall to around 25 per cent by 2025 – the same level as Europe and the Western Pacific Region including China, WHO said.
Cholera cases decreased globally by 60 per cent in 2018: WHO
Staying with the WHO, it also announced on Thursday that the number of cholera cases decreased globally by 60 per cent in 2018, compared with 2017.
This points to successful prevention and care of the sick in major cholera hotspots, which include Haiti, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
According to data from 34 countries, there were around 500,000 cases of cholera in 2018 and almost 3,000 confirmed deaths - although the true global number is likely to be much higher.
Outbreaks are still ongoing in several countries, including war-torn Yemen, where the UN agency says that reporting is “imprecise”.
Nonetheless, it still believes that there has been a “significant downward trend” in the transmission of cholera, which affects mainly the people of developing countries who lack access to clean water.
Dr. Dominique Legros, who heads WHO’s cholera programme in Geneva, said that the global decrease is in part linked to large-scale vaccination campaigns; in 2018, nearly 18 million doses of vaccine reached 11 countries.
National Governments are leading the effort to eradicate cholera too, Dr. Legros added, in particular the bid to reduce deaths by 90 per cent and to eliminate transmission in up to 20 countries by 2030.
Several countries had made “remarkable gains in cholera control and prevention”, Dr Legros said, including Zambia, South Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Somalia, Bangladesh, and Nigeria.
Terror threat in Nigeria’s north-east inspires musical of hope
And finally, a story of hope from Nigeria, where a theatre production that was inspired by the humanitarian crisis in the country’s north-east, premieres on Thursday.
Bintu, the musical, takes its name from a young girl whose dreams of going to university are cut short by armed insurgents.
After finding refuge in a camp, Bintu receives international assistance and slowly rebuilds her life.
Written and directed by Nigerian playwright Agozie Ugwu, with the help of the World Food Programme, the performance relies on song, dance and poetry to depict people’s struggles and their will to survive – along with the life-saving aid they receive.
The show opens in Lagos and transfers to Abuja early next year.
“This work goes beyond a theatre piece,” Mr. Ugwu said. “It is a call to action from humanity to help humanity.”
To date, conflict between extremists and State forces in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states has driven an estimated two million people from their homes. Nearly three million people struggle to meet their food needs in the three crisis-affected states - almost double the number at the same time last year.
In 2019, WFP and partners have served an average of 800,000 people with food or cash every month.
Daniel Johnson, UN News