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News in Brief 20 January 2020

News in Brief 20 January 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations 

Quitting smoking leads to better post-surgery outcomes: UN-backed study  

Smokers who give up tobacco prior to minor or non-emergency surgery are less likely to experience post-operative complications, according to a UN-backed study published on Monday. 

Patients who smoke face significantly higher risks of complications following surgery, including impaired heart and lung functions, infections and delayed or impaired wound healing. 

However, the study found risks are lowered if they quit smoking approximately four weeks or more before surgery due to improved blood flow to essential organs.   

The authors explained that smoking decreases the body’s ability to heal after surgery. 

Cigarettes contain nicotine and carbon monoxide, both of which can lower oxygen levels while also greatly increasing the risk of heart-related complications after surgery. 

The study was conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) together with the University of Newcastle, Australia and the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA). 

Dr Vinayak Prasad, Head of WHO’s No Tobacco Unit said it “provides evidence that there are advantages to postponing minor or non-emergency surgery to give patients the opportunity to quit smoking, resulting in a better health outcome.” 

Despite drop in journalist killings, impunity persists: UNESCO 

Although the number of journalists killed worldwide fell by nearly half last year, almost total impunity for these crimes persists, the UN cultural agency, UNESCO, said on Monday. 

UNESCO reported that 56 journalists were killed in 2019, compared with 99 the year before—the lowest annual toll in more than a decade. 

The highest number of deaths occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 22 killings, followed by 15 in the Asia-Pacific region, and 10 in Arab States. 

The majority of cases, or 61 per cent, occurred in countries that are not currently experiencing armed conflict. 

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said the agency “remains deeply troubled by the hostility and violence directed at all too many journalists around the world.” 

UNESCO works to create a free and safe environment for journalists and others who work in media, and to combat impunity for crimes against them. 

UN aid official urges continued support to the occupied Palestinian territory 

A senior UN humanitarian has called for continued international commitment and financial support to the Palestinian people. 

The appeal by Ursula Mueller, the number two official in the UN’s humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, came on Monday following a six-day visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). 

She said: “Until there is a viable political solution, it is critical that the international community continues to render support in a consistent and sustained manner to meet the needs of the most vulnerable Palestinians.” 

Ms. Mueller urged countries to continue supporting humanitarian assistance in Gaza and the West Bank, while also working to restart political dialogue between the sides.  

During her mission, Ms. Mueller gave a key note address at an international conference on preparedness and response to emergencies and disasters, held in Tel Aviv, Israel. 

She also met with Israeli and Palestinian authorities, and reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to address humanitarian needs across the oPt.  

Dianne Penn, UN News. 



  • WHO-backed study outlines benefits of quitting smoking prior to surgery

  • UNESCO laments impunity for journalist killings

  • Top humanitarian officials urges continued support for occupied Palestinian territory

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Dianne Penn/UN News
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