This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Pope Francis echoes UN Security Council call for ceasefire
The UN Security Council’s call for a global ceasefire to fight the coronavirus has been endorsed by Pope Francis, who spoke in favour of the move on Sunday.
The Pontiff’s support follows the Council’s unanimous adoption of a resolution last Wednesday, which echoed the UN Secretary-General’s earlier call for a worldwide ceasefire in March.
“An immediate end to violence would make peace possible and bring the security needed to provide humanitarian aid for all those who suffering”, Pope Francis said in Rome.
He added his hope that the initiative might become “a courageous first step towards a peaceful future”.
The Security Council’s two-page resolution – drafted by France and Tunisia – was adopted 111 days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
Its text calls upon all parties to armed conflicts to immediately engage in a “durable humanitarian pause” of at least 90 days, to enable the safe, unhindered and sustained delivery of lifesaving aid.
4.5 million doses of COVID-beating drug secured for poorer nations
Some 4.5 million doses of the drug, dexamethasone, which has proven successful against COVID-19, have been purchased by the UN to help developing countries fight the pandemic.
The move was confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) over the weekend.
It follows an announcement by researchers in June that the anti-inflammatory steroid can save the lives of patients on ventilators or receiving oxygen.
The aim of the bulk dexamethasone purchase is to avoid shortages resulting from high demand from other parts of the world, said agencies UNITAI and UNICEF, in a joint statement.
In related news, the WHO also announced that it is stopping coronavirus trials of two drugs in patients with COVID-19 after they failed to reduce mortality.
They are the malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, and the HIV combination treatment lopinavir/ritonavir, WHO said in a statement on Saturday.
Globally, there are now well over 11 million cases of COVID-19 infection and more than half a million people have died.
Countries should reject ‘mad or bad’ approach to mental health, says expert
An independent rights expert reporting to the Human Rights Council in Geneva has said that it is time to change the way we treat mental health issues globally.
Presenting his latest report to Member States, Dainius Pūras said that the medicalization and institutionalization of patients were far too common.
Countries should reject this “mad or bad” approach, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health insisted, while warning against the “exaggerated” benefits of psychotropic medications.
Their efficacy “is not comparable” to antibiotics used to fight infection, Mr. Pūras said.
The expert added that while he appreciated progress made in understanding the role of psychotropic medications, there are “no biological markers for mental health conditions”, which made it difficult to know how the drugs worked.
Instead, Mr. Pūras reiterated his call for a rights-based approach to mental health care and the strengthening of practices that are non-violent, community-led, healing and culturally sensitive.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.