This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
‘Vaccine hesitancy’ must be overcome in global COVID fight: UN chief
Growing mistrust in vaccines must be overcome for the new coronavirus to be defeated, said the UN Secretary-General on Thursday, describing the international vaccine initiative known as the ACT-Accelerator, as “the global solution we are looking for.”
Despite some major economies so far refusing to join, António Guterres said that the “unique model of cooperation” had already rolled out proven therapy for COVID-19 covering 170 countries, but $35 billion was now urgently needed to scale it up.
He said so-called vaccine nationalism was undermining equitable global response, and no country will be safe, until everybody is safe.
Alarming reports of communities around the world indicating “reluctance or even refusal” to take a future vaccine was fueling “vaccine hesitancy and igniting wild conspiracy theories” he added, saying the UN was committed to working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners to “halt deadly misinformation”.
Nearly 60 countries eliminate industrially-produced trans-fats
Fifty-eight countries have introduced laws to eliminate industrially produced trans-fats from their food supplies, boosting the health of some 3.2 billion people by the end of 2021, according to WHO.
The list includes four of the fifteen countries that account for nearly two-thirds of global deaths linked to trans-fat intake, namely Canada, Latvia, Slovenia, and the United States.
However, the remaining 11 – Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Iran, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan and Republic of Korea – have yet to take actions to eliminate the artery-clogging fats.
Consumption of trans fats are estimated to cause around 500,000 deaths per year due to coronary heart disease.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, called on all countries to take every effort to protect lives.
“In a time when the whole world is fighting COVID-19, we must make every effort to protect people’s health. That must include taking all steps possible to prevent noncommunicable diseases that can make them more susceptible to the coronavirus”, he said.
Countries in South-East Asia commit to fight COVID-19 ‘as one’
And staying with health, countries in WHO’s Southeast Asia region, on Thursday, committed to collectively fight COVID and strengthen public health services during the pandemic.
Meeting in virtual session at the WHO Regional Committee for Southeast Asia, Ministers of Health of all 11 Member States signed on, stressing the importance of universal health coverage and primary health care as a safety net for people to access quality health services.
They also underlined efforts to build health systems better in response.
Countries also called for adequate budgets for health programmes, and for using digital technology to ensure timely reporting and information-sharing during outbreaks.
WHO regional director, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, said people’s ordinary health needs do not disappear during pandemics.
“Health security is not only about building capacity to prevent, prepare for and respond to acute events. It must also be about building capacity to maintain essential health services for the duration of response and into the recovery,” she said.
Matt Wells, UN News.