This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Global HIV toll likely to be far higher owing to COVID-19, warns UNAIDS
Countries should adopt ambitious new targets to tackle HIV / AIDS to avoid hundreds of thousands of additional infections and deaths from the disease linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN said on Thursday.
Citing data showing the pandemic’s long-term impact on global HIV response, UNAIDS said that there could be up to nearly 300,000 additional new HIV infections between now and 2022, and up to 148,000 more AIDS-related deaths.
This "collective failure to invest sufficiently in comprehensive, rights-based, people-centred HIV responses has come at a terrible price", said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS.
She added that the only way to get the global response against HIV/AIDS back on track was by "tackling the inequalities on which epidemics thrive".
Although countries in sub-Saharan Africa including Botswana and Eswatini have achieved or even exceeded targets set for 2020, "many more countries are falling way behind", UNAIDS said in a new report, called Prevailing against pandemics.
Its proposed targets for 2025 focus on a high coverage of HIV and reproductive and sexual health services, together with the removal of punitive laws, policies, stigma and discrimination.
If these targets are met, the world will be back on track to ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, the agency maintained.
Being more active could prevent five million deaths a year: WHO
Up to five million deaths a year could be averted if people did more exercise – a particular problem at the moment, with so many people working from home.
That’s the message from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization (WHO), which has just updated its guidelines on physical activity.
He said on Thursday that everyone - of all ages and fitness levels - can be physically active and that every type of movement counts.
"Being physically active is critical for health and well-being – it can help to add years to life and life to years," Tedros maintained.
The new WHO guidelines recommend at least two and a half hours of "moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week" for all adults.
This includes people living with chronic conditions or disability.
Children and adolescents should do more, an average of 60 minutes per day, WHO says, pointing to the fact that one in four adults, and four out of five adolescents, do not get enough physical activity.
The guidelines also encourage women to maintain regular physical activity throughout pregnancy and after they’ve had their baby.
Over-65s are advised to add activities which emphasize balance and coordination, as well as muscle strengthening, to help prevent falls and improve overall health.
This type of regular physical activity is key to preventing heart disease, diabetes and cancer, WHO says, as well as reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, reducing cognitive decline, improving memory and boosting brain health.
UN experts express concern over algorithmic ‘bias’ in AI profiling by police
An alert now over alleged growing "bias" in racial profiling by law enforcement around the world, thanks to their increased reliance on computer programmes using artificial intelligence.
In a statement on Thursday, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said that the increased use of big data, facial recognition and other new technology "risk deepening racism, racial discrimination" and xenophobia – along with undermining a host of human rights.
Committee expert Verene Shepherd said that data about the number and type of arrests in any given neighbourhood could reflect "racially biased policing practices".
She warned that this kind of data "will deepen the risk of over-policing" which may lead to more arrests and reduce trust in police forces.
The UN appointed independent rights expert also noted that the increasing use of facial recognition and surveillance technologies to track and control specific communities raised concerns about several basic rights, including the right to privacy and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
In a recommendation issued to countries to prevent such racial profiling, the UN panel called for public disclosure when such systems were used, including what data sets were being used too.
The new guidelines are contained in the Committee’s latest legal guidance for countries in line with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which came into force in 1969.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.