This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
1.4 million TB sufferers lost out on treatment during first year of COVID-19
An estimated 1.4 million fewer people received care for tuberculosis (TB) in 2020 than usual, because of COVID-19, the UN health agency said on Monday.
Latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) from more than 80 countries, showed a reduction in treatment of 21 per cent in the first year of the pandemic, compared with 2019.
The biggest differences were in Indonesia (down 42 per cent), South Africa (41 per cent), the Philippines (37 per cent) and India (25 per cent).
“The disruption to essential services for people with TB is just one tragic example of the ways the pandemic is disproportionately affecting some of the world’s poorest people, who were already at higher risk for TB,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
Ahead of World TB Day on Wednesday 24 March, the UN agency pointed out that some countries have already taken steps to sidestep the impact of new coronavirus on the delivery of TB services.
Successful policies have included expanding the use of digital technologies such as computer-aided diagnosis in chest X-rays, which is particularly beneficial in countries lacking sufficient numbers of trained radiographers.
DR Congo abuses against civilians continue unabated: Bachelet
To the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) now, where violence against civilians has continued to worsen, particularly in the east, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet has told the Human Rights Council.
Addressing the Geneva-based forum on Monday, Ms. Bachelet reiterated that North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri provinces had witnessed a shocking number of killings that may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.
Some 3,000 non-combatants were killed in the eastern part of the country last year, the High Commissioner said, representing a 21 per cent increase in documented violations since 2019.
“Given this context of escalating bloodshed, and the country's history of intercommunal violence, I am deeply concerned that the current widespread increase in hate speech could further enflame conflict.”
The High Commissioner noted that violations had been committed by a range of armed groups, operating in vast areas where there is little or no government presence, as well as by the Congolese military and police force.
She also called on the authorities to strengthen efforts against hate speech based on ethnic, religious and gender identity, to enable peaceful coexistence between communities.
Oceans under threat like never before, warns World Meteorological Organization
Climate change has hit the world’s oceans hard, UN weather experts said on Monday, in a call for a resumption of monitoring that was interrupted by COVID-19, and for investment in warning systems to protect coastal communities at risk.
In an alert that warmer seas helped to fuel a record Atlantic hurricane season last year, along with major tropical cyclones in the Indian and South Pacific Oceans, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said that “big geographical and research gaps” remain in the Global Ocean Observing System.
The COVID-19 crisis made matters worse when in March 2020, governments and oceanographic institutions recalled nearly all their research vessels home.
This reduced the capacity of commercial ships to contribute vital ocean and weather observations, meaning that…systems could not be maintained” and in some cases failed, the UN agency said.
According to WMO, average sea level rose by around 15 centimetres last century, but projections show that future increases could be four times that by the end of the 21st - even if global warming is limited to well below two degrees Celsius.
About 40 per cent of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometres of the coast.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.