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News in Brief 24 March 2023

News in Brief 24 March 2023

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

World Tuberculosis Day: WHO steps up efforts to end TB by 2030

For the first time in more than a decade, the number of people dying from tuberculosis went up last year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Marking World Tuberculosis Day on 24 March, the UN health agency said that although deaths have dropped by nearly 40 per cent worldwide since 2000, 1.6 million people still perish due to the disease annually.

Millions more continue to suffer, amid severe disruption to healthcare services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and conflicts in many countries that have hindered work to prevent, detect and treat TB, WHO said.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced new efforts to improve access to diagnostics and treatment, aiming to eradicate the disease by 2030.

“We need to make the tools we have, available to more people. But we also need new tools,” Tedros said, adding that drug resistance is “undermining the effectiveness” of some medicines used to treat TB.

WHO also highlighted the need for investment in new vaccine development. The only vaccine that is currently available does not adequately protect young people and adults, who account for most TB transmissions.


Haiti: Vicious circle of hunger and violence, close to five million food-insecure

A growing crisis means more people are going hungry in Haiti, and nearly half the population are struggling to feed themselves, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.

Close to five million people in the Caribbean nation are now acutely food insecure. The UN food agency cites soaring inflation and activity by armed groups as key factors and emphasizes how hunger fuels the spiral of violence.

Here’s WFP’s Haiti director, Jean-Michel Bauer:

“We need to know that widespread hunger in Haiti is going to undermine efforts to stabilize the country. It only strengthens the hand of the armed groups.”

The price of staple foods has doubled year on year, and WFP fears a “humanitarian gap” in the country, as needs rise but funding stagnates.

The UN agency has already reached 800,000 people this year with essential assistance, but its operations in Haiti are grossly underfunded and require $125 million over the next six months.


Muslim holy month of Ramadan a high point in charity towards the displaced

Islamic philanthropy plays a growing role in supporting refugees worldwide, with Ramadan, the “month of giving”, at the heart of fundraising efforts, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.

In a new report, UNHCR shows that its pioneering Refugee Zakat Fund has supported six million forcibly displaced people in 26 countries since its launch in 2017.

Key to its success is harnessing the central role of charitable giving as a tenet of Islam. Some $38 million was raised through the fund in 2022.

With more, here’s Khaled Khalifa, Senior Advisor to the High Commissioner for Refugees and UNHCR Representative to Gulf Cooperation Council Countries:

“We wanted to offer a new platform to enable giving in places where Muslim organizations do not operate at ease, because of financial restrictions, because we need the large machinery of the UN to implement, like in Afghanistan, in Somalia and for the Rohingya. Islamic giving has always been there - we are the new kids on the block.”

Last year, the agency launched a new initiative in partnership with the Islamic Development Bank, aiming to generate another revenue stream for refugees worldwide.

Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News.

  • World Tuberculosis Day: WHO steps up efforts to end TB by 2030
  • Haiti: Vicious circle of hunger and violence, close to five million food-insecure
  • Holy month of Ramadan a high point in charity giving to aid displaced
Audio Credit
Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News - Geneva
Audio Duration
Photo Credit
© ILO/Vijay Kuty