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World News in Brief: Delivering on health at COP28, aid for north Darfur, food standards watchdog turns 60

Activists stage massive protest at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh demanding leaders to address vital issues realted to agriculture, adaptation and climate resilience.
Laura Quinones
Activists stage massive protest at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh demanding leaders to address vital issues realted to agriculture, adaptation and climate resilience.

World News in Brief: Delivering on health at COP28, aid for north Darfur, food standards watchdog turns 60

Climate and Environment

Climate action is health action and the legacy of the COP 28 climate conference opening later this week in Dubai should be a commitment to a healthier planet.

That’s the message from UN health agency WHO, which said on Monday that negotiators at the upcoming meeting must recognize their responsibility “for the health of populations worldwide”.

“Leaders must deliver in Dubai, providing the strong health outcomes their peoples expect and their economies urgently need,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), some 3.5 billion people – nearly half of humanity – live in areas highly vulnerable to climate change, and curbing greenhouse gas emissions is urgent to mitigate the disastrous health effects of global warming.


Deadly heat 

WHO said that rising temperatures have caused a 70 per cent increase in heat-related deaths among people aged 65 and over in the last two decades, while infectious diseases like dengue and cholera have surged. 

At the same time, flooding and drought have wrought havoc on food production.

Transitioning to clean energy sources is also urgent to help prevent the seven million premature air pollution deaths every year, WHO insisted.

Sudan: UN hails aid milestone in Darfur, calls for broader access

The conflict in Sudan has entered its eighth month, and while aid access remains extremely challenging, UN humanitarians are doing their utmost to reach people in need.

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On Monday, the UN’s top humanitarian official in Sudan, Clementine Nkweta-Salami, welcomed the arrival of the first cross-border humanitarian shipment from Chad to Al Fasher in North Darfur state.

Facilitated by UN aid coordination office OCHA, the relief includes medical and nutritional supplies.

The development follows another milestone last week when humanitarians delivered medical supplies to Central Darfur for the first time since conflict broke out in April.

Humanitarians continue to call for sustained aid access across Sudan, where almost half the population face severe levels of hunger, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP). 

Last week, UN emergency relief chief Martin Griffiths deplored the fact that the Sudanese capital Khartoum remains inaccessible to humanitarian relief and highlighted the “distressing” toll of the conflict on civilians in Darfur. 

The UN Children’s Fund has reported over 3,000 allegations of severe children’s rights violations in the country since the fighting started, with the Darfur region accounting for at least half of the cases. 

Global food standards body marks 60 years of consumer protection

The world global food standards body marked its 60th anniversary on Monday at the headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, as the consumer watchdog is officially known, began with just 30 countries but has now grown to 189 members, FAO chief QU Dongyu noted.

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“Sixty years ago, the objective was to highlight the rapidly growing importance of internationally accepted food standards as a means of protecting consumer and producers globally and to effectively reduce trade barriers – these objectives are still very relevant today,” he said.

“More than ever, there continues to be an important emphasis on science and risk assessment as the basis for standards, as we look to science to prevent food from becoming unsafe and to reduce the risk of foodborne illness,” he added.

The body brings together the world’s top scientists to crunch the key data and discuss specific microbiological or chemical hazards.

Protecting the most vulnerable

“Their deliberations concentrate on the protection of the most vulnerable, such as children and pregnant women, and take into consideration local and regional differences in food consumption," Qu explained, noting that due to the longer and more complex food chain of today, prevention and control systems for food safety, like Codex, have become increasingly important and significant. 

The Codex also defines the quality of food by providing guidance on hygiene, labeling, nutrition, and the measurement and sampling techniques that attest to its safety.

The 46th session of its ruling body will discuss adopting a range of new texts and guidelines in line with its objectives of ensuring the production and trade of safe food.

The standards assess scientific findings and potential risks, all while prioritizing food safety and decreasing the likelihood of food-borne illness.

The scientific foundation for these standards is provided by the WHO and FAO.

The recommendations are voluntary for Member States but provide a structure for national health laws, which help ensure consumers are increasingly protected from unsafe or low-quality food purchases, and importers have greater confidence that they will receive conforming shipments of goods.