Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)

WHEC Update - December 2006

A Newsletter of worldwide activity of Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)
December 2006; Vol. 1, No. 3

It is the time of year when our thoughts turn to gratitude, and one of the things I am most thankful for is wonderful and talented writers / editors / contributors / reviewers of WomensHealthSection.com. The physicians whose work you see in these pages are excellent, and they are experts in their field. Give people the information to act; then look for magic to happen. The fastest-growing parts of the Internet all involve direct human interaction. Empowerment is not "giving power to people". It is releasing the power -- the Knowledge, Experience and Motivation -- they already have. The Internet is much more than a technology -- it is a completely different way of organizing our lives. Internet-Classrooms are the way forward in improving maternal and child health worldwide. Don't bet against Internet-Classrooms -- it is simply the best. Today we live in the clouds. We're moving into the era of "cloud" computing, with information and applications hosted in the diffuse atmosphere of cyberspace rather than on specific processors and silicon racks. The network will truly be the computer. Internet has brought unprecedented freedoms to millions of people worldwide -- to create and communicate, to organize and influence, to speak and be heard.

Happiness never resides in what an individual has, but always in what an individual does. Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties but of little things, in which smiles and kindness and small obligations, given habitually, is what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort. Because the goodwill of those we serve is the foundation of our success; it is a real pleasure at this holiday time to say -- Thank You; as we wish you a full year of happiness and prosperity.

Happy Holidays

Your Questions, Our Reply:

Who needs public goods? Who can buy global public goods / virtual space, and who has the authority to sell it?

Global Public Sphere: The history of the words "public" and "private" is a key to understanding this basic shift in terms of Western culture. The first recorded uses of the word "public" in English identify the "public" with the common good in society. "Private" has the connotations of being personal and intimate. Public goods, common good, collective goods and global public goods are heavily contested concepts. Natural environment (common good), social policy (collective goods), knowledge (global public goods), national defense systems and systems of property rights (public goods) are typical examples. The public sector can be seen as the dialectical opposite to the private sector. However, defining the public sector as "not for profit" misses the point; rather it should be understood as "not for private profit" or "for the common good". It is not possible to neglect one or the other anymore.

A creative work is said to be in the public domain if there are no laws that restrict its use by the public at large. Such works as the inventions of Sir Isaac Newton, the Bible, the Torah, the Gita and the Qur'an also form part of the public domain, because they were created before copyright and patent laws. In contemporary jargon, public domain refers to space within the openly accessible virtual world, e.g. a private website. The fifth dimension is media, and the information and communication technology (ICT) acts as its infrastructure. Virtual space (Internet) has rapidly become an equally important place for public appearance, political debate / argumentation and scientific forums / discussions, as in any other media.

In my opinion, all goods are private and only ownership can give a mandate to decision-making; but if we agree that there are common goods to be shared equally among people, not just a finite amount of private goods, there has to be an open forum where decisions can be made about sharing the commons. May be Internet can be seen as a single public space with virtual portals and websites, and form a purely public space to a fuzzy mix of public and private domains.

Stay tuned...

About NGO Association with the UN:

Human trafficking is one of today's most egregious human rights violations. Traffickers prey on the most vulnerable members of society: people burdened by poverty, disabilities and discrimination. Trafficking in persons refers to the illegal trade or "sale" of human beings for sexual exploitation or forced labor through abduction, the use or threat of force, deception and fraud. It knows no gender, race, age or even boundaries. According to the Trafficking in Persons Report of the United States State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 are traded annually across international borders; most of the victims are women and girls. In 2000 the international community created the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which supplements the Convention. For the first time in a legal document, the Protocol specifically defines and criminalizes trafficking in persons. It also urges States to assist and protect victims of trafficking, for example by stopping their deportation and allowing their repatriation, strengthening border controls and improving the integrity and security of identification documents.

As an international NGO that promotes women's rights worldwide, Vital Voices Global Partnership pursues three strategies in its anti-trafficking advocacy work: Raising public awareness; Promoting effective partnerships between Governments and NGOs; Training and building NGO capacity to counter human trafficking.

Collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO):

Over a span of two years and as a result of extensive consultation, the Task Force on Child Health and Maternal Health (MDGs 4 & 5) analyzed what it will take to meet the goals of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. In its final report, published earlier this year, the Task Force issued a set of nine recommendations for realizing improvements in child mortality and maternal health. These findings will generate momentum for reframing maternal, newborn, and child health, moving from a focus on health systems, equity, and human rights. The report calls on health policymakers to broad systemic issues that affect the delivery of maternal, newborn, and child health services, such as health-sector financing, human-resource systems, and poverty-reduction strategies. This report title: Who got the power: Transforming Health Systems for Women and Children, can be accessed at: www.unmillenniumproject.org/documents/maternalchild-complete.pdf (Requires Adobe Reader)

Collaboration with UN University (UNU):

In 1973, the founders of UN University (UNU) gave it a challenging mission: develop original, forward-looking solutions to the world's most pressing problems and help build capacity, in particular in developing countries. Mission of UNU contributes, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations, its peoples and Member States. UNU's mission remains as relevant as in 1973. Major shifts, however have made the University's mission more complex, and more important. Globalization, rapid technological advances and economic shifts favoring knowledge-based economies offer great opportunities. They also present challenges -- even threats -- to many countries. In the early 1970s, the Government of Japan pledged US $ 100 million to launch UNU's Endowment Fund. Since then, over 50 other governments have contributed to UNU.

To world decision makers, UNU offers fresh, alternative views on today's problems, a proactive analysis of emerging problems and sound policy alternatives to address them. UNU forms and cooperates with networks between universities and research institutes around the globe. UNU welcomes comment and new ideas, and invites you to join in achieving the goals of the United Nations. UNU's work is both theoretical and practical. It promotes innovative thinking, generates useful knowledge and facilitates down-to-earth action.

Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS):

On 1 December World AIDS Day 2006 commemorated worldwide with a wide range of events taking place. In 1988, the General Assembly expressed deep concern at the pandemic proportions of AIDS. Noting that the World Health Organization had declared 1 December 1988 World AIDS Day, the Assembly stressed the importance of observing that occasion (Resolution 43/15). Since then, World AIDS Day has aimed to increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education. Out of an estimated 39.5 million people living with HIV worldwide at the end 2006, 4.3 million were newly infected last year alone, according to AIDS Epidemic Update: December 2006, released by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in advance of World AIDS Day. The focus of World AIDS Day 2006 is accountability and the slogan is "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise," based on the commitments made through the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.

"Accountability—the theme of this World AIDS Day—requires every President and Prime Minister, every parliamentarian and politician, to decide and declare that 'AIDS stops with me.' It requires them to strengthen protection for all vulnerable groups—whether people living with HIV, young people, sex workers, injecting drug users, or men who have sex with men. It requires them to work hand in hand with civil society groups, who are so crucial to the struggle. It requires them to work for real, positive change that will give more power and confidence to women and girls, and transform relations between women and men at all levels of society," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his message on World AIDS Day 2006.

"The theme of this World AIDS Day is accountability. If we are to reach the targets that countries have set for themselves then, now more than ever, we need to make the money work. Collectively and with civil society we need to strengthen national ownership, improve processes of coordination and harmonization, continue to reform the multilateral response, and define clear means of accountability and oversight for these changes," UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said in his message commemorating the Day. Spearheading activities and events around World AIDS Day is the World Aid Campaign (WAC), based in Amsterdam and which took over the Campaign from UNAIDS. WAC operates under a governance system led by civil society to shift policy, mobilize resources, and call for action on the ground.

Also to commemorate World AIDS Day 2006, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has launched its report HIV/AIDS and Work: Global Estimates, Impact on Children and Youth, and Response 2006, which presents updated estimates of the impact of the HIV epidemic on the world of work, the labor force and the working-age population in 60 countries in all regions. A new UNAIDS Best Practice Collection report Global Reach: How Trade Unions are Responding to AIDS will also be available. The report brings to public attention the "innovative programs and successful initiatives" of the labor movement in responding to HIV/AIDS. The report is a joint publication by the ILO, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (now the International Trade Union Confederation), Global Union AIDS Program and UNAIDS.

Top Two-Articles Accessed in November 2006:

  1. Epidural & Spinal Anesthesia: Understanding the Facts
    Women's Health and Education Center's Contribution.
  2. HIV in Pregnancy: A Comprehensive Review
    Author: Dr. Howard L. Minkoff, Chairman, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York, NY; Distinguished Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, SUNY-Health Science Center, Brooklyn, New York, NY (USA)

News, Invitations and Letters:

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) makes investments in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). These investments are designed to help the LDCs reduce poverty and achieve the objectives of the Brussels Program of Action for the LDCs and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). UNCDF's investment capital is flexible, high-risk, and innovative, and its development approach seeks the long-term development of human, institutional, and financial capacity in the poorest countries. UNCDF currently invests in 28 of the 50 LDCs, and plans to expand its investments to 45 LDCs by the end of 2007.

UNCDF's Local Development Programs (LDPs) build the capacity of local governments and make investments in local communities to improve their access to social services and economic infrastructure. Its Microfinance investments provide enhanced access for households and enterprises to financial services and direct support for start-up and emerging microfinance institutions. UNCDF was founded in 1966 as an independent instrument of the United Nations with a special mission: " ... to assist developing countries in the development of their economies by supplementing existing sources of capital assistance by means of loans and grants ..." (GA resolution 2186 (XXI) on the establishment of UNCDF, 13 December 1966). UNCDF is a member of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) group, and reports to UNDP's Executive Board. As such, UNCDF works in close partnership with UNDP in areas ranging from joint programming to administrative and logistical support. The UNDP Resident Representative represents UNCDF at the country level.

The Fund derives its resources from voluntary contributions made by member states, and from co-financing by governments, international organizations and the private sector. UNCDF is committed to results-based management, combining quality programming with financially sound management. The Fund produces concrete results through programs that pilot innovative approaches to local development and microfinance for replication on a larger scale.

International migration and development: patterns, problems, and policy directions; seminar held at UN Headquarter, New York in November 2006. In recent years, substantial numbers of people have migrated -- or sought to migrate -- from regions that are afflicted by poverty and insecurity to more prosperous and stable parts of the world. By the year 2000, the United Nations estimated that about 140 million persons -- resided in a country where they were not born. Such population flows, involving increasingly tortuous and dangerous long-distance journeys, have been both prompted and facilitated by a variety of factors associated with the process of globalization: a growing disparity in the level of human security to be found in different parts of the world; improved transportation, communications and information technology systems; the expansion of transnational social networks; and the emergence of a commercial (and sometimes criminal) industry, devoted to the smuggling of people across international borders. The World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER) launched two major research projects on migration. This research identifies and quantifies the movement of skilled people across the global economy, as well as the determinants of these flows, and costs and benefits to the sending countries in the developing world.

Ban Ki-moon appointed next Secretary-General by General Assembly: With words of welcome and support the United Nations General Assembly appointed Ban Ki-moon, foreign minister of the Republic of Korea, to its highest post. Regional representatives spoke in turn, welcoming the newly selected Secretary-General. All expressed praise for Mr. Ban's previous accomplishments and hope for his future tenure at the UN's helm.
Details: http://www.un.org/Pubs/chronicle/2006/webArticles/101306_ban.html

The United Nations University Office at the UN in New York (UNU-ONY), in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), is holding a seminar on The Role of the Secretary-General on the Eve of Change. The seminar is part of the annual UNU/UNITAR governance series and will take place on 18 and 19 December 2006 in Conference Room 8 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The seminar's intent is to illustrate to delegates the various roles and functions of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to review these functions in light of the evolving nature of the UN system, and to consider how this role has evolved over time and may develop in the future. The speakers will be drawn from the UN secretariat, Permanent Missions, and civil society.

Special Thanks:

WHEC thanks Dr. Charles J. Lockwood, Professor and Chairman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yale School of Medicine, for accepting the goals and mission of e-learning publication: WomensHealthSection.com. Best Wishes from all of us. Thanks for the friendship.

My incredible good fortune to coordinate this project with a friend, Paul Hoeffel, Director, UN Information Center; my greatest-debt to him for his unwavering faith when I needed the most.

Beyond the numbers...

So many Gods, so many creeds
So many paths that wind and wind;
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs.

Women's Health & Education Center
Dedicated to Women's and Children's Well-being and Health Care Worldwide