Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)

WHEC Update - June, 2007

A Newsletter of worldwide activity of Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)
June 2007; Vol. 2, No. 6

Globalization, war, terrorism, social instability, disease, poverty and environmental degradation are among the key challenges facing the world today. In the health arena, individuals, institutions and Governments are taking action to address, issues of global significance, such as maternal mortality / morbidity, HIV / AIDS, pandemic and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), as well as bio-terrorism preparedness. To optimize these actions, there is a need for developing clear strategies for global health capacity-building at the national level. Envisioning adequate training for public health professionals is illusionary unless concerted action is taken to build their capacity. The development, testing and validation of global health training and action are therefore necessary in integrating theory, practice and policy domains. In WomensHealthSection.com we have stressed that attainment of these goals requires knowledge and skills, including networking and advocacy. What people see, hear and experience is often what drives passionate commitment to changing the public's health. The outcomes of such initiatives have the potential for facilitating learning and teaching on critical health challenges in the twenty-first century. Given the breadth of global health, it is imperative that academic and field practitioners recognize as strategies the intersections of information and communication technologies, advocacy, and social capital (networks, norms, mutual goals).

Health promotion and health education in schools is a pressing priority, and ensuring the right to health and education for all children is a responsibility shared by all. It is an investment that each society should make in order to generate and augment the creative and productive capacity of all young people and a sustainable social, healthy and peaceful human future. To quote the United Nations Secretary-General: "Individuals, by instinct, have the capacity to care. Institutions must learn how, and how best, to do so."

Developing Global Health Strategies
Rita Luthra, MD

Your Questions, Our Reply:

How is agriculture linked with health? What is its significance to global public health?

Agriculture and Health: It is well established that population health is strongly influenced by society and the environment. Social and environmental determinants of health include income, employment, access to food and social capital, and exposure to agents in air, water and soil. The recognition of the importance of inter-sectoral work to health is not new. The first step in the development of the framework is to identify the key health conditions and risks, diseases and groups of diseases, associated with agriculture. In the currently available literature, the following health problems - all of which affect the poor in developing countries - were identified as being linked in some way with agriculture: malnutrition, water-associated vector-borne diseases, food-borne disease, HIV/AIDS, livestock-related illnesses (zoonoses), chronic diseases and particular occupational health risks. The framework thus specifies and unites an array of key global health concerns, which interact when present in the same context.

The conceptual framework can be used to advance inter-sectoral policy and practice in three main ways. First, it can be used to communicate to decision-makers and the international development and donor communities the importance of examining the links between agriculture and health. Failing to think systemically about these links may be undermining their efforts to improve agricultural livelihoods and address diseases of public health importance; avian influenza being one example. Second, it can be used encourage researchers working at the intersection between agriculture and health to come together to form a larger and stronger community. Microbiologists working on food safety, social anthropologists examining the impacts of HIV/AIDS in rural areas, and public health nutritionists concerned about the healthiness of the food supply many not think they have anything in common, but they do - they all work on the interactions between agriculture and health. Third, the conceptual frame work can be employed to encourage capacity building at all levels, including local settings. All stakeholders should invest in capacity building to help translate the conceptual links into comprehensive action on the ground. Agriculture influences health and health influences agriculture.

The goal is clear: healthier people and healthier agriculture.

About NGO Association with the UN:

Sixth Committee: Legal - The essence in the functioning of the Sixth Committee lies on total consensus among United Nations Member States on resolutions dealing with wide-ranging international legal matters. The adoption of the Convention on Jurisdictional Immunity of States and Their Property concludes a long process of codification that started in the seventies within the framework of the International Law Commission. It represents a positive step that will be useful for NGOs to develop national legislation on the subject. Questions relating to protection of foreign shareholders and compensation for innocent victims of trans-boundary harm are also the issues raised in Sixth Committee. The Convention is legal tool that prevents a State or its property from being sued in any other country. The General Assembly also invited six inter-governmental organizations to participate in its work and sessions as observers: the Southern African Development Community; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; the Collective Security Treaty Organization; the Economic Community of West African States; the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States; and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

Collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO):

Building Strategic Partnerships in Education and Health in Africa: There is an insufficient appreciation of the importance of building partnerships between the education sector and the health sector in Africa. Such partnerships would facilitate meeting the dual goals of ensuring the participation of health professionals in the design and implementation of national health policies and reforms and the relevance of health professional education to societal needs. The assessment set out above led the WHO Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) and the World Bank to organize a joint consultative meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 29 January to 1 February 2002. Financial support for the meeting was provided by the Norwegian Education Trust fund managed by the World Bank, by WHO/AFRO, by UNESCO, and by the World Bank and World Bank Institute. The general objective of the meeting was to define strategies for constructive partnerships between the health professions, governments and other relevant stakeholders to improve their contributions to health sector reform. This report can be accessed at - Details: BUILDING STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS IN EDUCATION AND HEALTH IN AFRICA (pdf)

Bulletin of the World Health Organization; Volume 85, Number 6, June 2007, 421-500 Table of contents

Collaboration with UN University (UNU):

UNU's Environment and Sustainable Development program probes issues of development, science and technology, environment, and their inter-linkages. Issues of poverty and inequality, as well as growth and employment, are at the core of UNU's work. The University also examines globalization, technological change (information, software and biotechnology) and urbanization, and their implications for humankind. The global environment, natural resources management, and sustainable energy use and production are critical concerns.

We are pleased to inform you that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Centre, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN- DESA) and the United Nations University Office at the UN in New York (UNU-ONY), are co-organizing a panel discussion based on a joint publication of the African Development Bank and the OECD Development Centre, "African Economic Outlook 2007".The OECD/AfDB African Economic Outlook 2007 foresees solid growth for Africa, but there are risks ahead. Africa achieved its fourth year of strong growth in 2007 and prospects are promising for 2007 and 2008. Strong commodity prices are underpinning this performance. Oil-exporting countries are outpacing the rest of the continent. They face the challenge of capitalizing on these windfall gains to build endogenous sources of long-term growth. Oil-importing countries face increasing inflationary pressures and potentially deteriorating current account deficits. Access to drinking water and sanitation is the topic of special focus for this edition of the report. In order for sub-Saharan African countries to reach the drinking water MDG by 2015, annual growth in the number of people provided with access to safe drinking water would need to triple. Financing remains a major issue. Governments need to strengthen the regulatory framework to stimulate resource mobilization and cover the scale of investments needed. The 31 countries examined in this sixth edition of the African Economic Outlook account for some 86 per cent of Africa's population and 91 per cent of its economic output.

Point of View:

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) - problems of multiple diagnostic criteria

GDM was originally defined to identify pregnant women who were at a higher risk (up to a 70%) for developing Type 2 diabetes (DM2), later in life. Despite four decades of intensive research, GDM is still fraught with nagging reservations about its current use, i.e., to predict a morbid fetal and maternal outcome in the index pregnancy. However, there is little doubt that it is a harbinger of DM2.

The scourge of GDM is the lack of an international consensus on the screening, diagnosis and follow-up approach to GDM among the major pre-eminent panels. The American Diabetes Association, World Health Organization, the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, the Australasian Diabetes in Pregnancy Society, the Canadian Diabetes Association and the New Zealand Society for the Study of Diabetes suggest varied diagnostic criteria for GDM. Thus, a pregnant woman with a 100-g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) result which classifies her as healthy and without GDM in Canada, on crossing the border may be labeled as having GDM in the USA, on the same OGTT test report.

There are major discrepancies in the ability of these criteria, often established by consensus and expert opinion rather than being evidence-based, to identify women with GDM and their capacity to predict adverse pregnancy outcome (1). The results of National Institutes of Health funded Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) study should be available in the summer of 2007. This mammoth study may give the long-needed consensus voice to GDM, still a riddle, wrapped in a mystery and in the proverbial enigma (2).

By Dr. Mukesh M. Agarwal, MD, FCAP
Associate Professor,
Faculty of Medicine
UAE University, United Arab Emirates


  1. Agarwal MM, Dhatt GS, Punnose J, Koster G. Gestational diabetes: dilemma caused by multiple international diagnostic criteria. Diabetic Medicine; 2005; 22:1731 - 1736.
  2. Agarwal MM, Dhatt GS, Punnose J, Koster G. Gestational diabetes remains a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica; 2006; 85:763.

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

Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS "Global Crisis - Global Action": series continues

  1. Encourage the development of regional approaches and plans to address HIV/AIDS;
  2. Encourage and support local and national organizations to expand and strengthen regional partnerships, coalitions and networks;
  3. Encourage the United Nations Economic and Social Council to request the regional commissions within their respective mandates and resources to support national efforts in their respective regions in combating HIV/AIDS;

  4. At the global level

  5. Support greater action and coordination by all relevant United Nations system organizations, including their full participation in the development and implementation of a regularly updated United Nations strategic plan for HIV/AIDS, guided by the principles contained in this Declaration;
  6. Support greater cooperation between relevant United Nations system organizations and international organizations combating HIV/AIDS;
  7. Foster stronger collaboration and the development of innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors and by 2003, establish and strengthen mechanisms that involve the private sector and civil society partners and people living with HIV/AIDS and vulnerable groups in the fight against HIV/AIDS; Prevention must be the mainstay of our response
  8. By 2003, establish time-bound national targets to achieve the internationally agreed global prevention goal to reduce by 2005 HIV prevalence among young men and women aged 15 to 24 in the most affected countries by 25 per cent and by 25 per cent globally by 2010, and to intensify efforts to achieve these targets as well as to challenge gender stereotypes and attitudes, and gender inequalities in relation to HIV/AIDS, encouraging the active involvement of men and boys;
  9. By 2003, establish national prevention targets, recognizing and addressing factors leading to the spread of the epidemic and increasing people's vulnerability, to reduce HIV incidence for those identifiable groups, within particular local contexts, which currently have high or increasing rates of HIV infection, or which available public health information indicates are at the highest risk for new infection;
  10. By 2005, strengthen the response to HIV/AIDS in the world of work by establishing and implementing prevention and care programs in public, private and informal work sectors and take measures to provide a supportive workplace environment for people living with HIV/AIDS;
  11. By 2005, develop and begin to implement national, regional and international strategies that facilitate access to HIV/AIDS prevention programs for migrants and mobile workers, including the provision of information on health and social services;
To be continued...

Top Two Articles Accessed in May 2007:

  1. Uterine Cancer: Early Detection;
    WHEC Publication. Special thanks to Dr. Francis H. Boudreau, Chairman, and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, Boston, MA (USA) for the collaboration.
  2. Health Implications of Urinary Incontinence in Women;
    WHEC Publication. Special thanks to Roger S. Manahan, MLS, Librarian at Mercy Medical Center, Springfield, MA (USA) for assistance with the research.

News, Invitations and Letters:

Non-governmental organizations have been active in the United Nations since its founding. They interact with the UN Secretariat, programs, funds and agencies and they consult with the Member States. NGO work related to the UN comprises a number of activities including information dissemination, awareness raising, development education, policy advocacy, joint operational projects, and providing technical expertise and collaborating with UN agencies, programs and funds. This work is undertaken in formal and informal ways at the national level and at the UN. Official UN Secretariat relations with NGOs fall into two main categories: consultations with governments and information servicing by the Secretariat. These functions are the responsibility of two main offices of the UN Secretariat dealing with NGOs: the NGO Unit of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the NGO Section of the Department of Public Information. Formal interactions between NGOs and the UN are governed by the UN Charter and related resolutions of ECOSOC. In February 2003, the Secretary-General also appointed a High Level Panel of Eminent Persons to produce a practical set of recommendations as to how the UN's work with Civil Society could be improved. The final report of the Panel has been presented to the Secretary-General in June 2004.

Broadly speaking, NGOs may cooperate with the United Nations System in at least four ways:

  1. NGOs may receive accreditation for a conference, summit or other event organized by the United Nations. Such accreditation is issued through the Secretariat preparing the event and expires upon completion of the event. It entitles NGOs to participate in the preparation process and in the event itself, thus contributing to its outcome. For a compilation of all legislation regarding NGO accreditation and participation in UN Conferences and Summits from 1990 - 2001, please click here.
  2. NGOs may establish working relations with particular Departments, Programs or Specialized Agencies of the United Nations System, based on shared fields of interest and potential for joint activities complementing the work of the United Nations office in a particular area. For a list of NGO Focal points throughout the UN System, please click here. The NGLS Handbook also provides a wealth of information on Civil Society engagement throughout the UN system.
  3. International NGOs active in the field of economic and social development may seek to obtain consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). For requirements concerning consultative status with ECOSOC, please contact the ECOSOC NGO Section by clicking the link above.
  4. NGOs that have at their disposal regular means of disseminating information, either through their publications, radio or television programs, or through their public activities such as conferences, lectures, seminars or workshops, and that are willing to devote a portion of their information programs to dissemination of information about the United Nations, may apply for association with the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI). Please click here for additional information.

Whether affiliated with the United Nations system or not, NGOs can obtain United Nations public information materials from the United Nations Information Centers in countries of their operations (http://www.un.org/aroundworld/unics) . They can also access the UN information on the web at www.un.org
Further information on the role of NGOs at the UN can be found on the Global Policy Forum website.

Special Thanks:

WHEC thanks Mr. Horst Rutsch writer / editor, UN Chronicle, Educational Outreach Section for his priceless support. Thanks for being a friend. It is indeed our privilege to work with you.

Beyond the numbers...

Your thoughts are heaven above you; Your thoughts are hell below;
Bliss is not except in thinking, Torment naught but thought can know;
Dwell in thoughts upon the grandest - And the grandest you shall be;
Fix your mind upon the highest, And the highest you shall be.

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