Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)

WHEC Update - November 2007

A Newsletter of worldwide activity of Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)
November 2007; Vol. 2, No. 11

Hope WomensHealthSection.com touches us in some profound way. It takes you on - for a lifetime. Hungry for an intelligent place in the Internet to go to find good, reliable and thought-provoking information on women's health, health care and health economics - food for soul? We at Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC) hope to continue to work in unity with purpose and meet the high expectations of millions of people around the world, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable. Only then we have done our duty. Only then we will be able to pass on world safely and securely to the next generation. There are many hurdles to overcome to create a successful, let alone top-notch, publication. You must find writers / editors who share your vision and have the talent to implement, create the syllabus that will stimulate and intrigue the readers, and maintain the office staff capable of executing that perspective. Never mind less obvious business concern like controlling costs, paying taxes and satisfying never-ending rules & regulations. For WomensHealthSection.com we already have a clear vision as well as a clear road map to achieve this. There is no real compartmentalization, because our readers use the whole website - its dimensions are impressive, almost magical. We respect the rights of patients, colleagues and the communities. We plan development together. Womenshealthsection.com is one of the five projects in my career that I have cared most about.

Since the launch of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) process (International Monetary Fund 1999 and World Bank 2000), many countries have taken on the challenge of centering their development agenda around poverty reduction and have engaged in consultative and analytical work to support policy development. To date, almost 50 countries have developed and published Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (IPRSPs), and more than 30 countries have produced full PRSPs. One of the main features of the PRSP process is an emphasis on country leadership and ownership. This means that there is no set template or framework for countries to follow. Moreover, there is no guarantee that health would even be addressed in each PRSP as the decision on which sectors to include is entirely up to the authors (typically the government). The absence of imposed structure or format by the International Financial Institutions increases the likelihood of country ownership and that the strategies identified address the real needs of each country and may lead to more individualized and creative approaches. The key question is: "What is the basic relationship between poverty and Health, Nutrition and Population (HNP) and how do they influence each other"? Since there are no set guidelines or rules to write PRSPs there is clearly an advantage in learning from past attempts at writing them. Need for training on what some of the options are for writing the health component of the "Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers" is vital.

A Special Partnership
Rita Luthra, MD

Extreme poverty and human rights: The rights of the poor - Result of the Civil Society On-line Consultation on the OHCHR Draft Guiding Principles

In 2008 UN Member States will have to make a decision on how to proceed with the Draft Guiding Principles. As it stands now, the text is already considered as "soft law" (non-legally binding) in international law, and it can be quoted and referred to. In order to seek civil society's comments on the Principles, the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS), in collaboration with NGO partners, conducted an online consultation from 20 August through 20 September 2007. This report is a compilation of the comments received from over 60 respondents from around the world, all responding to a set of four questions. In the spirit of the Draft Guiding Principles, this report aims to give a voice directly to the respondents themselves, rather than speaking on their behalf: direct quotes from respondent submissions that were representative of a large number of responses were selected and are presented in this report. A list of all respondents is provided in the annex. Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC) had participated in the Consultation; WomensHealthSection.com is listed in Annex I.
Details: http://www.un-ngls.org/docs/ohchr/consultation.pdf (pdf)

Your Questions, Our Reply:

How does climate change affect public health? How the emerging information on health threats should be used to promote health, equality and sustainable development?

Protecting Climate, Improving Health: Human-induced climate change is an emerging threat that rightly commands widespread policy and public attention. Along with other rapid changes associated with global population and economic growth, climate change strains existing weak points in health protection systems and call for reconsideration of public health priorities. The health impacts of climate change are potentially huge. They range from increased risks of extreme weather, such as fatal heat waves, floods and storms, to less dramatic but potentially more serious effects on infectious disease dynamics, shifts to long-term drought conditions in may regions, melting of glaciers that supply fresh water to large population centers, and sea level increase leading to salination of sources of agriculture and drinking water. Many of the most important global killers are highly sensitive to climatic conditions - malaria, diarrhea and protein-energy malnutrition together cause more than 3 million deaths each year.

These risks are inequitable, in that the greenhouse gases that cause climate change originate mainly from developed countries, but the health risks are concentrated in the poorest nations, which have contributed least to the problem. Many of the projected impacts on health are avoidable, through a combination of public health interventions in the short term, support for adaptation measures in health-related sectors such as agriculture and water management, and a long-term strategy to reduce human impacts on climate. A global problem requires a strategy of international dimensions that can translate into regional and local actions. The development of comprehensive strategy will take time, but some essential principles are already clear. A true preventive strategy needs to ensure the maintenance and development of healthy environments from local to global levels.

Climate change therefore demands that we intensify our efforts in preventive public health and place that crucial task at the core of sustainable development.

About NGO Association with the UN:

Chairpersons of UN Committees and their views on various issues:

The Permanent Representative of Algeria to the United Nations, Youcef Yousfi, was elected Chairman of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) for the sixty-first session of the General Assembly on 7 July 2006.

How are the 2005 World Summit and ongoing efforts to reform the UN reflected in the Fifth Committee? In many ways: Management reform, procurement reform and the financial implications of reform in all of the committees-the creation of new bodies, for example. Let's say that all of the reforms are reflected in the Fifth Committee. I think we have made a lot of progress in 2006 with the establishment of the Human Rights Council, the Peace-building Commission and the Ethics Bureau established by the Secretariat. We are progressing with the management of human resources. This issue is quite difficult but we are working on it. We are also examining the reform of the Secretariat itself: its management, oversight, and governance. This is a lot of work for the Fifth Committee.

Speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, South Africa's delegate said the commitment in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document to address the special needs of Africa, the only continent not on track to meet any of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, was not reflected in budget estimates. What is the future of funding for programs such as the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)?
I share the view of the delegates who have said that the funding for programs in Africa is not sufficient. Africa is the continent that has the most serious development problems in all sectors: education, health, development, etc. At the same time, it is one of the richest continents in natural resources. This continent has many conflicts because of poverty, underdevelopment and its difficult past. I think the international community should devote more attention and resources to Africa. Concerning NEPAD, my country [Algeria] was one of the leaders in the establishment of this programme, and we are also one of the countries following up on its implementation. I think that the world would be in better shape if Africa were given the opportunity to develop. I think it is within the possibilities of the United Nations to do more than it is doing now for Africa. One of the possibilities is to reinforce the Economic Commission for Africa, but this is just one of many possibilities. The world should really give more to Africa and help it get on the track of development. The world would win because stability in Africa would contribute to global stability.

How has the newly created Ethics Office affected business at the UN and in the Fifth Committee?
We had a satisfactory first report and we hope that this Office will play its role, be very efficient and also credible. It is difficult for us to judge at this time.

Collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO):

Ten-Year Strategy; The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health: Each year more than half a million women die in pregnancy or childbirth, and more than 10 million children die before their fifth birthday - nearly 40% of these in the first month of life. But evidence shows that we could save at least seven million of these lives each year with proven, cost-effective interventions that are readily available to the world's wealthy - and out of reach for the vast majority of the world's poor. At the same time, there is growing international consensus that investments in saving the lives of women and children have the potential to bring substantial, long-term development returns, not only to the lives of those who are vulnerable, but also to global and national economies. The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) is a new global health partnership launched in September 2005 to accelerate action towards achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5. The Partnership is an advocate, a catalyst for innovation, and an ambassador for the health of women, newborn, and children. The Partnership joins the maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) communities into an alliance of currently more than 125 members representing governments, donors, United Nation agencies and other multilateral agencies, nongovernmental organizations, private institutions, professional associations, and academic and research institutions - all committed to ensuring that women, infants and children not only remain healthy, but thrive. Details: http://www.who.int/pmnch/events/2007/10yearsstrategy.pdf (pdf)

Bulletin of the World Health Organization; Volume 85, Number 11, November 2007, 821- 900 Table of contents

Collaboration with UN University (UNU):

Abstract of the Africa Series: Despite the efforts made in recent years in support of Africa's development, the situation on most of the continent remains challenging. Today the consensus is indeed that it will be difficult to achieve in Africa, in time and in full, the objectives of the MDGs. The reasons for this are multifold, spanning from weak African state institutions, reluctance of the international community to keep its promises, and knowledge gaps in critical areas of development. In this regard, the underdeveloped state of statistical data in a number of strategic areas of African development is a case in point. It is against this background that the United Nations University and Cornell University have decided to join forces to map out, via a series of conferences (The UNU-Cornell African Series), the state of scientific and policy knowledge in three critical areas: Food and Nutrition system (November 2007), From Governance and Development Crises to Security Crises (Tentatively April 2008), HIV/AIDS and Public Health (Tentatively June 2008). A final event, to take place in July 2008, will outline the lessons learned from the preceding events and make policy recommendations. The Africa Series will bring together leading academic international experts on Africa, with many being from Africa, UN and NGOs practitioners. It is expected that four volumes will be published based on these events. An online forum will be created to engage more actors to participate in the discussion on the key areas of the Series. It is also envisioned to maximize outreach of the Series by web-casting the events and utilize video conferencing to interact with universities and experts in Africa. Details: UNU-Cornell Africa Series.

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

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

  1. By 2002, launch a worldwide fund-raising campaign aimed at the general public as well as the private sector, conducted by UNAIDS with the support and collaboration of interested partners at all levels, to contribute to the global HIV/ AIDS and health fund;
  2. Direct increased funding to national, regional and subregional commissions and organizations to enable them to assist Governments at the national, subregional and regional level in their efforts to respond to the crisis;
  3. Provide the UNAIDS co-sponsoring agencies and the UNAIDS secretariat with the resources needed to work with countries in support of the goals of this Declaration;
  4. Follow-up
    Maintaining the momentum and monitoring progress are essential
    At the national level

  5. Conduct national periodic reviews involving the participation of civil society, particularly people living with HIV/AIDS, vulnerable groups and caregivers, of progress achieved in realizing these commitments and identify problems and obstacles to achieving progress and ensure wide dissemination of the results of these reviews;
  6. Develop appropriate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to assist with follow-up in measuring and assessing progress, develop appropriate monitoring and evaluation instruments, with adequate epidemiological data;
  7. By 2003, establish or strengthen effective monitoring systems, where appropriate, for the promotion and protection of human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS;
  8. At the regional level

  9. Include HIV/AIDS and related public health concerns as appropriate on the agenda of regional meetings at the ministerial and Head of State and Government level;
  10. Support data collection and processing to facilitate periodic reviews by regional commissions and/or regional organizations of progress in implementing regional strategies and addressing regional priorities and ensure wide dissemination of the results of these reviews;
  11. Encourage the exchange between countries of information and experiences in implementing the measures and commitments contained in this Declaration, and in particular facilitate intensified South-South and triangular cooperation;
To be continued...

Top Two Articles Accessed in October 2007:

  1. Breast Cancer: Early Detection;
    WHEC Publications. Special thanks to the World Health Organization for the contributions.
  2. Psychosocial Impact of Breast Cancer;
    WHEC Publications. Dedicated to our patients, it is indeed our privilege to help women worldwide. Special thanks to everyone who supported our efforts.

News, Invitations and Letters:

Global campaign tackling greatest environmental challenge: climate change

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP): Environment for development

Community-based action on climate change involving an estimated 35 million people across the planet in 2007 will culminate in the Clean Up the World Weekend on 14-16 September. More than 650 non-government organizations, community groups, local councils and other agencies in 115 countries are currently working on projects in 2007 to improve the health of the environment. The focus of many community activities around the world has been on limiting the impacts of climate change though activities such as waste reduction and recycling, water and energy conservation, and re-vegetation. On Clean Up the World Weekend, organizations will engage volunteers to take part in activities designed to clean up, fix up and conserve their local environment.

The Australian founder and chairman of Clean Up the World, Ian Kiernan AO* said communities in many countries are demonstrating that simple actions can make a real and lasting difference. "Millions of people simply conserving water, and recycling waste adds up to a huge environmental benefit for the planet. Our aim is to encourage individuals to take responsibility for the environment through a range of affordable actions. What is inspiring is the variety of activities that participating organizations have initiated in their countries in response to this challenge." Among those undertaking activities as part of the weekend, Our Earth Foundation in Poland and the Tonga Solid Waste Management Project in the Pacific are conducting nationwide clean ups and Programa TV Na Praia in Brazil is coordinating a day of activities to launch their anti-litter campaign. The Clean Up the World campaign is in its 15th year and has the support of the United Nation's Environment Program (UNEP). The 2007 theme 'Our Climate, Our Actions, Our Future' channels community action towards addressing the causes of climate change.

The Clean Up campaign started in 1989 when an Australian solo-yachtsman and builder Ian Kiernan, appalled by the amount of rubbish he came across while sailing, organized a clean up of the Sydney Harbor, during which some 40,000 volunteers removed rusted car bodies, plastics, glass bottles and cigarette butts from the water. The campaign went global in 1993, with Sydney becoming Clean Up the World's headquarters. Today it brings together hundreds of members from around the world ranging from local community groups to national campaigns that carry out environmental projects throughout the year.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is the "Voice of the Environment" in the United Nations system. It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and is represented across the globe by regional and liaison offices. UNEP's mission is to provide leadership und encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and people to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UNEP, established in 1972, has been headed by Achim Steiner since 2006. In encouraging people to care for the environment and advocating sustainable development, UNEP cooperates with a variety of partners, including other UN institutions, international organizations, governments, the private sector and civil society. For more information, visit www.unep.org

Special Thanks:

WHEC thanks Tony Hill, Coordinator (Retired), Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) at Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland for his support to our Organization and our project/program. You will always be a part of our team. Thanks for the friendship.

Beyond the numbers...

If we nurture the health, skills and hopes of young people, their potential to improve our world is unbounded. If they are healthy, they can take the best advantage of every opportunity to learn. If they are educated, they can live fulfilled lives and contribute to building the future for everyone.

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