Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)

WHEC Update - October 2007

A Newsletter of worldwide activity of Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)
October 2007; Vol. 2, No. 10

Lessons from the Field

The Internet has the potential to revitalize the role played by the people in poverty and growth framework. It is a platform. The democratization of knowledge by the Internet has brought the enlightenment. We can see it happening before our eyes. Proof that nature and progress can coexist comfortably - very, very comfortably. This is WomensHealthSection.com - this is the pursuit of perfection. Science & Art: Simplified. Anyone, anywhere, can make a positive difference. Everyone matters. Everyone makes a difference. Working with the UN and UN System has been a joy and a privilege. It is the best of the best. Eventually it all boils down to: How can we eradicate poverty, improve standard of living for the citizens of the world and eliminate diseases. Statistics may allow us to draw conclusions, but they seldom motivate us to make commitments. Words have the extraordinary power to change our thinking, our emotions, to affect our attitudes and alter results. You get the best out of others when you give the best of yourself. As a society, we are getting better - networked democracy is taking hold. The name "United Nations", coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was first used in the "Declaration by United Nations" of 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers. The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and a majority of other signatories. United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October each year. On 24 October 2007 WomensHealthSection.com celebrates its 5th anniversary - the journey continues. It also represents both your passion for knowledge and love of humanity. The language of kindness is understood by all. We think you will want to make sure that WHEC Update is part of your reading. And there is more.

I remember as a child saying that my true heart was to work with the United Nations. So many people are not happy or do not know what they want to do with their lives. It is something I am grateful for. When I work on WomenHealthSection.com or on any other project with the United Nations, it is really not work for me - it is an extension of my being. Regardless of where we came from, each and every one of us could and should follow our dreams. The perspective and predispositions that you carry around in your head are very important in shaping what you see and what you don't see. One great teacher can change your thinking. Many great teachers can change your life. It has been a great honor and privilege to compile this journal with our friends and colleagues as we continue to embark this journey. We hope WomensHealthSection.com tempts you with the excitement and possibility. Beckons you. It calls you. This is where the story begins.

Welcome to the WomensHealthSection.com team!

The Lessons
Rita Luthra, MD

Your Questions, Our Reply:

What are Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs)? What can we expect from the health components of PRSPs?

PRSPs: Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers are national planning frameworks for low-income countries. All countries wishing to access concessional loans through the Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PRGF), or wishing to benefit from debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative are required to produce a PRSP. As development cooperation continues to move "upstream", towards program aid and budget support and away from individually funded projects, PRSPs are also becoming the framework around which some bilateral donors - notably the Nordic countries and the UK - build their cooperation programs. As of December 2003, 32 countries have produced "full" PRSPs. The nature of PRSP documents, and the multiple functions they are designed to fulfill, implies at least two important tensions. The first is between PRSPs as country-owned development strategies, and between PRSPs as, essentially, "funding applications" to the World Bank. The second important tension is between PRSPs as planning frameworks. One body of opinion argues that PRSPs should present a program based on need irrespective of available resources, while others believe that PRSPs should plan around available resources, ensuring that these are spent to achieve maximum impact on poverty reduction.

PRSPs are multisectoral plans and their discussion of health is therefore limited. They cannot (and should not attempt to) replace existing health-sector programs, nor should they be expected to contain full details of a comprehensive health strategy. PRSPs should prioritize those health interventions most likely to improve the health of the poor(est) and help to reduce poverty. Drawing on work in WHO, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and elsewhere, the framework developed for the review look for: 1) evidence for generic health interventions which are considered pro-poor; 2) specific targeting of the poorest groups or geographical regions, given the country context; 3) interventions in other sectors which can have a positive impact on health. Different combinations of these approaches may be appropriate in different countries. In many African countries, where the number of poor is excessively high, a general strengthening of health services in rural areas and a greater focus on the conditions that disproportionately affect the poor may be appropriate. In Latin America, where health services are better established, a more targeted approach may be needed in conjunction with universal strengthening of services. In either case, a pro-poor policy needs to be used on the country context.

Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC) hopes to strengthen the links between the United Nations and Civil Society on PRSP issues and in particular for a strengthened Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) - Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) axis.

About NGO Association with the UN:

Chairpersons of UN Committees and their views on various issues:

The Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations, Madhu Raman Acharya, was elected Chairman of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) for the sixty-first session of the General Assembly on 8 June 2006. His views on various issues on Fourth Committee's agenda are:

The Fourth Committee has shifted away from issues of decolonization as nations gained their independence, and has taken on a more political focus. How prominent are issues of decolonization in this Committee today?
As the main wave of decolonization is already completed, I wouldn't say that decolonization is the most prominent issue. But certainly there are remaining issues that need to be addressed. The Committee is still engaged in a discussion of certain territories that are in question. That said, the United Nations has made significant progress in this area.

A major issue that has emerged in the Fourth Committee is an investigation into the Palestinian territories. What are some of the challenges in working with issues in these territories?
There are two sides to this issue. One is the question of Palestinian refugees, which the Fourth Committee deals with, and especially the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), with its reports directed to the General Assembly. This is quite challenging. The operations are messy, they are complex and they include both humanitarian as well as development aspects. The work is also difficult because of the complex political climate in the region. The other side of the Palestinian issue is the question of human rights, which falls under the title Israeli Practices in our work. We discuss the human rights situation of the Palestinian people, which has become very challenging as well. Because of recent events in the region, the issue has been highlighted, and we have had very intensive debates. In fact, we're going to vote on this issue very soon.

Israel's representative has questioned the validity of the Special Committee assigned to track its activities in the Palestinian territories and in Syrian Golan. How does this affects the Fourth Committee?
The Committee did discuss these issues at length and the delegation of Israel did, in fact, challenge the validity of these agreements that were reached. It is the Committee's job to encourage all sides to conform to international humanitarian and human rights norms, and this is where the issue remains to date. While ideally it would be nice to have all Member States conform to the system that has been put in place, we do understand that certain delegations have reservations of their own national interest. However, we must not forget the fact that these situations exist-the practices are there; they need to be addressed. And if a large, universal body like the United Nations cannot address them, then nobody can.

Have there been any other issues that really stood out to you at this year's session?
The issue of outer space, which should be used universally by all humankind, and not just by a few States-this is an interesting topic. Some Member States have also highlighted the effects of the atomic radiation tests that have been taking place in some territories. The gravity of both dictates that the United Nations, as a universal global body, should delve into these issues, so that they don't later become confined to some Member States.

Collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO):

What is the efficacy/effectiveness of antenatal care and the financial and organizational implications?

Health Evidence Network (HEN) synthesis report on the efficacy/effectiveness of antenatal care: Antenatal care, also known as prenatal care, is the complex of interventions that a pregnant woman receives from organized health care services. The number of different interventions in antenatal care is large. These interventions may be provided in approximately 12-16 antenatal care visits during a pregnancy. The purpose of antenatal care is to prevent or identify and treat conditions that may threaten the health of the fetus/newborn and/or the mother, and to help a woman approach pregnancy and birth as positive experiences. To a large extent antenatal care can contribute greatly to this purpose and can in particular help provide a good start for the newborn child. This report is HEN's response to a question from a decision-maker. It provides a synthesis of the best available evidence, including a summary of the main findings and policy options related to the issue. HEN, initiated and coordinated by the WHO Regional Office for Europe, is an information service for public health and health care decision-makers in the WHO European Region. Other interested parties might also benefit from HEN. This HEN evidence report is a commissioned work and the contents are the responsibility of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the official policies of WHO/Europe. Details: http://www.euro.who.int/Document/E82996.pdf (pdf)

Bulletin of the World Health Organization; Volume 85, Number 10, October 2007, 733-820 Table of contents

Collaboration with UN University (UNU):

United Nations University, Annual Report 2006: Science and technology are critical components of the development process. Rapid technological advances have created unprecedented opportunities, making it crucial that nations possess the ability to develop, master and utilize innovation systems that facilitate technological advancement. But the impact of this increasing technological capability, in terms of social and ethical issues as well as the broader societal impacts of technological change, are only partially understood. UNU work in the area of "science, technology and society" focuses on increasing our understanding as a means to bridge the burgeoning "digital divide" and ensure fair access and benefit-sharing. United Nations University operates as a decentralized, global "network of networks". The UNU system comprises the following core units, which are assisted by 14 UNU Associated Institutions and hundreds of other cooperating institutions. UNU receives no funds from the regular UN budget; the University is supported entirely by voluntary contributions from governments, agencies, international organizations, private companies and foundations. For the 2006-2007 biennium, the overall UNU budget is US$88.0 million. While this represents an 8 per cent increase from the 2004-2005 biennium for the UNU system overall, the budget for UNU Centre was reduced by almost 15 per cent. Financing for 2006 came predominantly from core funding, with the rest representing specific programme contributions (78 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively). In 2006, UNU received investment income from its Endowment Fund, and operating and specific programme contributions from 14 governments and more than 75 other sources. UNU also benefited from counterpart and other support, such as cost-sharing support for fellowships and other activities. UNU system expenditures in 2006 were allocated 35 per cent for academic activities, 48 per cent for personnel costs and 17 per cent for general costs. Details: http://www.unu.edu/publications/annualreports/files/UNU_ar2006-report.pdf

United Nations - Department of Public Information (UN-DPI):

DPI informs a global audience about the activities and purposes of the United Nations. It communicates the complex work of the United Nations system through a multiplicity of outreach efforts and campaigns, including the United Nations web site, radio and television, press releases, publications, documentary videos, special events, public tours and library facilities, with the assistance of its 70 information components around the world. The head of DPI is responsible for United Nations communications policy, ensuring a coordinated and transparent flow of information on the work of the United Nations and developing a cohesive culture of communications throughout the Organization. The Public Affairs Division conducts promotional information campaigns on global priority issues, organizes special events and exhibits, arranges issue-oriented press activities, manages workshops and special programs for journalists, educators and other re-disseminators, provides partnerships with civil society, in particular NGOs, serves as an information resource about the United Nations for the general public, and organizes other outreach activities, including the guided tour of the United Nations Headquarters. The News and Media Division facilitates the access of news organizations and media worldwide to news and information about the United Nations and its activities. It puts our daily news via radio and on the Internet, produces other radio and video programming, provides live TV feeds and photo coverage of United Nations meetings and events, and provides press accreditation.

The Library and Information Resources Division facilitates access to United Nations documents and publications through the products and services of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, both directly and through its Internet site and its network of more than 350 depository libraries around the world. It also provides cartographic services and manages the publications and sales programs. The Office of the Spokesman of the Secretary-General, administered by DPI, is responsible for planning the Secretary-General's media-related activities. The Spokesman, who reports directly to the Secretary-General, briefs journalists on a daily basis.

Office of Legal Affairs (OLA):

The Office of Legal Affairs is the central legal service of the Organization. It provides legal advice to the Secretary-General, Secretariat departments and offices and principal and subsidiary organs of the United Nations in the field of public and private international law; performs substantive and secretariat functions for legal organs involved in public international law, the law of the sea and international trade law; and performs the functions conferred on the Secretary-General in Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations and the Statute of the International Court of Justice. OLA deals with legal questions relating to international peace and security; to the status, privileges and immunities of the United Nations; and to the credentials and representations of Member States. It prepares drafts of international conventions, agreements, rules of procedure of United Nations organs and conferences and other legal instruments; provides legal services and advice on issues of international private and administrative law and on Untied Nations resolutions and regulations; provides secretariat services for the General Assembly's Sixth Committee, the International Law Commission, the Commission of International Trade Law, the organs established by the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, the United Nations Administrative Tribunal and other legal bodies; discharges the Secretary-General's responsibilities regarding the registration and publication of treaties and the depository of multilateral conventions.

The head of the Office - the Legal Counsel - represents the Secretary-General at meetings and conferences of a legal nature, as well as in judicial and arbitral proceedings; certifies legal instruments issued on behalf of the United Nations; and convenes meetings of the Legal Advisers of the United Nations System and represents the United Nations at such meetings.

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

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

  1. Call on the international community, where possible, to provide assistance for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment in developing countries on a grant basis;
  2. Increase and prioritize national budgetary allocations for HIV/AIDS programs as required and ensure that adequate allocations are made by all ministries and other relevant stakeholders;
  3. Urge the developed countries that have not done so to strive to meet the targets of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product for overall official development assistance and the targets of earmarking of 0.15 per cent to 0.20 per cent of gross national product as official development assistance for least developed countries as agreed, as soon as possible, taking into account the urgency and gravity of the HIV/ AIDS epidemic;
  4. Urge the international community to complement and supplement efforts of developing countries that commit increased national funds to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic through increased international development assistance, particularly those countries most affected by HIV/AIDS, particularly in Africa, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, countries at high risk of expansion of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other affected regions whose resources to deal with the epidemic are seriously limited;
  5. Integrate HIV/AIDS actions in development assistance programs and poverty eradication strategies as appropriate and encourage the most effective and transparent use of all resources allocated;
  6. Call on the international community and invite civil society and the private sector to take appropriate measures to help alleviate the social and economic impact of HIV/AIDS in the most affected developing countries;
  7. Without further delay implement the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative and agree to cancel all bilateral official debts of HIPC countries as soon as possible, especially those most affected by HIV/AIDS, in return for their making demonstrable commitments to poverty eradication and urge the use of debt service savings to finance poverty eradication programs, particularly for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support and other infections;
  8. Call for speedy and concerted action to address effectively the debt problems of least developed countries, low-income developing countries, and middle-income developing countries, particularly those affected by HIV/AIDS, in a comprehensive, equitable, development-oriented and durable way through various national and international measures designed to make their debt sustainable in the long term and thereby to improve their capacity to deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including, as appropriate, existing orderly mechanisms for debt reduction, such as debt swaps for projects aimed at the prevention, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS;
  9. Encourage increased investment in HIV/AIDS-related research, nationally, regionally and internationally, in particular for the development of sustainable and affordable prevention technologies, such as vaccines and microbicides, and encourage the proactive preparation of financial and logistic plans to facilitate rapid access to vaccines when they become available;
  10. Support the establishment, on an urgent basis, of a global HIV/AIDS and health fund to finance an urgent and expanded response to the epidemic based on an integrated approach to prevention, care, support and treatment and to assist Governments inter alia in their efforts to combat HIV/AIDS with due priority to the most affected countries, notably in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean and to those countries at high risk, mobilize contributions to the fund from public and private sources with a special appeal to donor countries, foundations, the business community including pharmaceutical companies, the private sector, philanthropists and wealthy individuals;

To be continued...

Top Two-Articles Accessed in September 2007:

  1. Poverty and Maternal Mortality;
    WHEC Publications. Dedicated to the Citizens of the World. Special thanks to WHO, World Bank and IMF for the contributions and forums. Gratitude is express to the UN Chronicle for the cover-page.
  2. HELLP Syndrome - Diagnosis and Management;
    Author: Dr. Baha M. Sibai, Professor and Chairman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Cincinnati, Ohio (USA)

News, Invitations, and Letters:


The world is changing in the United Nations' favor -- as more people and Governments understand that multilateralism is the only path in our interdependent and globalizing world. Global problems demand global solutions -- and going it alone is not a viable option. Whether we are speaking of peace and security, development, or human rights, demands on our Organization are growing every day. I am determined to ensure that we make progress on the pressing issues of our time, step by step, building on achievements along the way, working with Member States and civil society. That means strengthening the UN's ability to play its role to the fullest extent in conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building. And it means invigorating our efforts for disarmament and non-proliferation. At the same time, we must redouble our efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in Africa. I will seek to mobilize political will and hold leaders to their commitments on aid, trade and debt relief. And I will continue to do all I can to galvanize global and decisive action on climate change. The UN is the natural forum for building consensus on this pressing issue, as we saw in the high-level event held a month ago on the margins of the General Assembly. The many leaders who attended sent a clear message to the Bali negotiations in December under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: this is no longer business as usual, and we must build momentum across industrialized and developing countries to ensure results. Protecting the climate for present and future generations is in the common interest of all. If security and development are two pillars of the UN's work, human rights is the third. I will work with Member States and civil society to translate the concept of the Responsibility to Protect from word to deed, so as to ensure timely action when populations face genocide, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity.

Finally, we must transform the UN itself. We must adapt to meet new needs, and ensure the highest standards of ethics, integrity and accountability, so as to demonstrate that we are fully answerable to all Member States and to people around the world. We will be judged in the future on the actions we take today -- on results. On this United Nations Day, let us rededicate ourselves to achieving them.

United Nations Charter:

The Charter is the constituting instrument of the Organization, setting out the rights and obligations of Member States, and establishing the United Nations organs and procedures. An international treaty, the Charter codifies the major principles of international relations - from the sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use force in international relations.

The Preamble to the Charter expresses the ideals and common aims of all the peoples whose governments joined together to form the United Nations:

"WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
AND FOR THESE ENDS to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,
"HAVING RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS. Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations."

The purposes of the United Nations, as set forth in the Charter, are:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples;
  • to cooperate in solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems and in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  • to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these common ends.

Special Thanks:

WHEC thanks Mr. Russell Taylor, Senior Editor, UN Chronicle, Educational Outreach Section, United Nations for his priceless support to our project / program in women's health and healthcare. We at the Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC) are grateful to him for his friendship and guidance. Thank you very much for everything.

Beyond the numbers...

People themselves must be at the center of health policy. This implies the need to communicate fully and clearly with the public.

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