Good News Agency – Year III, n° 17



Weekly - Year III, number 17 – 20 September 2002

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.           

Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations, and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day.

Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next.  It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of more than 2,400 media in 46 countries, as well as to 1,000 NGO.

It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information.




Human rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity -  Peace and security

HealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife  Culture and education



Human rights



West Africa: Experts review progress on child rights

Bamako, 17 September - West African experts on child rights met government and nongovernmental representatives in Mali on Monday at the start of a three-day technical meeting to review progress in promoting children rights in the Economic Community of West African States. The delegates at the meeting in Bamako, organised by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and ECOWAS, are due to review country reports and assess progress across the region over the last 10 years.  They are also expected to examine socio-cultural practices that affect boys and girls across the region.

While progress on polio and guinea-worm eradication, salt iodisation, education and health sector reforms could be highlighted, the region still lags behind others in the world. UNICEF Resident Representative in Mali, Pascal Villeneuve, told the opening session that a review had shown progress in most parts of the region, but that many countries had still not reached their objectives, some had stagnated and others had recorded a drop in key social indicators.

Participants at the Bamako agreed that socio-political upheavals had deterred West African countries from implementing pro-children rights policies. They called on governments to ensure significant progress in 2001-2010, a decade that has been declared the "Decade of the Child" in the ECOWAS region. (...)


United Nations entrenches human rights principles in AIDS response

Geneva, 10 September - Updated guidelines on HIV/AIDS and human rights have been issued to reflect significant political and legal developments relating to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support. (...)

The key change pertains to updated Guideline 6 on "Access to prevention, treatment, care and support," which is based upon the following premises:

·                     Access to HIV/AIDS-related treatment is fundamental to the realization of the right to health;

·                     Prevention, treatment, care and support are a continuum;

·                     Access to medication is one element of comprehensive treatment, care and support;

·                     International cooperation is vital in realizing equitable access to care, treatment and support to all in need.

The revised Guideline 6 is one of 12 International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights published in 1998 by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). (...)


Colombia: Humanitarian law makes further headway in universities

12 September - The Universidad Externado de Colombia started up its second special course on international humanitarian law, which is being run in cooperation with the ICRC and the Colombian Red Cross. Around 50 students, drawn from the security forces, government agencies and civil society, are enrolled in the course.

In a separate development, five universities in Cali and Tunja completed the first stage the training of instructors of plans to offer humanitarian law through their law and humanities faculties. The universities presented the ICRC with a number of proposals concerning the place of humanitarian law within their respective course programmes. The proposals will be examined during the final quarter of 2002, with a view to their implementation in 2003.

Given the intensification and polarization of the armed conflict in Colombia, which is not without implications for university life, it is hoped that the teaching of humanitarian law will serve to raise awareness among intellectuals and the next generation of Colombian decision-makers of the humanitarian issues facing the country and of their responsibility to ensure that the principles of humanitarian law are respected and implemented.



Economy and development



UN Assembly declares support for new African initiative for continent's development

New York, September 16 - The United Nations General Assembly today declared its support for a new African initiative for economic development on the continent that stresses peace and stability, good governance, democracy and respect for human rights.

Following a daylong high-level meeting, which saw the participation of 10 African heads of State and Government and senior officials from dozens of other countries, the Assembly adopted a resolution hailing the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) as an African Union-led, -owned and -managed initiative. (...)

The resolution also affirmed that international support for the implementation of NEPAD is essential, acknowledging the support expressed or provided so far and urging the UN and the international community, particularly donor countries, to help with putting the partnership into practice.

In a statement at the outset of the debate, UN General Assembly President Jan Kavan said that with the NEPAD initiative, a new approach was set in motion. For the first time, development needs and objectives were identified and defined by African countries themselves. (...)


Armenia seeks long-term plan for development and poverty reduction

16 September - Armenia is resuming long-term economic planning, with support from UNDP, to help ensure that its economic boom helps reduce the high poverty rate and to keep the economy on an even keel.

Despite average annual economic growth of nine per cent over the past four years, the country still has 55 per cent of its population living below the poverty line.

Economic plans to be formulated up to 2015 will focus on promoting private sector development, including small and medium enterprises and public-private partnerships, and rehabilitating key economic sectors.

Other priorities include creating a sound investment and business environment, export promotion and trade policy, information technologies, membership in the World Trade Organization, and progress towards the UN Millennium Development Goals. These efforts will also help improve Armenia's international image and strengthen the Government's position in dealings with international organizations, bilateral donors and the Armenian diaspora. (...)


Cooperation between UNESCO and Spain: signing of a framework agreement concerning the UNESCO/Spain Trust Fund for Development Cooperation

11 September - The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, and the Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of Spain to UNESCO, Ambassador Francisco Villar y Ortiz de Urbina, signed a framework agreement concerning the Spain/UNESCO Trust Fund for Development Cooperation on Wednesday, 11 September 2002.

The signing of this agreement attests to the Spanish Governments resolve to strengthen its extrabudgetary contribution to the Organization. This agreement also constitutes an appropriate legal framework for Spain to support the Organizations activities in the field of development. It is of particular relevance to several projects and programmes already financed by Spain, notably the Major Project in the Field of Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (PROMEDLAC), which started up in the late 1980s, and the Information for All Programme, in which Spain has been participating since 1989.

This agreement is the second signed in 2002 between Spain and UNESCO. A specific agreement on cooperation between Spain and the World Heritage Centre was signed on 18 April last (See Flash Info No. 22). Other agreements are being negotiated with the regional governments of Catalonia and the Basque Country in order to strengthen cooperation between them and the Organization.


IFAD board approves USD 107.82 million for eight development projects

Rome, 5 September - The 76th Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) met at the Headquarters in Rome and approved loans for 8 development and poverty reduction projects for a total worth of USD 107.87 million. The projects approved are for Ghana, Guinea, Mauritania, Uganda, Mongolia, Moldava, Tunisia and Yemen.


Sweden reaffirms support to UNFPA, increases contribution by about $2 million

United Nations, New York, 6 September - The Swedish Government yesterday announced its decision to grant a further 20 million Swedish kronor (approximately $2.1 million) to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The country's contribution for 2002 will thus increase from 165 million Swedish kronor (SKr) to 185 million SKr.

"We cannot accept UNFPA's important efforts to improve women's rights and reproductive health being undermined by the United States' decision to withdraw its support to the organization," said Jan. O. Karlsson, Sweden's Minister for Development Cooperation, Migration and Asylum Policy in a statement. The United States Administration announced its decision last July to withhold $34 million appropriated for UNFPA by Congress.

"Efforts to prevent unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, deaths in childbirth, venereal diseases and increased child mortality will now be impeded," Mr. Karlsson said. "By increasing Sweden's support to UNFPA, we hope to help change this disturbing situation. Sweden has actively contributed to the increased focus on issues relating to gender equality, sexuality and HIV/AIDS in the United Nations and other forums. We must do what we can to safeguard the progress that has been made."

Sweden joins the Netherlands and New Zealand in making additional contributions to UNFPA for 2002.


Sweden pledges support to UNCTAD's investment-related follow-up work on Doha Development Agenda

Johannesburg, 3 September - The Government of Sweden has announced two donations to UNCTAD for its work in the area of investment. SEK 6 million ($640,000) was pledged towards UNCTAD's project on capacity-building in developing countries on issues in international investment agreements. This project seeks to assist developing countries and economies in transition in the follow-up to the Doha Declaration's work programme on the relationship between trade and investment, which was adopted at the WTO's Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, last November. Another pledge of SEK 2 million ($213,000) was announced for UNCTAD's project on good governance in investment promotion and facilitation. (...)

UNCTAD's work programme on IIAs aims to provide developing countries and economies in transition with research and policy analysis and development, along with human and institutional capacity-building. It offers intensive training courses, workshops on negotiation facilitation and WTO issues, and technical assistance for institution-building in the area of foreign investment. The activities are intended to help beneficiary countries better evaluate the implications for their development policies and objectives of closer multilateral cooperation in the area of long-term cross-border investment, particularly foreign direct investment. (...)






Formula One Team Sauber Petronas and UN join forces against HIV/AIDS

Updates international HIV/AIDS and human rights guidelines; calls on governments to take significant human rights action

Monza, Italy, 12 September - In the first partnership of its kind, Formula One team Sauber Petronas has joined two United Nations institutions to bring HIV/AIDS awareness messages to a broader public and mobilize resources for AIDS projects in countries worst affected by the disease.

Team Sauber Petronas, with its drivers Nick Heidfeld (Germany) and Felipe Massa (Brazil), has given the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) space to brand its race cars with the slogan "STOP AIDS" and the red ribbon symbolizing AIDS. This programme will run in the three upcoming Grand Prix races on three continents - Monza, Italy (15 September), Indianapolis, USA (29 September) and Suzuka, Japan (13 October).

This initiative will support fundraising for two projects that provide housing and care to AIDS orphans in Botswana where close to 70,000 children under 15 have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Botswana has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Africa with 39% of adults aged 15-49 infected with the virus. Life expectancy has fallen from 60 to 44 years due to AIDS. (...)


UNICEF trucks in tonnes of emergency food for children in drought-affected districts

Harare, 10 September  - Twelve trucks, each carrying 30 metric tonnes (MT) of UNIMIX, arrived in Harare yesterday, after having crossed the border at Beitbridge last Sunday. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) hired the trucks to bring 360 MT of UNIMIX into Zimbabwe. These are part of an overall 600 MT consignment sourced from South Africa. The remaining 240 MT are expected to arrive in the country later this week. UNICEF is procuring another 600 MT of UNIMIX locally, bringing the total to 1200 MT, worth up to $700,000 USD.

The UNIMIX will be prepared as porridge. It is meant to provide supplementary feeding to children under five and to pregnant/lactating women. The first 600 MT of UNIMIX will enable UNICEF to feed 95,000 children and women for 3 months in 5 selected districts in Zimbabwe: Buhera, Mudzi, Mount Darwin, Chirumanzu and Gokwe North. (...)


WFP and Red Cross Red Crescent working together in Southern Africa food crisis

Geneva, 10 September - The UN World Food Programme and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have signed an agreement today in Malawi on an operational partnership as part of their response to the unfolding food crisis in southern Africa.

The agencies will work as operational partners to supply and deliver food and non-food items to people in five southern African countries (Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe), where 13 million people are facing severe food shortages. (...)

The International Federation is making a Transport Support Package (TSP) available to WFP. (...) Valued at 11.8 million Swiss francs, the TSP was donated to the International Federation by the Norwegian government and the Norwegian Red Cross. The TSP will allow the Red Cross Red Crescent and NGO's who are responding to the emergency to transport and distribute WFP food. The vehicles will be used to implement one of the largest food transport operations that the International Federation has ever carried out.

The transportation and distribution of the food poses an extraordinary challenge given the high number of people needing assistance and the vast distances to cover including remote, hilly and geographically isolated areas. (...) WFP will cover the running costs for the TSP and the International Federation will employ and train all the necessary staff.


UN, Greece and Turkey sign humanitarian aid agreement paving way for joint action

New York, September 17  - The United Nations, Greece and Turkey have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Humanitarian Emergency Response.

Kenzo Oshima, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, called the agreement "a major step forward for regional humanitarian stand-by arrangements, and a hopeful sign for the future of relations between Greece and Turkey."

The agreement provides for a "Joint Hellenic-Turkish Standby Disaster Response Unit" which will allow the two countries to conduct training sessions for experts involved in international humanitarian operations carried out under the aegis of the UN. Both States will also participate in UN Disaster Assistance and Coordination missions and will jointly develop seminars and field exercises for increasing the Unit's preparedness to take part in international humanitarian operations.

The Memorandum was signed on Monday by Mr. Oshima, George Papandreou, the Foreign Minister of Greece, and Sukru Sina Gurel, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister.


Malawi: Volunteers helping people with HIV/AIDS

Lilongwe, 17 September (Plusnews) - Malawi is reinforcing its image as the "warm heart of Africa" by forming networks of volunteers who provide home-based care to the country's HIV/AIDS sufferers. The groups help the sick with bathing and going to the toilet. They fetch water for them and help with some housework and disseminate HIV/AIDS awareness into the communities. This takes some of the strain off the public health system and frees up beds in hospitals.

In the Salima district of central Malawi, over 1,000 volunteers from the Salima Aids Support Organisation (SASO) work in 457 villages twice a week. They cover a population of almost 250,000 and, with support from the UN Children's Fund and a group called Southern Africa Training, they identify patients through word of mouth, from counselling sessions, or receive referrals from hospitals no longer able to help the patient. (...)


Catholic Relief services works with Zambian Government to provide food to hungry

Lusaka, Zambia, September 17   Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will distribute 50 metric tons of white maize to vulnerable villages in the remote Shangombo district in the western part of Zambia, the agency announced today. The Zambian government provided the maize to assist villages in the district most affected by the food crisis that has hit much of southern Africa.  The Government of Zambia has put a hold on the distribution of maize provided by the U.S. government until they are able to assure themselves that there will be no negative effects from the consumption of genetically modified foods (GMOs). The 50 metric tons provided by the government to CRS is non-GMO food.  CRS is also committed to procuring an additional 500 metric tons of locally produced food using private resources to serve more people in needy areas around the country.

Our mission is to provide food to those who are in need, said Michele F. Broemmelsiek, Country Representative for CRS in Zambia. We respect the right of the Zambian government and our Church partners to determine their own policy regarding GMOs, and we will continue to work with them to seek alternatives so that no one in the country goes hungry. (...)


UN Food and Agriculture Organization and Luciano Pavarotti team up to fight hunger

Rome, 16 September - World famous Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, will join the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the battle against world hunger when he performs in "Pavarotti canta Verdi" on 12 October, at the Grimaldi Forum in the Principality of Monaco, the UN agency announced today.  Mr. Pavarotti and other well known opera singers will lend their talents to FAO's TeleFood campaign raising awareness and funding for the fight against hunger and malnutrition. (...)

TeleFood events appeal to the generosity of those concerned about hunger in the world and all contributions go directly to grass roots development projects. These projects have one basic aim - to enable people to build lives free from hunger. The maximum cost of a TeleFood project is US$10,000, and none of the money raised is diverted for administrative costs. Half of the TeleFood funds collected go to projects involving women and young people. (...)

More than 1,000 micro projects in all parts of the developing world and countries in transition are financed by the TeleFood Fund. Although small in scale and cost, TeleFood projects make a significant impact.




Peace and security



Quartet on Middle East outlines three-phase roadmap for final settlement by 2005

New York, September 17 - Members of the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East - comprising the United Nations, European Union, Russian Federation and United States - today outlined a three-phase roadmap to achieve the shared vision of two States - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace and security.

Following a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York, the Quartet's principals issued a communiqué in which they unveiled their plan, which aims to achieve a comprehensive final settlement within three years. The initial phase of the plan, from now until the first half of 2003, involves performance-based criteria for comprehensive security reform, Israeli withdrawals to their positions of September 2000 as security improves, and support for the Palestinians to hold free, fair and credible elections early next year.

The first phase should also include a ministerial-level meeting of an "Ad Hoc Liaison Committee" to review the humanitarian situation and prospects for economic development in the West Bank and Gaza, and to identify priority areas for donor assistance, including to the reform process, before the end of the year, according to the communiqué.

In the plan's second phase, next year, "our efforts should focus on the option of creating a Palestinian State with provisional borders based upon a new constitution, as a way station to a permanent status settlement," said the participants. (...)


34 Million Landmines Destroyed - World Embraces Ban Five Years After Treaty

Handful Of Countries Continue To Use

13 September - More than 34 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines have been destroyed by 61 states, including seven million in the past year, according to a global report released today by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).

Five years after the Mine Ban Treaty was negotiated in Oslo and first signed in Ottawa, it is clear that the world is embracing a new international norm rejecting the antipersonnel mine, said ICBL Ambassador Jody Williams, who shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize with the ICBL.

According to the report, the export of antipersonnel landmines has nearly ceased, the number of countries producing the weapon has decreased from 55 to 14, mine action programs have expanded, there are fewer new mine casualties than in the past, and use of antipersonnel mines has fallen off. (...)

Eight countries became States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty since the last annual report, including three that have recently used antipersonnel mines but now spurn the weapon--Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Eritreaas well as regional leaders Nigeria and Chile. There are 125 States Parties to the treaty, and another 18 countries have signed but not yet ratified. More than a dozen governments have pledged to join in the near future, including Afghanistan, Greece, Indonesia, Turkey, and Yugoslavia. (...)


Jody Williams and the ICBL launched a new program: Sponsor a Mine-Detection Dog

Oslo, Norway, 13 September -  This new program will provide support to ICBLs member organizations that work to remove landmines around the world. During 2002 the money raised from this program will support Norwegian Peoples Aid mine detection dog program. The launch took place at the Norwegian Red Cross, where Jody Williams and a dog Lizzie, a 2 year-old Belgian Shepherd, provided a public demonstration, together with her handler Todd Fossdal. Lizzie was trained by NPA in mine detection for deployment in Bosnia. We are launching this effort as a way to unite the field work our colleagues and these incredible dogs do, saving lives and limbs, with the treaty and the overall movement to eliminate landmines. It is a way to educate people, and supporting these dogs is a terrific way for people to actively contribute to a mine-free world, said Jody Williams. (...)

Mine detection dogs are trained to identify the various types of explosives found in mines. They help deminers by sniffing the ground slowly and carefully. When they smell explosives they signal to the deminers, who then start their work clearing the land.

Some of the costs involved in training and maintaining a dog include purchasing the dog, the dog handlers salary, veterinarian bills, dog equipment (leashes, collars, toys), kennels, kennel staff, transportation and training. A mine detection dog working with Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) in Bosnia-Herzegovina costs approximately $800 per month to maintain. (...)


Miguel-Angel Estrella's Orchestra for peace brings Arabs and Israelis to play at UNESCO

Paris, September 10 - About 40 Arab and Israeli musicians, members of the Orchestra for Peace founded by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Miguel-Angel Estrella, will play works by Mozart, Beethoven, Couperin and Shah Hosseyni at a performance tomorrow at UNESCO Headquarters at 8.30 p.m.

The orchestra includes musicians from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The evening, under the patronage of several prominent French figures, will be introduced by Eve Ruggieri and is organised by the International Federation of Music for Hope and the Osted Elahi Foundation.

Argentine pianist Miguel-Angel Estrella, who spends much of his time bringing music into the lives of poor and marginalized people around the world, created the Federation Musique Espérence to provide everyone with access to music. The Ostad Elahi Foundation, named after an Iranian philosopher, poet and musician, works to promote tolerance and solidarity between people and to bring their cultures together. (...)






Students from the two Congos alert each other against HIV/AIDS

13 September - Young people in both the Congos are alerting one another about the deadly risks of HIV/AIDS and how to prevent infection in an initiative supported by international and private sector partners.

Nearly 250 students and teachers in the Republic of the Congo and from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo gathered recently at a conference in Brazzaville to expand the project. First Lady Antoinette Sassou Nguesso told the participants that awareness and prevention are inextricably tied to an effective response to HIV/AIDS. "One without the other will not work, while together there is synergy," she pointed out.

Impetus for the project originally came from Brenda Bowman, wife of the US ambassador. UNDP, the Congo Government, the US Mission, and two companies, Chevron Texaco and CMS Nomeco, are providing support. The goal is to reach all students by next year with messages from peers about responsible behaviour for preventing HIV/AIDS. (...)

The project is using two strategies. One is participatory education, which includes training sessions for students and teachers together, and the other is peer education, carried out through Family Life Clubs for students. Since its launch last year, the project has trained 1,939 teachers and 3,099 students in 64 of the clubs. (...)


Liberia: War surgery

12 September - A three-day seminar on war surgery was held this week at Monrovia's Medical College. Organized by the ICRC together with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Liberian Medical and Dental Association, the event enabled Liberian doctors to exchange experiences and upgrade their skills, and thus improve care for people wounded in Liberia's current conflict. All doctors in the country were invited to attend.

The head of the surgery unit at the ICRC's Geneva headquarters travelled to Monrovia to conduct the seminar. He shared the expertise that the organization has accumulated over the years helping or actually running hospitals caring for war casualties. This has enabled the ICRC to develop special procedures for treating the war-wounded in often difficult conditions. The ICRC has held similar seminars in a wide range of countries.

Working in conjunction with hospital staff, the ICRC opened a surgical unit at JFK Memorial Hospital in Monrovia in July. The unit, which treats war casualties and other surgical emergencies, has a capacity of 50 beds. This could be increased to 165 if the need arose.


Angola has a National Strategic plan against measles

Children Under 15 Will be Vaccinated Throughout the Country

Luanda, 11 September - Angolan children from 6 months to 14 years old will be vaccinated during a massive campaign implemented by the Ministry of Health as part of the Government Strategic Plan for the Reduction of Measles Mortality. The campaign was made possible with the support of UNICEF, WHO and other partners.

Measles remains the main vaccine preventable cause of children under 5 mortality in Angola. It is estimated that between 7,700 to 15,000 deaths of children under five are attributable each year to measles infections. Transmission of the disease is accelerated in Angola by massive and continuous population movements from rural to urban areas. The concentration of large numbers of people in the cities and IDP camps is also a major cause of high rates of transmission. In urban areas non-vaccinated children contract the disease in their first years of life.

The emergency vaccination campaign which began on 9 September throughout the country aims to vaccinate 172 000 children aged between 6 months and 14 years and to ensure that all children under one year of age receive their routine vaccination. These measures are expected to significantly reduce measles mortality in the 35 family reception areas (FRA). (...)


Tens of millions in Afghanistan, Pakistan receive polio vaccine

Rotarians, health workers, and other volunteers last week targeted 30 million children under age 5 in three days of National Immunization Days (NIDs) in Pakistan. The country's President Pervez Musharraf launched the 3-5 September campaign at a ceremony in Islamabad, the political capital.

Although it was a countrywide effort, the health ministry, Rotary clubs, and the global partners of the polio eradication initiative specifically intensified efforts to reach all children in high-risk areas in parts of the country where polio cases have recently been reported. In those areas, the immunization teams worked with the poorest people living in slums or leading a nomadic lifestyle.

"Not a single child needs to be disabled by polio in the future," said UNICEF Country Representative Carroll Long in a pre-campaign press statement. "To cross the final hurdle to make Pakistan polio-free by 2005 is going to take a strong and sustained effort. All of us together must make that final effort." As one of the 10 remaining polio-endemic countries, Pakistan has made steady progress toward eradicating polio in the last two years. Cases have been reduced to 119 in 2001, down from 199 cases in 2000 and 558 in 1999. (...)

In neighboring Afghanistan, the health ministry and World Health Organization launched a three-day house-to-house polio eradication campaign on 3 September, targeting 5.9 million children under the age of 5 in the third of four vaccination rounds for this year. The Foundation's support for immunization activities in Afghanistan amounts to more than $5.2 million.


WHO releases first global reference guide on safe and effective use of essential medicines - Guide promotes consumer rights and patient safety

4 September -  In its efforts to promote safe and cost-effective use of medicines, the World Health Organization (WHO) today releases the first edition of the WHO Model Formulary. The formulary is the first ever publication to give comprehensive information on all 325 medicines contained in the WHO Model List of Essential Drugs. It presents information on the recommended use, dosage, adverse effects, contra-indications and warnings of these medicines. Correct use of this tool will improve patient safety and limit superfluous medical spending.

Bad prescribing habits are very common in all countries of the world. They lead to ineffective and unsafe treatment, exacerbation or prolongation of illness and harm to the patient. In addition, inappropriate treatment increases the costs to the patient, the insurance system or the government.

The new formulary is primarily intended as a model for national governments and institutions, to be used as a basis for developing their own national formularies. It is particularly relevant for developing countries, where commercial and promotional materials are often the only available source of drug information to health workers, prescribers and patients. The WHO formulary may also be useful for individual prescribers and for this reason it is available at reduced cost for developing countries. (...)



Energy and safety



India, New Delhi: pollution drops 25 percent with switch from diesel to gas

Not too long ago, the Indian capital of New Delhi was one of the most polluted cities in the world; now, you still might not want to run a marathon there, but the city is making serious strides toward cleaning up its air.  Dilip Biswas, chair of the city's Central Pollution Control Board, says pollution has dropped 25 percent since 1995, as levels of sulfur dioxide and particulates in the air have fallen sharply.  "Now you can see the stars at night," he says. Vehicles account for about 70 percent of the city's pollution, while power plants kick in an additional 15 percent.  At the prodding of India's highest court, the government ordered all forms of public transport -- defined as taxis, buses, and three-wheelers -- to switch from diesel to compressed natural gas.  So far, about 6,000 of 12,000 buses have made the change, as have thousands of the other vehicles.


Elaboration and promotion of partnership initiatives

UNIDOs initiative on rural energy for productive use was welcomed as a partner for the DFID initiative (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership) and the European Union Energy Initiative for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development. In recognition of UNIDOs comparative advantage in the field, the E-7, an association of 9 large utilities from the G-7 countries, expressed interest in concluding a letter of agreement with UNIDO, which was signed by the Director General on 1 September 2002 in Johannesburg.

In early 2002 UNIDO started to elaborate proposals for "type-II-outcomes" in the areas of energy for sustainable development and technology cooperation in fulfilment of the mandate received from the 9th General Conference which asked the Director - General to make contributions to WSSD in those areas in which UNIDO has a comparative advantage. The UNIDO Initiative on Rural Energy for Productive Use seeks to respond to the challenge of severe under-supply of energy services for the very poor, especially in rural and other remote areas (such as Small Island Developing States) (...)

Through its rural energy projects and programmes, UNIDO promotes the productive (income generating) uses of energy for rural development and poverty alleviation. In this connection, UNIDO's energy programmes cover capacity building activities related to renewable energy technology and the assembly/manufacture of energy equipment/structures in developing countries. (...)



Environment and wildlife



UN-backed meeting to work for conservation of rare animal species

New York, September 18  - Government representatives meeting in Bonn, Germany, this week are hammering out tough new conservation rules for endangered animal species under an international treaty linked to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Under a proposal being put to a meeting of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, delegates from over 100 countries will consider giving the strongest possible protection to wild Bactrian camels, whose numbers have dwindled to fewer than 1,000, making them rarer than the giant panda. According to UNEP, the species faces a number of threats, which experts fear are pushing the camels to the brink of extinction. These include poaching by hunters as well as illegal gold and oil miners, competition with farmers for water at oases, predation by wolves, and crossbreeding with domestic camels.

The plan for the wild Bactrian camels is one of 36 proposals covering the protection of endangered animal species being debated at the six-day conference. Other proposals deal with the Amazonian manatee, one of the largest mammals in South America, which is threatened by large-scale commercial hunting and pollution from gold mining and oil drilling operations. In addition, the Philippines is expected to lead talks on closer, regional cooperation to conserve stocks of the whale shark, the world's largest fish, which is prized for its meat.


New scientific report confirms success of Montreal Protocol but warns ozone layer will remain vulnerable for the next decade

Paris/Nairobi, 16 September - The executive summary of a new report by the world's leading ozone scientists warns that despite good signs of recovery, the ozone layer will remain particularly vulnerable during the next decade or so, even if countries comply with international agreements to protect it. The new data in the full report, (which is in the process of being finalized) shows levels of ozone-depleting gases in the stratosphere (upper atmosphere) are now at or near their peak.  As a consequence, the scientists believe human-influenced disturbances on Earth's protective shield will now be "at or near their largest." At the same time, the report clearly shows that the world is making steady progress towards the recovery of the ozone layer, with the latest scientific results showing that the total amount of ozone depleting chemicals in the troposphere (lower atmosphere) continuing to decline, albeit slowly.

The findings reinforce the need for strengthened political commitment to ensure the continued compliance with the international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol by developed and developing countries.  They also demonstrate the need for greater awareness of the reasons behind this vulnerability, not least a better scientific understanding of the linkages between ozone layer depletion and climate change.

The report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is being prepared by the scientific assessment panel of the Vienna Convention and its Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Executive Summary is being released to the press today, with the full report available next year. (...)


At risk from the sea, Tokelau sets climate change example

18 September - Tiny Tokelau, potential victim of rising sea levels resulting from climate change linked to global energy excesses, is setting culprit industrialized countries an example by promoting renewable energy.  With its highest point only three metres above sea level, the Pacific island territory, which is administered by New Zealand, is the most vulnerable area in the region to rising sea water. It hopes other countries will emulate its effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to help save low-lying areas worldwide.

Support from the recently established UNDP thematic trust fund for energy for sustainable development is enabling Tokelau to participate in a Pacific Islands renewable energy project promoting the commercial use of new, clean energy sources, such as solar power, to replace fossil fuels. In addition, a new project co-funded by New Zealand, France and UNDP, will soon install solar power units on the islands. (...)

Tokelau consists of three atolls with a total land area of barely 13 square kilometres and a total population of only 1,500 people. It is situated 400 kilometres north of Samoa and is only accessible by boat once a fortnight. (...)



Culture and education



CIS/Russian Federation: Over a million pupils across Russia start the winter term with a new ICRC school manual

12 September - This week, pupils and teachers in 80 regions of the Russian Federation are starting the winter term with a new school manual developed and produced by the ICRC. The new 8th form manual A World Around You is aimed at 14-year-olds and is part of a ten-year programme that introduces issues of human dignity, individual responsibility and the principles underlying international humanitarian law into secondary school curricula. The new manual is the last of a series of four manuals for 5th to 8th forms that are currently used in schools across the country. (...) The manual is accompanied by a teacher's book, and regional training seminars are held annually to help local education authorities implement the programme.

The programme is a joint venture, involving the ICRC, the Russian Ministry of Education and the Russian Red Cross. The programme started in the Russian Federation eight years ago, and more than 60% of Russian pupils and teachers who have received the ICRC's A World Around You have worked with it, with 40% using it regularly. For 2002, the ICRC has allocated 1.7 million Swiss Francs to the programme. (...)


Dovish Mayor of Haifa (the City of Jewish - Arab Co-Existence), is Running for Chairman of the Labor Party in Israel, and is confronting Sharon.

September 12: 3000 People participate in the support meeting for Mitzna  in Kibbutz Yakum in Israel

Haifa Mayor, the dovish Amram Mitzna, announced that he is running for Chairman of the Labor Party -- and will confront Sharon at the next General elections in Israel. If he wins, he will run as Prime Minister of Israel. His first obstacle is beating Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, the defense minister, in a Labor Party primary race  slated for November.

Amram Mitzna has a good chance, as he has many supporters who see in him a Peace Leader of the caliber of Rabin, and at the latest meeting in support for his candidacy there were more than 3000 participants, including members of the Knesset, and many prominent writers and intellectuals both Jewish and Arab.   His program includes Peace with the Arab and Palestinian neighbors as his first and uppermost goal. Mitzna has reminded Israelis that he is a different kind of politician, he is known as a man of values, straightforward, honest, and a man of his word. Many sectors of Israeli society have already swarmed to join him, including Arab\ Palestinians, Druze, and Bedouins.

Mayor Amram Mitzna has opened the year of peace activities at IFLAC; The international Forum for the Culture of Peace, since its foundation, in June 1999, at the Haifa Townhall, and will do so again in November 2002,  to which the public and media  is invited. 


Tanzania: HIV/AIDS campaign launched to target East African youth

Dar Es Salaam, 17 September (Plusnews) - An American AIDS organisation has launched a regional mass communication campaign that hopes to sensitise youth about the dangers of HIV/AIDS and will culminate in major music concerts in the three East African countries.

The organisation, Africans Unite Against Aids Globally (AUAAG), has teamed up with the health ministries in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania for the 'Celebrate Life' campaign and aims to import 10 'Celebrate Life' "containers" into each country by the end of the year, an AUAGG statement said.

"The containers will serve as a refreshing approach to the stigma associated with Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT). These outlets will not only provide information about malaria, nutrition, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV/AIDS and TB, but they will also provide counselling and HIV/AIDS testing to the public," the statement said. "To encourage the youth to visit these centres, tickets to the 'Celebrate Life' concert will be available there," it added. (...)


Africa: AU launches anti-corruption drive

Addis Ababa, 17 September - The newly-formed African Union (AU) has set out its first ever policy to tackle corruption which, it says, is costing the continent at least US $148 billion a year.

A high-level meeting is being held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa this week to adopt a comprehensive draft policy that has been a year in the making. Ministers from the AU are expected to adopt a series of tough proposals which aim to tackle the graft that has blighted the continent.

It is the first time that countries in Africa have drawn up a universal policy - to be called the AU Convention on Combating Corruption designed to tackle its insidious effects. It calls on all public officials to declare their assets when they take office and train them on ethics. (...)


Cameroon: Volunteer ship offers cheap books

Douala, 17 September - A ship carrying more than a million cheap books has docked in Douala, aiming to give Cameroonians access to thousands of previously unavailable and unaffordable titles. The ship, the MV Doulos, is staffed entirely by volunteers and funded by a German charity, Good Books for All. Francis Vosloo director of the charity, said the ship carried at least 8,000 different titles. All the books had been donated by publishers and were on sale for about one third their normal price, he added.

The ship opened its bookshop to the public on Friday, with buyers keen on a thin pamphlet entitled "AIDS: Understanding and Prevention" that was on sale for 600 CFA (US 90 cents).

English language course books and dictionaries, and computing textbooks, which were selling at 6,000 CFA ($9) instead of the regular price of 19,000 CFA ($28), were also popular, according to buyers. Many shoppers were buying textbooks for specialist courses or for children still at school, while others said it was difficult to find non-French books in the Francophone city. (...)


Nigeria: US $101 million for basic education

Abidjan, 17 September - The World Bank on Thursday approved a US $101 million credit for Nigeria towards the implementation of an $180 million Universal Basic Education project.

The project aims to revamp the country's education system, which has deteriorated dramatically in the last 20 years, according to a statement from the Bank. Many schools were no longer physically operational, or were operating with fewer classrooms, and furniture and teaching materials were virtually non-existent, it said. Overall enrolment had dropped, with girls lagging behind boys, and teachers - a lot of whom had lost their enthusiasm and devotion were burdened by teaching in overcrowded classrooms, the Bank added.

The Universal Basic Education project, which includes construction and renovation of infrastructures, will cover all 36 states and target the entire education system. The primary and secondary education sectors are each due to receive 33 percent of fund, with the remainder to be spent on general education.


South Africa: Children TV series introduces HIV positive puppet

Johannesburg, 17 September (Plusnews) - An HIV positive puppet will soon join the cast of South Africa's Takalani Sesame, a local television production of children's educational programme, Sesame Street. With the appearance of Kami, a puppet living with HIV, Takalani Sesame will become the first pre-school television programme to tackle the stigmatisation associated with the disease. (...) The puppet was unveiled at a press conference held on Tuesday in Cape Town, by the Sesame Workshop, the Department of Education, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

The addition of the character would promote age-appropriate messages that would create acceptance of people living with HIV/AIDS, Sesame Workshop said in a statement. (...)


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Next issue: 4 October 2002


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