Reduced Inequalities: 160 Babies, Children Rescued in Latest Nigerian ‘Baby Factory’ Raid #sdgs #globalgoals

The victims have all been relocated to government-approved homes.

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More than 160 children were rescued from a Nigerian “baby factory” and two illegal orphanages this week, according to a report by the BBC. It was one of the largest raids in recent history.

“The children and teenagers rescued from the baby factory were placed at Government Approved Homes for Care and Protection,” the Lagos State government said in a statement.

But the war on human trafficking is far from being won.

Baby factories are a recurring problem in Nigeria, where it is not uncommon for unmarried pregnant women to be lured to a location with the promise of healthcare only to be imprisoned and have their baby stolen. In other instances, women are kidnapped, raped, and forced to become pregnant.

The children are then “sold for adoption, used for child labour, trafficked to Europe for prostitution or killed for ritual purposes,” according to the BBC report.

Some of the babies and children rescued had been sexually abused, said Agboola Dabiri, the Commissioner for Youths and Social Development in Lagos State, in a statement.

The Commissioner also noted that of the 163 children rescued in total, 100 were girls and 62 were boys.

More than 4.8 million people worldwide are victims of forced sexual exploitation, or sex trafficking, according to the International Labour Organization. It’s also estimated that one in three trafficking victims are children below the age of 18.

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Clean Water & Sanitation: Over Half the World Could be in Danger for Water Shortages by 2050 #2030Now #SDGs #GlobalGoals

The world is at a turning point.

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Water could become a rare resource for 5.7 billion people by 2050 unless more sustainable water management practices are adopted worldwide, according to the United Nations’ annual World Water Development Report.

Released at the 2018 World Water Forum held in Brazil, the report depicts a stark crossroads.

Out of the expected 10.4 billion people in the world by 2050, more than half could be in dire need of water within just a few decades if the status quo of industrial water management and pollution continues.

That scenario could also drive “civil unrest, mass migration, and even to conflict within and between countries,” the report states.

On the other hand, if nature-based water management systems are adopted by countries, then the expected increase in demand for water by 2050 can be more than offset by the amount of water saved and regenerated.

The Problem

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Rebecca Blackwell

Since the start of the 20th century, global water consumption has increased sixfold, according to the UN’s report, and it will continue to grow by an expected 1% annually in the years ahead.

During this same period, water sources have deteriorated at an alarming rate.

In Latin America, Africa, and Asia, for instance, nearly all rivers have been harmed by pollution, the report says, because of runoff from agriculture and factories.

Further, 80% of global wastewater and sewage is discharged without treatment into bodies of water.

Meanwhile, around two-thirds of forests and wetlands, which are essential to the maintenance of water supplies, have been lost or degraded during this period

Soil, which also filters water, has been widely degraded because of unsustainable agricultural practices, pollution, and human development.

These challenges are being intensified by climate change, which is increasing the likelihood of droughts around the world.

Cape Town, South Africa, for example, is in the midst of a once-in-a-384 year drought and was recently facing the prospect of turning off the city’s water taps.

Similar tap water restrictions could become the norm by 2050, the report suggests.

A big reason for this is the world’s overreliance on infrastructure like asphalt roads and concrete buildings, according to the report.

These materials aren’t porous and prevent rainwater from filtering into soil where it can replenish water sources like aquifers.

“For too long, the world has turned first to human-built, or ‘grey’, infrastructure to improve water management,” says Gilbert Houngbo, the chair of UN Water, in the report’s preface.

“In the face of accelerated consumption, increasing environmental degradation and the multi-faceted impacts of climate change, we clearly need new ways of manage competing demands on our freshwater resources,” he added.

In Mexico City, too much concrete and asphalt has starved aquifers of rainwater, leading to constant water shortages

Another problem is the continual damming of rivers throughout the world, which disrupts ecosystems such as wetlands that protect and clean water supplies.

The report discourages the construction of new dams in the years ahead because all the ideal dam locations have already been taken advantage of and any new dams will further disrupt water supplies.

While the stakes are high, the UN argues that water sources can be regenerated and maintained in the years ahead if simple changes are made.

First, the UN stresses that agriculture, which accounts for 70% of global water consumption, has to become more sustainable.

Large- and small-scale farmers have to adopt a form of “conservation agriculture” that promotes reforestation over deforestation, the use of rainwater over irrigation, and crop rotation over monoculture farming to rehabilitate soils around the world.

Next, nature-based methods of water collection have to replace industrial methods. This doesn’t mean fully abandoning modern water infrastructure. Instead, it means incorporating practices that can restore, rather than merely deplete, water supplies.

The report provides a few examples.

First, in Rajasthan, India, 1,000 villages faced extreme water shortages after local forests had been logged too severely and rainfall dropped. Community members were able to overcome these challenges by replanting forests and initiating small-scale water harvest programs that prevented water tables from falling too sharply.

Second, the Zarqa River basin in Jordan was being depleted in recent years as the city’s population grew and traditional land management practices were suspended. To curb this decline, communities were once again allowed to practice a form of land management known as hima, which allows parcels of land to be set aside for natural regeneration. This, in turn, helped to stabilize the river.

Finally, cities have to develop more green spaces that can capture and retain rainwater and replenish water supplies.

These are just a few examples of how small, nature-based changes can restore a community’s water supply, but they’re critical if countries want to avoid severe water shortages in the decades ahead.

“If we do nothing, some five billion people will be living in areas with poor access to water by 2050,” Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO,

Good Health + Well-Being: 10 facts Why You Should Probably Never Drink Bottled Water Again. {& for VERY good reasons} #Health #2030Now #GlobalGoals #SDGs #2030Now

The bottled water industry is about as wasteful as they come. This billion dollar industry is taking something that is essentially free around the world, packaging it, and selling it for profit. And it gets worse.

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Nestlé — the same company that brings you those delicious Toll House cookies — decided in May to open a new plant in the middle of the drought-stricken desert in Arizona.

This decision has raised many concerns and questions, the most obvious being “how can they bottle water in a desert?”

Many of the concerned groups are environmental activists. Nestle already faces backlash from groups angry about them bottling water in the San Bernardino Mountains, and a group in Oregon voted in favor of anti-bottling measures on a proposed anti-bottling measures.

Additionally, a petition was started on Change.org calling Nestlé Waters “irresponsible and unsustainable,” pointing out that Arizona has officially been in a drought for 17 years.

City officials concluded that there will be enough water for both Pure Life and the city’s tap, but environmentalists aren’t convinced.

The bottled water industry is bad for the environment. Nearly 80 percent of plastic water bottles simply become litter in a landfill, creating 2 million tons of plastic bottle waste every year. Here are 10 things you might not know about the bottled water industry.


  1. The first case of bottled water sold dates back to Boston, Massachusetts, in the 1760s. Mineral water was bottled and sold by a spa for therapeutic uses.

  2. For the first time ever, bottled water sales are going to surpass the sale of soda in the US.

  3. Global consumption of bottled water increases by 10 percent every year. The slowest growth is in Europe, while the fastest growth is in North America.

  4. The energy we waste bottling water would be enough to power 190,000 homes.

  5. Food & Water Watch reported that more than half of bottled water comes from the tap.

  6. Bottled water is no safer than tap water. In fact, 22 percent of bottled brands tested contained chemicals at levels above state health limits in at least one sample.

  7. It takes three times more water to produce a plastic water bottle than it does to fill one.

  8. The amount of oil used to make a year’s worth of bottles could fill one million cars for a year.

  9. Only one in five plastic bottles are recycled.

  10. The bottled water industry made $13 billion in 2014, but it would only cost $10 billion to provide clean water to everyone in the world.

Women + Girls: Top Ten 10 Myths About Periods! #Menstruation LET’S TALK! #ItsBloodyTime #PressForProgress #TimeIsNow #MenstruationMatters

It’s ok to wear white! But it’s not ok to feel shame about your period.

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Menstruation Matter

Would you believe that some people pay to have their hair ripped off their body? Or that some women buy sharp metal blades and slide them along their legs to remove hair each morning? What if I told you women pay others to cover their fingernails in different colors, with paint containing toxic chemicals like formaldehyde? These things sound crazy when put this way. But, waxing, shaving, and painting nails are considered totally normal, even daily, practices for women in American culture and elsewhere.

Social and cultural norms create some pretty bizarre trends. The aforementioned trends are beauty related, but there are various cultural perceptions all over the world when it comes to women’s periods. Some cultural beliefs regarding periods are not just weird. They can also bar women from education, jobs, and overall equality.

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Here are 10 myths about menstruation that still exist in the world today.

 

1. Sharks Will Attack Women on Their Periods

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While women may be “riding the crimson tide,” there’s no need to worry about shark attacks if a woman wants to actually go in the ocean.  There’s no data to support menstruation attracts sharks. So for everyone (guys and girls) out there thinking menstruation attracts sharks, think again before you blame periods.

2. Women Will Contaminate Food

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In parts of rural India, there is a myth that women cannot water plants or cook during their period because their “uncleanliness” will spoil the food. In a study done in a random school in rural India, 55 percent of girls surveyed believed they could not cook or enter the kitchen during and 4 days after menstruation or food would sour. While I’m all for more boys and men taking on household chores so that girls in India can get an education, this myth doesn’t help with that.

3. Showering Will Cause Infertility  

In Afghanistan, the word “gazag” means to become infertile. It’s said (in old Afghan tradition) that during the week a woman has her period she cannot wash or shower or she will gazag. You’re probably thinking this is gross. It is. And it’s more than that–it’s a major risk for infection.  

In many places, including Afghanistan, it’s common for women to use cloth sanitary napkins. The benefit here is that it’s relatively inexpensive and a renewable way to manage periods. The downside is women are often ashamed to hang clean cloth used during menstruation outside with other laundry. So women hide and wear sanitary napkins for too long which causes infections deadly to reproductive health. This can all be fixed if social taboos over periods are eliminated.

4. Periods Are Debilitating For Women

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Imagine someone telling you to miss work every month even if you don’t feel sick. Menstrual leave is a thing, and this one is more controversial than some others. Several countries in Asia, like South Korea, China, Japan, and Indonesia have laws providing women sick leave during their period. The debate here is whether menstrual leave for women is a form of discrimination or a medical necessity.

Periods taboos are more debilitating than anything menstrual cycles themselves. Lack of access to sanitary napkins, and knowledge on managing periods for girls and women is debilitating. But, periods themselves are rarely a cause for necessary sick leave.

Yes, every woman experiences menstrual cycles differently, but only 20 percent of women report severe pain during periods. The other 80% of women reported no debilitating symptoms or pain. With the proper supplies and knowledge on how to manage periods, girls and women can be empowered to accomplish any task any time of the month.

 

5. Girls Cannot Participate in Class

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Indian Girl addressing crowd

The chaupadi tradition is a practice in rural parts of Nepal where women are literally put in isolation during their period. Again the reason stems back to “being unclean.” Women cannot be in classrooms with other students while menstruating.

The myth goes back to the belief that a woman’s uncleanliness will anger Hindu goddesses. Dispelling myths like chaupadi where 16 percent of women in Nepal are forced from their homes into isolation is a task that will take effort, education and awareness.

6. Women Can’t Prepare Sushi

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According to a cultural belief held by some sushi chefs in Japan, such as Jiro Ono–a famous sushi chef with restaurants in Tokyo, Ginza, and Chūō, women cannot be sushi chefs because of menstrual cycles. The myth here is that menstruation causes an “imbalance in taste” and therefore sushi cannot possibly be properly prepared by a woman. Side note: male sushi chefs also think women’s hands are too small and warm to prepare rice properly.

Fortunately women like Niki Nakayama defy stereotypes and period taboos by mastering the art of sushi. Women deserve to pursue any career.

7. Women Can’t Enter Holy Temples

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This myth exists in parts of the world ranging from Bali and India to Nepal. Women are believed to be “unclean” while menstruating and are thus not allowed to enter “clean” and holy places like temples. This is a form of gender inequality that limits women from the same human rights like freedom to practice religion that men have access to.

Girls and women menstruating are not unclean. They are normal, natural, and healthy. The myth that women cannot enter temples and holy ground is culturally controversial, and a sensitive issue. When women are treated differently because of a naturally occurring body cycle it creates shame, taboos, and humiliation towards periods that is deeply embedded into society. And that is the only thing that’s ridiculous.

8. Women Have “Cooties” That Make Men “Sick”

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In India and parts of Nepal (in alignment with the chaupadi tradition in Nepal). Myth number eight says that women cannot interact with or touch men because men will become sick by touching an “unclean” woman. Some 20% of girls in rural India believe they should not talk to a male member of the family during menstruation.

And 40% of girls in India learn about menstruation from their mothers. So, if external education is not provided these traditions will persist.

9. Menstruation Is a Disease in Iran

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Longstanding stigmatization in Iran has caused a staggering 48% of girls to believe that menstruation is a disease, according to a UNICEF study.

But there is hope.

A 2012 study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that when young Iranian girls were given menstrual education, more than half of them started bathing when they had their periods, while others busted the erroneous misconception.

10. Pads Need To Be Kept Unseen and Apart From Other Trash, or Could Lead To Cancer

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Traditional beliefs in Bolivia misinform young women and girls that the disposal of their menstrual pads with other garbage could lead to sickness or cancer, according to UNICEF. Because there’s still so much humiliation around the topic, many are told to keep their pads far away from the rest of the trash and are often led to collecting them in their bags during the school day until they get home.

The organization investigated 10 schools in Bolivia and identified that the two main challenges menstruating girls face include feelings of shame and limited access to private bathrooms. For this reason, UNICEF has implemented a massive menstrual education program in hopes of increasing access to proper menstrual products and sanitation facilities.

The bottom line is period taboos are not only crazy and ridiculous but they are a huge obstacle holding women back in many ways. It’s hard to believe these myths still exist all over the world today. But they do, and they need to be busted.

Awareness and education, especially for people in rural and developing countries, is necessary to empower girls and women everywhere. Together we can create a better world where girls believe periods are powerful not shameful.

The good news is there are people making a difference each day when it comes to eliminating period taboos. Arunachalam Muruganantham is a man in India who’s not afraid of social taboos. His own family ostracized him when he created a sanitary pad that cost $0.04 (USD). Arunachalam is just one of plenty of other men helping end period taboos.

Good Health And WellBeing: This Safe, Cheap Typhoid Vaccine Could Be the Breakthrough the World Needs #VaccinesWork

The deadly disease still infects up to 20 million people a year.

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For millions of people living in low- and middle-income countries, typhoid is an ever-present reality.

The deadly disease, which is spread through contaminated food and water, still infects up to 20 million people every year — and kills up to 160,000 people, many of them children.

And the need for an effective, affordable vaccine is greater now than ever, with climate change and urbanisation threatening to boost the spread of the disease through overcrowded populations, while resistance to antibiotic treatment is increasing.

Now, however, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has offered a possible solution , by prequalifying the first conjugate vaccine for typhoid (TCV). It sounds complicated — but bear with us.

Being prequalified means the vaccine meets the quality, safety, and efficacy laid out by the WHO, which makes sure that vaccines used in immunisation programmes are safe and appropriate for the country’s needs.

It’s the vital next step needed to let UN agencies, such as UNICEF, and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, buy the vaccine for use in vaccination programmes in poor countries — predominantly in Africa and Asia, where the disease is rife.

GAVI has already approved $85 million in funding for doses to be given to children starting from next year.

The vaccine is important because it offers longer-lasting immunity than older vaccines, it requires fewer doses, and it’s the first that can be given to young children through routine childhood immunisation programmes.

Typhoid is a serious and sometimes fatal disease spread through contaminated food and water. As well as fever, fatigue, and headaches, symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and constipation.

The vaccine, called Typbar TCV, is made by Bharat Biotech of Hyderabad, India, whose research is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and the Wellcome Trust, among other donors.

It has been tested and used in India since 2005, but in 2015, it was the subject of a “challenge trial” in Oxford, England. 

Around 100 people — many of them students — volunteered to receive either the vaccine or a placebo, before swallowing live Salmonella typhi, the bacterium that causes typhoid.

The results, published last year in medical journal the Lancet, showed the vaccine to be 87% effective in preventing the disease. And anyone who fell ill during the trial was cured with antibiotics.

The vaccine now costs $1.50 a dose when purchased for developing countries, and the price will drop to $1 or less if donors order more than 100 million doses, reported the New York Times .

Although the approval was given by the WHO in December, it has only been announced this week. The prequalifying process included reviewing the evidence, testing the consistency of each batch of manufactured vaccine, and visiting the site where the vaccine is manufactured. 

The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on immunisation, which advises WHO, recommended the vaccine in October for routine use in children over 6 months old in countries where typhoid is endemic (or found regularly).

Another bonus of the vaccine is that its use should help to slow the alarming increase in resistance to antibiotic treatment, by cutting down the frequency of the use of antibiotics to treat typhoid. 

Women And Girls: 7 Reasons Child Marriage Is Horrible for Girls, According to The Guardian #WomensHistoryMonth #WomensDay #InternationalWomensDay

We’re well on board.

It’s rare that a national newspaper takes on one of the Global Citizen issues in its editorial — so we’re thrilled to see the compelling “wedlock is a padlock” opinion piece from the Guardian this week.

The more voices that are raised in the fight to eliminate the outdated practice of child marriage once and for all, the better, in our book.

Child marriage is a serious problem and we’re not going to stop going on about it until it’s well and truly over. As well as being one of the UN’s Global Goals, it also has a knock-on effect on many of the other 16 goals — quality education; access to quality healthcare; gender equality; and no hunger, to name a few. 

But still, a girl under 18 is married somewhere in the world every two seconds . More than 750 million women and girls who are alive today were married when under 18, and some 250 million of these were married before the age of 15.

While the proportion of young women getting married before 15 has dropped from 12% to 8% since the early 1980s, there’s still a long way to go.

So, in the wise words of the Guardian, here are seven reasons that child marriage is terrible for girls.

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1. Child Marriage Is Sexist.

While child marriage affects both girls and boys, girls are significantly more at risk from the practice with nine in 10 children who get married being girls.

2. It Exploits the Youngest, Most Vulnerable People.

Almost a third of girl brides get married to a man older than 21. There is an increasing scrutiny of the issue, and more and more of some of the most shocking examples of child exploitation are coming to light. Last year, a 6-year-old girl was traded to a 55-year-old man in Afghanistan in exchange for a goat. In August, a 16-year-old girl from India was sold to a 65-year-old Omani sheikh. Cases like these draw global attention to the practice, but there are still many girls that slip through the net.

3. It Traps Children.

Marriage is often seen as protecting girls, especially if they are pregnant, but it locks children into often abusive relationships. In many countries, child brides can’t launch legal action — for example divorce — or even access refuges, because they are minors.

 

4. It Can Stop a Girl in her Tracks.

Child marriage is one of the greatest barriers to girls around the world. It’s linked to poverty, and is often an end to a girl’s education. When a girl gets married, she is often expected to drop out of school and she’s not likely to return — instead taking on the domestic duties of a wife and mother.

5. It’s Linked to Violence and Exploitation. 

In a 2017 survey of laws in 73 countries , it was found rapists in at least nine countries could avoid punishment if they married their victim — including in Bahrain, Iraq, the Philippines, Tajikistan, and Tunisia.

6. It’s Everywhere. 

Even in countries that are supporting global efforts to eliminate child marriage. In every US state, child marriage is legal in specific circumstances. In 25 US states , girls of any age are allowed to marry in certain circumstances, while others have minimum ages as low as 13. In the UK , 16-year-olds can get married with parental consent, and 16-year-olds in Scotland can get married without it.

7. The Effects Are Hereditary.

Child marriage is hampering global efforts to reduce poverty and population growth. It’s not just a problem for this generation. It’s a problem for future generations too.

It’s linked to maternal and infant mortality , largely because child brides are forced to have babies before their bodies are ready. Even if they survive, the children of child brides are less healthy, and less likely to access education. As the saying goes, educate a girl and you educate a family.

As well as the girls and their families, child marriage is impacting us globally. The World Bank has warned , for example, that child marriage will cost developing nations trillions of dollars by 2030.

The problem is not necessarily a case of creating laws to protect girls — although legislation is undoubtedly a start and sends a significant message.

But it takes more than just laws. Even in countries where child marriage is illegal, many marriages aren’t formally registered. In other places, according to the Guardian , officials turn a blind eye to breaches.

Something more is needed, as well as legislation — enforcement. There is little point creating ever harsher laws against child marriage if communities aren’t able to enforce them, and girls and their families have no idea of their legal rights. Governments and local authorities need to step up to put into practice the laws that are already in place.

Another fundamental step in tackling child marriage is eliminating the underlying factors that keep driving girls into marriage. Poverty, for example; lack of economic opportunities; limited or zero access to contraception; patriarchal and traditional attitudes; and conflict.

Good Health + Well-Being: Remembering WORLD AIDS DAY; Prince Harry, Meghan Markle raised Awareness on World AIDS Day

The world’s most popular couple is tackling the world’s most frustrating disease.

By now you’ve probably heard the news: Henry Charles Albert David, better known as Prince Harry of Wales, has become engaged to American actress Meghan Markle.

Great Scott!

The pair announced the engagement on November 27, and just days later they made their first royal outing as an engaged couple to a series of events hosted in honor of World AIDS Day.

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Prince Harry’s mother Diana was a fierce advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness; she famously changed attitudes about the disease when she publicly took the hand of a patient in front of television cameras. Her intent was to break down the misconception that the disease could be spread by touch.

The fight against HIV/AIDS still remains one of the most important battles of our time. Despite progress, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported that 2016 saw the highest rate of infection ever across Europe, affecting 160,000 people in 53 countries.

Now, it seems Princess Diana’s son and future daughter-in-law are intent on continuing her legacy of activism surrounding the devastating illness. The couple attended a charity fair in Nottingham aimed at increasing HIV/AIDS awareness on 2017 World Aids Day, though this was not Harry’s first foray into advocacy surrounding the issue.

On World Aids Day last year, Prince Harry and  pop-icon Rihanna visited Barbados where they publically took HIV tests to demonstrate the ease of finger pricking procedure. Earlier in 2017, Harry accepted a posthumous award on behalf of his mother’s work to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. In a speech he made that night, the prince suggested his mother would have continued to battle for widespread testing and decreased stigma.

“She would be demanding that same access to treatment and testing for young people in Africa and across the world,” he said. “She would, of course, be standing alongside those who are living openly as healthy, happy and HIV-positive.”

The WHO estimated that approximately 36.7 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2016. The organization also estimated that only slightly over half of that population was actively receiving antiretroviral treatment for the illness.

Speaking to a crowd with his new fiance, Prince Harry emphasized the importance of routine testing for HIV/AIDS, and the continued push to eliminate the immune disease all together.

“We mustn’t be complacent. We’ve got everything here: all the equipment, all the testing ability,” he said. “We owe it to this generation to be able to eradicate this once and for all.”

Clean Water And Sanitation: The Trump Administration Just Made a Decisive Step to Provide Safe Water And Sanitation Globally

Proving that collective action matters more than ever

Despite the rise of isolationist rhetoric on American soil, the US government is showing that global water remains a strong national priority — very welcome news for some of the most vulnerable citizens on the planet

In 2014, the Water for the World Act recognized the importance of water, sanitation, and hygiene, requiring the creation of a Global Water Strategy by 2017. On Nov. 17, only one month behind the statutory deadline, USAID and the State Department released the whole-of-government Global Water Strategy.

The Global Water Strategy tackles key risks presented by lack of adequate WASH (water and sanitation health), including the many related health problems from neglected tropical diseases, stunting, diarrhea, and other issues.

The strategy is guided by four primary objectives: increasing sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation services, and the adoption of effective hygiene behaviors; encouraging the sound management and protection of freshwater resources; promoting cooperation on shared waters; and strengthening water-sector governance, financing, and institutions. The US will focus its efforts on countries that seem to have the best opportunities, as outlined in the original 2014 legislation.

This strategy is a collective and comprehensive vision for global water security, developed through the efforts of over 17 US government agencies and departments, along with input from both the public and private sectors. It marks a crucial step forward in ensuring that all global citizens have access to lifesaving water and sanitation.

Water security is essential to disease prevention, economic growth, and state security. In the words of the Global Water Strategy, “Water is an entry point to advance core democratic values around equality, transparency, accountability, women’s empowerment, and community organization.”

And the report is right. Any and all global issues that we face necessarily include a fight for the basic human right of clean water for all, a cause that Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on. 

As US President Donald Trump said:

“Water may be the most important issue we face for the next generation.”

Good Health + Wellbeing: 2017 in Review: Here Are the 9 Biggest Global Health Moments From 2017

Health isn’t just about a person’s physical well-being.

Healthy people are able to live fuller, happier lives, which in turn can enable them to seek educational and economic opportunities. Public health initiatives play a critical role in empowering people to climb out of extreme poverty.

Lat year, the world witnessed some amazing progress on those public health initiatives, including achieving global health targets. But it also experienced some setbacks in the same realm. In some cases, diseases were eliminated and vaccines were created, and in others, funding was decreased and vital resources stalled.

Here are the most important health moments to note as 2017 drew its curtains and the world looks to advance what 2018 brings and its march already!

1. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) Launched

On Jan. 19,  a new international alliance was formed during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Its goal is to reduce the global response time against epidemics.

CEPI was essentially set up to develop new and improved vaccines so as to better prepare the world for future epidemics.

As it officially launched, Germany, Japan, and Norway, along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, invested $460 million.

CEPI is only about half funded right now, which is why Global Citizens are asking governments to step up and commit to bridge the nearly $500 million funding gap.

2. Trump Reinstated the Global Gag Rule

On Jan. 21, the day after US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, millions of women rallied together to march in solidarity around the world. Two days later, on Jan. 23, President Trump reinstated a more harmful version of the Mexico City Policy, which is also known as the Global Gag Rule.

The Global Gag Rule prohibits international NGOs that receive US funding from providing or sharing information about abortion, essentially cutting off vital resources to NGOs that provide services like maternal and child health care, HIV testing and counseling, sex education, and contraceptive services.

 

3. The #SheDecides Movement Launched

The Global Gag Rule left a funding gap of $600 million and put millions of lives at risk. From this, came the launch of the SheDecides movement .

Initiated by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and International Development, Lilianne Ploumen, SheDecides is a global movement that is trying to raise funds to make up for the funding gap created by this US policy.

The Netherlands set up the fund days after Trump announced the Global Gag Rule.

4. African Countries Pledged to Immunize Everyone

On Jan. 31, the Addis Declaration on Immunization was endorsed by the African Union Heads of State. In doing so, Heads of State in Africa pledged to ensure that everyone in Africa could receive the full benefits of immunization, regardless of who they are or where they live.

The declaration urges countries to increase political and financial investments in their immunization programs. It includes 10 commitments, including increasing vaccine-related funding and improving universal access to vaccines.

 

5. A New Malaria Vaccine Was Created

On April 24, the day before World Malaria Day, WHO announced that it would begin piloting a malaria vaccine in Africa in early 2018. The vaccine (RTS,S) is the first malaria vaccine to have successfully completed its third phase of clinical trials and to have received a positive scientific opinion from the European Medicines Agency.

6. The UK Eliminated Measles for The First Time

In September, WHO announced that the UK had managed to eliminate measles for the first time, which means that no new native cases of the disease had been recorded in the UK for three years.

The elimination of measles in the UK was stalled by a claim in the ’90s that the MMR vaccine was linked to autism, which resulted in a dip in vaccination rates.

But now, 33 countries across Europe have eliminated the disease, according to WHO.

 

7. The Clinton Health Access Initiative Announced a Landmark Pricing Agreement for a New HIV Medicine on the Global Citizen Stage

This agreement was announced by the Clinton Health Access Initiative on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, DFID, Unitaid, and UNAIDS in September.

The agreement will ensure 30 million people living with HIV in the most-impacted countries will have access to one of the best treatments. It is also estimated that it will save these countries at least $1.3 billion over the next six years.

8. Johnson & Johnson Started Testing An HIV Vaccine

In collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institutes of Health and others, Johnson & Johnson has begun the first efficacy trial of an investigational mosaic HIV-1 preventive vaccine — which could lead to a global HIV vaccine.

The trial, called Imbokodo, will study the effectiveness of the vaccine produced by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, a part of Johnson & Johnson.

 

9. 2017 Saw The Lowest Cases of Polio Transmission Ever

As of Dec. 6 , there were only 16 reported cases of the wild poliovirus, down from 37 in 2016, and an estimated 350,000 in 1988.

International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation #FGM #SDGs #FemaleGenitalMutilation

What is FGM?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a practice that involves altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons, and it is internationally recognized as a human rights violation. Globally, it is estimated that 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM. Although FGM is declining in the majority of countries where it is prevalent, most of these are also experiencing a high rate of population growth – meaning that the number of girls who undergo FGM will continue to grow if efforts are not significantly scaled up.

To promote the abandonment of FGM, coordinated and systematic efforts are needed, and they must engage whole communities and focus on human rights and gender equality. They must also address the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls who suffer from its consequences.

UNFPA, jointly with UNICEF, leads the largest global programme to accelerate the abandonment of FGM. The programme currently focuses on 17 African countries and also supports regional and global initiatives.

FGM refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external  female genitalia or other injury the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is a deeply entrenched social and cultural norm in many places.

The practice can cause short- and long-term health complications, including chronic pain, infections, increased risk of HIV transmission, anxiety and depression, birth complications, infertility and, in the worst cases, death.  It is internationally recognized as an extreme violation of the rights of women and girls.

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the first-ever resolution against female genital mutilation, calling for intensified global efforts to eliminate the practice. In 2015, FGM was included in the Sustainable Development Goals under Target 5.3, which calls for the elimination of all harmful practices.

Yet FGM remains widespread. In 2015, an estimated 3.9 million girls were cut. And because of population growth, this number is projected to rise to 4.6 million girls in the year 2030, unless efforts to end FGM are intensified. If FGM continues at the current rates, an estimated 68 million girls will be cut between 2015 and 2030 in 25 countries where FGM is routinely practiced and relevant data are available.

Why is FGM still practiced?

In every society where it is practiced, FGM is a manifestation of deeply entrenched gender inequality. It persists for many reasons. In some societies, for example, it is considered a rite of passage. In others, it is seen as a prerequisite for marriage. In some communities – whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim – the practice may even be attributed to religious beliefs.

Because FGM may be considered an important part of a culture or identity, it can be difficult for families to decide against having their daughters cut. People who reject the practice may face condemnation or ostracism, and their daughters are often considered ineligible for marriage. As a result, even parents who do not want their daughters to undergo FGM may feel compelled to participate in the practice.

Encouraging abandonment

Collective abandonment, in which a whole community chooses to no longer engage in FGM, is an effective way to end the practice. It ensures that no single girl or family will be disadvantaged by the decision. Many experts hold that FGM will only end through collective abandonment.

The decision to collectively abandon FGM requires a process in which communities are educated about FGM, and then discuss, reflect and reach consensus on the issue. The health and human rights aspects of FGM should feature prominently in these dialogues, and local and grassroots organizations should play an important role in raising awareness and educating communities.

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When communities choose to abandon the practice, they often participate in a collective public declaration to keep their girls uncut, such as signing and circulating a public statement or hosting festivities to celebrate the decision. Neighbouring communities are often invited to these events so they can see the successful process of abandonment, helping to build momentum for collective abandonment elsewhere.

Medicalization

About 1 in 5 girls who have been subjected to FGM had the procedure performed by a trained medical professional. In some countries, this number is as high as 3 in 4 girls.

FGM can never be “safe” and there is no medical justification for the practice. Even when the procedure is performed in a sterile environment and by a health care professional, there can be serious health consequences immediately and later in life. Medicalized FGM gives a false sense of security. Trained health professionals who perform female genital mutilation are violating girls’ and women’s right to life, right to physical integrity and right to health. They are also violating the fundamental medical mandate to “do no harm,” and it represents a threat to efforts to abandon the practice.

UNFPA is working to mobilize health workers, including midwives, to resist social pressure to perform FGM, and serve as advocates for prevention and protection in the communities they serve.

What UNFPA is doing?

In 2008, UNFPA and UNICEF established the Joint Programme on FGM, the largest global programme to accelerate abandonment of FGM and to provide care for its consequences. This programme works at the community, national, regional and global levels to raise awareness of the harms caused by FGM and to empower communities, women and girls to make the decision to abandon it.

Now in its third phase of implementation, the Joint Programme has helped more than 3.2 million girls and women receive protection against FGM and specialized care services. Some 31.6 million people in more than 21,700 communities in 15 countries with high FGM prevalence have made public declarations to abandon the harmful practice. And the Joint Programme helped 17 governments set up national FGM response mechanisms. Following intensive capacity development initiatives, there have been more than 900 cases of legal enforcement to date.

UNFPA also helps strengthen health services to prevent FGM and to treat the complications it can cause. UNFPA also works with civil society organizations that engage in community-led education and dialogue sessions on the health and human rights aspects of the practice. The Fund works with religious and traditional leaders to de-link FGM from religion and to generate support for abandonment. And UNFPA also works with media to foster dialogue about the practice and to change perceptions of girls who remain uncut.

With the support of UNFPA and other UN agencies, many countries have passed legislation banning FGM – including, in 2015, Nigeria and The Gambia – and developed national policies to achieve its abandonment.

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The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.5, for gender equality. including an end in discrimination and sexual violence against women.