WHO updates guidelines on COVID-related organ inflammation in children

Children who have developed organ inflammation linked to COVID-19 infection should be given steroid treatment in hospital, the World Health Organization, (WHO), said on Tuesday.

The updated recommendation from the UN health agency comes after it first described Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children Associated With COVID-19, or MIS-C for short, last May.

“MIS-C is a rare but serious condition where children with COVID-19 develop inflammation affecting different organs of the body”, WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told journalists at a scheduled briefing in Geneva.

“Children with this condition need specialized care and may need to be admitted to intensive care. Although MIS-C is a serious condition, with the right medical care, children with this condition recover”. More

Secretary-General’s message on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Violence against women and girls continues to be the most pervasive and pressing human rights issue in the world today.

It is both an abhorrent crime and a public health emergency, with far-reaching consequences for millions of women and girls in every corner of the globe.

The latest figures from UN Women confirm that during the COVID-19 pandemic, levels of violence against women and girls have increased.

Across 13 countries, almost half of all women reported that they or a woman they know began to experience gender-based violence during the pandemic.

Almost a quarter of women reported that household conflicts had become more frequent. A similar proportion said they felt less safe at home.

Violence in any part of society affects us all. From the scars on the next generation to the weakening of the social fabric. Continue reading

Spotlight Initiative combats gender-based violence during COVID-19 pandemic

Despite COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, some 650,000 women and girls were provided with gender-based violence services through a joint UN and European Union (EU) programme working to stamp out what is arguably one of the most prevalent human rights violations. 

This is just one of the achievements detailed in the Spotlight Initiative’s impact report for 2020-21, launched in New York on Friday.

Rising to the challenge details how the partners rapidly adjusted programmes during the global crisis to address the shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls.

“COVID-19 continues to exacerbate violence against women and girls in a context of sustained and new backlash against women’s rights globally,” said Sima Bahous Executive Director of UN Women, which supports governments in achieving gender equality.

“Now more than ever we need concentrated action to protect the gains made and to guard against reversals.” More

Safe sanitation for all benefits people and the planet: UN chief

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged countries to keep their promise to leave no one behind and deliver health and sanitation to all.  In his message for World Toilet Day on Friday, the UN chief affirmed that everyone should have access to hygienic, safe and sustainable sanitation.

“Life without a toilet is dirty, dangerous and undignified,” he said. “Yet 3.6 billion people still live without safely managed sanitation, threatening health, harming the environment, and hindering economic development.”

Lack of proper sanitation can also be lethal. Every day, more than 700 children under the age of five die from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water and sanitation, according to UN data.

World Toilet Day, which has been commemorated since 2013, aims to break taboos and make sanitation for all a global development priority. More

COP26 was an ‘important step, but not enough’ – What now?

After two weeks of tough negotiations, the 26th UN Climate Conference has come to an end. Member States reached an agreement that the United Nations Secretary-General called an important step in addressing climate change, but not enough.

The UN chief added that it is time to go “into emergency mode”, ending fossil fuel subsidies, phasing out coal, putting a price on carbon, protecting vulnerable communities, and delivering the $100 billion climate finance commitment. “We did not achieve these goals at this conference. But we have some building blocks for progress,” he said.

Mr. Guterres also had a message to young people, indigenous communities, women leaders, and all those leading the charge on climate action. “I know you are disappointed. But the path of progress is not always a straight line. Sometimes there are detours. Sometimes there are ditches. But I know we can get there. We are in the fight of our lives, and this fight must be won. Never give up. Never retreat. Keep pushing forward”.

In this conversation wrap-up, learn about the facts and highlights of the Conference, watch an interview with Martina Donlon, who leads climate communications at the UN, and join Producers Laura Quiñones and Conor Lennon as they look back on the action of the last two weeks. Watch here

On brink of humanitarian crisis, there’s ‘no childhood’ in Afghanistan

For over 70 years, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has had a presence across Afghanistan – even as the Taliban secured power over the summer. UN News spoke with Samantha Mort, Chief of Communication, Advocacy and Civic Engagement at UNICEF Afghanistan, who assured that all offices remain open and warehouses full. 

Some 22.8 million people across the country are facing food insecurity, she explained, adding that they cannot access affordable or nutritious food.  Of the 38 million people living in Afghanistan, some 14 million children are food insecure.

For Ms. Mort, “there’s no childhood” these days in Afghanistan. “It’s all about survival and getting through the next day.”

The agency is doubling its number of nutrition counselors and mobile health and  nutrition teams that can go into rural communities to help the children hardest to reach. More

Madagascar: ‘World cannot look away’ as 1.3 million face severe hunger

The international community must step up support to Madagascar, where more than one million people in the south are facing severe hunger, the top UN aid official there said on Thursday in a renewed appeal for solidarity and funding. 

The impacts of the most acute drought in over 40 years, combined with sandstorms and pests, have made it nearly impossible for people in the Grand Sud to grow their own food for at least three years now.

“The world cannot look away. People in Madagascar need our support now, and into the future,” said Issa Sanogo, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country.

The drought has left more than 1.3 million people facing severe hunger, including some 30,000 people who are facing life-threatening famine-like conditions. The crisis has forced families to take their children out of school so they can help with tasks such as finding food and water.  More

Youth embody ‘spirit’ of 21st century more than parents, new survey shows

Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and other global challenges, children and youth are nearly 50 per cent more likely than older people to believe that the world is becoming a better place, according to the results of a landmark inter-generational poll published on Thursday. 

The international survey was conducted by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Gallup, the global analytics and advice firm, and has been released ahead of World Children’s Day on 20 November.

The Changing Childhood Project is the first poll of its kind to ask multiple generations for their views on the world and what it is like to be a child today.

The survey also revealed a strong alignment between the two generations, including on the issues of climate, education, global collaboration, though some of the deepest divides occurred around optimism, global mindedness and recognition of historical progress.  More

Secretary-General’s Message on World Toilet Day

Life without a toilet is dirty, dangerous and undignified.

Everyone should have access to hygienic, safe, and sustainable sanitation. Yet 3.6 billion people still live without safely managed sanitation, threatening health, harming the environment, and hindering economic development.

Every day, 700 children under five years old die from diseases linked to unsafe water and sanitation.

Toilets save lives and drive improvements in gender equality and in society as a whole.

We need urgent and massive investment and innovation along the entire ‘sanitation chain’, from toilets to the transport, collection and treatment of human waste.

Delivering on this basic human right – the right to water and sanitation – is good for people, business and our planet.

For every $1 invested in toilets and sanitation, up to $5 is returned in saved medical costs, better health, increased productivity, education and jobs.

History teaches us that rapid progress is possible. Many countries have transformed their health systems by acting on sanitation facilities and ensuring everyone has access to toilets.

On World Toilet Day, let us keep our promise to leave no one behind and take action to deliver health and sanitation for all.

New York

19 November 2021