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Also In Global Health News: Sanitation Workshop; Bachelet’s Leadership; Measles In DRC; Global Water Shortages In Urban Areas By 2050

Regional Urban Sanitation, Hygiene Workshop Opens In Rwanda

A three-day regional workshop on urban sanitation and hygiene kicked off on Tuesday in Kigali, Rwanda, the New Times/allAfrica.com reports. The workshop, which is bringing together more than 60 urban sanitation and hygiene professionals from several countries in the region, aims to “provide a platform for sharing best practices on sanitation and hygiene within regional countries.” Richard Sezibera, Rwanda’s health minister, highlighted the need for cooperation on sanitation when he opened the meeting. “Hygiene and sanitation cannot be left to the Ministry of Health alone, it has to be embraced by all leaders in the country and communities,” he said. Rene Van Lieshout, the senior program officer at the International Water and Sanitation Centre, also spoke on the opening day (Kanyesigye, 3/30).

New York Times Examines Bachelet’s Leadership Record

The New York Times examines the leadership of Michelle Bachelet, who heads U.N. Women. Bachelet, who was Chile’s first female president, “hired a man as one of her two deputies … and courts male chief executives to sign up to seven principles for female empowerment,” the newspaper notes. “We need men. We need to obtain big important male champions,” according to Bachelet. “While few dispute her star power and track record on advancing women’s rights in Chile, Ms. Bachelet’s conviction that men are indispensable to the next stage of women’s liberation is not universally shared,” the New York Times reports, highlighting some commonly cited criticisms about her appointment. Some “lament that she is not focusing enough on issues like genital mutilation, HIV and AIDS or maternal mortality, the most neglected of the Millennium Development Goals.” The article discusses her experience and achievements in Chile, concluding, “Changing a country when you are its head of state is one thing. Whether Ms. Bachelet can galvanize many countries, or indeed the world, to alter attitudes toward women from the pulpit of a new U.N. agency remains to be seen” (Benhhold, 3/29).  

MSF Warns Of Escalating Measles Epidemic In DRC

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on Monday warned of an escalating measles epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo and called on aid groups to make a concerted effort to reduce the spread of the disease, Agence France-Presse reports. According to MSF, “more than 21,000 people have been infected and 210 have died since the outbreak was identified in September 2010” – a number they say might underestimate the numbers of deaths from the disease, according to the news service (3/28). “The measles epidemic is spiralling out of control,” Gael Hankenne, MSF head of Mission in the DRC, said in an MSF press release. “Since September 2010, we have vaccinated more than 1.5 million children in response to the crisis, but the disease is spreading like wildfire,” Hankenne said (3/28). MSF called on the country’s Ministry of Health, “international donors and health organisations with activities in the DRC – particularly U.N. agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the children’s fund UNICEF – to act immediately,” Reuters reports (3/29). In addition, aid workers are warning that a cholera outbreak in the DRC’s Katanga Province is threatening to exacerbate the measles epidemic, IRIN reports. “Children who contract cholera and haven’t received any inoculations against measles will be more vulnerable to the disease. We need to act quickly to control the epidemic,” Ayigan Koffi, health coordinator of the WHO in the DRC, said (3/29).

More Than 1B Urban Residents Will Face Serious Water Shortages By 2050

“More than one billion urban residents will face serious water shortages by 2050 as climate change worsens effects of urbanization, with Indian cities among the worst hit,” according to a study published Monday in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Agence France-Presse reports. Based on a hydrologic model, the study authors found “that under current urbanization trends, by mid-century some 993 million city dwellers will live with less than 100 liters (26 gallons) each day of water each – roughly the amount that fills a personal bathtub – which authors considered the daily minimum. … Adding on the impact of climate change, an additional 100 million people will lack what they need for drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing and toilet use,” the news service writes. AFP elaborates on areas to face the most severe of water shortages, including regions of the Ganges River delta and plain, and West Africa (Tandon, 3/28). The authors of the study conclude that while “[s]upplying the world’s urban dwellers with adequate water in 2050 will pose a challenge. … It is a solvable problem but one that will take money, time, political will, and effective governance. … These kinds of commitments are crucial if the world is to ensure that all urban residents can enjoy their fundamental human right to adequate drinking water” (McDonald et al., 3/28).

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