On World Malaria Day, a push to eliminate malaria

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News release
25 April 2016 | Geneva – A year after the World Health Assembly resolved to eliminate malaria from at least 35 countries by 2030, WHO is releasing a World Malaria Day report that shows this goal, although ambitious, is achievable.

In 2015, all countries in the WHO European Region reported, for the first time, zero indigenous cases of malaria, down from 90 000 cases in 1995. Outside this region, 8 countries reported zero cases of the disease in 2014: Argentina, Costa Rica, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and United Arab Emirates.

Another 8 countries each tallied fewer than 100 indigenous malaria cases in 2014. And a further 12 countries reported between 100 and 1000 indigenous malaria cases in 2014.

The “Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030”, approved by the World Health Assembly in 2015, calls for the elimination of local transmission of malaria in at least 10 countries by 2020. WHO estimates that 21 countries are in a position to achieve this goal, including 6 countries in the African Region, where the burden of the disease is heaviest.

Shining a spotlight on countries moving toward elimination of malaria

“Our report shines a spotlight on countries that are well on their way to eliminating malaria,” said Dr Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme. “WHO commends these countries while also highlighting the urgent need for greater investment in settings with high rates of malaria transmission, particularly in Africa. Saving lives must be our first priority.”

Since the year 2000, malaria mortality rates have declined by 60% globally. In the WHO African Region, malaria mortality rates fell by 66% among all age groups and by 71% among children under 5 years.

The advances came through the use of core malaria control tools that have been widely deployed over the last decade: insecticide-treated bed-nets, indoor residual spraying, rapid diagnostic testing and artemisinin-based combination therapies.

But reaching the next level—elimination—will not be easy. Nearly half of the world’s population, 3.2 billion people, remain at risk of malaria. Last year alone, 214 million new cases of the disease were reported in 95 countries and more than 400 000 people died of malaria.

The efficacy of the tools that secured the gains against malaria in the early years of this century is now threatened. Mosquito resistance to insecticides used in nets and indoor residual spraying is growing. So too is parasite resistance to a component of one of the most powerful antimalarial medicines. Further progress against malaria will likely require new tools that do not exist today, and the further refining of new technologies.

Last year, for the first time, the European Medicines Agency issued a positive scientific opinion on a malaria vaccine. In January 2016, WHO recommended large-scale pilot projects of the vaccine in several African countries, which could pave the way for wider deployment in the years ahead.

Strong political commitment and funding are vital

“New technologies must go hand in hand with strong political and financial commitment,” Dr Alonso added.

Vigorous leadership by the governments of affected countries is key. Governments must strengthen surveillance of cases to identify gaps in coverage and be prepared to take action based on the information received. As countries approach elimination, the ability to detect every infection becomes increasingly important.

Reaching the goals of the “Global Technical Strategy” will require a steep increase in global and domestic funding—from $2.5 billion today to an estimated $8.7 billion annually by 2030.

Through robust financing and political will, affected countries can speed progress towards malaria elimination and contribute to the broader development agenda as laid out in the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”

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South Sudan: Failure of Government of South Sudan and Opposition to Form TGNU

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Press Statement
John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
April 24, 2016

The United States is disappointed by the continued failure of the Government of South Sudan and by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement -SPLM/A-IO (IO) to form the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU) and implement the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan.

Yesterday, the government denied landing permission to flights for the return of opposition leader Riek Machar. This interference resulted in the failure to meet the deadline in the compromise proposal put forward by the regional and international partners of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission that was agreed to by both sides. We have previously condemned obstruction by the IO, including the arbitrary demand by Riek Machar that more forces and heavy weapons than was previously agreed precede his arrival to Juba.

Despite the best efforts by South Sudan’s neighbors, the Troika, United Nations Mission in South Sudan, China, the African Union, the European Union and, most importantly, by South Sudanese advocating for peace, leaders on both sides have blocked progress.

The United States will continue to work with those who are sincerely committed to implementing the Agreement, particularly its provisions for reform of the security sector and public finances and for reconciliation and accountability.

The scope of future U.S. engagement in helping South Sudan confront the country’s security, economic and development challenges, however, will depend on the parties demonstrating commitment to work together to implement the Agreement. We have been working intensively with our partners, especially Ethiopia, to facilitate Riek Machar’s return. Given the actions by both sides to prevent or delay his return, it is now time for the parties to assume primary responsibility for facilitating the return of Riek Machar to Juba to form the TGNU and to demonstrate that they are genuinely committed to peace.

PRESS STATEMENT OF LOCAL REPRESENTATIVES OF INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL PARTNERS OF THE JOINT MONITORING AND EVALUATION COMMISSION

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The regional and international partners of JMEC met on 22 April 2016 to discuss the extraordinary meeting of JMEC, held on 21 April in Juba.The partners expressed their deep appreciation to the Government of the Republic of South Sudan for its decision to accept the compromise proposal, for the sake of peace.

They also welcomed the decision by the SPLM/A (IO) to accept the compromise proposal, and underscored the necessity of First Vice-President designate Dr. Riek Machar Teny to uphold his commitment to return to Juba no later than 23 April.

The partners reiterated their strong objection to the introduction of new conditions. Partners recognized the positive role played by the Chairperson of JMEC HE Festus G. Mogae and the AU High Representative HE Alpha Oumar Konaré and commended their efforts dedicated to the formation of a Transitional Government of National Unity.

Partners reaffirmed their resolve to continue to jointly accompany the peace process and urge all parties involved to work tirelessly and collectively towards sustainable peace in South Sudan

JMEC WELCOMES GOVERNMENT’S ACCEPTANCE OF COMPROMISE ARRANGEMENTS FOR RETURN OF THE FIRST VICE PRESIDENT DESIGNATE

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22 April 2016 JUBA: The JMEC Chairperson, Mr. Festus G. Mogae, Former President of the Republic of Botswana, welcomed today the decision by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to accept the 21 April compromise proposal on arrangements for return of the First Vice President-designate made by the regional and international members of JMEC.

The Chairperson said: ‘I am in receipt of a letter from the Government’s Chief Negotiator, in which the Government accepts that the SPLM/A (IO) transport from Gambella twenty PKM machine guns and twenty RPG rocket launchers, in addition to the individual weapons of the 195 accompanying personnel. I welcome this concession by the Government, following yesterday’s acceptance by the SPLM/A (IO) of the compromise proposal. It is now vital that the First Vice President-designate returns to Juba tomorrow and the Transitional Government of National Unity
is formed immediately upon his arrival. No further delay is tolerable.’

Right to housing vision needed to achieve equality for the poor in India” – UN expert

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NEW DELHI/GENEVA (22 April 2016) – The contrast between the vast numbers of pavement-dwellers and the rapid development of luxury real estate was brought into stark focus by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, who today ends a two-week official visit to the country. Leilani Farha called for a national housing law to effectively, and urgently, address the implementation of the right to adequate housing.

“I am extremely concerned for the millions of people who experience exclusion, discrimination, evictions, insecure tenure, homelessness and who lack hope of accessing affordable and adequate housing in their lifetimes,” Farha said.

“I was told and have read that evictions happen often, but rarely with due process and strict adherence to international human rights law. Some Government officials consider forced evictions to be justified where occupants do not own the land. Under international human rights law, this is not the case.” Farha added.

The UN expert said she observed a lack of urgency in dealing with the extreme living conditions of those who are homeless, as well as a lack of visibility for these issues.

“I am also seriously concerned that pervasive issues such as domestic violence are at times not linked with the right to live in a home in peace and security,” she said. “There also seem to be some gaps between Government policy-making and the court rulings that highlight the Government’s obligations to protect the dignity and right to life of vulnerable populations.”

Farha called on the central Government of India to develop a national housing law, anchored in the spirit of its Constitution and in international human rights law, that includes a moratorium on evictions, immediate obligations to adequately address homelessness, and that is in line with some of its most progressive state plans for in situ rehabilitation for slum dwellers.

The Special Rapporteur noted that the Government of India has been attempting to address these disparities and has ambitiously committed to addressing the living conditions in slums throughout the country by developing 20 million housing units in urban areas benefitting more than a 100 million people by 2022.

“I had the opportunity to visit rehabilitation and redevelopment sites under construction in Mumbai and Bengaluru. For people who are eligible to move into these, there is no doubt they will see a significant improvement in their living conditions, especially after having lived in slums for decades. Access to water, sanitation and electricity is ensured, and maintenance of the buildings is guaranteed for ten years. Most importantly, people are given security of tenure, a cornerstone for the enjoyment of the right to housing,” Farha said.

She warned however that there is mounting inequality in urban areas, and that large-scale migration from rural to urban areas will make India a primarily urban society in the next 30 years.

“A two-track policy response is urgently needed, one that addresses the backlog of housing shortage, and the other that prepares India for upcoming housing needs,” she said.

During her two-week mission to the country, the Special Rapporteur went to New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru and met with senior Government officials at all levels, as well as with residents, civil society and academics. She will present a detailed report of her findings to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017.