News in Brief 15 March 2017 (AM)

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Over the past 6 years of the war in Syria, access to health services for the civilian population in the country has seriously deteriorated. Photo: WHO

More than half of Syria's hospitals closed or "partially functioning"

After six years of brutal civil war less than half of Syria's hospitals are still working normally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.

The majority have been forced to close or are only partially functioning, said  WHO, and two-thirds of all healthcare workers have fled the country.

"Many healthcare facilities that are open lack clean water, electricity and sufficient medical and surgical supplies," said the agency.

In spite of the fragile ceasefire, WHO and its partners have not been able to "regularly access" communities in hard-to-reach areas.

Peter Salama, Executive Director of WHO's Health Emergencies Programme said that "substantial health needs in Syria continue to be unmet and resources…are stretched to the limit."

On the war's sixth anniversary he called on the warring parties to give "systematic and unhindered access to all areas" to deliver life-saving supplies and treatment.

Food insecurity rises by 20 per cent in Yemen over past nine months

The number of Yemenis living at emergency levels of food insecurity has increased by 20 per cent over the past nine months, said the UN on Wednesday.

"We are seeing the highest levels of acute malnutrition in Yemen's recent history," said UN Children's Fund (UNICEF)  Representative there, Meritxell Relaño.

She added that of 2.2 million children suffering acute malnutrition, 462,000 are categorized as "severely and acutely malnourished".

Those children are ten times more likely to die if not treated on time, as a healthy child of the same age, she said.

Twenty of the country's 22 governorates are facing crisis-levels of food insecurity and almost two-thirds are going hungry nationwide, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

Without additional humanitarian and livelihood support, Taiz and Hodeidah, which account for nearly a quarter of Yemen's population, risk slipping into famine.

Here's Reem Nada, who is the regional communications officer for WFP in Yemen.

17 million people in Yemen are in crisis and emergency phases. Seven million of them are in the emergency phase which means that they need humanitarian assistance, they need food assistance basically to be able to survive. Those seven million people do not have any other means of acquiring the food they need except through food assistance."

"Knowledge component" bigger factor in economic growth worldwide

Worldwide economic activity contains a bigger "knowledge component" than ever before, according to latest figures from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

In its report for 2016 on international patent applications, together with trademark and industrial design protection, it shows much stronger growth than for the world economy overall.

WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation, and 2016 proved to be a record year for patent applications.

China recorded what WIPO describes as "extraordinary growth" of 44.7 per cent in applications, and if the trend continues it will overtake the United States as the largest user of the Patent Cooperation Treaty, within the next two years.

Here's WIPO Director General, Francis Gurry.

"The growth rate in International Patent Applications is some 7.3 per cent. The growth rate in International Trade Mark Applications is 7.2 per cent, and designs, it's 35 per cent. What is says is that the nature of economic activity contains a knowledge component more and more and that these sectors of the economy are tending to out-perform other sectors of the economy."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3’19″

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