News in Brief 31 July 2017 (AM)

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Mobile broadband internet subscribers are expected to reach 4.3 billion by the end of this year. Photo: ITU

Mobile broadband internet subscriptions "set to hit 4.3 billion"

Mobile broadband internet subscribers are expected to reach 4.3 billion by the end of this year, according to the UN's agency for information and communication technologies, the ITU.

The ITU's latest Facts and Figures report shows that 830 million young people are already online, representing 80 per cent of the youth population in 104 countries surveyed.

The data shows that 15 to 24-year-olds are at the forefront of internet adoption.

In Least Developed Countries up to 35 per cent of users are in that age range, compared with13 per cent in developed countries and 23 per cent globally.

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, said that the latest data shows that "great strides are being made" expanding access.

"Digital connectivity plays a critical role in bettering lives as it opens the door to unprecedented knowledge, employment and financial opportunities for billions of people worldwide", he added.

The number of fixed broadband subscriptions has increased by 9 per cent annually in the last five years.

Battle against racism "must be unremitting to be successful: UN rights official

The fight against racism in all its forms, must be "unremitting to be successful".

That's the view of a senior official in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaking in Geneva, on the opening day of the new session of The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

CERD is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the convention on eliminating racial discrimination

Director of the Division of the Council, and Treaty Mechanisms, Adam Abdemoula, said that the committee was the oldest of all the UN's treaty bodies and that many people still face "institutional and systemic forms of racism in areas such as access to justice, education, health, employment or housing".

He added that the world was living through "an alarming period" in which racism had been rehabilitated in the guise of "security and nationalism".

WHO congratulates Tonga for eliminating disease known as "elephantiasis"

The Pacific island state of Tonga has been congratulated by the World Health Organization (WHO) for eliminating lymphatic filariasis – the disease more commonly known as elephantiasis – as a public health problem.

It's a mosquito-borne disease that damages the lymphatic system, leading to severe disfigurement, pain and disability, as limbs swell and skin thickens.

Sufferers often lose their livelihoods and suffer psychological impacts such as depression and anxiety.

WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr Shin Young-soo, said that "from today, the children of Tonga can grow up knowing that they are safe from this very nasty disease".

He described it as a "wonderful achievement" following decades of hard work to eradicate the disease.

WHO launched a programme to tackle it in 2000, and so far, seven other countries in the region have managed to eradicate it.

Lymphatic filariasis is classified as a neglected tropical disease, or NTD, meaning those conditions affecting the poorest populations in tropical and sub-tropical areas.

In the 1950s, close to 50 per cent of Tonga's population was affected.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’49″

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