News in Brief 19 October 2017 (AM)

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A close-up on hands as skilled health worker takes the blood pressure of a patient. Photo: Aisha Faquir/World Bank

Leaders commit to reduce deaths caused by noncommunicable diseases

Governments have pledged to reduce suffering and deaths caused by heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced.

The commitment was made at the start of a three-day global conference which opened on Wednesday in Montevideo, Uruguay.

NCDs kill 40 million people each year and world leaders will work to reduce these "premature" deaths by one-third by 2030.

The Montevideo Roadmap underscores the need for coordinated action from all sectors, not just health.

It points out that many of these deaths could have been averted through tackling tobacco use, air pollution, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol, in addition to improved disease detection and treatment.

UN chief calls for humanitarian access to Raqqa

Parties to the Syrian conflict are being urged by the UN Secretary-General to facilitate humanitarian access to the city of Raqqa.

This week it was announced that the northern city had reportedly been freed from the grip of the extremist group, ISIL.

UN chief António Guterres continues to follow the situation there, according to a statement issued on Wednesday evening by his spokesperson.

"The latest developments in Syria point once again to the urgent need to reinvigorate the political process," it said.

Mr Guterres has directed UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to intensify his efforts to reconvene the next round of intra-Syrian talks, the statement concluded.

Malta urged to promptly investigate death of murdered journalist

The government of Malta is being urged to hold a public inquiry and investigation into the death of an investigative journalist killed earlier this week.

The appeal has been made by a group of UN human rights experts who issued a statement on Thursday condemning the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, who they described as "a strong opponent of public corruption."

She was killed in a car bombing on Monday.

The four UN experts have welcomed the start of an investigation into her death.

"We now urge a prompt, thorough and independent public inquiry and investigation, followed by a full judicial process to hold all the perpetrators to account," they said.

Furthermore, concerns expressed by Ms Caruana Galizia's family regarding the independence of the investigating judge should be taken seriously, they added.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2'32"

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