News in Brief 30 October 2017 (AM)

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A child receives tuberculosis medicine in South Sudan. Photo: UNDP/Brian Sokol

Tuberculosis remains world's "top infectious killer": WHO

Tuberculosis, or TB, remains the world's top infectious killer, according to latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday.

The data from 2016, paints what WHO described as a "grim picture", with an estimated 1.3 million TB deaths among HIV-negative people and an additional 374,000 among those who are HIV-positive.

An estimated 10.4 million fell ill with TB, and almost half of drug-resistant new cases were in India, China and Russia.

Despite that, global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 53 million lives since 2000, and reduced the mortality rate from TB by 37 per cent, according to the Global TB Report 2017.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that "while the world has committed to ending the TB epidemic by 2030, actions and investments don't match the political rhetoric."

He added that "we need a dynamic, global, multisectoral approach".

The report adds that multidrug-resistant TB remains a "public health crisis and a health security threat", with 600,000 new cases with resistance to the most effective first-line drug last year.

Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of WHO's Global TB Programme, said that "the sheer numbers of deaths and suffering speak for themselves – we are not accelerating fast enough".

Puerto Rico still lacks "an effective emergency response" say UN experts

The United States island territory of Puerto Rico still lacks "an effective emergency response" more than a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, a group of UN human rights experts warned on Monday.

In a statement, the three experts said the destruction of the electricity grid and widespread damage caused by wind and flooding, had aggravated an already dire situation on the island, caused by "debt and austerity measures".

"Thousands are displaced, with homes destroyed and without any relief in sight", they said.

Close to 2.8 million people are still without power and only a few hospitals are functioning.

Nearly half the population of Puerto Rico was already living below the poverty line before Hurricane Maria struck.

The experts called on the US and Puerto Rican authorities to remove regulatory and financial barriers to reconstruction and recovery.

"All reconstruction efforts should be guided by international human rights standards, ensuring that people can rebuild where they have lived and close to their communities", they added.

They also stressed the need for debt relief for the island, which filed for bankruptcy in May.

Global leaders explore future nuclear power at IAEA conference

Global leaders met in Abu Dhabi on Monday to discuss how nuclear power can continue to meet future energy needs.

Policy makers are in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to attend the fourth Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power, organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in partnership with the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and UAE Government.

Leading ministers are taking part in high-level discussions on the role of nuclear power and exchanging views on key issues related to the development of nuclear technology.

Yukiya Amano, head of the IAEA, said in his opening remarks that all countries need to secure sufficient supplies of energy to drive economic growth and counter the damaging effects of climate change.

"Nuclear power is one of the lowest-carbon technologies for generating electricity", he said.

"Today, nuclear power produces 11 percent of the world's electricity," said Mr Amano, while highlighting that it emits almost no harmful greenhouse gases.

He further stressed that the IAEA would support both experienced users and newcomers, as he put it, at every stage of their nuclear journey.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3'16"

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