World News in Brief: Security Council condemns DR Congo attacks, cholera testing breakthrough, ‘my health, my right’ campaign

In a statement following a briefing last week by Bintou Keita, the head of the UN mission, MONUSCO, ambassadors condemned all armed groups operating in the country and demanded the immediate cessation of hostilities and of any further advances by the M23.

They expressed concern over ongoing displacement in Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu and called on all donors to scale up support in response to the 2024 humanitarian response plan.

Safe, timely and unhindered access

They called on all parties, in particular the M23 and Congolese armed groups, to provide safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access to those in need and to end attacks against civilians.

The Council condemned “foreign military support provided to M23 and any other armed group”, saying any such assistance must end and that foreign fighters must withdraw.

They expressed deep concern at the reports of the Group of Experts on the DRC on foreign military support for M23 – reportedly involving the Russia-based Wagner Group – and direct military interventions on DRC territory.

The Council members condemned in the strongest terms recent attacks against MONUSCO, its personnel and its assets and reiterated their support to the gradual, responsible and sustainable withdrawal of the UN Mission.

They strongly encouraged DRC authorities to take concrete action, including accelerated security sector reform and timely implementation of the national disarmament and demobilisation programme.

 The members of the Security Council called on all parties to maintain diplomatic dialogue and to engage on concrete steps towards de-escalation.  

Global deployment of rapid diagnostic tests to boost fight against cholera

A massive cholera-busting initiative partnered by the UN is underway, with more than 1.2 million rapid diagnostic tests for the disease heading to 14 countries.

This is the largest global deployment of cholera tests ever, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The first shipment was due to land in Malawi on Friday.

Coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the tests will help local health authorities to improve the detection of cholera, monitor outbreaks and judge the effectiveness of their vaccination campaigns.

The cholera test kits are bound for countries at high risk of outbreaks in the coming months, including Ethiopia, Somalia, Syria and Zambia, and they follow pilot studies in DR Congo, Niger and Nepal.

Cholera has been surging globally since 2021, with high numbers of deaths despite the availability of simple, effective and affordable treatment.

The global rise in the preventable disease has been driven by poor access to safe water and sanitation and the failure to detect outbreaks quickly to limit their spread.

Communities impacted often do not have access to basic health services, a situation made worse by climate-related factors, conflict and population displacement, the UN health agency noted.

‘My health, my right’ campaign marks World Health Day

Staying with global health, World Health Day is this Sunday, and WHO is launching a new campaign to champion the right to health of everyone, everywhere.

My health, my right advocates for ensuring universal access to quality health services, education and information as well as safe drinking water, clean air, good nutrition, quality housing, decent working and environmental conditions and freedom from discrimination.

WHO contends that core challenges consistently compromising the right to health are political inaction, coupled with a lack of accountability and funding and compounded by intolerance, discrimination and stigma.

Populations facing marginalisation or vulnerability suffer the most, such as people who live in poverty, are displaced, are older or live with disabilities, the UN health agency said.

Exacerbated by crises

While inaction and injustice are the major drivers of the global failure to deliver on the right to health, current crises are leading to especially egregious violations.

The burning of fossil fuels is simultaneously driving the climate crisis and violating our right to breathe clean air.

“Everyone deserves access to quality, timely and appropriate health services, without being subjected to discrimination or financial hardship,” said WHO, launching the campaign.

“Yet, in 2021, 4.5 billion people, more than half of the world’s population, were not covered by essential health services, leaving them vulnerable to diseases and disasters.”

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