World Cancer Day: Early cervical cancer diagnosis could save lives of over 300,000 women

Cervical cancer kills more than 300,000 women every year, with one woman diagnosed every minute, despite the fact that it is one of the most preventable and curable forms of the disease.

In a statement released on Monday to coincide with World Cancer Day, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said that nine out of ten women who die from cervical cancer are from poor countries, and that if no action is taken, deaths from the disease will rise by almost 50 per cent by 2040.

The WHO points out that new diagnoses can be reduced by ensuring that all 9-14 year old girls globally are vaccinated against Human papillomavirus (HPV), a group of viruses that are extremely common worldwide, two types of which cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers.

Women in developing countries have only limited access to preventative measures, and cervical cancer is often not identified until it has reached an advanced stage. Access to treatment of late-stage cervical cancer – such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy – is also very limited, resulting in higher death rates in these countries.

To achieve this aim, WHO says that innovative technologies and strategies, access to diagnosis and early-stage treatment of invasive cancers are needed. In addition, palliative care for women who need it must be ensured.

All of these services must be part of strong health systems aimed at providing universal health coverage, and will require political commitment, greater international cooperation and support for equitable access.

Several countries and UN agencies have already joined forces under the UN Joint Global Programme on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control, a five-year programme to provide global leadership and technical assistance to governments and their partners as they build national cervical cancer control programmes, with the aim of eliminating cervical cancers as a public health concern across the world.

In order to succeed, WHO says that governments, UN agencies, researchers, healthcare professionals and individuals all have a role to play, as do the manufacturers of life-saving vaccines, diagnostics and treatments.

Pan American Health Organization
A teacher explains the importance of vaccination in the fight against cervical cancer.

UN calls for support to implement Central Africa’s newly minted peace agreement

After 10 days of negotiations, the Central African government and 14 armed groups reached a peace agreement on Saturday, according to a tweet from the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

“Let us mobilize to support the implementation of the peace agreement,” Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, said on Twitter after the peace agreement was concluded in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

The agreement was made possible under the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic (CAR) led by the African Union (AU) and with UN support.

MINUSCA quoted Smail Chergui, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, as stressing the parties’ exemplary cooperation at the Khartoum talks, and saying on Twitter:  “This is a great day for the CAR and for all the people of the Central African Republic” .

The Head of the Central African government’s delegation to the talks, Firmin Ngrebad, said he was determined to work with the Head of State and his government to respond to the concerns “of the brothers who took up arms.”

He also underscored that Central Africans’ support of the agreement will enable “the people of the Central African Republic to embark on the path of reconciliation, concord and development”.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in 2019, 2.9 million people, more than half of whom are children, will need humanitarian and protection assistance; more than 63 per cent of a population of 4.6 million.

Concerned with the security, humanitarian, human rights and political crisis within the country and its implications for the region, MINUSCA began operating in 2014 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

With the protection of civilians as its utmost priority, Chapter VII provides for the use of force – meaning, with Security Council authority, peacekeepers may respond to acts of aggression in kind.

UN/MINUSCA
The head of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, are visiting the Central African Republic from 8 to 10 January 2019, in order to to relaunch international efforts for lasting peace in the country

Call to revitalize ‘language of the ancestors’ for survival of future generations: Indigenous chief

Hundreds of ancestral languages have gone silent in recent generations, taking with them the culture, knowledge and traditions of the people who spoke them. To preserve and revitalize those that remain, the United Nations on Friday officially launched the International Year of Indigenous Languages, at UN Headquarters in New York.

UN Photo/Manuel Elias
Cultural performance by the Kwakwaka Dancers during a High-level Event to launch the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Delivering inaugural remarks, Kanen’tó:kon Hemlock, a Mohawk community Bear Clan Chief from Kahnawà:ke, paid tribute to Mother Earth.

Kanen’tó:kon Hemlock, representative of the Mohawk Nation, at the high-level event to launch the International Year of Indigenous Languages, at UN Headquarters in New York., by UN Photo/Manuel Elias

“As indigenous people, our languages are those of the earth and it is those languages that we use to speak with our mother”, he said, saying “the health of our languages is connected to the health of the earth”, which is being abused.

“We lose our connection and our ancient ways of knowing of the earth when our languages fall silent”, he explained, stressing that “for the sake of future generations we must ensure they too can speak the language of our ancestors”.

UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés underscored the close connection between indigenous languages and ancestral culture and knowledge, saying that “they are much more than tools for communication, they are channels for human legacies to be handed down”.

“Each indigenous language has an incalculable value for humankind”, she said, calling each “a treasure laden with history, values, literature, spirituality, perspectives and knowledge, developed and garnered over millennium”.

“When a language dies,” she spelled out “it takes with it all of the memory bound up inside it”.

Indigenous languages are symbols of their people’s identity, “vectors for values, ways of life and expressions of their connections with earth”, according to the Assembly president, who called them “crucial” for survival.

Indigenous languages also open the door to ancestral practices and knowledge, such as in agriculture, biology, astronomy, medicine and meteorology. Although there are still 4,000 in existence across the globe, many are on the brink of extinction.

“This International Year must serve as a platform from which we can reverse the alarming trend of the extinction of indigenous languages”, to recover and preserve them, including by implementing education systems that favor the use of a Mother tongue, Ms. Espinosa stated.

For his part, Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, addressed the survival of indigenous people and languages under the force of colonialization.

“Today we come here having survived the colonial era which has tried to bring our elders to their knees and squash them beneath the weight of injustice”, he said.

Mr. Morales called on those present to work together through dialogue to promote policies which help to preserve Indigenous lives, identities, values and cultures.

There are 770 million Indigenous people across 90 countries, constituting six per cent of the global population, living in many biodiverse regions, the President noted. And yet “capitalist greed” has left them among the poorest 15 per cent of the population, he stated.

UN Photo/Manuel Elias
Cultural performance by the Kwakwaka Dancers at the High-level Event to launch the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

 

Warning that greed was driving the move to annex yet more indigenous resources, he said that there was a “criminal silence” on the part of world leaders “when it comes to speaking out against these phenomena”, pointing out the hypocrisy of lecturing indigenous people about democracy and human rights, while quashing their community identities and suppressing languages at risk of dying out.

“Language is culture, language is an expression of a cosmovision and that is a way of seeing the world”, he said. “If languages disappear… the memories that they bear will disappear as well as the people that speak them”.

Encouraging everyone to “preserve the knowledge and wisdom of our ancestors”, Mr. Morales urged that a new paradigm be ushered in, one which is the fruit of indigenous peoples and “champions the Mother Earth”.

‘Leaders who sanction hate speech’ encourage citizens to do likewise, UN communications chief tells Holocaust remembrance event

The Holocaust illustrates how easily “people can move from condoning brutality, to committing genocide” and shows that “leaders who sanction hate speech or make anti-Semitic or xenophobic slurs” are encouraging their own citizens “to do the same”, the UN’s head of Global Communications told leading members of the Jewish community at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday.

Alison Smale led the briefing, which focused on the little-known record of Albanians during the Holocaust, who took in thousands of Jews who would otherwise have ended up in the Nazi death camps.

UN News/Maher Nasser
United Nations Civil Society Briefing.

Under the theme: “Holocaust Remembrance: Demand and Defend your Human Rights”, it was one of the main events marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day throughout this week of reflection on the industrial-scale genocide of approximately six million European Jews during World War Two.

“While this occurred, there were individuals and countries that demonstrated tremendous courage to save Jews”, Ms. Smale told those attending, the multimedia event.

We all have a role to play in demanding and defending human rights  – UN Global Communication chief Alison Smale

“Rescuers made the brave choice to help in full knowledge of the grave consequences they, their families and community would face should they have been found helping Jewish people” she spelled out.

Recognizing Albania’s response as an example of moral courage, Ms. Smale said that it “embodies the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

She said that the Albanian response also showed that everyone has a responsibility to defend human rights, identify strategies to protect those rights, and learn the consequences of inaction.

“Today, we witness populism, xenophobia, Neo-Nazism and hate groups on the rise, fueling anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred around the world”, she explained, stressing the role of civil society in documenting hate speech and hate crimes as “critical” to learn how to effectively address hatred, challenge its root causes and build resilient and just communities.

“Understanding the significance of historic actions taken to defend human rights – such as in Albania – is the first step towards encouraging such positive behavior among people today”, Ms. Smale underscored.

Close up of photos in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The event featured video clips from the film “The Albanian Code”, which shines a light on the role that the rugged and historically-rich Balkan country played to rescue Jews, interspersed with remarks and observations from Albania’s UN Ambassador Besiana Kadare; Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress; and Robert Singer, Chief Executive of the World Jewish Congress. Ms. Smale thanked all three for supporting the event and for “their commitment to Holocaust remembrance.”

Also taking part were Majlinda Myrto, Executive Director of the “Eye Contact Foundation”, whose family is honoured as “Righteous Among the Nations” for rescuing a Jewish family during the Holocaust, along with Anna Kohen, a child of Holocaust survivors who found a safe haven in Albania; and David Estrin, Founder of the youth organization “Together We Remember”.

“Learning about the history of Albania’s response during the Holocaust is important because it demonstrates compassionate behavior” explained Ms. Smale.

“It reminds us that we are all responsible for each other.  We all have a role to play in demanding and defending human rights,” concluded the head of UN Global Communications.