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UN Should Name and Shame Countries Failing to Protect Doctors in War Zones: Aid Expert

Leonard Rubenstein, head of Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, said impartial investigations and reforming both military training and practice could improve safety for health workers

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The ruins of a hospital in Idlib province in northern Syria are seen in this image provided by Doctors Without Borders Feb. 15, 2016. VOA
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  • International law bounds all warring parties to respect and protect medical personnel, but the provision is largely disregarded
  • At least 80 people were killed in attacks on health facilities in 14 countries in the first three months of 2017, according to the World Health Organization
  • An expert Leonard Rubenstein said impartial investigations and reforming both military training and practice could improve safety for health workers

New Delhi, August 19, 2017: The United Nations should name and shame countries that fail to protect health workers in war zones and audit what steps they take to keep medics safe, Leonard Rubenstein- an aid expert- said on Thursday.

International law bounds all warring parties to respect and protect medical personnel, but the provision is largely disregarded, with hospital and medics often deliberately targeted in conflict areas, aid agencies say.

Last year, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling for an end to impunity for perpetrators, but little has been done to implement it, said Leonard Rubenstein, head of Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, a network of aid groups.

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“Since 2016, we have had complete international paralysis,” he told an event in London, blaming the stalemate on divisions between Russia and other members of the Security Council.

At least 80 people were killed in attacks on health facilities in 14 countries in the first three months of 2017, according to the World Health Organization.

More than half the attacks were in Syria.

Rubenstein said impartial investigations and reforming both military training and practice could improve safety for health workers — but nations had to be pushed into adopting them.

“The only way to get them to do it is to shame them,” he told a panel at the Overseas Development Institute via video link, ahead of World Humanitarian Day on Aug 19.

In order to do so, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights should issue annual reports highlighting what steps countries have taken to implement resolutions made the year before, Rubenstein said.

“It’s not the most powerful mechanism that we have — but it is the only one that we (have) really got at the moment, and I think that would go a long way to forcing the states to take the actions that they have committed to do,” he said. (VOA)

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Eat Less Saturated, Trans Fats to Curb Heart Disease: WHO

An active adult needs about 2,500 calories per day, Branca said

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The World Health Organization said Friday that adults and children should limit their intake of saturated fat — found in foods such a meat — and trans fat — found in foods such as french fries.
representational image. VOA

Adults and children should consume a maximum of 10 percent of their daily calories in the form of saturated fat such as meat and butter and one percent from trans fats to reduce the risk of heart disease, the World Health Organization said Friday.

The draft recommendations, the first since 2002, are aimed at reducing non-communicable diseases, led by cardiovascular diseases, blamed for 72 percent of the 54.7 million estimated deaths worldwide every year, many before the age of 70.

“Dietary saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids are of particular concern because high levels of intake are correlated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases,” Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, told reporters.

The dietary recommendations are based on scientific evidence developed in the last 15 years, he added.

The United Nations agency has invited public comments until June 1 on the recommendations, which it expects to finalize by year-end.

Junk food.
Junk food. Pixabay

Saturated fat is found in foods from animal sources such as butter, cow’s milk, meat, salmon and egg yolks, and in some plant-derived products such as chocolate, cocoa butter, coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.

An active adult needs about 2,500 calories per day, Branca said.

“So we are talking about 250 calories coming from saturated fat and that is approximately a bit less than 30 grams of saturated fat,” he said.

That amount of fat could be found in 50 grams (1.76 oz) of butter, 130-150 grams of cheese with 30 percent fat, a liter of full fat milk, or 50 grams of palm oil, he said.

Trans fats

Trans fats occur naturally in meat and dairy products. But the predominant source is industrially-produced and contained in baked and fried foods such as fries and doughnuts, snacks, and partially hydrogenated cooking oils and fats often used by restaurants and street vendors.

In explicit new advice, WHO said that excessive amounts of saturated fat and trans fat should be replaced by polyunsaturated fats, such as fish, canola and olive oils.

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“Reduced intake of saturated fatty acids have been associated with a significant reduction in risk of coronary heart disease when replaced with polyunsaturated fatty acids or carbohydrates from whole grains,” it said.

Total fat consumption should not exceed 30 percent of total energy intake to avoid unhealthy weight gain, it added.

The recommendations complement other WHO guidelines including limiting intake of free sugars and sodium. (VOA)