Tuesday October 23, 2018

Zero Discrimination Day: UN agency urges people to ‘make noise’ against HIV/AIDS discrimination

Each year on March 1, the world marks Zero Discrimination Day “to highlight how everyone can be part of the transformation and take a stand for a fair and just society

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United Nations, March 2, 2017: The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) on Wednesday marked Zero Discrimination Day with a “Make Some Noise” campaign, urging people to speak up against discrimination.

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“Discrimination takes many forms, and can be based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or age,” Xinhua news agency quoted UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying.

“For this year’s campaign, UNAIDS is putting particular focus on the need for zero discrimination in health-care settings,” Dujarric added.

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According to UNAIDS, people living with disabilities are nearly three times more likely to be denied health-care than other people.

“Healthcare settings should be safe and supportive environments. It is unacceptable that discrimination is inhibiting access to care today,” said Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of the UNAIDS, in his message for Zero Discrimination Day.

Each year on March 1, the world marks Zero Discrimination Day “to highlight how everyone can be part of the transformation and take a stand for a fair and just society,” the UN agency said in a press release.

“Eliminating discrimination in health-care settings is critical, and we must demand that it become a reality,” Sidibe added.

The right to health is a fundamental human right that includes access to affordable, timely and quality health-care services for all, yet discrimination remains widespread in health-care settings, creating a serious barrier to access to HIV services.

Data from 50 countries from the People Living with HIV Stigma Index cited by UNAIDS show that one in eight people living with HIV report being denied health care.

Around 60 per cent of European Union/European Economic Area countries report that stigma and discrimination among health-care professionals remains a barrier to the provision of adequate HIV prevention services for men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs.

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“Everyone has the right to be treated with respect, to live free from discrimination, coercion and abuse,” said Sidibe.

“Discrimination doesn’t just hurt individuals it hurts everyone, whereas welcoming and embracing diversity in all its forms brings benefits for all,” Sidibe added. (IANS)

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Australia Rejects U.N. Climate Report, Continues Using Coal

Australia is the world's driest inhabited continent.

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Australia, Coal
The Liddell coal-fired power station is seen in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney, Australia. VOA

Australia is rejecting the latest U.N. report on climate change, insisting coal remains critical to energy security and lowering household power bills.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its report released Monday that global greenhouse gas emissions must reach zero by the middle of the century to stop global warming exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The authors warned that if warming was allowed to reach two degrees, the world would be on course toward uncontrollable temperatures.

Climate change, Australia
The coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Georgia. VOA

They made special mention of coal, insisting that its use for power generation would have to fall to between zero and two percent of current usage.

The report has received a lukewarm response by Australia’s center-right government. It has said it has no intention of scaling back fossil fuel production because without coal, household power bills would soar.

Canberra also insists it is on target to meet its commitments under the Paris agreement, which attempts to unite every nation under a single accord to tackle climate change for the first time ever.

Australia earns billions of dollars exporting coal to China and other parts of Asia, while it generates more than 60 percent of domestic electricity.

Queensland, Australia
FILE – A dead tree stands near a water tank in a drought-stricken paddock located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

Australia’s Environment Minister Melissa Price believes the IPCC report exaggerates the threat posed by fossil fuel.

“Coal does form a very important part of the Australian energy mixer and we make no apology for the fact that our focus at the moment is on getting electricity prices down,” Price said. “Every year, there is new technology with respect to coal and what its contribution is to emissions. So, you know, to say that it has got to be phased out by 2050 is drawing a very long bow.”

Australia has some of the world’s highest per capita rates of greenhouse gas pollution. A recent government report showed a failure to reduce levels of greenhouse gas pollution. The survey said that between January and March this year, Australia had its most elevated levels of carbon pollution since 2011.

Coal, Australia
Workers operate machines at a coal mine at Palaran district in Samarinda, Indonesia (VOA)

Conservationists argue Australia is doing too little to protect itself from the predicted ravages of a shifting climate.

Also Read: Use Every Resources To Help in Climate Change: Scientists

Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent. Scientists warn that droughts, floods, heat waves, brush fires and storms will become more intense as temperatures rise, with potentially disastrous consequences for human health and the environment, including the Great Barrier Reef. (VOA)