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First World Braille Day

First-ever World Braille Day underscores importance of written language for human rightsJanuary 4 is recognized by the UN General Assembly as the national day for the visually-impaired and partially-sighted people. Approximately 39 million people are blind and 253 million don’t have their full sight.The UN Secretary General, General António Guterres, aserts: “Let us reaffirm our commitment to work together for an inclusive and equitable world, where the rights of people with disabilities are fully realized.” This day intends to highlight the widespread inequality that visually impaired people are usually faced with, as documented by the World Health Organization (WHO). The World Braille language allows the dissemination of important information for the independence and equality of the visually impaired. The UN released its first report on disability this year on the World Braille Day on January 4th, 2019.

One small flight for a drone, one ‘big leap’ for global health

Vanuatu is a small island in the remote South Pacific where about 20 percent of the country’s children miss out on crucial vaccines. Given that Vanuatu is made of 80 remote, mountainous islands with limited road access, it’s very difficult to transport medicine there, especially vaccine\ that needs to be kept at controlled temperatures. Therefore, a drone was used for the first time to transport vaccines 24 miles to a location in Western Vanuatu where a nurse and some children were waiting. Nurse Miriam Nampil, who administered the vaccines to the children, explained: “It’s extremely hard to carry ice boxes to keep the vaccines cool while walking across rivers, mountains, through the rain, or across rocky ledges. I’ve relied on boats, which often get cancelled due to bad weather. As the journey is often long and difficult, I can only go there once a month to vaccinate children. But now, with these drones, we can hope to reach many more children in the remotest areas of the island.”The vaccines were carried in Styrofoam boxes with ice-packs and a temperature device that sent an alarm if the temperature falls outside of the specific requirements. The drone experiment involving the transport of medicine was a first of its kind, and was done using a private company contracted by the Government of Vanuatu. The commercial drone company was selected through a bidding process. The head of UNICEF, Henrietta H. Fore, expressed excitement about the “enormous potential” of this vaccine delivery process.

SDG#1: Poverty Eradication

Eradicating all forms of poverty is one of the greatest challenges faced by the United Nations and the global community. The UN Secretary General highlighted that tackling challenges relating to poverty is essential in creating a world of equality. “Let us remember that ending poverty is not a matter of charity but a question of justice,” the UN Chief stated in his address on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. He cited that 700 million people still do not have their basic needs met. Eradicating poverty is Goal 1 of the Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals. The UN Chief stressed the importance of ending poverty as he ended his address with this statement -“Let us commit to uphold the core pledge of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind.”

WHO Reports About Climate Change

The World Health Organization (WHO) assessed that up to a million of lives could be saved if the climate change goals in the 2015 Paris Agreement are achieved by 2050. The report indicates the lives spared will be mostly due to improved health, especially in countries with a high level of global emissions such as china and India. 7 million people die every year due to exposure to air pollution. A move to a low-carbon energy in some instances, according to WHO, will also lead to healthier lifestyles, for example, cycling instead of driving, and that is likely to prevent diabetes and heart diseases. Dr. Maria Neira, Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health for WHO explains, “The true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs...When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost.”The report further adds that the benefits of living healthier will be twice as high as the economic cost of fighting global warming and air pollution.

International Day of Solidarity

The General Assembly declared the 29th of November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The United Nations saw importance in recognizing the struggles and triumphs of Palestine as a nation and set aside a day to stand in solidarity with them. The resolution on the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is a way to encourage Member States to continue to give the middle east support and a needed platform to share their grievances and triumphs.

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