Thursday’s Daily Brief: STIs worldwide, food safety and food prices, updates on Iraq and East Africa

IOM/Muse Mohammed Mohammed, 10, sits on the staircase of the former house he used to hide with his family in Mosul.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


This Thursday, we cover: the latest global report by the UN health agency (WHO) on sexually transmitted infections (STIs); the first ever World Food Safety Day, celebrated this Friday; an update on global food prices; updates on the education and farmland situation in Iraq; and a new UN allocation of US$45 million to help people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya facing food shortages.

More than one million sexually transmitted infections occur every day: WHO

The global scale of sexually transmitted infections (STI) should be a “wake-up call” to governments, UN health experts said on Thursday, citing data showing that one in 25 people today have “at least one” curable STI, which occur at a rate of more than one million a day worldwide.

Highlighting the “concerning lack of progress” by countries in stopping the spread of these and other STIs, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that if left untreated, they can have a profound impact on the health of teens, adults and unborn children.

Read our full story here.

‘From farm to plate’, first-ever World Food Safety Day demonstrates the need to take unsafe food off the menu

Unsafe food kills an estimated 420,000 people every year, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday, just ahead of the first-ever UN World Food Safety Day. Children under-five are the most at risk, carrying 40 per cent of the foodborne disease burden, amounting to 125,000 deaths every year.

“These deaths are entirely preventable,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Find out how in our complete story here.

Global food prices continue to rise

Every month this year, global food prices have increased, primarily due to adverse weather conditions driving up the cost of cheese and maize, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Thursday. The information is contained within the latest FAO Food Price Index, which tracks the international prices of the principal food commodities. It showed a 1.2 per cent increase between April and May.

With millions of pigs culled in Asia due to African Swine Fever, the pig meat index is up, but other major foodstuffs saw a dip in price. Reduced demand for biofuels, and prospects of increased output in India, saw a fall in sugar prices, and a glut in palm oil has contributed to a drop in the overall cost of vegetable oil.

UNICEF reopens thousands of schools in Iraq, but situation ‘remains bleak’

On his return from a visit to Iraq, Lord Jack McConnell, Vice-President of UNICEF UK, has hailed the efforts of the UN’s agency in the re-opening of about 2,000 schools, in areas formerly controlled by the so-called Islamic State terror group.

Lord McConnell visited a UNICEF-supported school in west Mosul, one of the areas most affected by conflict and where children’s needs remain immense. He also visited camps hosting Syrian refugees and displaced people from Sinjar and Mosul.

However, the UNICEF Representative to Iraq, Hamida Lasseko, who met Lord McConnell in the country, emphasized that the situation for children and young people in these regions remains bleak, and their future under threat: some 2.6 million are either out of school or at risk of missing out on their education.

Livelihoods at stake as more and more Iraqi farmland is set on fire

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is concerned about the impact on people’s livelihoods that dozens of incidents of farmland in Iraq being set on fire may have. Nearly 50 cases of presumed arson have been reported since May, mostly in Salah al-Din, Ninewa, Kirkuk and Diyala.

In Ninewa’s Sinjar district alone, thousands of acres of wheat fields have burned this week, destroying the main source of income for several hundred families who had previously been displaced by the conflict with Da’esh. That group has claimed responsibility for some of the fires.

Authorities are facing difficulties extinguishing the fires due to their scope, coupled with high winds and hot weather conditions.

UN allocates $45 million to help families facing food shortages in East Africa

On Wednesday, the UN allocated $45 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), to help people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya facing food shortages following another season of low rainfall and drought.

The bulk of the funds – $30 million – will go to Somalia, where 2.2 million people may face acute food insecurity by September, marking a 40 per cent jump from January.

The UN chief of humanitarian coordination, Mark Lowcock, said that the forecasts predicted an average rainy season this year in Somalia, but that it turned out to be the driest on record in nearly four decades.

As droughts remain a repeated weather phenomenon across the Horn of Africa, Mr. Lowcock has been calling for more systematic early action, including the release of funds, based on early warnings.

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