BBC: Half way through plenary, what’s the tea?

Having officially passed both AFRO and AMRO we are close to finishing up EURO. EURO was no easy one to pass. We saw a heated debate between Singapore and Russia, both failing to compromise on any means. Furthermore, singapore brings in controversial evidence that accused Russia of lying to to the entire WHO. Not to worry, Russia explained its ambitions and the true underlying meaning of this evidence

EURO, thus far, has been the only one to incorporate a panel in order to gather data on maternal needs and their health. Surprisingly, no one had objected to this addition. They also heavily focused on giving education to not only women but also to men. India was quick to bring up the point on how not all countries would be willing to enforce this in their countries because of the many cultural stigmas and boundaries that prohibit men from being able to get this education. Essentially it is still a suggestion. Having males educated, we believe, is very important. We learn that men start to become empathetic towards women because they do not know how to help women in controversial situations.

Australia brought up the point on how maternal education should not be government mandated in schools because of the age of the kids. “These kids are way off from having kids” Australia states. To further this statement, they expand on the idea that because these kids are so young maternal education could lead to being unnecessary or possibly uncomfortable for many of the young children who once again “ are a way off from having kids”. Russia quickly refuted saying that this was necessary to educate kids from a young age in order to ensure that they have a strong background when they’re older.

Paternal pay was another unique clause in their resolution. Interestingly enough, notice the wording is paternal and not just maternal. Further ensuring that they plan on encouraging men to be involved with the topic of sexual and reproductive health.

This is all the tea that has been spilled till now. BBC will keep you updated with more comments from singapore, and many more faceoffs regarding the questioning if countries have done their research or not.

Advertisements

Al Jazeera: Sexual Disease Prevention and Access to Health Care Failed by Middle Eastern Regions

What Can be done?

It has been an uphill battle with many of the Middle Eastern regions when addressing the unfortunate events of sexual behavior and the consequences alongside engaging in these behaviors outside of a marriage. Countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, & Saudi Arabia are only a few of the many countries with strict religious views that hinder the works of breaking the stigma of sexual and reproductive behavior. Delegates of Pakistan and Afghanistan proclaim in an interview that it is the fault of the woman if she is assaulted, raped, or catches an STI. Delegate of Afghanistan says “Women face honor killings and social shunning as oppose to men who may only face a fine”. Sexual activities outside of marriages in most of these Middle Eastern regions are highly illegal and punishable by death. Therefore, when it comes to helping individuals who obtain sexual diseases, there is no “help” only punishment especially for women. What does healthcare consist of when STIs are contracted within a marriage? Apparently it’s very limited. Representatives of these regions mainly rely on failed policies that consist of abstinence education and take the approach of “well, if we tell them it’s wrong, maybe they won’t do it in the first place”. Quite frankly, that approach doesn’t work for adolescents who may not understand all of the faucets of sexual behavior. In simpler terms, what conversations are held in order for populations to truly understand and address hormones, sexual development, and understanding what sexual assault or abuse is? Abstinence programs are definitely a great foundation to address a safe avenue of living, but this elementary approach unfortunately does not help the fact that individuals are continuously at risk for developing a disease whether engaging in sexual activities by choice or by force. Delegate of Pakistan in an interview says “contraceptives and other related healthcare assistance is only available to the individuals in a marriage”.  Most would agree that it is unfavorable to deny access to healthcare in regards to sexual diseases. Unfortunately, these regions do not see it the same way. Religious views seemingly are the heart of what can and can’t be done to address the health care needs within many of the Middle Eastern populations. So the question remains, what boundaries need to be pushed for these countries to move past the hindrance of religious based health care? Does this cause for individuals to leave their populations? The future is unforeseeable with these regions when it comes to sexual disease prevention and access for health care for all.

CNN: AFRO’s Statement on Maternal Mental Health

(CNN)—AFRO region makes breakthrough by prioritizing maternal mental health. The AFRO region has come up with a statement with consensus, the first region at the 2019 conference to do so. Here is the official statement:

 

Recognizing limited maternal mental health research capabilities, inadequate data acquisition capacities, vast cultural nuances across the region, and recent research acknowledging the largely unknown scope and impacts of maternal mental health conditions across the region,

 

We the AFRO Region,

 

Express the need of prioritizing maternal mental health as a “health crisis”

 

Recommend that participating nation-states prioritize mental health counseling as outlined by the African Association of Psychiatrists and Allied Professions

 

Trusts member states to address stigmatic social barriers to mental healthcare access in ways they deem nationally appropriate

 

Suggests its nation-states allocate a portion of its external funding from NGOs and the UN to providing cost-effective and sustainable treatment for mothers
Proclaims the intense urgency, specifically in southeastern Africa, of maternal mental healthcare access and effective treatment following complex emergencies of increasing intensity and urgency

 

This is an amazing breakthrough, because they recognized that maternal mental health, eventually, affects the entire region. In a sit down interview with the Delegate of Ethiopia, I asked why this topic was important, and how they were able to come to a consensus. He said that the topic is vital because maternal mental health is everyone’s health. He continued to say that this region came to a consensus by recognizing that, though there may be differences in logistics, they all had the same goals and initiatives. I think that in discussion, its so easy to go off on tangents and discover small differences. Thus, I admire that AFRO was able to see the common goal first.

CNN: Wasting Time and Energy with People’s Best Interest in Mind

(CNN)— After the last two days of committee, WPRO/SEARO discussed topics from child marriage to the lack of resources in their region. One topic that seemed prevalent and pervasive was the lack of resources, or the lack of distribution of resources. Mobile clinics were brought up by the Philippians. Mobile clinics are now, according to the World Health Organization, helping people around the world in their worst crises. They are simply mobile trucks with supplies that are required for basic, primary care. There is a scramble to use these mobile clinics and there is already discussion surrounding WPRO/SEARO.

WPRO/SEAR, eventually, went into depth on the topic. Perhaps, into to too much depth. Though it is important to look at different aspects of a policy, time was wasted when spending brainpower on just exactly how efficient mobile clinics were. This should have been a topic that people had sufficient information on; they should have had to only talk about which countries may have needed mobile clinics the most. Instead, they started conversation on “what ifs.” One thing that kept coming up is the price and value of mobile clinics. How would different countries reach places that are hard to reach (due to physical terrain or due to lack of resources). However, one key factor that they forgot was that mobile clinics have the purpose to reach these hard to find areas. They are supposed to go to remote villages and go through rough terrain. Another concern was the prices of mobile clinics; how would poorer regions ever be able to afford these mobile clinics? Again, the point of mobile clinics is to be cheap; the point of mobile clinics is to provide primary car to regions that can’t afford it through traditional means. Furthermore, mobile clinics are not that expensive, as the Delegate of Nepal pointed out. Why was so much time spent talking about these details, when the answer lies in front of them?

Mobile clinics are also effective in areas of the United States. According to the National Institute of Health, “many studies show that Mobile Health Clinics are effective in facilitating access to health care, particularly for minority groups.” Furthermore, the different disadvantaged groups were listed: transportation/geographic barriers, insurance status, legal status, financial costs, linguistic and cultural barriers, lack of healthcare providers, perceived absence of patient-centered care, psychological barriers, intimidation by healthcare settings, hours of operation, anonymity concerns. These all indicate that there is so much value in mobile clinics; they have the potential to provide relief and aid to so many people in so many regions of so many countries. The AFRO region was able to vote and come to a consensus over policy so early in the program, because they had a goal and worked towards it. While other regions did a good job talking about these important issues, like the WPRO/SEARO region, they would often go off on tangents on topics that not so much time should have been spent on. The valuable time spent on talking about the effectiveness of mobile clinics could have been used to set guidelines on policy (remember, the effectiveness of mobile clinics has also been shown again and again). It is good that they are working hard to ensure the best for their nations, but they should remember that time is limited, not only for the conference, but also for the people who are depending on the help and policy of WHO delegates.

 

 

 

CNN: Countries Against Prostitution Because They Are Scared of Social Norms

(CNN)— During the AMWHO conference, important news broke through: 169 people were arrested because of human trafficking. Though this is a great triumph, it comes not even close to how many people are actually involved. The AMRO region had the opportunity to discuss this and try to come to a consensus on how to reduce human trafficking and how to work towards getting rid of it altogether. They took the opportunity to talk about this, but the results of discussion were very disappointing. There was so much potential, yet these countries, once again, fell victim to stigma and “following” the social rules.

In short, there was the option to legalize prostitution in order to help decrease rates of human trafficking. Legalizing prostitution can help decrease rates of human trafficking by, first, allowing sex workers to stop being seen as criminals. People who want to use their bodies to make money will not have to be stigmatized so much anymore. Furthermore, legalizing prostitution will actually protect people in this industry. This is because the illegal prostitution is often dangerous for the many vulnerable women involved. They are often taken against their will and horribly taken advantage of. Not only is their will broken, but they are physically abused in many ways. By legalizing prostitution, there will be specific guideline and there will be rules to protect the employees. Instead of women being trafficked into this work, women who actually want to do this will be empowered to do so. The Delegate of Guatemala pointed out the the legalization of prostitution in Guatemala actually helped the economy and helped to decrease human sex trafficking. However, the Delegates of the United States and Brazil, along with a few others, were unfortunately unable to break through stigma.

They tried an objective approach at first: The Delegate of Brazil tried to point out that prostitution is legal in Brazil, but human sex trafficking rates are still higher than ever. Thus, legalizing prostitution is ineffective. However, this is a very inaccurate and dangerous way to look at this information. Yes, prostitution is legal in Brazil. However, it is still illegal to operate a brothel or employ sex workers. Thus, there are no guidelines and still no laws to protect the workers. They can still be taken advantage of, since there is no company they can work for. When prostitution is legalized, it is crucial to make sure that the workers will have rights and benefits. One cannot simply legalize one aspect, leave the workers to fend for themselves, then try to point out how ineffective it is; not every aspect was taken into consideration.

Finally, the Delegate of the United States brought up the real reason they were against the legalization: cultural norms. The Delegate of the United States, along with a few others, argued that this would never be accepted, that they shouldn’t go against people’s beliefs, since so much of the United States is quite conservative and religious. However, hasn’t every major step toward equality been against social norms? At the time, abolishing slavery was against the social and economical norms of more than half of the United States. However, is it okay to keep slavery legal, and allow a certain group of people to suffer, just because of social norms? When gay marriage was legalized, it went against a countless amount of conservatives in the United States. However, is it okay to oppress this group of people to keep others happy and to follow the social norms? And finally, was this conference not about breaking stigma around sexual and reproductive health in the first place? If legalizing prostitution can help people earn a living, be empowered, and not be trafficked, then why should the stigma keep them from achieving this. I want to end with this: many countries in this region, especially the Delegates of the United States and Brazil, better take a long, hard look at their country’s history of following cultural norms and of puppet politicians too scared to help people and risk angering others due to nothing but stigma. Every step forward was because of breaking through stigma, and every step back was due to taking the safe, unethical way out.

BBC: What’s Happening in the Regions?

The PAHO/AMRO region sheds light on their current systems implemented in their countries. Primarily, it is impressive to note that a majority of the countries of these regions have some sort of universal health care. Perhaps the most impressive that Brazil brought up is their system of registering pregnancies with the state in-order that the state is able to oversee the journey of the pregnancies. Brazil also bring up to concerns of USA regarding the opioid crisis within the USA.  Brazil states that this system is in place to target women that are susceptible to such crisieses. The overall consensus within all the countries is that there needs to be greater education about the topic towards adoscolents. Primarily, they wish to bring this to the rural areas where there access is not available. Additionally, the issue that in rural areas many girls do not go to secondary school and that in itself can have its implications. USA takes the unique stance that there should be a greater sense of local autonomy such as having discussions be the job of parents rather than schools and that reason being that many schools are religiously conscious and that leads to abstinence being the solution given.

 

The SEARO/WPRO region takes the unique stance of building trust between the local autonomies and the people. Focusing on the want to build local health care centers in order to combat the issue regarding stigma around STIs. Their solution to reach the rural areas is to be done through mobile health services. Surprisingly enough, DPRK seems willing enough to allow these NGOs into the country to provide aid for their people. China and the DPRK are working closely together and claim that there are no issues within the fleeing people of the DPRK, but rather china says “people cross the border all the time” and “our hospitality industry is one of the best” to add to this DPRK adds that “even though not known our hospitality industry is very well itself”. Moreover, when asked about how the safety of NGOs will be ensured, DPRK believes that they can enter the country at their own risk. To end on a happy note, the rest of the region plans to allow both the use of NGOs and the government.

 

On day one, observing in the EMRO region BBC watched the debate regarding religion and contraceptives. Sudan brought up the point about to what extent should religion be put over general health safety. This was a unique stance but unfortunately many other countries in the region believe that resources such as contraceptives should only be provided if it is in coordination with islamic law. The issue on how to promote safe sexual and reproductive health raised the questions about if the answer to this is safe sex or abstinence. Abstinence was the popular answer because islamic law prohibits sex outside of marriage, as pointed out by pakistan. Saudi Arabia quickly said that we should allow for people to get the help that they deserve,but we should directly go against our culture. Child marriage is another issue that we see in the EMRO Region, many countries such as Egypt have banned child marriage and want to see that it is banned in other countries as well, however other countries countered with a neutral stance on this issue and repeated that they shouldn’t enforce a ban but rather promote it and ensure that any changes are changes that do not go against islamic culture.

CNN: What’s Missing?

Many great ideas have been shared between all committees within the last two days. The world is impressed, as there have been many intricate ideas that have been brought up that can be used not only regionally, but also globally. While looking at the resolutions as well as listening in to conversations, one very important topic that was barely talked about was water. Water so basic, but yet so essential to everyday life, and is commonly taken for granted. Inadequate access to clean water has been the basis for many health related problems, and has hit every region hard (especially those who are most voidable in each of these areas). We find it hard to believe that this was not taken into consideration, and would like to shed more light on this often ignored topic. Here are some statistics to give a glimpse of the burden due to insufficient water given by the UN:

· 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services. (WHO/UNICEF 2017)

· 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services. (WHO/UNICEF 2017)

· 340,000 children under five die every year from diarrheal diseases. (WHO/UNICEF 2015)

· Water scarcity already affects four out of every 10 people. (WHO)

· 90% of all natural disasters are water-related. (UNISDR)

· 80% of wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused (UNESCO, 2017).

· Around two-thirds of the world’s trans boundary rivers do not have a cooperative management framework. (SIWI)

· Agriculture accounts for 70% of global water withdrawal. (FAO)

· Roughly 75% of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production. (UNESCO, 2014)

· Unsafe drinking water accounts for 4% of deaths as well as 5.7% of disabilities.

· Unsafe dirking water also causes for 500,000 diarrheal deaths per year

· There are still 20% of urban communities that lack safe drinking water

· Diarrheal disease kill more children under than AIDS, Malaria, and Measles COMBINED

· Contaminated water also leads to neurological disorders, and reproductive problems.

Many of the interventions that have been presented fix problem that do need to be addressed. However, how can populations defeat these larger problems, if they do not receive basic levels of need? I urge the committees in the future to look at even more basic needs and address those with the same urgency and cooperation between nations that has been shown at the conference. We have high hopes, and await a time when these fundamental issues are no longer present among us.