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Better future for Somalia must remain collective priority Ban says at highlevel

Addressing a high-level meeting on Somalia, held on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly’s annual debate, Mr. Ban said the country has made “steady progress” in building a federal, democratic State. In particular, he highlighted the formation of a new interim regional administration, the launch of the constitutional review process, and the creation of a National Independent Electoral Commission. In addition, a National Consultative Forum was launched on 19 September to agree on the 2016 electoral process.“These are important steps, but the momentum must be sustained. Somalia cannot afford to get side-tracked by partisan politics or self-interest,” the Secretary-General cautioned.“I urge all parties to work together on the goals they have set, including to complete state formation, advance the constitutional review and ensure an inclusive electoral process in 2016. There can be no extensions of the constitutionally mandated terms of the executive and legislature.”Noting that the threat of Al-Shabaab continues to destabilize the country, Mr. Ban paid tribute to the African Union and bilateral partners, whose operations with Somali forces have expelled the militant group from key strongholds. At the same time, he stressed that the threat of Al-Shabaab cannot be defeated by military means alone. “I call on all Somalis, as well as Somalia’s friends, neighbours and partners, to reflect on the need for a more comprehensive approach to counter violent extremism in the country,” he said.“We need to understand the factors that drive people to join Al-Shabaab. We must help Somali authorities forge a viable alternative: notably by building a State that offers political inclusion, security, justice and economic opportunity to all – and that respects the human rights of all and empowers the country’s women.“We must help counter propaganda, and offer a path out of violence for those ready to leave Al-Shabaab. A strong regional approach and collaboration will be important in furthering this objective.” Mr. Ban also stated that the time has come to invest more support in the Somali police, to help provide security in areas recovered from Al-Shabaab. He asked all partners to deepen their efforts as part of the broader development of the criminal justice system. Greater attention also needs to be devoted to the country’s economic recovery, as well as to the dire humanitarian situation in which some 855,000 Somalis face acute food insecurity and over a million are internally displaced.President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told the meeting that Somalis are about to begin consultations for an electoral process that will enable them to elect their own leaders for the first time in 47 years, since the last election in 1969.He highlighted key areas of focus, including ensuring security and economic recovery, which is critical to a better life for the Somali people, and the need to support the recently established regional governments, which will be the foundation of a full-fledged federal republic of Somalia.Also vital will be ensuring that the “fragile” humanitarian situation in Somalia does not also contribute to the country’s insecurity, he stated.“Three million Somalis are dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic daily needs. This is not acceptable anymore compared to the development and the progress in security and politics in Somalia,” said the President.He added that the Government is committed to a broad and inclusive process that makes certain that decisions are taken in a representative manner and that promotes the participation of women and minority groups. “There will be room for discussion but not disengagement. There will be room for perspectives but not for politicking. There will be room for negotiations but not for negativity. The Somali people deserve success not spoilers.“The seed for peace has taken root in Somalia and I have no doubt it will bloom into a tree whose branches shelter us all.” read more

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Make healthy choices urges UN agency to prevent and manage chronic diabetes

Over the past four decades, diabetes prevalence has risen faster in low- and middle-income countries. In this image, a nurse from Thane Civil Hospital in India checks the level of sugar in the blood of diabetic patients.  WHO/Atul Loke“The percentage of deaths attributable to high blood glucose or diabetes that occurs prior to age 70 is higher in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries,” cited WHO in its  Global Report on Diabetes.Type 1 diabetes, previously known as childhood-onset diabetes, is characterized by a lack of insulin production and requires daily insulin to regulate blood glucose. The cause of type 1 diabetes is not known.However, the majority of people are affected by type 2 diabetes, which results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Healthy diet, physical activity and avoiding tobacco use can prevent or delay its onset. Additionally, medication, regular screening and treatment for complications are also available.“An accurate diagnosis is the first step to getting effective treatment,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier this year.In its report, WHO called on governments to “ensure that people are able to make healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose, treat and care for people with diabetes,” and encouraged everyone to “eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain.”The UN General Assembly designated 14 November as World Diabetes Day back in 2007, recognizing “the urgent need to pursue multilateral efforts to promote and improve human health, and provide access to treatment and health-care education.” Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces, which leads to an increased concentration of glucose in the blood. Around 1.6 million deaths can be directly attributed to diabetes each year.“Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation,” said WHO, noting that about 422 million adults have the disease – a number that has been increasing steadily over the last three decades.WHO Spokesperson Fadela Chaib said that was largely due to changes in lifestyle: “We are eating more heavy foods, full of fat and sugar; we are less physically active; and we have a more sedentary way of living.”As one of the leading causes of death globally, diabetes is a major public health problem, one of four priority non-communicable diseases targeted for action by world leaders, according to WHO.Even when blood glucose levels are not high enough to warrant a diagnosis of diabetes, damage can occur to the body, elevating the risk of cardiovascular disease.In 2012 diabetes took 1.5 million lives and higher-than-optimal levels of blood glucose another 2.2 million. Of the 3.7 million people who died, 43 per cent occurred before the age of 70. read more