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PRESS BRIEFING BY THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE

Bi-Weekly Briefing

Rhéal LeBlanc, Chief of the Press and External Relations Section at the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the hybrid press briefing, which was attended by the spokespersons of the International Labour Organization, the World Meteorological Organization, the World Health Organization, and Unitaid.

Increased number of premature births reported in Ukraine

Herve Verhoosel, for Unitaid, said that the conflict in Ukraine had seen many hospitals damaged or destroyed, putting thousands of newborns at high-risk of disability or death from a lack in access to oxygen, necessary equipment, and essential treatments. The war had also increased levels of stress in pregnant women, leading to more premature births being reported. Babies born prematurely were more likely to develop respiratory, neurological, or digestive complications, conditions that often required oxygen for treatment.

Unitaid, through its partner Vayu Global Health, had provided 220 bubble nasal continuous positive airway pressure (bCPAP) devices and 125 oxygen blender systems to supply infants with the breathing support and oxygen therapy they needed. This new system, bubble CPAP, was a non-invasive way of ventilating newborns struggling to breathe and oxygen blenders prevented eye, lung, and brain damage associated with giving babies pure oxygen.

The systems were now available in 25 referral facilities across Ukraine, of which 17 were perinatal centers, with funding from Unitaid, explained Mr. Verhoosel. Initial in-person intensive trainings had been organized in Krakow, Poland, to support Ukrainian neonatologists and pediatricians who came from Ukraine.

Unitaid called on donors and the private sector to increase investments in health innovations that were adapted to use in crisis and resource limited settings.

Responding to questions, Mr. Verhoosel explained that the devices could be used for up to three years without electricity. Before the war, some 12 per cent of children in Ukraine had been prematurely born; that percentage had now gone up to 40 per cent in some hospitals.

He acknowledged that 220 devices were not enough for a country like Ukraine, so a larger scale distribution was needed. One device cost less than USD 500 to produce: it was easy-to-produce, easy-to-use, affordable, and effective.

Margaret Harris, for the World Health Organization (WHO), added that it was very important to have such portable devices available when there was no electricity in hospitals. Each individual case was different, and newborns needed the devices for different lengths of time.

One of the three warmest Julys on record

Clare Nullis, for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), announced that the world had one of the third warmest months of July on record, with prolonged and intense heatwaves affecting parts of Europe. Antarctic sea ice was the lowest for July on record.

This was despite the fact that there was a weak La Niña, which was meant to have a cooling influence. Northern hemisphere land masses saw predominantly well above-average temperatures. Antarctic sea ice extent had reached its lowest value for July in the 44-year satellite data record, at 7% below average, well below the previous record. Arctic sea ice extent had been four per cent below average, ranking 12th lowest for July in the satellite record, well above the low July values seen in 2019–2021.

Temperatures in much of Europe were still above the average, but the heatwaves experienced in July were unlikely to return. The long-lasting drought in parts of Europe was also set to continue. Ms. Nullis stressed, nonetheless, that such heatwaves were a new normal now.

Ms. Nullis, replying to questions from the media, said that the WMO had regional climate monitoring centers, and the European climate center, operated by Deutsch Wetter, warned that parts of Europe would continue to experience heat throughout August. Parts of the Horn of Africa had received rain recently, she added. In the USA, the July average temperature was the third warmest on record, but there were significant regional differences within the country, Ms. Nullis pointed out.

Monkeypox

Responding to questions, Margaret Harris, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that the monkeypox virus was present in several animals, primarily rodents. It was named monkeypox because it had first been identified among a group of monkeys in a zoo in Denmark. Ms. Harris stressed that the virus was now being transmitted from person to person. No animal or human groups should be stigmatized.

Announcements

Rosalind Yarde, for the International Labour Organization (ILO), reminded correspondents about the launch of the Global Employment Trends for Youth 2022 report on 11 August at 10 a.m. Geneva time (embargoed until 12 noon). The report analyzed differences experiences by young women and men. Alongside the report, there were five regional briefs with specific data for each of the regions. Speakers would be Martha Newton, ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy, Niall O'Higgins, Senior Employment Research and Technical Specialist, and Kee Beom Kim, Macro-Economic and Employment Policies Specialist. The experts were available for interviews, said Ms. Yarde.

Rhéal LeBlanc, for the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), said the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which had opened its 107th session on 8 August, would begin at 3 p.m. today the review of the report of Benin. The Committee would also review Nicaragua, the United States, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Zimbabwe, and Suriname.

On 11 August, at 10 a.m., the Conference on Disarmament would hold a thematic event dedicated to “The centrality of international cooperation and capacity-building in building a safe and secure cyberspace“. This event would be chaired by Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen'Apala, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mr. LeBlanc informed that today was the Day of Indigenous Peoples, and the Secretary-General had issued a message in which he highlighted the role of Indigenous women in preserving and passing on traditional knowledge.

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