Young women demand governments to fulfill promises on women rights and gender equality

Aileen Familara, CNS Columnist
Young women from civil society called on governments attending the United Nations High Level Ministerial Meeting to fulfill their promises to advance women’s rights and gender equality. The governments were gathering from 17 to 21 November to report and review the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) that came into being 20 years ago. The BPFA is a document agreed upon in 1995 for governments to develop and ensure policies on 12 critical areas: Women and Poverty, Education and Training of Women, Women and Health, Violence against Women, Women and Armed Conflict, Women and the Economy, Women in Power and Decision Making, Institutional Mechanisms for the Advancement of Women, Human Rights of Women, Women and the Media, Women and Environment, The Girl Child.

Promise of gender justice is not enough: Make governments accountable

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
Photo source: Flickr
More than 500 women of the Asia Pacific region gathered in Bangkok from 14 to 16 November 2014 for an Asia Pacific Civil Society Forum on Beijing Plus 20, (organized by 14 civil society organizations with Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development--APWLD as  co-secretariat), preceding the high-level intergovernmental meeting to review and take stock of the progress made in the region for implementing the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), a landmark agreement made in 1995 to promote and advance the status of women.

Long road to justice: Human rights of female migrant workers

Erwiana, Indonesia
Photo credit: Shobha S/CNS
Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
In her opening address at the Asia Pacific Civil Society Forum on Beijing+20, being held in Bangkok, Kate Lappin, Regional Coordinator, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) mentioned that, "Migration into exploitative work is continually on the rise, living wages and decent work conditions are being denied and with deadly consequences. The cheap, exploitable labour of women is underwriting the so-called 'Asian Century' and is used to attract investors to the region."

Beijing to Bangkok: 20 years journey of triumphs and defeats

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
There are political, economic and cultural constructs that have marred the realisation of the promises made 20 years ago in Beijing around gender justice. The tall tree of injustice and oppression that shades gender justice and equality, has thick foliage and deep roots according to Kamala Chandrakirana of Asia Pacific Women's Alliance For Peace And Security. But there are warm, though feeble, rays of hope, thawing the ice of extraordinary barriers that women face in full enjoyment of their human rights.

East Asia Summit adopts unprecedented regional malaria goal

Photo credit: APLMA
[हिन्दी] Leaders of the 18 East Asia Summit countries have committed to an ambitious goal of eliminating malaria from the entire Asia Pacific region in the next 15 years. The bold move shows strong leadership on health security and responds head-on to concerns about growing resistance to the drug artemisinin, the mainstay of worldwide treatment for the most dangerous form of the disease.

Women in politics should help women in adversity

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
Almost twenty years ago, the Beijing Declaration and Platform For Action (BPFA) was adopted by consensus by 189 countries during the Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing. Although not a binding treaty, it calls for strong commitments on the part of the governments and other institutions to fully realise women's human rights and gender equality through the implementation of the roadmap set by the BPFA. The 20th anniversary of BPFA opens new opportunities to regenerate commitment and charge up political will and mobilize action.

Diabetes and tuberculosis: Partners in crime?

Chhatra Karki, CNS Correspondent, Nepal
Diabetes is now no longer constrained to the domain of riches and upper class only. Recent trends reveal that both the regal and the plebeian are joining the club of those living with diabetes. Diabetes is gaining its foothold especially in the countries with low and medium Per Capita Income (PCI). Diabetes was for a long time treated as non-communicable disease (NCD) but now the experts opine that diabetes is now turning out to be a 'launch pad' for a disease usually not classified as a NCD: Tuberculosis (TB).

Integrating TB-HIV services with maternal and child healthcare

Nenet L Ortega, CNS Special Correspondent
TB is the third leading cause of death for women worldwide in their childbearing years. Maternal TB leads to poor outcome for the mother and child, especially when the mother is infected with HIV. Intensified case finding, isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT), and infection control ("3 Is") remain the cornerstones of TB-HIV collaborative activities, but have not been systematically integrated into maternal and child healthcare (MCH) settings.

A deadly concoction

Photo credit: CNS:
Paidamoyo Chipunza, CNS Correspondent
(first published in The Herald, Zimbabwe)
“HIV destroys the immune system. When this happens, the capsule containing the TB germs weakens and breaks. The germs spill out and multiply. The person becomes sick with tuberculosis, transmitting the germs to others through a tell tale cough,” were the words of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, himself a TB survivor, sometime in 2012. However, health experts say diabetes has the same effect on the immune system like HIV.

Responding to MDR-TB from the ground

Nenet L Ortega, CNS Special Correspondent
Photo credit: CNS:
Community participation indeed play a major role in bringing TB care and control services to populations that are geographically isolated, marginalized, and/or belong to disadvantaged groups. Community based non government organizations bring together key players from government, private sectors, faith based groups, TB patients, their families and survivors to work through partnership and inclusive collaboration–-these are key to effective and low cost TB services in the communities.  Examples of creative, effective and low-cost solutions to improving MDR-TB treatment outcomes, supported by the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership and implemented in several high burden countries, were shared during the 45th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Barcelona.

TB-HIV: Better late than never

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
Photo credit:
There were interesting presentations at the TB-HIV late-breaker session at the 45th Union World Conference on Lung Health held in Barcelona. They ranged from whole genome sequencing, to impact of GeneXpert MTB/Rif, to developing new biomarkers, to private public partnerships - all with the purpose of finding better solutions for care of people dealing with TB and HIV. A study was done in a large population based cohort in Karonga district of Malawi with high HIV prevalence (60%of all TB patients are HIV positive) on whole genome sequencing (WGS) approach and active follow up for recurrence of TB due to relapse or reinfection.

Caring for HIV-TB in adolescents needs a different approach

Diana Esther Wangari, CNS Special Correspondent
Photo credit: Diana EW/CNS
Do you remember the time when you had just passed thirteen years of age but were still below eighteen? You were technically not an adult but neither were you a child. Your parents and relatives probably told you how 'now' you had become an adult and if you were a boy, that came with a certain sense of pride-- "You are now a man", but if you were a girl, the message was laced with caution-- "You are now a woman, you have to be more careful." Being a teenager has never been easy and is probably more difficult if you are a girl because the rules that apply to boys are not necessarily the same standard by which girls are judged.

Innovative solutions when dealing with TB in adolescents

Diana E Wangari, CNS Special Correspondent
Photo credit: Diana E Wangari/CNS
Have you ever been to a hotel or a restaurant and there is a family seated opposite you-- the father with his laptop, the mother on a tablet, the daughter on her phone and the son with his headphones connected to the iPod? They might put their gadgets away to eat, only to pick them up after every five minutes or so, perhaps just to check if there is a message that came through or to check if the world has suddenly gone to the past five minutes. It is a fact that people today cannot survive without electronic devices and the constant need to ensure that they are up-to-date with what is happening in the world-- be in it the political, economical or even social arena. Why then can we not take advantage of this fact in the fight against TB, especially amongst adolescents whose worlds often centre around their mobile devices?

TB control in times of trouble

Babs Verblackt, CNS Special Correspondent
Photo credit: CNS:
Challenging enough already, TB control gets even more complicated in times of conflict. Anything from social unrest to civil war can disrupt basic TB services, affecting groups at special risk of the infectious disease. Because of fear and chaos, reaching and engaging communities becomes increasingly difficult in conflict situations--though not impossible.