Joint statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week

31 Jul

At the start of this year, governments, donors, civil society and the private sector united to launch the Nutrition for Growth Year of Action. The Year of Action is a historic opportunity to transform the way the world tackles the global commitment to eliminate child malnutrition.

Breastfeeding is central to realising this commitment.

Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, followed by exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond offer a powerful line of defence against all forms of child malnutrition, including wasting and obesity. Breastfeeding also acts as babies’ first vaccine, protecting them against many common childhood illnesses.

While there has been progress in breastfeeding rates in the last four decades – with a 50 per cent increase in the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding globally – the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the fragility of those gains.

In many countries, the pandemic has caused significant disruptions in breastfeeding support services, while increasing the risk of food insecurity and malnutrition. Several countries have reported that producers of baby foods have compounded these risks by invoking unfounded fears that breastfeeding can transmit COVID-19 and marketing their products as a safer alternative to breastfeeding.

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week, under its theme ‘Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility’ is a time to revisit the commitments made at the start of this year by prioritizing breastfeeding-friendly environments for mothers and babies. This includes:

  • Ensuring the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes – established to protect mothers from aggressive marketing practices by the baby food industry – is fully implemented by governments, health workers and industry.
  • Ensuring health care workers have the resources and information they need to effectively support mothers to breastfeed, including through global efforts such as the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative, and guidelines on breastfeeding counselling.
  • Ensuring employers allow women the time and space they need to breastfeed; including paid parental leave with longer maternity leave; safe places for breastfeeding in the workplace; access to affordable and good-quality childcare; and universal child benefits and adequate wages.

 

As we approach the UN Food Systems Summit in September and the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit in December, governments, donors, civil society and the private sector all have an opportunity to make smart investments and commitments to tackle the global malnutrition crisis – including protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding – through stronger policies, programmes and actions.

Now is not the time to lower our ambitions. Now is the time to aim high. We are committed to making the Nutrition for Growth Year of Action a success by ensuring that every child’s right to nutritious, safe and affordable food and adequate nutrition is realized from the beginning of life, starting with breastfeeding.


About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org

Follow UNICEF on TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube

 

About WHO

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from 149 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing. 

For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus, visit www.who.int and follow WHO on TwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedInTikTokPinterestSnapchatYouTubeTwitch 

 

United States and Canada Forge Ahead on Critical Minerals Cooperation

31 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

The United States and Canada hosted the third U.S.-Canada Critical Minerals Working Group meeting on July 28, co-chaired by U.S. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Laura Lochman, and Assistant Deputy Minister of the Land and Minerals Sector of Natural Resources Canada, Jeff Labonté.

The working group discussed implementation of President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau’s commitment to strengthen cooperation on critical minerals supply chains as outlined in the Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership. Participants discussed ways to strengthen the Joint Action Plan for Critical Minerals to target a net-zero industrial transformation, and to support clean energy deployment, including batteries for zero-emissions vehicles, as well as stationary energy storage. They also shared perspectives on strengthening supply chains that utilize critical minerals, and reviewed President Biden’s Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains and the related 100-day supply chain review of critical minerals and materials and other key sectors issued in June.

 

Joint Statement of the Multilateral Leaders Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics, and Diagnostics for Developing Countries following its Second Meeting

31 Jul

The Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics for Developing Countries, established by the heads of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization to identify and resolve finance and trade impediments to vaccine, diagnostics, therapeutic production and deliveries, has issued the following joint statement:

“We reiterate the urgency of providing access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments to people throughout the developing world. In the area of vaccines, a key constraint is the acute and alarming shortage in the supply of doses to low and low-middle income countries, especially for the rest of 2021. We call on countries with advanced COVID-19 vaccination programs to release as soon as possible as much of their contracted vaccine doses and options as possible to COVAX, AVAT, and low and low-middle income countries. 

We are concerned that vaccine delivery schedules and contracts for COVAX, AVAT, and low and low-middle income countries are delayed or too slow. Less than 5% of vaccine doses that were pre-purchased by or for low-income countries have been delivered. Our common target is for at least 40% of people in low and low-middle income countries to be vaccinated by the end of 2021. We estimate that less than 20% of the necessary vaccines is currently scheduled for delivery to these countries, whether through COVAX, AVAT, or bilateral deals and dose-sharing agreements. 

We urge COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to redouble their efforts to scale up production of vaccines specifically for these countries, and to ensure that the supply of doses to COVAX and low and low-middle income countries takes precedence over the promotion of boosters and other activities. We call on governments to reduce or eliminate barriers to the export of vaccines and all materials involved in their production and deployment. We underscore the urgent need for all parties to address supply chain and trade bottlenecks for vaccines, testing, and therapeutics as well as all of the materials involved in their production and deployment. 

As per the IMF staff’s US$50 billion proposal to end the pandemic, and in line with the priorities set out by WHO, WTO, IMF and the World Bank Group, over $35 billion in grant are needed with only one third of this financed to date. We welcome the recent announcement by COVAX and the World Bank to accelerate vaccine supplies for developing countries through a new financing mechanism. We also welcome the partnership between the World Bank and AVAT, noting that World Bank financing is now available to support the purchase and deployment of doses secured by both AVAT and COVAX. 

It is critical to improve clarity and transparency around the evolving vaccine market, expected production volumes, delivery schedules, and pre-purchase options. We call on manufacturers to accelerate delivery to developing countries and we call on advanced economies to scale-up near-term deliveries to developing countries.”

The Task Force also launched a new website that includes the first phase of a global database, and country dashboards on vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to guide their work and advocacy. 

The database and dashboards, which also build on the IMF-WHO COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Tracker, seek to focus international attention and mobilize action by illuminating specific gaps, not just globally but also country-by-country.  

U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Lenderking’s Return from Saudi Arabia

31 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking returned from travel to Saudi Arabia today. Lenderking met with senior officials from the Republic of Yemen and Saudi governments, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the international community, and the UN Special Envoy’s Office.

During this trip, Lenderking called for an end to the stalemated fighting in Marib and across Yemen, which have only increased the suffering of the Yemeni people. He expressed concern that the Houthis continue to refuse to engage meaningfully on a ceasefire and political talks and stressed that only through a durable agreement between the Yemeni parties can the dire humanitarian crisis in the country be reversed.

During his meetings, Lenderking called for the Republic of Yemen Government and Southern Transitional Council to come together to improve services and stabilize the economy. A critical first step is ensuring the conditions necessary for the return of the cabinet to Aden. He also discussed immediate actions that must be taken to ease the humanitarian and economic crisis, including increasing fuel imports, ending manipulation of fuel and prices, and mobilizing additional economic and humanitarian aid for the country.

For any questions, please contact NEA-Press@state.gov and follow us on Twitter @StateDept_NEA.

Sanctioning Cuban Police in Response to Violent Repression of Peaceful Protests

31 Jul

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

On July 22, the United States imposed sanctions on the leader of Cuba’s military and on the Cuban Ministry of the Interior’s Special National Brigade in response to Cuban security forces’ violent suppression of peaceful protesters.

Today, the United States is announcing additional sanctions in connection with the Cuban regime’s repression of the peaceful protests that started on July 11. We take this action pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. Through the Global Magnitsky sanctions program, the United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences to discourage malign actors and promote accountability in connection with serious human rights abuse.

We are designating the Cuban Revolutionary National Police (Policía Nacional Revolucionaria, PNR) and its leaders, Director Oscar Callejas Valcárcel and Deputy Director Eddy Sierra Arias, in connection with the PNR’s participation in the Cuban government’s suppression of the protests. The PNR, under the leadership of Callejas Valcárcel and Sierra Arias, has attacked and beaten peaceful protesters.

We recognize the bravery of the Cuban people and the protesters who stood up to the Cuban government’s police-state and sent a message to the world. Cubans deserve to have pride in their homeland and the basic necessities of life that the Cuban Communist Party’s failed system has been unable to deliver.

We stand in solidarity with the people of Cuba, and today’s designations result in an additional layer of restrictions on the PNR and its leaders. We are making it clear that anyone who supplies Cuba’s brutal police force, the Special National Brigade, the Interior Ministry, or any other Cuban individuals or entities designated under the Global Magnitsky program may face sanctions risk of their own. We will continue to take action to promote accountability for the Cuban government’s human rights abuses.

Joint Statement by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen Welcoming the EU Sanctions Regime on Lebanon

30 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

Begin text:

The United States welcomes the EU’s adoption today of a new sanctions regime to promote accountability and reform in Lebanon.  As an increasing number of Lebanese suffer from the country’s worsening economic crisis, it is critical that Lebanese leaders heed their people’s repeated calls for an end to widespread corruption and government inaction and form a government that can initiate the reforms critical to address the country’s dire situation.

Sanctions are intended, among other things, to compel changes in behavior, and promote accountability for corrupt actors and leaders who have engaged in malign behavior.  We welcome the EU’s use of this powerful tool to promote accountability on a global scale. The United States looks forward to future cooperation with the EU in our shared efforts.

End text.

 

DNC on the 56th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid

30 Jul
DNC Chair Jaime Harrison and DNC Seniors Council Chair Steve Regenstreif released the following statement on the 56th anniversary of Lyndon B. Johnson signing Medicare and Medicaid into law:

“56 years ago, Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law, and forever changed the health care landscape in America. Not only have these programs provided a critical lifeline for seniors, families, women, children, people with disabilities, and Americans at all stages in life, but they made our nation stronger. Since then, Democrats have continued to deliver on making health care more accessible, affordable, and equitable. We enacted the Affordable Care Act, reducing cost-sharing for prescription drugs, providing free preventive services, expanding Medicaid coverage, and providing new options for home- and community-based long-term services. 

“But even as we take time to celebrate what we have accomplished, we know there is more to do. We must continue defending access to the care the American people depend on from Republican efforts to undermine it. We know we can make Medicare and Medicaid even stronger by building upon their foundations. 

“The experience of the past year underscored even more clearly what Democrats have long known: health care is a human right. And as we mark today’s anniversaries, we vow to continue fighting to make Medicare and Medicaid even stronger for those who rely on them today and for generations to come.”

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The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations Announces Award for Worldwide Architectural and Engineering Support Services

30 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

The Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has selected 12 Architectural and Engineering (A/E) firms for the Worldwide Architectural and Engineering Support Services Indefinite Delivery / Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ). Selected from the distinguished stage one shortlist of 25 firms, these teams will provide program-level process- and procedure-improvement support, existing facilities surveys and analyses, and other project-specific support such as master plans, security mitigation studies, site expansion studies, project phasing analysis, and historic structures surveys.

The selected firms are:

AECOM Services, Inc.
Buro Happold Engineering
Davis Brody Bond
Arthur Gensler, Jr. & Associates, Inc. (dba Gensler)
HDR KCCT JV
Jacobs Government Services Company
Lake Flato Architects
The Mason & Hanger Group, Inc.
Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners
ODA-Architecture, P.C.
SmithGroup, Inc.
WXY Architecture + Urban Design

Since the start of the Department’s Capital Security Construction Program in 1999, OBO has completed 167 new diplomatic facilities. OBO currently has more than 50 active projects, either in design or under construction worldwide.

OBO provides safe, secure, functional, and resilient facilities that positively represent the United States to other nations and that support U.S. diplomats in advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives abroad.

For further information, please contact Christine Foushee at FousheeCT@state.gov or visit www.state.gov/obo.

Russian Government Actions Impacting U.S. Mission Russia

30 Jul

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

The United States is immensely grateful for the tireless dedication and commitment of our locally employed staff and contractors at U.S. Mission Russia. We thank them for their contributions to the overall operations and their work to improve relations between our two countries.  Their dedication, expertise and friendship have been a mainstay of Mission Russia for decades.

Starting in August, the Russian government is prohibiting the United States from retaining, hiring, or contracting Russian or third-country staff, except our guard force. We are deeply saddened that this action will force us to let go of 182 local employees and dozens of contractors at our diplomatic facilities in Moscow, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg.

These unfortunate measures will severely impact the U.S. mission to Russia’s operations, potentially including the safety of our personnel as well as our ability to engage in diplomacy with the Russian government.  Although we regret the actions of the Russian government forcing a reduction in our services and operations, the United States will follow through on our commitments while continuing to pursue a predictable and stable relationship with Russia.

We value our deep connection to the Russian people.  Our people-to-people relationships are the bedrock of our bilateral relations.