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Concept: United Nations


Volunteering has been advocated by the United Nations, and American and European governments as a way to engage people in their local communities and improve social capital, with the potential for public health benefits such as improving wellbeing and decreasing health inequalities. Furthermore, the US Corporation for National and Community Service Strategic Plan for 2011–2015 focused on increasing the impact of national service on community needs, supporting volunteers' wellbeing, and prioritising recruitment and engagement of underrepresented populations. The aims of this review were to examine the effect of formal volunteering on volunteers' physical and mental health and survival, and to explore the influence of volunteering type and intensity on health outcomes.

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Public health, Epidemiology, Population health, Community, United Nations, Civil society


Background We hypothesized that mass distribution of a broad-spectrum antibiotic agent to preschool children would reduce mortality in areas of sub-Saharan Africa that are currently far from meeting the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Methods In this cluster-randomized trial, we assigned communities in Malawi, Niger, and Tanzania to four twice-yearly mass distributions of either oral azithromycin (approximately 20 mg per kilogram of body weight) or placebo. Children 1 to 59 months of age were identified in twice-yearly censuses and were offered participation in the trial. Vital status was determined at subsequent censuses. The primary outcome was aggregate all-cause mortality; country-specific rates were assessed in prespecified subgroup analyses. Results A total of 1533 communities underwent randomization, 190,238 children were identified in the census at baseline, and 323,302 person-years were monitored. The mean (±SD) azithromycin and placebo coverage over the four twice-yearly distributions was 90.4±10.4%. The overall annual mortality rate was 14.6 deaths per 1000 person-years in communities that received azithromycin (9.1 in Malawi, 22.5 in Niger, and 5.4 in Tanzania) and 16.5 deaths per 1000 person-years in communities that received placebo (9.6 in Malawi, 27.5 in Niger, and 5.5 in Tanzania). Mortality was 13.5% lower overall (95% confidence interval [CI], 6.7 to 19.8) in communities that received azithromycin than in communities that received placebo (P<0.001); the rate was 5.7% lower in Malawi (95% CI, -9.7 to 18.9), 18.1% lower in Niger (95% CI, 10.0 to 25.5), and 3.4% lower in Tanzania (95% CI, -21.2 to 23.0). Children in the age group of 1 to 5 months had the greatest effect from azithromycin (24.9% lower mortality than that with placebo; 95% CI, 10.6 to 37.0). Serious adverse events occurring within a week after administration of the trial drug or placebo were uncommon, and the rate did not differ significantly between the groups. Evaluation of selection for antibiotic resistance is ongoing. Conclusions Among postneonatal, preschool children in sub-Saharan Africa, childhood mortality was lower in communities randomly assigned to mass distribution of azithromycin than in those assigned to placebo, with the largest effect seen in Niger. Any implementation of a policy of mass distribution would need to strongly consider the potential effect of such a strategy on antibiotic resistance. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; MORDOR number, NCT02047981 .).

Concepts: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Sahara, Malawi, United Nations, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, Melinda Gates


Developing countries are increasingly decentralizing forest governance by granting indigenous groups and other local communities formal legal title to land. However, the effects of titling on forest cover are unclear. Rigorous analyses of titling campaigns are rare, and related theoretical and empirical research suggests that they could either stem or spur forest damage. We analyze such a campaign in the Peruvian Amazon, where more than 1,200 indigenous communities comprising some 11 million ha have been titled since the mid-1970s. We use community-level longitudinal data derived from high-resolution satellite images to estimate the effect of titling between 2002 and 2005 on contemporaneous forest clearing and disturbance. Our results indicate that titling reduces clearing by more than three-quarters and forest disturbance by roughly two-thirds in a 2-y window spanning the year title is awarded and the year afterward. These results suggest that awarding formal land titles to local communities can advance forest conservation.

Concepts: South America, United Nations, Bolivia, Amazon Basin, Indigenous peoples, Title, Peru, Amazon Rainforest


BACKGROUND: Inequity in access to and use of child and maternal health interventions is impeding progress towards the maternal and child health Millennium Development Goals. This study explores the potential health gains and equity impact if a set of priority interventions for mothers and under fives were scaled up to reach national universal coverage targets for MDGs in Tanzania. METHODS: We used the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) to estimate potential reductions in maternal and child mortality and the number of lives saved across wealth quintiles and between rural and urban settings. High impact maternal and child health interventions were modelled for a five-year scale up, by linking intervention coverage, effectiveness and cause of mortality using data from Tanzania. Concentration curves were drawn and the concentration index estimated to measure the equity impact of the scale up. RESULTS: In the poorest population quintiles in Tanzania, the lives of more than twice as many mothers and under-fives were likely to be saved, compared to the richest quintile. Scaling up coverage to equal levels across quintiles would reduce inequality in maternal and child mortality from a pro rich concentration index of -0.11 (maternal) and -0.12 (children) to a more equitable concentration index of -0,03 and -0.03 respectively. In rural areas, there would likely be an eight times greater reduction in maternal deaths than in urban areas and a five times greater reduction in child deaths than in urban areas. CONCLUSIONS: Scaling up priority maternal and child health interventions to equal levels would potentially save far more lives in the poorest populations, and would accelerate equitable progress towards maternal and child health MDGs.

Concepts: Demography, Population, Maternal death, United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, Child mortality, Maternal health, Poverty reduction


Current methods for estimating maternal mortality lack precision, and are not suitable for monitoring progress in the short run. In addition, national maternal mortality ratios (MMRs) alone do not provide useful information on where the greatest burden of mortality is located, who is concerned, what are the causes, and more importantly what sub-national variations occur. This paper discusses a maternal death surveillance and response (MDSR) system. MDSR systems are not yet established in most countries and have potential added value for policy making and accountability and can build on existing efforts to conduct maternal death reviews, verbal autopsies and confidential enquiries. Accountability at national and sub-national levels cannot rely on global, regional and national retrospective estimates periodically generated from academia or United Nations organizations but on routine counting, investigation, sub national data analysis, long term investments in vital registration and national health information systems. Establishing effective maternal death surveillance and response will help achieve MDG 5, improve quality of maternity care and eliminate maternal mortality (MMR <= 30 per 100,000 by 2030).

Concepts: Death, Demography, Value added, Maternal death, United Nations, Autopsy, Millennium Development Goals, Perinatal mortality


Monitoring development indicators has become a central interest of international agencies and countries for tracking progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. In this review, which also provides an introduction to a collection of articles, we describe the methodology used by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation to track country-specific changes in the key indicator for Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4), the decline of the under-five mortality rate (the probability of dying between birth and age five, also denoted in the literature as U5MR and (5)q(0)). We review how relevant data from civil registration, sample registration, population censuses, and household surveys are compiled and assessed for United Nations member states, and how time series regression models are fitted to all points of acceptable quality to establish the trends in U5MR from which infant and neonatal mortality rates are generally derived. The application of this methodology indicates that, between 1990 and 2010, the global U5MR fell from 88 to 57 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the annual number of under-five deaths fell from 12.0 to 7.6 million. Although the annual rate of reduction in the U5MR accelerated from 1.9% for the period 1990-2000 to 2.5% for the period 2000-2010, it remains well below the 4.4% annual rate of reduction required to achieve the MDG 4 goal of a two-thirds reduction in U5MR from its 1990 value by 2015. Thus, despite progress in reducing child mortality worldwide, and an encouraging increase in the pace of decline over the last two decades, MDG 4 will not be met without greatly increasing efforts to reduce child deaths.

Concepts: Death, Malaria, Demography, United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, Child mortality, Maternal health, International development


This study estimates the potential health gains achievable in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with improved controls on environmental pollution. The UAE is an emerging economy in which population health risks have shifted rapidly from infectious diseases to chronic conditions observed in developed nations. The UAE government commissioned this work as part of an environmental health strategic planning project intended to address this shift in the nature of the country’s disease burden.

Concepts: Medicine, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United Nations, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Arab people, Ras al-Khaimah


The United Nations Paris Agreement creates a specific need to compare consequences of cumulative emissions for pledged national commitments and aspirational targets of 1.5° to 2°C global warming. We find that humans have already increased the probability of historically unprecedented hot, warm, wet, and dry extremes, including over 50 to 90% of North America, Europe, and East Asia. Emissions consistent with national commitments are likely to cause substantial and widespread additional increases, including more than fivefold for warmest night over ~50% of Europe and >25% of East Asia and more than threefold for wettest days over >35% of North America, Europe, and East Asia. In contrast, meeting aspirational targets to keep global warming below 2°C reduces the area experiencing more than threefold increases to <10% of most regions studied. However, large areas-including >90% of North America, Europe, East Asia, and much of the tropics-still exhibit sizable increases in the probability of record-setting hot, wet, and/or dry events.

Concepts: United States, Europe, Japan, Asia, North America, United Nations, Subregion, Cold War


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 targets have reinforced the importance of functioning laboratory services to ensure prompt diagnosis and to assess treatment efficacy. We surveyed the availability and utilization of technologies for HIV treatment monitoring and early infant diagnosis (EID) in World Health Organization (WHO) Member States.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, CCR5, Tuberculosis, World Health Organization, United Nations, joint united nations programme on hiv/AIDS


The Southwest Indian Ridge is the longest section of very slow to ultraslow-spreading seafloor in the global mid-ocean ridge system, but the biogeography and ecology of its hydrothermal vent fauna are previously unknown. We collected 21 macro- and megafaunal taxa during the first Remotely Operated Vehicle dives to the Longqi vent field at 37° 47’S 49° 39'E, depth 2800 m. Six species are not yet known from other vents, while six other species are known from the Central Indian Ridge, and morphological and molecular analyses show that two further polychaete species are shared with vents beyond the Indian Ocean. Multivariate analysis of vent fauna across three oceans places Longqi in an Indian Ocean province of vent biogeography. Faunal zonation with increasing distance from vents is dominated by the gastropods Chrysomallon squamiferum and Gigantopelta aegis, mussel Bathymodiolus marisindicus, and Neolepas sp. stalked barnacle. Other taxa occur at lower abundance, in some cases contrasting with abundances at other vent fields, and δ(13)C and δ(15)N isotope values of species analysed from Longqi are similar to those of shared or related species elsewhere. This study provides baseline ecological observations prior to mineral exploration activities licensed at Longqi by the United Nations.

Concepts: Biology, Ecology, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, United Nations, Ocean, Hydrothermal vent, Rodrigues Triple Point