Africa’s top health forum opens to tackle major challenges

Lomé, 22 August 2022 – The President of the Republic of Togo, H.E President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé opened the Seventy-second session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa with African health ministers and government representatives in attendance. The region’s foremost public health gathering held annually will discuss and agree on measures to lower the burden of diseases, seek ways to curb the drivers of ill health and endorse strategies to promote access to health services and people’s well-being.

The 22 – 26 August meeting—the first to be held in-person since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic—is taking place in Lomé, the capital of Togo, a leader in the region on innovative ways to respond to health problems. Togo is the first country in the world to be recognized by WHO for eliminating four neglected tropical diseases: lymphatic filariasis (commonly known as elephantiasis), human African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, trachoma – an eye infection that can cause irreversible blindness – and Guinea worm.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus handed H.E President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé of Togo a certificate for having eliminated the four neglected tropical diseases.

“I thank you for the appreciation shown for my country for the achievement in eliminating the neglected tropical diseases,” said President Gnassingbé. “In Africa, like everywhere else in the world, we must confront the ongoing (health) challenges, but more so act, act to guarantee access to quality health care for all, everywhere and at all times. Act to provide social protection and universal health coverage to all citizens, and act to put an end to counterfeit and poor-quality medicines. Clearly, we have much to do.”

Since its onset, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on health service provision across the African region, devastated economies, lives and livelihoods. However, the aftershocks of COVID-19 are also inspiring new efforts to rethink and rebuild health systems to not only better withstand the impact of health emergencies, but to markedly step up the quality and accessibility of health services.

“Investing in the health system in Africa is essential to achieve our development targets. This investment must be substantial and strategic for health and global economic security,” said H.E. Minata Samate Cessouma, the African Union Commissioner for Humanitarian and Social Development Affairs.

In addition to COVID-19, the African region is also battling other health challenges triggered by outbreaks of communicable diseases, humanitarian crises, climatic shocks as well as the rising burden of chronic disease such as cancer and diabetes. Every year, the region faces more than 100 health emergencies, more than any other region in the world.

“We are calling on all Member States to make an urgent paradigm shift towards promoting health and well-being and preventing disease by addressing its root causes and creating the conditions for health to thrive,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Ministers of health and delegates at the Regional Committee will discuss and endorse key strategies and launch campaigns on disease prevention. They will endorse measures to strengthen emergency response and promote the use of technological solutions to tackle health challenges, building on lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic response.

“Equity is a key factor in health outcomes in Africa, and globally. Nothing has better demonstrated the urgency of addressing it comprehensively and effectively than this pandemic,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Inequity is a key driver of vulnerability to disease and illness. I‘d like to urge that we collectively address it at the centre of our health action.”

Around 700 participants including representatives from United Nations agencies, nongovernmental organizations, civil society, academia and development partners are attending either in person or virtually the five-day meeting in Lomé.

The Regional Committee is the WHO’s decision-making body in the region, convening once a year to discuss and endorse regional policies, activities and financial plans to improve people’s health and well-being.

Source: World Health Organization

UK announces nearly £40 million to provide vital food and water to West Africa

The UK has announced £37.65 million in UK humanitarian funding to help people across the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin area.

  • £37.65 million of urgent UK humanitarian funding will deliver life-saving assistance across Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Nigeria and Niger.
  • 20 million are projected to be in need of urgent aid across the region by the end of 2022.
  • The money will help fund two projects for the next year focused on the most vulnerable, including malnourished women and children.

The UK will support around 1 million of the most vulnerable people across the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin with food, water and sanitation.

Growing instability and violent extremism across the region and the war on Ukraine have exacerbated existing issues with food insecurity and malnutrition. As things stand, there will be close to 20 million people across the region in need of humanitarian aid by the end of the year.

And the Sahel faces further vulnerabilities due to climate change and extreme weather shocks, putting unimaginable stress on communities, meaning urgent intervention by the international community is now a necessity.

The UK is providing £37.65 million in urgent humanitarian assistance, focused on these areas where conflict, climate change and extreme hunger is causing the most suffering.

Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford said:

Millions of people across the Sahel and West Africa are unimaginably suffering with hunger and malnutrition.

That’s why the UK will step up with an urgent £38 million of humanitarian funding, reaching those most vulnerable and saving lives across the region.

The number of people facing starvation are at their worst for a decade. Whilst this UK funding is a necessity, it has to be part of a bigger international effort. We’re calling on international partners to enhance our collective support and scale-up intervention to halt this humanitarian catastrophe.

£19.9 million will support The Sahel Humanitarian Assistance and Protection Programme (SHAPP), a programme which has been responding to the most acute needs, including those of displaced and malnourished women and children, and enables safer access for humanitarian aid workers to reach them.

  • The funding ensures delivery partners including the International Committee of the Red Cross and the INGO-run Sahel Regional Fund can continue their heroic, life-saving work in the region. The funding also supports the work of the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) and the International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO).

Their work between 2019-2022 under the Sahel Humanitarian Emergency Response Programme (SHERP) supported 2.7 million people with food assistance, provided treatment to nearly 900,000 severely malnourished children and ensured over 1.5 million mothers could detect malnutrition among their children, enabling early intervention.

In addition, £15 million of emergency humanitarian funding has been made available for North-East Nigeria over the next few months, when food is most scarce and humanitarian needs are highest. Violence, displacement, poverty and climate shocks are just some of the many reasons why 8.4 million people need life-saving humanitarian assistance there. This emergency funding supports the UK’s work alongside the Nigerian government to build security in the face of growing instability in the north of the country.

In North-East Nigeria, the UK is proud to be supporting the work of our delivery partners – the World Food Programme and UNICEF – whose aid workers put themselves at great risk in order to reach those suffering most.

This food assistance funding is part of the UK’s wider commitment to prioritise life-saving humanitarian aid to communities around the world who are most vulnerable due to the ongoing combination of crises.


  • The funding will be used to provide emergency shelter, food assistance, nutrition, water and sanitation for the most vulnerable in geographic hotspots of need
  • The humanitarian assistance will be delivered through implementing partners such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International NGO Safety Organisation
  • £19.9 million is for 2022 SHAPP activity alone with an additional £1.8 million for multi-year SHAPP activity.

Source: Government of the United Kingdom

Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf Concludes Fifty-Fifth Session

NEW YORK, 22 August 2022 (Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea) — The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf held its fifty-fifth session at United Nations Headquarters from 5 July to 19 August 2022.  The plenary parts of the session were held from 1 to 5 and from 8 to 12 August.  The remainder of the session was devoted to the technical examination of submissions at the geographic information systems laboratories and other technical facilities of the Division.  Thus, for the first time after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission met for seven weeks, including two weeks of plenary meetings, as originally scheduled, including in-person meetings with delegations.

Ten submissions were on the agenda of the session, namely those made by the Russian Federation in respect of the Arctic Ocean (partial revised submission); Brazil in respect of the Brazilian Equatorial Margin (partial revised submission); France and South Africa jointly in respect of the area of the Crozet Archipelago and the Prince Edward Islands; Kenya; Nigeria; Palau in respect of the North Area (partial amended submission); Sri Lanka; Portugal; Spain in respect of the area of Galicia (partial submission); and India (partial submission).  Given the progress in examining the submissions before it, the Commission decided that the subcommission established for consideration of the submission made by Mauritius in respect of the region of Rodrigues Island would resume its work at the fifty-sixth session.

During the plenary parts of the session, the Commission heard presentations of five submissions made, respectively, by Malaysia concerning the South China Sea; Chile in respect of the eastern continental shelf of Easter Island Province; Indonesia concerning the area south-west of Sumatera; Chile in respect of the western continental shelf of the Chilean Antarctic Territory; and Ecuador concerning the southern region of the Carnegie Ridge.

The Chairperson informed the Commission about deliberations of the thirty-second Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, held in June 2022, on matters concerning the Commission.  In the light of the views expressed at that meeting, the Commission discussed various aspects of its working methods with a view to enhancing the efficiency of examination of submissions.  The Commission established working groups for the purposes of keeping the working methods of the Commission under review, identifying needs of the Commission for an upgrade of existing technical facilities, and easing the induction of newly elected members.

Further details of the fifty-fifth session will be reflected in the Statement of the Chair (CLCS/55/2).

The Commission will hold its fifty-sixth session from 5 October to 22 November 2022, without plenary meetings.


Established pursuant to article 2, annex II to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Commission makes recommendations to coastal States on matters related to the establishment of the outer limits of their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured, based on information submitted to it by coastal States.  These recommendations are based on the scientific and technical data and other material provided by States in relation to the implementation of article 76 of the Convention.  The recommendations do not prejudice matters relating to the delimitation of boundaries between States with opposite or adjacent coasts or prejudice the position of States that are parties to a land or maritime dispute, or application of other parts of the Convention or any other treaties.  The limits of the continental shelf established by a coastal State on the basis of these recommendations shall be final and binding.  In the case of disagreement by the coastal State with the recommendations of the Commission, the coastal State shall, within a reasonable time, make a revised or new submission to the Commission.

Under rule 23 of its rules of procedure (Public and private meetings), the meetings of the Commission, its subcommissions and subsidiary bodies are held in private, unless the Commission decides otherwise.

As required under the rules of procedure of the Commission, the executive summaries of all the submissions, including all charts and coordinates, have been made public by the Secretary‑General through continental shelf notifications circulated to Member States of the United Nations, as well as States parties to the Convention.  The executive summaries are available on the Division’s website at  The summaries of recommendations adopted by the Commission are also available on the above-referenced website.

The Commission is a body of 21 experts in the field of geology, geophysics or hydrography.  They serve in their personal capacities.  Members of the Commission are elected for a term of five years by the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention from among their nationals having due regard to the need to ensure equitable geographical representation.  Not fewer than three members shall be elected from each geographical region.

Currently, one seat on the Commission continues to be vacant due to the lack of nominations from the Eastern European Group of States.

The Convention provides that the State party which submitted the nomination of a member of the Commission shall defray the expenses of that member while in performance of Commission duties.  The participation of several members of the Commission from developing countries has been facilitated by financial assistance from a voluntary trust fund for the purpose of defraying the cost of participation of the members of the Commission from developing countries.

For additional information on the work of the Commission, see the website of the Division at  In particular, the most recent statements by the Chair on the progress in the work of the Commission are available at

Source: United Nations

The top 10 African countries with the largest gold holdings

HAMBURG (Germany)— Africa is the third largest gold producer in the world with mining operations in at least 21 countries. The mining sector is one of the major sources of employment in many African nations.

Out of these 21 countries, 10 have the largest gold reserves, according to Hamburg-based data firm Statista.

Algeria is the first African country with the largest holding with 174 metric tonnes, followed closely by South Africa with 125 metric tonnes, Libya (117 metric tonnes), Egypt (80.73 metric tonnes), Morocco (22.12 metric tonnes), Nigeria (21.37 metric tonnes), Mauritius (12.44 metric tonnes), Ghana (8.74 metric tonnes), Tunisia (6.84 metric tonnes) and Mozambique placing 10th with 3.94 metric tonnes.

Gold has become one of the assets investors are falling on to collateralize their investment as geopolitical tension in Ukraine and Russia is shrinking major economies.

The price of gold hit $2,069.25 an ounce in March this year, the highest record figure this year compared to the gold price in August last year.

Gold has also become a safety net for global economies in the wake of rising inflation.

Two hundred and seventy-two point nine metric tonnes of gold, according to the World Gold Council, were bought by central banks worldwide in 2020.

Financial experts and investors consider gold protection for their wealth because it’s not affected by the shocks in the financial system. This is because gold reduces losses that accompany other investments when there is a shakeup in the financial system, according to Trustable Gold.

One characteristic of gold is that, while other currencies depreciate at some point in time, gold maintains a stable purchasing power.


Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on repeal of Singapore law banning sex between men

GENEVA – I welcome the announcement by the Prime Minister of Singapore to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code which criminalises consensual sexual conduct between men. This colonial era law has more broadly impacted and stigmatised the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) people as a whole.

Everyone is entitled to the equal protection, respect and fulfilment of their human rights, including LGBTIQ+ people. Repealing Section 377A will help pave the way for constructive dialogue and greater understanding and acceptance of and safety for LGBTIQ+ individuals in Singapore.

With regard to the Government’s announced plans to amend the constitution to ensure the legal definition of marriage be limited to an act between a man and a woman, various UN human rights mechanisms have urged all States to legally recognize same-sex unions – whether by making marriage available to same sex couples or through other arrangements, such as civil partnerships – and have also called for the same benefits and protections for all. It is essential that the law protects the relationships of all consenting partners, whatever their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics.

I call on the Government to expedite the repeal process and take measures to protect the rights of LGBTIQ+ people, including enacting anti-discrimination legislation that covers discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.

Source: United Nations Human Rights

Smart China Expo 2022 Opens to Promote China’s International High-Tech Cooperation

CHONGQING, China, Aug. 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A news report from iChongqing:

A boy plays Go with a robot in the exhibition hall of SCE 2022, on 21st August 2022, Chongqing, China.

The Smart China Expo (SCE) 2022 is held in Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality from August 22 to 24, where development plans, latest achievements, and hot topics are discussed on the application of frontier technology of intelligent science on the building of smart city. Online exhibition is available here SCE.

The world-renowned scientists representing at the SCE 2022 include 2010 Nobel Prize winner Konstantin Novoselov, and 2021 Turing Prize winner Jack Dongarra, academics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering, and heads of well-known enterprises like Changan Auto, Alibaba Group, and Huawei. They delivered video speeches to discuss new technologies, developments, and trends in “smart city” construction at the Opening Ceremony and Summit of the SCE today.

The Expo gathered more than 50 of the Fortune Global 500 and Fortune China 500 enterprises, including Huawei, Bosch, BOE, and Inspu, combined with the global release of Beitai Tianyuan numerical calculation software V2.0 and the launch of Baidu autonomous driving commercial operation scheme for the first time.

With an exhibition area of 90,000 square meters, 557 exhibitors from 19 countries and regions participates including Italy, more than 1560 application scenarios are presented in over 30 fields, and make extensive use of information technology such as naked eye 3D, Virtual Reality (VR), and Extended Reality (XR).

This year’s SCE highlights the cutting-edge achievements showcase. Fifty eight new products such as a high-definition 8k decoder and intelligent machine workshop, 15 new technologies including desert socialization smart agriculture, 24 new applications like “city brain” big data platform, and 16 new achievements involving microchip and IntelliSense system, are presented at this session.

Focusing on “Smart City” this year, the SCE sets up the guest of honor province by Sichuan Province, aiming to accelerate the development of intelligent industries in Chengdu and Chongqing through cooperation.

This year marks the fifth year of the SCE, helping Chongqing to accelerate the construction of the smart city and promote the deep integration of digital technology, and economic and social development. With Chongqing as the fulcrum, the integration and exchange of advanced technologies between China and foreign countries will be further promoted in big data intelligence.

For more information on SCE2022, please visit

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