60 Ways the United Nations Makes a Difference
 

 



21 Eradicating smallpox


A 13-year effort by the World Health Organization resulted in the complete eradication of smallpox from the planet in 1980. The eradication has saved an estimated $1 billion a year in vaccination and monitoring, almost three times the cost of eliminating the scourge itself.



22 Fighting parasitic diseases



A World Health Organization programme in 11 West African countries has virtually wiped out river blindness (onchocerciasis), preventing blindness in 11 million children and opening up 25 million hectares of fertile land to farming. Efforts by UN agencies in North Africa in 1991 led to the elimination of the dreaded screworm, a parasite that feeds on human and animal flesh. Other programmes have rescued many from Guinea worm and other tropical diseases.



23 Halting the spread of epidemics



The World Health Organization helped to stop the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) before it could kill tens of thousands. Following the WHO global alert and the emergency travel advisory issued in March 2003, almost all countries with cases were able to either prevent further transmission or keep the number of additional cases very small. WHO has investigated from 200 to 250 disease outbreaks each year. On average, from 5 to 15 of these annual outbreaks require a major international response.



24 Pressing for universal immunization



Immunization has saved over 20 million lives in the last two decades. As a result of the efforts of UNICEF and the World Health Organization, immunization rates for the six major vaccine-preventable diseases ?polio, tetanus, measles, whooping cough, diphtheria and tuberculosis ?have risen from under 5 per cent in the early 1970s to about 76 per cent today. Deaths from measles declined about 50 per cent from 1999 to 2005. Immunization against tetanus saved hundreds of thousands of mothers and newborns, and 104 developing countries have eliminated the disease altogether.



25 Reducing child mortality



At the start of the 1960s, nearly one in five children died before they were five years old. Through oral rehydration therapy, water and sanitation and other health and nutrition measures undertaken by UN agencies, child mortality rates in the developing countries had dropped to less than one in 12 by 2002. The goal is now to reduce the 1990 under-five mortality rate by two thirds by 2015.



26 Laying the groundwork for business



The UN is good for business. It has provided the "soft infrastructure? for the global economy by negotiating universally accepted technical standards in such diverse areas as statistics, trade law, customs procedures, intellectual property, aviation, shipping and telecommunications, facilitating economic activity and reducing transaction costs. It has laid the groundwork for investment in developing economies by promoting political stability and good governance, battling corruption and urging sound economic policies and business-friendly legislation.



27 Supporting industry in developing countries



The United Nations, through the efforts of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), has served as a "matchmaker?for North-South and South-South industrial cooperation, promoting entrepreneurship, investment, technology transfer and cost-effective and sustainable industrial development. It has helped countries to manage the process of globalization smoothly and reduce poverty systematically.



28 Helping disaster victims



When natural disasters and complex emergencies arise, the UN coordinates and mobilizes assistance to the victims. Working together with the Red Cross/Red Crescent and the major aid organizations and donors, the UN operational agencies provide much-needed humanitarian assistance. UN appeals raise more than $2 billion a year for emergency assistance.



29 Reducing the effects of natural disasters



The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has helped to spare millions of people from the calamitous effects of both natural and man-made disasters. Its early warning system, which includes thousands of surface monitors, as well as satellites, has made it possible to predict with greater accuracy weather-related disasters, has provided information on the dispersal of oil spills and chemical and nuclear leaks, and has predicted long-term droughts. It has also allowed for the efficient distribution of food aid to drought-affected regions.



30 Providing tsunami relief



Within 24 hours of the tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean on 26 December 2004, UN disaster assessment and coordination teams had been dispatched to the hardest- hit areas. The UN jumped into action to assist the survivors, distributing food to more than 1.7 million individuals, providing shelter for more than 1.1 million made homeless, providing drinking water to more than 1 million and vaccinating more than 1.2 million children against measles, all in the first six months of relief operations. The quick and effective delivery of humanitarian relief meant that no additional lives were lost after the initial day of devastation, and the outbreak of disease was averted.

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