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Review of further developments in fields with which the Sub-Commission has been concerned. Study on traditional practices affecting the health of women and children. Final report.
[Unpublished] 1991 Jul 5. , 39 p. (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1991/6)In late 1990, representatives of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities of the UN Economic and Social Council's Commission on Human Rights went to Djibouti and the Sudan to explore steps the governments and women's groups are taking to eliminate traditional practices adversely affecting women and children, especially female circumcision. The missions allowed the consultants to examine the problem with women and groups directly affected by the practices and within their cultural contexts. In 1991, the Centre for Human Rights and the Government of Burkina Faso organized the first regional Seminar on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children which considered the effects of female genital mutilation, son preferences, and traditional delivery practices, and facilitated the exchange of information on these practices to fight and eliminate them. The UN reviewed reports from governments, nongovernmental organizations, and UN agencies on these traditional practices. All these activities led the UN to make various observations and recommendations. The degree of public awareness about the harmful effects of female circumcision, nutritional taboos, and delivery practices have improved significantly. Governments and organizations have neither studied nor dealt with son preference and its effects adequately. More African governments were willing to address the problems of traditional practices, e.g., legislation against these practices. The Centre for Human Rights, WHO, UNICEF, and UNESCO should work together more closely to effectively take action on traditional practices. The Centre needs a full time professional staff to gather information, write reports, organize seminars, distribute documents, and network with appropriate organizations. The Sub-Commission should continue to have traditional practices on the agenda to keep it in the fore. No less than two more regional seminars on the issue should take place in Africa to discuss it and increase public awareness.
HEALTH FOR THE MILLIONS. 1991 Aug; 17(4):20-3.Until recently, the only sustained AIDS activity in India has been alarmist media attention complemented by occasional messages calling for comfort and dignity. Public perception of the AIDS epidemic in India has been effectively shaped by mass media. Press reports have, however, bolstered awareness of the problem among literate elements of urban populations. In the absence of sustained guidance in the campaign against AIDS, responsibility has fallen to voluntary health activists who have become catalysts for community awareness and participation. This voluntary initiative, in effect, seems to be the only immediate avenue for constructive public action, and signals the gradual development of an AIDS network in India. Proceedings from a seminar in Ahmedabad are discussed, and include plans for an information and education program targeting sex workers, health and communication programs for 150 commercial blood donors and their agents, surveillance and awareness programs for safer blood and blood products, and dialogue with the business community and trade unions. Despite the lack of coordination among volunteers and activists, every major city in India now has an AIDS group. A controversial bill on AIDS has ben circulating through government ministries and committees since mid-1989, a national AIDS committee exists with the Secretary of Health as its director, and a 3-year medium-term national plan exists for the reduction of AIDS and HIV infection and morbidity. UNICEF programs target mothers and children for AIDS awareness, and blood testing facilities are expected to be expanded. The article considers the present chaos effectively productive in forcing the Indian population to face up to previously taboo issued of sexuality, sex education, and sexually transmitted disease.