New UN scheme seeks to boost response of national health systems to

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today launched a package of priority interventions designed to help low- and middle-income countries move towards universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support.The package, unveiled at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, includes everything from how to expand condom programming to the latest in treatment recommendations, guidelines and standards.“This document responds to a long-standing country need,” says Kevin De Cock, Director of WHO’s HIV/AIDS Department. “In one place it captures WHO’s best guidance on what the global HIV/AIDS health sector response needs to deliver.”The document, which will be available on a CD-ROM, in hard copy and on the web, is intended to help countries with limited resources meet the commitment made two years ago at the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS to provide universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010. Readers will find descriptions of priority health-sector HIV/AIDS interventions that are needed to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care, as well as a guide to selecting and prioritizing these interventions. The document will also direct readers to key WHO resources and references containing the best available information on the health sector response to HIV/AIDS.Also today in Mexico City, WHO and the World Bank announced that they are joining forces, along with several other partners, to gather evidence and provide technical guidance relating to global health initiatives. There are now more than 80 such initiatives, ranging from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR.WHO notes that global health initiatives have helped to bring new resources, partners, technical know-how and commitment to tackling various health issues. At the same time, some say that disease-specific initiatives are eroding already weak health systems, while others assert that weak health systems are holding back progress in disease-specific initiatives. The WHO-World Bank effort seeks to examine the issues in the debate and provide governments with sound technical guidance to enhance health systems without diminishing the benefits of disease-specific initiatives.“It is not about choosing between health systems strengthening on the one hand and disease-specific programmes on the other,” said Carissa Etienne, WHO Assistant Director-General, Health Systems and Services, told reporters at the AIDS Conference.“It is about working together to generate added value. The time has come to move from observing the intentional and unintentional impacts of health investments, to actively managing better outcomes that can be sustained,” she said.The International AIDS Conference is the largest event of its kind in the world. It is held every two years and is taking place in Latin America for the first time this year. 5 August 2008The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today launched a package of priority interventions designed to help low- and middle-income countries move towards universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support. read more

Here are Canadas winners and losers as the loonie nosedives below 70

CALGARY — The loonie fell below the 70-cent U.S. mark Tuesday for the first time in 13 years. In its wake, the rapidly dropping dollar is leaving a roster of winners and losers in Canada. Here’s a look at who is benefiting — and who is hurting: Winner: The film industry. Hollywood North, whether it be Vancouver, Toronto, or some of the up-and-coming markets like Calgary, is booming. Peter Leitch, president of North Shore Studios and chairman of the Motion Picture Production Industry Association of B.C., says American studios are increasingly heading to Canada to take advantage of the low dollar.“That does make Canada one of the top choices of places to come to,” said Leitch. “A few years ago when it was at par, it was quite a challenge to attract business.”He said the boost to the film industry is helping fill some of the gaps from the resource sector.“It’s a great alternative when other parts of the economy are struggling. I mean, we’re hiring people from the oil and gas industry to help rig some of our sets.”AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Lara Cerri Canadian dollar dips below 70 cents U.S. for first time since April 2003Here’s how much more Canadians will have to pay for fruits and veg because of our low dollarFive big-picture things to expect — but not assume — in 2016Loser: Pro sports teams. If you think buying a pair of shoes in the U.S. hurts, try signing a multimillion-dollar contract with an NHL, NBA or Major League Baseball star.Winner: Tourism. Canada’s tourist hotspots are getting a boost from Americans heading north of the border as well as Canadians opting to take so-called staycations.“We’ve got a lot of drive traffic coming across the border,” said Sarah Morden, a spokeswoman for B.C. ski resort Whistler Blackcomb. “It’s just kind of a no-brainer really. We’re not that far from Washington state and we’ve got great snow and a low Canadian dollar.”The Conference Board of Canada says overnight travel from the U.S. increased about seven per cent last year and is expected to rise another 3.3 per cent this year.Tyler Anderson/National Post Loser: Snowbirds. Canadians planning their winter escape to the southern U.S. will be feeling the pinch as their money won’t stretch as far. Travellers are likely to cut back their trips and spend less while enjoying the warmer climes.Winner: The cattle industry. Canada exported about US$1.5 billion in beef products to the U.S. last year. Brian Perillat, senior analyst at cattle market research outfit Canfax, says the high U.S. dollar has helped keep Canadian beef prices up even as the U.S. market has started to retreat.“As the (Canadian) dollar goes down, it certainly helps our prices relative to the U.S.,” said Perillat.“Basically every time the loonie drops a cent, on average our calf prices go up about five cents a pound, holding all other things consistent.”Al Bello/Getty Images Loser: Consumers. Be prepared to pay more for anything imported, including food. The University of Guelph’s Food Institute estimates the average Canadian household spent an additional $325 on food in 2015 and is expected see an additional increase of about $345 this year because of the low dollar.Winner: The mining sector. Vancouver mining company Teck Resources credits the low Canadian dollar for helping the company weather the downturn in commodity prices, with the company able to sell its copper and coal at U.S. prices while pay operating costs in Canadian.The Canadian Press read more