Multimedia Newsroom
Zoom continuity / 52:59 / MP4 / 430.9 MB

03-02-2023 | Press Conferences

Bi-Weekly Press Briefing 03 February 2023



3 February 2023


World Cancer Day: WHO Launches Global Breast Cancer Initiative Framework

Bente Mikkelsen, Director of the Noncommunicable Diseases Department, World Health Organization (WHO), said that today, to mark World Cancer Day, WHO was launching the Framework to its Global Breast Cancer Initiative.

Each year, more than 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer, making it the most common cancer in the world.  The experiences of women who were treated for breast cancer were vastly different depending on where they lived. 70 per cent or more women living in poorer countries had to sell assets to pay for treatment.  Breast cancer survival rates were 50 per cent or less in many low- and middle-income countries, and greater than 90 per cent for those able to receive the best care in high-income countries.

WHO was launching the Framework for the WHO Global Breast Cancer Initiative to tackle breast cancer. The Framework reflected the best of WHO’s knowledge and experience. Its basic premise was that success was possible. A limited number of high-income countries had been able to reduce breast cancer morality by 40 per cent since 1990.

However, urgent, collective efforts were needed. By the year 2040, more than 3 million cases of breast cancer and 1 million deaths were predicted to occur each year worldwide. Approximately 75 per cent of those deaths would occur in low- and middle-income countries. The cancer needed to be addressed by governments as a significant public health issue. Acting now could save 2.5 million lives in the next two decades.

The Initiative’s framework was a roadmap for success based on three pillars: improved early detection of breast cancer, prompt diagnosis, and effective therapies carried through to completion.

A failure to act now would have intergenerational consequences. As a result of the estimated 4.4 million women who died from cancer in 2020, about 1 million children had lost their mothers to cancer. One in four of those deaths had resulted from breast cancer.

WHO and partners were committed to “closing the care gap”, which was the theme of this year’s World Cancer Day. The Global Breast Cancer Initiative was one of WHO’s women’s and children’s cancer initiatives, which aimed to save more than 4 million lives in the next two decade, and many more for the years to follow.

WHO called on all stakeholders to take on the commitments outlined in the Framework and in WHO’s cancer initiatives to give every person and family the best chance to live cancer-free.

Responding to questions, Benjamin Anderson, Medical Officer and Lead of the Global Breast Cancer Initiative, World Health Organization, said that each country had different situations based on existing resources. The Framework allowed WHO to adapt strategies to achieve the best results in early detection, diagnosis and treatment in each country. WHO had developed tools for costing response strategies in individual countries.

Dr. Mikkelesen said that treatment for breast cancer and all cancers needed to be a part of universal health coverage. Currently, many cancer patients did not have sufficient financial support. The international community needed to provide targeted support for low-income countries, and governments needed to use taxation and revenues to increase health budgets. 

Dr. Anderson said that the Framework sought to apply what had been learned from successful response measures in high-income countries to limited resource settings. Increased awareness raising initiatives and training for health practitioners would help to strengthen diagnosis of breast cancer and treatment. There were affordable endocrine therapy medication that could reach more cancer patients in low-income countries if appropriate financial support was provided. The sustainability of response measures was key.

Dr. Mikkelesen said that there were international initiatives to support diagnosis of breast cancer. Many countries had a lack of health care personnel and medicines. WHO was supporting such countries to identify priorities when planning response measures.

Slim Slama for the World Health Organization said that WHO was proposing a list of the most cost-effective cancer prevention treatments and interventions.  Early identification of cancers was key. There was stigma around early detection of cancer, and the global health system was not able to provide early detection. This issue needed to be addressed.

Dr. Mikkelesen said that strengthening awareness raising initiatives regarding breast cancer was one of the Framework’s highest priorities. Reducing the cost of medications was a key topic. Countries needed to understand the source of the problem. Breast cancer was one of the most common causes of death across the world, and so should not be neglected by governments.

Dr. Slama said that the price of certain oral drugs was less than one dollar, while others ranged from 9,000 to 10,000 United States dollars. Many countries were unable to negotiate prices. WHO was working to increase the availability and affordability of such drugs.

Dr. Mikkelesen said that there was a huge disparity in deaths between low- and middle- and high-income countries. If current trends continued, the gap in mortality rates could rise to 75 per cent.  

Two Humanitarian Convoys Reach Frontlines in Ukraine

Jens Laerke for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian (OCHA) said that two inter-agency convoys had reached communities in acute need on the frontlines in Ukraine this week.

On Tuesday, 31 January, a six-truck convoy reached the Donetsk region with water, medicine, emergency shelter materials and other supplies to the town of Toretsk, some 10 kilometres from the front line in the Donetsk region. The convoy also delivered trauma and emergency surgery kit supplies. Approximately 15,000 people of the 75,000 residents who lived there before the war were still in that town and nearby communities.

Yesterday, 2 February, an inter-agency convoy comprised of five trucks delivered medications, materials for emergency shelter repairs, tool kits, hygiene items and solar lamps to the Zaporizhzhia region in the south-east of the country.

Yesterday’s supplies were intended for people in the neighbouring Huliaipole community, where around 3,000 people remained close to the front line. They were exposed to regular shelling, and their access to basic services was disrupted.

Electrical facilities had been damaged by the fighting and could be repaired due to ongoing hostilities. Because there was no power, water facilities could not operate, and water had to be delivered in bottles or pumped from the wells. The tools for emergency repairs were urgently needed for the damaged homes amidst the savage winter.

To support the most vulnerable people, the convoy to Zaporizhzhia had also delivered medicines, including a pneumonia kit, bottled water, hygiene items and solar lamps.

The supplies had been provided by the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Refugees Agency and the World Health Organization. With support from local community representatives and volunteers, it had been distributed directly to the people in need.

Responding to questions, Mr. Laerke said that OCHA was constantly monitoring the situation in Ukraine and preparing for the future, but its primary focus was on providing support for persons currently in need. More and more humanitarian convoys were pushing to the frontlines to reach people in dire need.

Convoy planning was conditioned by the security on the ground, and convoys could be forced to be turned back if the situation on the ground escalated. OCHA provided notifications to fighting parties regarding their international obligations to help the convoys to reach their destinations safely. There had so far been no direct attacks on convoys in Ukraine.

OCHA had not been given adequate assurances from the fighting party for it to be able to access the regions under control of the Russian army. However, it would keep trying to access those regions. Over 30 interagency convoys had delivered humanitarian supplies in Ukraine in the last 11 months.

United Nations Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator to Visit Democratic Republic of the Congo

Jens Laerke for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian (OCHA) announced that the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Joyce Msuya, would visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 5-10 February to spotlight the dire and deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the country, which had the world’s third largest number of people in need of aid.

Ms. Msuya would be joined for part of her mission by Matthew Nims, Deputy Assistant to the Administrator of the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Together, they would hold talks with top officials of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and humanitarian organizations in the capital, Kinshasa, and would travel to the east to meet with people affected by the crisis.

Conflict, the climate crisis and disease outbreaks were intensifying poverty and other challenges in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country was home to both the largest number of displaced people in Africa, at 5.7 million, and the largest number of acutely food insecure people in a single country worldwide, at 26 million.

FAO Food Price Index declines in January

Erin Collier, Economist, Markets and Trade Division, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) had declined slightly in January, reflecting decreases in the prices of vegetable oils, dairy and sugar. Vegetable oils declined the most in January, by nearly 3 per cent, largely driven by subdued import demand and ample supplies of sunflower and rapeseed oil. Dairy prices also decreased due to subdued import demand and increased export availability. Sugar prices fell due to positive production prospects in Thailand, as well as favourable weather conditions in Brazil’s key sugar cane growing areas.

By contrast to those declines, meat and cereal prices remained nearly stable month-on-month. Meat prices were down fractionally from December levels. Lower prices for bovine, poultry and pig meats had offset an increase in ovine meat prices. Cereal prices were up fractionally. Rice prices had increased due to a lack of availability due to local demand in some Asian exporting countries and exchange rate movements. Coarse grain prices had also increased marginally, with maise prices firming due to higher demand in Brazil and dry conditions affecting production in Argentina.

In January, the FFPI stood nearly 18 percent below its peak reached in March of 2022, and 3.3 percent below its level one year ago. However, food prices remained elevated, especially for cereals which, of all the commodity groups, remained the highest priced compared to their levels one year ago. Meat, cereals and sugar were all higher compared to January 2022.

Responding to questions, Ms. Collier said that the Food Price Index reflected major exporting prices, not regional trends in retail food prices. Current inflation rates and higher debt levels were contributing to raising import costs for maize in Africa.


David Hirsch for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) announced that the “AI for Good Global Summit” would take place in Geneva from 6-7 July 2023.

The event, which would feature advances in artificial intelligence technology, participation by humanoid and other robots and expert speakers, was intended to demonstrate how new technology could support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Summit, which was making its physical return to Geneva for the first time since 2019, was free and open to the public.

Media wishing to cover the Summit should register here.

Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Geneva, said that the Universal Periodic Review Working Group would conclude its 42nd session today after adopting the last group of reports for this session this afternoon.  The Working Group was scheduled to adopt its reports on Zambia, Japan and Sri Lanka at 4:30 p.m. today.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child was closing this afternoon its 92nd session and would be issuing its concluding observations on the seven countries reviewed during this session: Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Ireland, Mauritius, New Zealand, Oman and Sweden.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women would begin its 84th session next Monday, 6 February, at 10 a.m. at the Palais des Nations.  During the session, it would review the reports of Bahrain, Costa Rica, Georgia, Hungary, Mauritania, Norway, Slovenia and Tunisia. In the afternoon of 22 February, the Committee would also have a half day of general discussion on the equal and inclusive representation of women in decision-making systems.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was holding a hybrid press conference on Monday, 6 February at 2:30 p.m. to announce the launch of its new report on violent extremism in Sub-Saharan Africa and Arab States, called Journey to and from Extremism: Pathways to Recruitment and Disengagement. Speaking at the conference would be Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, and Nirina Kiplagat, main author and Regional Peacebuilding Advisor.

Noting that 6 February was the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilations, Ms. Vellucci read a message from Secretary-General António Guterres to mark the day. Mr. Guterres said that female genital mutilation was an abhorrent violation of fundamental human rights that caused lifelong damage to the physical and mental health of women and girls. Some 4.2 million girls were at risk of being subjected to this act of gender-based violence during 2023 alone. 

The Secretary-General stressed that female genital mutilation was rooted in the same gender inequalities and complex social norms that limited women’s participation and leadership and restricted their access to education and employment. 

Mr. Guterres concluded by calling on men and boys everywhere to join him in speaking out and stepping forward to end female genital mutilation, for the benefit of all. He called on the international community to commit to social change and strong partnerships to put an end to female genital mutilation once and for all.

Ms. Vellucci also announced that the International Day of Human Fraternity was commemorated on 4 February, and the Secretary-General had released a statement to mark the day. Further, she announced that World Interfaith Harmony Week was commemorated from 1 to 7 February.

Videos (1)

Documents (1)
Audio Files (1)
Bi-Weekly Press Briefing 03 February 2023 / 52:59

More Related News