1. Section Editor(s): Pfeifer, Gail M. MA, RN

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Chronic Diseases


* Every year, 9 million people younger than 60 die from diseases like cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular diseases, which accounted for 63% of deaths worldwide in 2008, according to the Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases. In September, global leaders met at the United Nations to set a new international agenda to address control and prevention. To read the report, go to


Pain Relief


* According to the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board, "more than 80% of the world's population has no or insufficient access to pain relief drugs." For a summary of the data, go to


Health Care Delivery and Nursing Roles


* The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) created the National Expert Commission this year to "support a positive transformation of Canada's health system." (See for the CNA news release.) And the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously voted to support the ongoing operation of Insite, which operates in Vancouver on a harm-reduction model to offer primary care and medically supervised injection for drug users.


* The World Health Organization has released a guide to aid humanitarian care during crisis events, Psychological First Aid: Guide for Field Workers. It can be found at




* Famine gripped Somalia and the Horn of Africa this year, putting the lives of more than 2 million children at risk, and in October the United Nations warned of a looming food crisis in Sudan.


* Although guinea worm disease (dracunculiasis) has nearly been eradicated worldwide, South Sudan bears the burden of 97% of the remaining cases. The World Health Organization (WHO) cautions against complacency regarding this crippling parasitic disease (see for the WHO fact sheet).




* From 1996 to 2008, China's neonatal mortality rate decreased 62%, owing to a national strategy that increased the quality of and access to hospital-based obstetric care, according to a report in the September 16 Lancet.


Middle East


* Flooding continued to cause health concerns in Pakistan, where 27% of health care facilities were left damaged or inaccessible by autumn rains.