By Taciana Moury/Diálogo July 18, 2018 The Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) seeks to foster women’s interest in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions. The goal is to respond to the UN’s call to troop-contributing nations to increase women’s participation in missions from 10 to 20 percent. At the end of 2017, the UN released guidelines to facilitate female participation. According to the UN, as of May 2018, more than 90,000 blue helmets of different nationalities participate in 14 peacekeeping operations worldwide. Only about 4 percent of military forces are women. According to the Peacekeeping Operations Office under the Joint Operations Command of the Brazilian Armed Forces’ Joint Chiefs of Staff, 65 Brazilian service members—armed forces and military police—are currently deployed in UN peacekeeping missions as military observers or as part of the general staff. Of these only nine are women: three from the Brazilian Navy, two from the Brazilian Air Force, one from EB, and three from the Military Police. The UN’s steps to promote volunteers within the female population include shortening mission time from one year to six months for women with children 5 to 10 years old, developing mission positions with roles other than officer, and creating a female engagement force, a component whose duty would be to embed all troops deployed in the field. For EB Lieutenant Colonel Ivana Mara Ferreira Costa of the Department of Peacekeeping of the Land Operations Command (COTER, in Portuguese), UN guidelines are meant to incentivize women. “The reduction of mission time will allow female service members to better manage their time away from home,” she said. To encourage female service members interested in taking part in UN missions, EB posted a link on the website of its Directorate General for Personnel at the end of 2017. “So far, of an estimated 3,000 EB career officers and noncommissioned officers, only 49 women enrolled,” said Lt. Col. Ivana Mara. Another EB initiative consists of enrolling female service members in the peacekeeping mission preparedness internship of the Brazilian Joint Center for Peacekeeping Operations. Some enrollees don’t have a defined mission. “When an opportunity arises, we will have women already prepared,” the officer said. EB has 42 service members deployed in peacekeeping missions. “There is only one woman in this group, but we already have three candidates to replace service members in these missions,” said Lt. Col. Ivana Mara. EB service member, a MINURSO pioneer Lieutenant Colonel Andréa Firmo Louriçal is the only EB female in a UN peacekeeping mission. She joined the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO, in French) as a military observer in April 2018. She is the first female Brazilian service member to take on this role. The officer is based in the city of Laayoune, the administrative center of Western Sahara. Her monitoring duties focus on the maintenance of the cease-fire agreement and operations to reduce landmines and unexploded ordnance in conflict areas between Morocco and the Polisario Front. The greatest challenge, Lt. Col. Andréa Firmo said, is being separated from her children: two girls, 16 and 12 years old, and a 7-year-old boy. “This is one of the most challenging tasks for a female service member,” she said. “Adapting to operational activities was also difficult. We have to conduct long daily patrols, most of which are near minefields,” she said. The yearlong mission will last until April 2019. Lt. Col. Andréa Firmo told Diálogo she decided to volunteer to make a difference in the field, and support vulnerable groups in need. “I hope to echo the voices of women and children who need help in areas of conflict,” she said. According to the officer, her participation may create opportunities for many other women. “I am opening previously unknown paths. I want to be the eyes of other female military colleagues who will come after me,” she said. An operational need The presence of women in the field, according to Lt. Col. Ivana Mara, is an essential requirement for mission efficiency. “Female peacekeepers perform a crucial role interacting with the community. When you combine men and women in patrols, the result is much more productive,” she said. The officer deployed to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH, in French) in 2013 and in 2017. “More than a gender issue, a woman who serves in the field is an operational need in peacekeeping missions,” EB Lieutenant Colonel Luiz Cláudio Talavera Azeredo, from COTER’s Department of Peacekeeping, told Diálogo. In 2017, the officer was Sector East chief of operations of the United Nations Multidimentional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA, in French). During his mission, Lt. Col. Talavera Azeredo said, some operations were only carried out with the presence of a female service member. “If there were no female service members in the contingent, then who would conduct on-the-ground screenings of women when necessary?” asked Lt. Col. Talavera Azeredo. “Women have the right to be screened by other women,” he said. According to Lt. Col. Ivana Mara, EB increased female participation in 2013, in MINUSTAH. “This is when we began to incorporate instructions about sexual abuse and exploitation to prepare the contingent that would deploy to the Haiti mission,” she said. Brazil led the Haiti peacekeeping mission for 13 years. Nearly 30,000 service members participated—among them 200 were women. According to the officer, a joint man-woman effort is necessary to achieve gender balance in the armed forces. “It’s the responsibility of the UN, governments, international organizations. It’s a commitment for all,” she said.
Jan 29, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – An early report on the seasonal influenza strains circulating in Europe reveals that some H1N1 viruses show signs of resistance to the antiviral drug oseltamivir, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported this week.Of 148 influenza influenza A H1N1 samples collected in November and December in 10 European countries, 19 tested positive for resistance to oseltamivir, the ECDC said in a Jan 27 press release. Twelve of the resistant virus isolates were from Norway; the rest included one from Denmark, four from France, and two from the United Kingdom.According to ECDC’s full interim report, the oseltamivir-resistant variant, H1N1 (H274Y), is a new development this winter. (H274Y is the term for a mutation associated with resistance to the drug.) The strain is sensitive to other antivirals, which include zanamivir, amantadine, and rimantadine.The overall proportion of the oseltamivir-resistant strain among European isolates is 13%, but if the Norwegian samples are excluded from the total, the proportion for Europe falls to 5%, the report said.Though the ECDC cautioned that the findings are preliminary, it said Norway is still seeing the oseltamivir-resistant H1N1 this month and that the same mutation is being seen in other countries, including those in North America.”There are some indications that some of the same oseltamivir-resistant A H1N1 viruses are being observed at low levels in the United States,” the report said.Experts from the ECDC, the European Commission, and the World Health Organization (WHO) are assessing the significance of the findings and will release an interim joint assessment soon, based on the initial surveillance findings, the ECDC said.The WHO today held a virtual meeting of experts to discuss the findings. WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told CIDRAP News the group agreed that more studies are needed to answer the many questions raised by the ECDC’s initial report. For example, he said experts would like to determine why antiviral resistance rates in the study vary so widely between countries and why the resistant H1N1 strain surfaced so early in the flu season.The findings need to be fleshed out, and experts are just now looking at isolates collected in January, Hartl said. “Theses are small numbers, so this is a work in progress,” he commented.Joe Bresee, MD, chief of epidemiology and prevention for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) immunization services division, told CIDRAP News today that of 204 influenza samples tested by the CDC so far this season, six (2.9%) were resistant to oseltamivir. The resistant samples accounted for 5.5% of the 109 H1N1 viruses the CDC isolated, he said.”It’s interesting. Last year we wouldn’t have expected this level of resistance,” Bresee said. The CDC is continuing to monitor patterns with the oseltamivir-resistant H1N1 variant, but he said the numbers were low enough that the agency is not changing its recommendations for the treatment of seasonal influenza.The CDC has urged clinicians to stop using amantadine or rimantadine to treat influenza because circulating influenza A strains have high rates of resistance to the two drugs.Martina Rupp, a spokeswoman for Roche, the maker of Tamiflu, said the preliminary results are a contrast to previous years, when experts found little or no oseltamivir resistance, according to a Bloomberg News report. She said more surveillance is needed to establish the prevalence and geographic distribution of the resistant H1N1 variants and to gauge the impact on the drug’s efficacy.Frederick Hayden, MD, an antiviral expert with the WHO, said the change in the virus’s resistance pattern warrants concern, the Canadian Press (CP) reported yesterday. “This is not only interesting, it’s unusual and would not have necessarily been predicted by the necessary information. So it’s certainly something we’re taking seriously and trying to gather additional information [on],” he said.Though the source of the H1N1 variant is not known, ECDC experts reported that they don’t believe its emergence is related to antiviral use in Europe, because the drugs are rarely used there. They wrote that the Norwegian patients who had the resistant strain had not taken antiviral medications.The ECDC report said it’s not clear if the variant virus will be overwhelmed by more fit and oseltamivir-susceptible viruses as the influenza season progresses. “Equally, however, the resistant virus could come to spread and predominate. We simply do not know at present,” the authors reported.Evidence on the effect of the resistance mutation on viral fitness is contradictory, they noted. Some studies have shown the mutation reduces the virus’s capacity to replicate and spread, while others have shown the variant’s fitness is similar to that of viruses lacking the mutation.”People who become ill with the oseltamivir-resistant strain of A(H1N1) do not appear to become any more sick than people infected with ‘normal’ seasonal influenza,” the ECDC said in its press release.In addition, the ECDC report stated, “It also needs to be remembered that antiviral resistant is a relative not absolute term. Patients ill with viruses that are deemed resistant in the laboratory often still seem to benefit when they take antivirals.”See also:Jan 24 CIDRAP News story “Older flu drugs still used, against CDC advice”
But the 43-year-old Ortiz has shown steady improvement. His condition was upgraded to “good” on June 18, and he was removed from intensive care on June 22. On July 11, the Red Sox released a statement from Ortiz’s wife, Tiffany, revealing Ortiz had undergone a third surgery in early July but was “recovering well and is in good spirits.” Related News Red Sox legend David Ortiz was released from a Boston hospital Friday, according to ESPN.Ortiz was shot and severely wounded June 9 in a shooting at a nightclub in his native Dominican Republic (officials later revealed the shooting was a case of mistaken identity in a murder-for-hire scheme). MLB wrap: Red Sox’s blowout of Yankees keyed by another rough Masahiro Tanaka start MLB trade rumors: What are the second moves Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees could make before deadline? MLB trade rumors: Twins eye Jays’ Daniel Hudson as well as Marcus Stroman, Ken Giles After undergoing emergency surgery in the Dominican Republic, Ortiz was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on June 10. Since the shooting, he has undergone three surgeries that removed a portion of his intestines, as well as his gallbladder. A 10-time All-Star, Ortiz led the Red Sox to three World Series titles.So far, Dominican Republic officials have arrested more than a dozen people in connection with the shooting.