CHICAGO – Officials from Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s Administration proclaimed today as United Nations Day in Illinois to recognize the contributions of the international human rights organization and to highlight the State’s efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other major diseases. This year’s UN theme, “Global Health: A Critical Component to Development,” prompted the State to provide information about HIV/AIDS prevention programs and on how to combat this and other diseases. On behalf of the Governor, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) hosted UN Day at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago.
“United Nations Day marks the acknowledgement of dignity, respect and freedom as basic human rights across the globe. This year’s theme serves as a reminder of the millions of lives lost every year as a result of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Following the Governor’s leadership here in Illinois we’re doing our part by creating awareness of disease prevention and by making healthcare more accessible and affordable to all residents who are in need,” said IDHR Director Rocco Claps, who also read the Governor’s proclamation.
Every year since the United Nations charter became effective on October 24, 1945, the UN has celebrated this day by exploring the world’s strength through its cultural diversity and by inviting other agencies to share their efforts. IDHR marks the theme every year by bringing relevant State agencies and community organizations together to create a unique opportunity for Illinois residents to learn about related programs and valuable resources.
IDHR enforces the Illinois Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status (with regard to employment ), age 40 and over, marital status, physical or mental handicap, military service, unfavorable military discharge, and sexual orientation. It provides protection from discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, financial credit, public accommodation, and sexual harassment. Recently, IDHR developed its informational brochure in several different languages which lists protections from discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act. Languages currently include Spanish, Korean, Polish and Italian and are available in print on the web at www.state.il.us/dhr
. Any individual who feels that he or she is a victim of discrimination should contact IDHR at 312-814-6200 or visit the website.
This year’s participants included the Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Barry Maram, representatives from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, the Howard Brown Health Center, and the Chicago Consulates of Canada, China, Philippines, Venezuela, and Lithuania, which distributed information about their respective countries. The program also included several multi-cultural dance and musical performances.
In 2005, Gov. Blagojevich launched BASUAH, Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS, a comprehensive HIV/AIDS awareness campaign to address the alarming trend of infection among the state’s African American community. IDPH spearheaded the awareness campaign: “Know Your Status; Get Tested” and “Get Your Friends Tested.” According to IDPH, AIDS is the leading cause of death among African-American women ages 25-34 and the second leading cause of death of African-American men ages 35-44. HIV/AIDS cases among African-Americans are the highest among all racial/ethnic groups and about half of the total reported cases in Illinois. For more information on HIV/AIDS visit www.basuah.org
or call the Illinois HIV/AIDS and STD hotline at 1-800-243-2437 from Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. and on weekends from 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.
Building on efforts to expand health care to the working men and women who need it, Gov. Blagojevich announced recently that the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) is now open to all uninsured women in Illinois, regardless of income. “Take Charge, Get Screened” is a program which provides free cancer screenings for uninsured women and treatment for those who have been diagnosed with cancer. IDPH oversees the program and is asking women across the state to get the word out about the importance of cancer screenings, with the goals of getting more women screened, and saving lives. Individuals can sign up for free screenings today by calling 1-888-522-1282, or logging on to www.cancerscreening.illinois.gov
The Governor’s United Nations Day proclamation reads:
WHEREAS, the United Nations was founded in 1945, and the anniversary of its founding is observed each year on October 24; and
WHEREAS, one of the principal mandates of the United Nations – “To achieve international cooperation in solving problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character” – remains as valid today as when those words were written into the Charter more than a half century ago; and
WHEREAS, in September of 2000, 189 countries, including the United States, agreed on the Millennium Development Goals; and
WHEREAS, each year, the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) dedicates United Nations Day commemorations to one of the UN Millennium Development Goals; and
WHEREAS, this year’s topic, “Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases” is an issue that has deep implications on social economic, and security conditions in countries and regions all over the world; and
WHEREAS, despite encouraging progress in global efforts to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS in recent years, the number of people infected with the virus, and the number of deaths caused by it, continues to grow. Last year, a total of 2.9 millions people died as a result of AIDS; and
WHEREAS, the United Nations is partnering with member governments and volunteer organizations to help address the global crisis of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases; and
WHEREAS, as part of this joint endeavor, UNA-USA’s HERO campaign provides comprehensive, school-based support to orphans and vulnerable children living in HIV/AIDS-affected communities in Africa; and
WHEREAS, the United States Government and American civil society groups are also playing a lead role in this global effort, and this United Nations Day will provide an excellent opportunity to highlight this important aspect of our nation’s international leadership:
THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim October 24, 2007 as UNITED NATIONS DAY in Illinois, and encourage all citizens to join in all activities related to this day.