Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for the ‘WHO’ Category

Microplastics: Another cause for concern in this troubled world?

WHO Microplastics Document 2019

“……..Background
Over the past few years, several studies have reported the presence of microplastics in treated tap and bottled water, raising questions and concerns about the impact that microplastics in drinking-water might have on human health. This report, which contains a summary of the evidence, key findings, recommendations and research needs, is the World  Health Organization’s (WHO) first effort to examine the potential human health risks associated with exposure to microplastics in the environment. The focus of this report is on the potential human health impacts of exposure to microplastics through drinking-water. However, brief information on other routes of human exposure is included for context.
This report was informed by literature reviews undertaken on the occurrence of microplastics in the water cycle, the potential health impacts from microplastic exposure and the removal of microplastics during wastewater and drinking-water treatment. Throughout the report, WHO experts examined the quality and relevance of the studies they found. The report was also informed by reviews conducted by several major entities; these are referenced throughout the report.
As a category, microplastics encompass a wide range of materials with different chemical compositions, shapes, colours, sizes and densities. There is no scientifically-agreed definition of microplastics, although most definitions focus on composition and size.
………

 

“……Recommendations
Routine monitoring of microplastics in drinking-water is not recommended at this time, as there is no evidence to indicate a human health concern. Concerns over microplastics in drinking-water should not divert resources of water suppliers and regulators from removing microbial pathogens, which remains the most significant risk to human health from drinking-water along with other chemical priorities. As part of water safety planning, water suppliers should ensure that control measures are effective and should optimize water treatment processes for particle removal and microbial safety, which will incidentally improve the removal of microplastic particles.
However, for researchers, it would be appropriate to undertake targeted, welldesigned and quality-controlled investigative studies to better understand the sources and occurrence of microplastics in fresh water and drinking-water, the efficacy of different treatment processes and combinations of processes, and the significance
Executive summary xiii
of the potential return of microplastics to the environment from treatment waste streams including the application of sludge biosolids to agricultural land.
Measures should also be taken to better manage plastics and reduce the use of plastics where possible, to minimize plastic and microplastic pollution despite the low human health risk posed by exposure to microplastics in drinking-water, as such actions can confer other benefits to the environment and human well-being. 


Research needs
To better assess human health risks and inform management actions, a number of research gaps need to be filled. With respect to exposure, there is a need to better understand microplastics occurrence throughout the water supply chain, using quality assured methods to determine the numbers, shapes, sizes, composition and sources of microplastics and to better characterize the effectiveness of water treatment. Research is also needed to better understand the significance of treatment-related waste streams as contributors of microplastics to the environment.
With respect to potential health effects, quality-assured toxicological data are needed on the most common forms of plastic particles relevant for human health risk assessment. Further, a better understanding on the uptake and fate of microplastics and nanoplastics following ingestion is needed.
Finally, given that humans can be exposed to microplastics through a variety of environmental media, including food and air, a better understanding of overall exposure to microplastics from the broader environment is needed.


WHO reviews the current state of MERS-CoV

WHO MERS Global Summary and Assessment of Risk

“…..Between 2012 and 30 June 2019, 2449 laboratory confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection were reported to WHO, of which 84.0% were reported by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In total, cases have been reported from 27 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, the United States of America, and Asia.  Males above the age of 60 with an underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and renal failure, are at a higher risk of severe disease, including death.  To date, 845 individuals have died (crude CFR 34.5%).

Since the last global update published on 30 June 2018, 219 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV from four countries were reported to WHO (204 from Saudi Arabia, 13 from Oman, 1 from the Republic of Korea, and 1 from the United Kingdom), of whom 53 (24.2%) have died.  Among these cases, 79.0% were male and the median age was 52 years old (IQR 39-65; range 16-94 years old).  The median age is similar to the median age of all cases reported to WHO since 2012 (52 years old, IQR 37-65).

At the time of writing, 49 of the 219 (22.4%) patients were reported as asymptomatic or having mild disease. At least one underlying condition was reported in 145 cases (66.2%) since the last update, including chronic renal failure, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension…….”


WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, declared that the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ebola outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

WHO

17 July 2019

News release
Geneva

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today declared the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

“It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system,” said Dr. Tedros. “Extraordinary work has been done for almost a year under the most difficult circumstances. We all owe it to these responders — coming from not just WHO but also government, partners and communities — to shoulder more of the burden.”

The declaration followed a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for EVD in the DRC. The Committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma, a city of almost two million people on the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world.

This was the fourth meeting of the Emergency Committee since the outbreak was declared on 1 August 2018.

The Committee expressed disappointment about delays in funding which have constrained the response. They also reinforced the need to protect livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open. It is essential to avoid the punitive economic consequences of travel and trade restrictions on affected communities.

“It is important that the world follows these recommendations. It is also crucial that states do not use the PHEIC as an excuse to impose trade or travel restrictions, which would have a negative impact on the response and on the lives and livelihoods of people in the region,” said Professor Robert Steffen, chair of the Emergency Committee.

Since it was declared almost a year ago the outbreak has been classified as a level 3 emergency – the most serious – by WHO, triggering the highest level of mobilization from WHO. The UN has also recognized the seriousness of the emergency by activating the Humanitarian System-wide Scale-Up to support the Ebola response.

In recommending a PHEIC the committee made specific recommendations related to this outbreak.

“This is about mothers, fathers and children – too often entire families are stricken. At the heart of this are communities and individual tragedies,” said Dr. Tedros. “The PHEIC should not be used to stigmatize or penalize the very people who are most in need of our help.”


Finally, the year-old Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo is now considered a global health emergency

NYT

‘……“This is still a regional emergency and by no way a global threat,” said Robert Steffen of the University of Zurich, chairman of the W.H.O. emergency committee that recommended the declaration.

But the panel was persuaded by several factors that have made combating the epidemic more urgent in recent weeks: The disease reached Goma, a city of nearly two million people; the outbreak has raged for a year; the virus has flared again in spots where it had once been contained; and the epidemic hot zone has geographically expanded in northeastern Congo near Rwanda and into Uganda……’

“…..The W.H.O. said it had received $49 million from international donors from February to July, only half the money it needs. Officials who have visited the region say supplies are running short, including the protective gear that health workers need to avoid becoming infected. At a United Nations meeting about the outbreak on Monday, one official said he had seen syringes and gloves being reused because equipment was becoming scarce.….”


WHO updates global guidance on medicines and diagnostic tests to address health challenges, prioritize highly effective therapeutics, and improve affordable access

WHO

New essential medicines and diagnostics lists published today

9 July 2019

News release
Geneva

WHO’s Essential Medicines List and List of Essential Diagnostics are core guidance documents that help countries prioritize critical health products that should be widely available and affordable throughout health systems.

Published today, the two lists focus on cancer and other global health challenges, with an emphasis on effective solutions, smart prioritization, and optimal access for patients.

“Around the world, more than 150 countries use WHO’s Essential Medicines List to guide decisions about which medicines represent the best value for money, based on evidence and health impact,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The inclusion in this list of some of the newest and most advanced cancer drugs is a strong statement that everyone deserves access to these life-saving medicines, not just those who can afford them.”

The Essential Medicines List (2019)

Cancer treatments: While several new cancer treatments have been marketed in recent years, only a few deliver sufficient therapeutic benefits to be considered essential. The five cancer therapies WHO added to the new Medicines List are regarded as the best in terms of survival rates to treat melanoma, lung, blood and prostate cancers.

For example, two recently developed immunotherapies (nivolumab and pembrolizumab) have delivered up to 50% survival rates for advanced melanoma, a cancer that until recently was incurable.

Antibiotics: The Essential Medicines Committee strengthened advice on antibiotic use by updating the AWARE categories, which indicate which antibiotics to use for the most common and serious infections to achieve better treatment outcomes and reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance.  The committee recommended that three new antibiotics for the treatment of multi-drug resistant infections be added as essential.

Other updates to the medicines list include:

  • New oral anticoagulants to prevent stroke as an alternative to warfarin for atrial fibrillation and treatment of deep vein thrombosis. These are particularly advantageous for low-income countries as, unlike warfarin, they do not require regular monitoring;
  • Biologics and their respective biosimilars for chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases;
  • Heat-stable carbetocin for the prevention of postpartum haemorrhage. This new formulation has similar effects to oxytocin, the current standard therapy, but offers advantages for tropical countries as it does not require refrigeration;

Not all submissions to the EML Committee are included in the list. For example, medicines for multiple sclerosis submitted for inclusion were not listed. The Committee noted that some relevant therapeutic options currently marketed in many countries were not included in the submissions; it will welcome a revised application with all relevant available options. The EML Committee also did not recommend including methylphenidate, a medicine for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as the committee found uncertainties in the estimates of benefit.

The List of Essential (in vitro) Diagnostics

The first List of Essential Diagnostics was published in 2018, concentrating on a limited number of priority diseases – HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and hepatitis. This year’s list has expanded to include more noncommunicable and communicable diseases.

Cancers: Given how critical it is to secure an early cancer diagnosis (70% of cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries largely because most patients are diagnosed too late), WHO added 12 tests to the Diagnostics List to detect a wide range of solid tumours such as colorectal, liver, cervical, prostate, breast and germ cell cancers, as well as leukemia and lymphomas. To support appropriate cancer diagnosis, a new section covering anatomical pathology testing was added; this service must be made available in specialized laboratories.

Infectious diseases: The list focuses on additional infectious diseases prevalent in low- and middle-income countries such as cholera, and neglected diseases like leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, dengue, and zika.

In addition, a new section for influenza testing was added for community health settings where no laboratories are available.

General test: The list was also expanded to include additional general tests which address a range of different diseases and conditions, such as iron tests (for anemia), and tests to diagnose thyroid malfunction and sickle cell (an inherited form of anemia very widely present in Sub-Saharan Africa).

Another notable update is a new section specific to tests intended for screening of blood donations.  This is part of a WHO-wide strategy to make blood transfusions safer.

“The List of Essential Diagnostics was introduced in 2018 to guide the supply of tests and improve treatment outcomes,” said Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant Director-General for Medicines and Health Products. “As countries move towards universal health coverage and medicines become more available, it will be crucial to have the right diagnostic tools to ensure appropriate treatment.”

 

 


WHO Director-General: Though the spread of Ebola to Uganda is a new development, it doesn’t signal a shift in outbreak dynamics.

WHO

14 June 2019

Thank you, Dr Aavitsland,

Good evening from DRC.

I would like to thank Dr Aavitsland for his leadership of the Emergency Committee, and all the members of the committee, as well as the advisors and those who made presentations.

As you have heard, the Emergency Committee has recommended for a third time, and I have agreed, that the current Ebola outbreak in DRC does not constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

Although the outbreak does not at this time pose a global health threat, I want to emphasise that for the affected families and communities, this outbreak is very much an emergency.

Today I have been in Kinshasa to discuss the current Ebola outbreak with the Prime Minister of DRC, the Minister of Health, opposition leaders, donors and others.

Tomorrow I will travel to Goma and Butembo, to meet with our incredible staff and partners who are on the frontline of this outbreak.

I will also be traveling to Uganda to assess the situation.

Since the outbreak started last August, there have been 2108 cases of Ebola, and 1411 deaths. This is tragic.

Although the spread of Ebola to Uganda is tragic, it is not a surprise. We have said since the beginning of the outbreak that the risk of cross-border spread was very high, and it remains very high.

The fact that it has taken this long is a testament to the incredible work of all partners on both sides of the border.

I particularly want to commend the Government of Uganda for the way it has responded. So far, the investments they have made and the plans they have put in place to prepare for Ebola are paying off.

The spread of Ebola to Uganda is a new development, but the fundamental dynamics of the outbreak haven’t changed.

We have the people, the tools, the knowledge, and the determination to end this outbreak.

We need the sustained political commitment of all parties, so we can safely access and work with communities.

We also need the international community to step up its financial commitment to ending the outbreak.

WHO’s current funding needs for the period from February to July are 98 million U.S. dollars, of which 43.6 million dollars has been received, leaving a gap of 54 million dollars. We call on all our partners to fill this gap as soon as possible.

I will not hesitate to convene it again if needed.

Thank you.

DRC:

Total cases: 2108
– Confirmed cases: 2014
– Probable cases: 94

Deaths: 1411
– Confirmed: 1317
– Probable: 94


Statement on the meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee for Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

WHO

14 June 2019

The meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) regarding Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) took place on Friday, 14 June 2019, from 12:00 to 17:00 Geneva time (CEST).

Context and Discussion

The Committee expressed its deep concern about the ongoing outbreak, which, despite some positive epidemiological trends, especially in the epicentres of Butembo and Katwa, shows that the extension and/or reinfection of disease in other areas like Mabalako, presents, once again, challenges around community acceptance and security. In addition, the response continues to be hampered by a lack of adequate funding and strained human resources.

The cluster of cases in Uganda is not unexpected; the rapid response and initial containment is a testament to the importance of preparedness in neighbouring countries. The Committee commends the communication and collaboration between DRC and Uganda.

At the same time, the exportation of cases into Uganda is a reminder that, as long as this outbreak continues in DRC, there is a risk of spread to neighbouring countries, although the risk of spread to countries outside the region remains low.

The Committee wishes to commend the heroic work of all responders, who continue to work under extremely challenging and stressful conditions.

The Committee extensively debated the impact of a PHEIC declaration on the response, possible unintended consequences, and how these might be managed. Differing views were expressed, as the Committee acknowledged that recent cases in Uganda constitute international spread of disease.

Conclusions and Advice

It was the view of the Committee that the outbreak is a health emergency in DRC and the region but does not meet all the three criteria for a PHEIC under the IHR. While the outbreak is an extraordinary event, with risk of international spread, the ongoing response would not be enhanced by formal Temporary Recommendations under the IHR (2005).

The Committee provided the following public health advice, which it strongly urges countries and responding partners to heed:

  • At-risk countries should improve their preparedness for detecting and managing exported cases, as Uganda has done.
  • Cross-border screening in DRC should continue and its quality improved and sustained.
  • Continue to map population movements and sociological patterns that can predict risk of disease spread.
  • All priority countries should put in place approvals for investigational medicines and vaccines as an immediate priority for preparedness.
  • Optimal vaccine strategies that have maximum impact on curtailing the outbreak, as recommended by WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), should be implemented rapidly.
    • The Committee is deeply disappointed that WHO and the affected countries have not received the funding and resources needed for this outbreak. The international community must step up funding and support strengthening of preparedness and response in DRC and neighbouring countries.
    • Continue to strengthen community awareness, engagement, and participation. There has been a great deal of progress in community engagement activities. However, in border communities, where mobility is especially likely, community engagement needs to be more sharply targeted to identify the populations most at risk.
    • The implementation by the UN and partners of more coordinated measures to reduce security threats, mitigate security risks, and create an enabling environment for public health operations is welcomed and encouraged by the Committee as an essential platform for accelerating disease-control efforts.
    • The Committee strongly emphasizes its previous advice against the application of any international travel or trade restrictions.
    • The Committee does not consider entry screening at airports or other ports of entry to be necessary.
  • The Committee advised the WHO Director-General to continue to monitor the situation closely and reconvene the Emergency Committee as needed.

    Proceedings of the meeting

    Members and advisors of the Emergency Committee were convened by teleconference.

    Because the Chair, Dr Robert Steffen, was unable to attend the meeting in person, Dr Preben Aavitsland chaired the proceedings.

    The Director-General welcomed the Committee by phone from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    Representatives of WHO’s legal department and the department of compliance, risk management, and ethics briefed the Committee members on their roles and responsibilities, as well as the requirements of the IHR and the criteria that define a PHEIC: an extraordinary event that poses a public health risk to other countries through international spread and that requires a coordinated international response. The Committee’s role is to give advice to the Director-General, who makes the final decision on the determination of a PHEIC. The Committee also provides advice or temporary recommendations as appropriate.

    Committee members were reminded of their duty of confidentiality and their responsibility to disclose personal, financial, or professional connections that might be seen to constitute a conflict of interest. Each member was surveyed and no conflicts of interest were identified.

    The Chair then reviewed the agenda for the meeting and introduced the presenters. Presentations were made by representatives of the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and of the National Communicable Disease Control Commission of Uganda.

    The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was reviewed, including the current epidemiological situation and response strategies, including changes instituted to improve community engagement. Sustained, serious security incidents, which have resulted in injuries and deaths among responses have seriously impeded the response. There have been four waves of the outbreak since August 2018, but during the last month there has been a reduction in numbers of cases. Active case-finding for missing contacts is ongoing. Factors contributing to the ongoing outbreak include population movement, health-seeking behavior directed to traditional healers, poor infection prevention and control measures in health facilities, security challenges, and lack of involvement by political leaders.

    Representatives of the National Communicable Disease Control Commission in Uganda reviewed recent cases, contacts, and contact tracing. They updated the Committee on their response actions, including notification to WHO and political involvement, and preparedness activities that have been taking place since August 2018. A national coordination task force has been activated and a rapid response team deployed. Clinical management is available in an Ebola Treatment Unit in Bwera. Screening is taking place at official points of entry. Ring vaccination will begin on 15 June.

    A representative of the WHO Regional Office for Africa presented the status of regional preparedness activities, particularly in Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda. Ongoing challenges were noted, especially at district/subnational levels, as well as inadequate crossborder collaboration and a lack of funding to sustain preparedness activities.

    A representative of the International Organization for Migration updated the Committee on prevention, detection, and control measures at points of entry, for cross-border preparedness.

    The UN Ebola Emergency Response Coordinator gave an update on the security situation and efforts to create a dynamic, nimble enabling environment to support outbreak response. There have been frequent disruptions to the response, which has had implications for increased numbers of cases. UN-wide support is needed to strengthen the public health response and coordinate international assistance. Access and community acceptance are increasing, with decreases in cases in some areas. Increases in attacks in some areas are being addressed.

    The WHO Secretariat gave an update on the current situation and provided details on the response to the current Ebola outbreak and preparedness activities in neighbouring countries. The risk assessment for DRC remains very high at national and regional levels but low at global level. Risk in Uganda remains moderate at the national level and low and regional and global levels. However, the high risks of the Uganda event have been mitigated by rapid communication and coordination among authorities across jurisdictions; detection at points of entry and subsequent response activities; and operational preparedness and readiness in Uganda. A high level of cooperation and transparency between DRC and Uganda was noted with appreciation.

    There has been an overall decline in case incidence in the last 5 weeks, but substantial rates of transmission continue, especially in a few hotspots. IPC measures, safe burials, and population mobility were reviewed, along with details of contact tracing. Operational scale-up was reviewed and a serious need for funding, both for the response and for preparedness, was underscored. Less than one-third of the resources needed are available; presently there is a funding shortfall of USD $54 million against $98 million needed for the response through July 2019.

    Based on the above advice, the reports made by the affected States Parties, and the currently available information, the Director-General accepted the Committee’s assessment that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo does not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. In light of the advice of the Emergency Committee, WHO advises against the application of any travel or trade restrictions. The Director-General thanked the Committee Members and Advisors for their advice.


WHO: All about polio

WHO

Key facts

  • Polio (poliomyelitis) mainly affects children under 5 years of age.
  • 1 in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Among those paralysed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
  • Cases due to wild poliovirus have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350 000 cases then, to 33 (1) reported cases in 2018.
  • As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. Failure to eradicate polio from these last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200 000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world.
  • In most countries, the global effort has expanded capacities to tackle other infectious diseases by building effective surveillance and immunization systems.

Symptoms

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (for example, contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine. Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness of the neck and pain in the limbs. 1 in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs). Among those paralysed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.

People most at risk

Polio mainly affects children under 5 years of age.

Prevention

There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life.

Global caseload

Wild poliovirus cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350 000 cases in more than 125 endemic countries then, to 33 (1) reported cases in 2018.

Of the 3 strains of wild poliovirus (type 1, type 2, and type 3), wild poliovirus type 2 was eradicated in 1999 and no case of wild poliovirus type 3 has been found since the last reported case in Nigeria in November 2012.

WHO Response

Launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative

In 1988, the Forty-first World Health Assembly adopted a resolution for the worldwide eradication of polio. It marked the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), spearheaded by national governments, WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, and supported by key partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This followed the certification of the eradication of smallpox in 1980, progress during the 1980s towards elimination of the poliovirus in the Americas, and Rotary International’s commitment to raise funds to protect all children from the disease.

Progress

Overall, since the GPEI was launched, the number of cases has fallen by over 99%.

In 1994, the WHO Region of the Americas was certified polio-free, followed by the WHO Western Pacific Region in 2000 and the WHO European Region in June 2002. On 27 March 2014, the WHO South-East Asia Region was certified polio-free, meaning that transmission of wild poliovirus has been interrupted in this bloc of 11 countries stretching from Indonesia to India. This achievement marks a significant leap forward in global eradication, with 80% of the world’s population now living in certified polio-free regions.

More than 16 million people are able to walk today, who would otherwise have been paralysed. An estimated 1.5 million childhood deaths have been prevented, through the systematic administration of vitamin A during polio immunization activities.

Opportunity and risks: an emergency approach

The strategies for polio eradication work when they are fully implemented. This is clearly demonstrated by India’s success in stopping polio in January 2011, in arguably the most technically-challenging place, and polio-free certification of the entire South-East Asia Region of WHO occurred in March 2014.

Failure to implement strategic approaches, however, leads to ongoing transmission of the virus. Endemic transmission is continuing in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Failure to stop polio in these last remaining areas could result in as many as 200 000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world.

Recognizing both the epidemiological opportunity and the significant risks of potential failure, the “Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan” was developed, in consultation with polio-affected countries, stakeholders, donors, partners and national and international advisory bodies. The new Plan was presented at a Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, at the end of April 2013. It is the first plan to eradicate all types of polio disease simultaneously – both due to wild poliovirus and due to vaccine-derived polioviruses.

Future benefits of polio eradication

Once polio is eradicated, the world can celebrate the delivery of a major global public good that will benefit all people equally, no matter where they live. Economic modelling has found that the eradication of polio would save at least US$ 40–50 billion, mostly in low-income countries. Most importantly, success will mean that no child will ever again suffer the terrible effects of lifelong polio-paralysis.


WHO: 1 million new STIs diagnosed each day

WHO

6 June 2019

News release
Geneva, Switzerland

Every day, there are more than 1 million new cases of curable sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among people aged 15-49 years, according to data released today by the World Health Organization. This amounts to more than 376 million new cases annually of four infections – chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, and syphilis.

“We’re seeing a concerning lack of progress in stopping the spread of sexually transmitted infections worldwide,” said Dr Peter Salama, Executive Director for Universal Health Coverage and the Life-Course at WHO. “This is a wake-up call for a concerted effort to ensure everyone, everywhere can access the services they need to prevent and treat these debilitating diseases.”

Published online by the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, the research shows that among men and women aged 15–49 years, there were 127 million new cases of chlamydia in 2016, 87 million of gonorrhoea, 6.3 million of syphilis and 156 million of trichomoniasis.

These STIs have a profound impact on the health of adults and children worldwide. If untreated, they can lead to serious and chronic health effects that include neurological and cardiovascular disease, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirths, and increased risk of HIV. They are also associated with significant levels of stigma and domestic violence.

Syphilis alone caused an estimated 200 000 stillbirths and newborn deaths in 2016, making it one of the leading causes of baby loss globally.

About the four STIs

    • Trichomoniasis (or “trich”) is the most common curable STI globally. It is caused by infection by a parasite during sexual intercourse. Chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea are bacterial infections.
    • Symptoms of an STI can include genital lesions, urethral or vaginal discharge, pain when urinating and, in women, bleeding between periods. However, most cases are asymptomatic, meaning people may not be aware they have an infection prior to testing.
    • Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are major causes of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility in women. In its later stages, syphilis can cause serious cardiovascular and neurological disease. All four diseases are associated with an increased risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV.
  • Transmission of these diseases during pregnancy can lead to serious consequences for babies including stillbirth, neonatal death, low birth-weight and prematurity, sepsis, blindness, pneumonia, and congenital deformities.

 


The first UN World Food Safety Day to be marked on Friday 7 June

WHO

The first ever celebration of the United Nations World Food Safety Day, to be marked globally on 7 June, aims to strengthen efforts to ensure that the food we eat is safe.

Every year, nearly one in ten people in the world (an estimated 600 million people) fall ill and 420,000 die after eating food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances. Unsafe food also hinders development in many low- and middle-income economies, which lose around US$ 95 billion in productivity associated with illness, disability, and premature death suffered by workers.

World Food Safety Day 2019’s theme is that food safety is everyone’s business. Food safety contributes to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development.

The UN has designated two of its agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to lead efforts in promoting food safety around the world.

FAO and WHO are joining forces to assist countries to prevent, manage and respond to risks along the food supply chain, working with food producers and vendors, regulatory authorities and civil society stakeholders, whether the food is domestically produced or imported.

“Whether you are a farmer, farm supplier, food processor, transporter, marketer or consumer, food safety is your business,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said. “There is no food security without food safety,” he said.

“Unsafe food kills an estimated 420,000 people every year. These deaths are entirely preventable,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “World Food Safety Day is a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers of unsafe food with governments, producers, handlers and consumers. From farm to plate, we all have a role to play in making food safe.”

Investing in sustainable food systems pays off

FAO and WHO underline the importance of everyone’s access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food, and that safe food is critical to promoting health and ending hunger, two of the primary aims of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Safe food allows for suitable intake of nutrients and contributes to a healthy life. Safe food production improves sustainability by enabling market access and productivity, which drives economic development and poverty alleviation, especially in rural areas.

Investment in consumer food safety education has the potential to reduce foodborne disease and return savings of up to $10 for each dollar invested.

Get involved in World Food Safety Day

Activities around the world for World Food Safety Day aim to inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne health risks.

The right actions along the food supply chain, from farmers to consumers, as well as good governance and regulations, are essential to food safety.

FAO and WHO have created a new guide to show how everyone can get involved. The guide includes five steps to make a sustained difference to food safety:

  1. Ensure it’s safe. Governments must ensure safe and nutritious food for all.
  2. Grow it safe.  Agriculture and food producers need to adopt good practices.
  3. Keep it safe. Business operators must make sure food is safely transported, stored and prepared.
    1. Check it’s safe. Consumers need access to timely, clear and reliable information about the nutritional and disease risks associated with their food choices.
    2. Team up for safety. Governments, regional economic bodies, UN organizations, development agencies, trade organizations, consumer and producer groups, academic and research institutions and private sector entities must work together on food safety issues.

    Starting in 2019, every 7 June will be a time to highlight the benefits of safe food. World Food Safety Day was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018. The process was initiated in 2016 by Costa Rica through the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which is managed by FAO and WHO.


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