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Statement on the 5th IHR Emergency Committee meeting regarding the international spread of wild poliovirus

WHO News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 19:01
The fifth meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the international spread of wild poliovirus in 2014 - 15 was convened via teleconference by the Director-General on 24 April 2015. The following IHR States Parties submitted an update on the implementation of the Temporary Recommendations since the Committee last met on 17 February 2015: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Committee noted that after nearly one year since the declaration that the international spread of polio constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), strong progress has been made by countries in response to the Temporary Recommendations issued by the Director-General, and that this was a commendable achievement. No cases of wild poliovirus have been reported in Africa for eight months; in 2015, Pakistan and Afghanistan have reported less than half the number of cases that were reported during the same period in 2014; there has been no exportation from Pakistan since October 2014; and the number of persistently missed and inaccessible children is declining in Pakistan. The number of inaccessible children has declined from an estimated 300,000 to 50,000 in Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Pakistan continued to implement the Temporary Recommendations; since November, an average of 370,000 international travellers per month were vaccinated pre-departure at health facilities and points of exit.

WHO/UNHCR issue new guide on mental health in humanitarian emergencies

WHO Emergencies and Disasters - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 07:00
Worldwide close to 80 million people are currently impacted by humanitarian emergencies arising from natural disasters and armed conflicts, such as those in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen, and more recently, Nepal. WHO estimates 5% to 10% of these people suffer from a mental health condition such as depression as a result of the emergency.

People with mental health disorders rarely have access to specialized health workers trained in assessing and managing their conditions. WHO and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have therefore produced a Mental health Gap Action Programme Humanitarian Intervention Guide (mhGAP-HIG), so non-specialist health workers can better identify, assess and manage mental health needs.

WHO/UNHCR issue new guide on mental health in humanitarian emergencies

WHO News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 07:00
Worldwide close to 80 million people are currently impacted by humanitarian emergencies arising from natural disasters and armed conflicts, such as those in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen, and more recently, Nepal. WHO estimates 5% to 10% of these people suffer from a mental health condition such as depression as a result of the emergency.

People with mental health disorders rarely have access to specialized health workers trained in assessing and managing their conditions. WHO and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have therefore produced a Mental health Gap Action Programme Humanitarian Intervention Guide (mhGAP-HIG), so non-specialist health workers can better identify, assess and manage mental health needs.

WHO mobilizes funds for long-term spinal cord treatment after Nepal earthquake

WHO News - Sat, 05/02/2015 - 23:18
When Nepal’s devastating April 25 earthquake hit, Nanda Thami was safe.

The forty-two-year-old resident of Phopa Chaku, a small village in Dolakha district east of Kathmandu, was in an open space, away from the mud-brick structures dotted throughout his village.

WHO issues rapid health assessment on impact of Nepal earthquake

WHO News - Fri, 05/01/2015 - 22:35
A rapid assessment of health-care facilities by WHO and the Ministry of Health and Population in the earthquake-stricken areas has found that hospitals in 4 of the worst-affected districts are completely destroyed or too badly damaged to function. Five other major hospitals, providing important health care in the districts, were found to be functioning but urgently in need of further medical supplies.

Preliminary findings from the assessment, found that while there was a shortage of supplies, sufficient health personnel were available to treat patients arriving in the functioning hospitals.

“WHO staff have been working round the clock to gather this snapshot of the damage inflicted on Nepal’s hospitals and clinics by the earthquake,” according to WHO’s Country Representative for Nepal, Dr Lin Aung. “This information will be a vital tool in guiding the short- to medium-term response by national and international healthcare providers, determining where to move health teams and supplies in the country.”

Teams visited 21 hospitals in 12 of the districts most severely-impacted by the 25 April earthquake to gather information and found that a total of 17 hospitals were still operational.

Shortage of supplies

Nepal: WHO works with partners to prevent diarrhoeal diseases

WHO Emergencies and Disasters - Fri, 05/01/2015 - 07:40
WHO and partner organizations in Nepal have mobilized further resources including medicine and medical equipment to prevent the possible spread of diarrhoeal diseases among populations affected by the country’s devastating earthquake.

“After an earthquake of this magnitude, the water supply is often damaged and contaminated, increasing the risk that people drinking it could develop diarrhoeal diseases,” says Dr Lin Aung, WHO’s Representative to Nepal. “The crowded living conditions in temporary shelters increase the chance that these types of diseases could spread.”

Nepal: WHO works with partners to prevent diarrhoeal diseases

WHO News - Fri, 05/01/2015 - 07:40
WHO and partner organizations in Nepal have mobilized further resources including medicine and medical equipment to prevent the possible spread of diarrhoeal diseases among populations affected by the country’s devastating earthquake.

“After an earthquake of this magnitude, the water supply is often damaged and contaminated, increasing the risk that people drinking it could develop diarrhoeal diseases,” says Dr Lin Aung, WHO’s Representative to Nepal. “The crowded living conditions in temporary shelters increase the chance that these types of diseases could spread.”

WHO, health partners striving to treat quake survivors in Nepal’s remote regions

WHO Emergencies and Disasters - Thu, 04/30/2015 - 18:40
WHO has stepped up efforts to deliver critical medical relief to populations outside of the Kathmandu valley affected by Saturday’s earthquake, with a major focus on reaching injured people and preventing disease outbreaks.

Coordinating health sector partners in support of Nepal’s government, WHO is striving to reach remote areas beyond the capital, Kathmandu, where road access has been hampered by damage caused by the 25 April earthquake.

WHO, health partners striving to treat quake survivors in Nepal’s remote regions

WHO News - Thu, 04/30/2015 - 18:40
WHO has stepped up efforts to deliver critical medical relief to populations outside of the Kathmandu valley affected by Saturday’s earthquake, with a major focus on reaching injured people and preventing disease outbreaks.

Coordinating health sector partners in support of Nepal’s government, WHO is striving to reach remote areas beyond the capital, Kathmandu, where road access has been hampered by damage caused by the 25 April earthquake.

WHO coordinating the health response to Nepal earthquake; working to prevent spread of disease

WHO News - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:40
Amid ongoing search and rescue operations being carried out in Nepal after Saturday’s devastating earthquake, WHO has taken leadership in coordinating medical relief for affected communities.

According to Dr. Roderico Ofrin, WHO’s Emergency Health Response Manager, the Organization is working closely with Nepal’s government to ensure that medical aid is delivered effectively.

WHO report finds systems to combat antibiotic resistance lacking

WHO News - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:15
A quarter of countries that responded to a WHO survey have national plans to preserve antimicrobial medicines like antibiotics, but many more countries must also step up. A new report, "Worldwide country situation analysis: Response to antimicrobial resistance", which outlines the survey findings, reveals that while much activity is underway and many governments are committed to addressing the problem, there are major gaps in actions needed across all 6 WHO regions to prevent the misuse of antibiotics and reduce spread of antimicrobial resistance.

“This is the single greatest challenge in infectious diseases today,” says Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security. “All types of microbes—including many viruses and parasites—are becoming resistant to medicines. Of particularly urgent concern is the development of bacteria that are progressively less treatable by available antibiotics. This is happening in all parts of the world, so all countries must do their part to tackle this global threat.”

Meningococcal disease - Niger

WHO Disease Outbreak News - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 17:45
Between 1 January and 25 April 2015, the Ministry of Public Health of Niger notified WHO of 1543 suspected cases of meningococcal disease, including 147 deaths. Suspected cases have been reported in seven of Niger’s eight regions. Meningococcal meningitis outbreaks have been confirmed in several areas of Dosso and Niamey regions.

In Dosso region, 282 cases, including 27 deaths have been reported, primarily from Dogon-Doutchi and Gaya districts where several areas have exceeded the epidemic threshold. In Niamey, 944 suspected cases, including 88 deaths, have so far been reported. Three of Niamey’s five districts (Niamey I, II and III, with a total population of over 660 000) have exceeded the epidemic threshold.

WHO sending in more medical supplies and assisting the arrival of foreign medical team support for earthquake-ravaged Nepal

WHO News - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 18:40
WHO is surging additional medical supplies and health workers into the earthquake-affected region to help the Government of Nepal provide rapid medical assistance to the thousands who have been injured in Saturday’s disaster.

“WHO has deployed eight more emergency health kits containing essential medicines, disposables and instruments to cover the health needs of 80 000 people for the next 3 months,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region. “An additional 5 emergency health kits are being flown in along with surgical kits and trauma bags to meet the immediate health needs. There is an urgent need to replenish medical stocks to support the emergency response efforts.”

World Malaria Day: call to close gaps in prevention and treatment to defeat malaria

WHO News - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 18:29
WHO is calling on the global health community to urgently address significant gaps in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria. Despite dramatic declines in malaria cases and deaths since 2000, more than half a million lives are still lost to this preventable disease each year.

At least three quarters of malaria deaths occur in children under 5. Yet in 2013, only about 1 in 5 African children with malaria received effective treatment for the disease, 15 million pregnant women did not receive a single dose of the recommended preventive drugs, and an estimated 278 million people in Africa still live in households without a single insecticide-treated bednet.

WHO Director-General assesses polio situation in Pakistan

WHO Director-General Speeches - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 17:10
Excellencies, ambassadors, distinguished guests, partners in the polio eradication initiative, ladies and gentlemen,

I thank the United Arab Emirates for hosting this event and, above all, for showing such steadfast commitment to polio eradication worldwide, including in Pakistan.

Global vaccination targets ‘off-track’ warns WHO

WHO News - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 23:22
22 April 2015 | GENEVA – Progress towards global vaccination targets for 2015 is far off track with 1 in 5 children still missing out on routine life-saving immunizations that could avert 1.5 million deaths each year from preventable diseases. In the lead-up to World Immunization Week 2015 (24 -30 April), the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for renewed efforts to get progress back on course.

In 2013 nearly 22 million infants missed out on the required three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis-containing vaccines (DTP3), many of them living in the world’s poorest countries. WHO is calling for an end to the unnecessary disability and death caused by failure to vaccinate.

WHO Director-General addresses the place of noncommunicable diseases in strategies and agendas

WHO Director-General Speeches - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 19:15
Ambassadors, invited speakers, experts in public health, representatives of sister UN agencies, professional associations, civil society, and philanthropies, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to this high-level dialogue where you will be discussing the response to noncommunicable diseases as an issue for development cooperation and a route to poverty reduction.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia

WHO Disease Outbreak News - Thu, 04/16/2015 - 15:00
Between 2 and 12 April 2015, the National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notified WHO of 4 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including 2 deaths. Cases are listed by date of reporting, with the most recent case listed first.

The National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also notified WHO of the death of 3 previously reported MERS-CoV cases. The cases were reported in previous DONs on 9 April (cases n. 2, 5) and on 20 March (case n. 14).
Contact tracing of household contacts and healthcare contacts is ongoing for these cases.
Globally, WHO has been notified of 1106 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 421 related deaths.

Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – China

WHO Disease Outbreak News - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 15:00
On 10 April 2015, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified WHO of 20 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A (H7N9) virus, including 4 deaths.

Onset dates ranged from 14 February to 21 March 2015. Cases ranged in age from 32 to 80 years with a mean age of 55 years. Of these 20 cases, 15 (75%) were male. The majority (18 cases, 90%) reported exposure to live poultry. One case is a health care worker, who had also poultry exposure. No clusters were reported. Cases were reported from five provinces: Anhui (3), Fujian (2), Guangdong (4), Shandong (1), and Zhejiang (10).

WHO calls for increased transparency in medical research

WHO News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 18:52
WHO today issued a public statement calling for the disclosure of results from clinical trials for medical products, whatever the result. The move aims to ensure that decisions related to the safety and efficacy of vaccines, drugs and medical devices for use by populations are supported by the best available evidence.

“Our intention is to promote the sharing of scientific knowledge in order to advance public health,” said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation. “It underpins the principal goal of medical research: to serve the betterment of humanity.”

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