World Health Organization

International community rallies to support open research and science to fight COVID-19

WHO news - Fri, 05/29/2020 - 19:24
WHO and Costa Rica launch landmark COVID-19 Technology Access Pool

Thirty countries and multiple international partners and institutions have signed up to support the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) an initiative aimed at making vaccines, tests, treatments and other health technologies to fight COVID-19 accessible to all.

The Pool was first proposed in March by President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica, who joined WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today at the official launch of the initiative. 

“The COVID-19 Technology Access Pool will ensure the latest and best science benefits all of humanity,” said President Alvarado of Costa Rica. “Vaccines, tests, diagnostics, treatments and other key tools in the coronavirus response must be made universally available as global public goods”. 

“Global solidarity and collaboration are essential to overcoming COVID-19,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Based on strong science and open collaboration, this information-sharing platform will help provide equitable access to life-saving technologies around the world.” 

The COVID-19 (Technology) Access Pool will be voluntary and based on social solidarity. It will provide a one-stop shop for scientific knowledge, data and intellectual property to be shared equitably by the global community. 

The aim is to accelerate the discovery of vaccines, medicines and other technologies through open-science research, and to fast-track product development by mobilizing additional manufacturing capacity. This will help ensure faster and more equitable access to existing and new COVID-19 health products. 

There are five key elements to the initiative:

  • Public disclosure of gene sequences and data;
  • Transparency around the publication of all clinical trial results;
  • Governments and other funders are encouraged to include clauses in funding agreements with pharmaceutical companies and other innovators about equitable distribution, affordability and the publication of trial data;
  • Licensing any potential treatment, diagnostic, vaccine or other health technology to the Medicines Patent Pool - a United Nations-backed public health body that works to increase access to, and facilitate the development of, life-saving medicines for low- and middle-income countries.
  • Promotion of open innovation models and technology transfer that increase local manufacturing and supply capacity, including through joining the Open Covid Pledge and the Technology Access Partnership (TAP).

With supportive countries across the globe, C-TAP will serve as a sister initiative to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and other initiatives to support efforts to fight COVID-19 worldwide.

WHO, Costa Rica and all the co-sponsor countries have also issued a “Solidarity Call to Action” asking relevant stakeholders to join and support the initiative, with recommended actions for key groups, such as governments, research and development funders, researchers, industry and civil society.

WHO and Costa Rica co-hosted today’s launch event, which began with a high-level session addressed by the WHO Director-General and President Alvarado in addition to Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados and Aksel Jacobsen, State Secretary, Norway. There were video statements by President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador; President Thomas Esang Remengesau Jr., of Palau; President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador; , Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; and Retno Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs for Indonesia. Leaders from across the UN, academia, industry and civil society joined for a moderated discussion.

To date, the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool is now supported by the following countries: Argentina, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Honduras, Indonesia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Mozambique, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, South Africa, Sri Lanka,Sudan, The Netherlands, Timor-Leste, Uruguay, Zimbabwe

Other international organizations, partners and experts have also expressed support to the initiative and others can join them using the website.

Note to Editors:

The Solidarity Call to Action follows from numerous international commitments, including: Global Sustainable Development Goal 3, target 3b;  The WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPA- PHI) and the WHO Roadmap for access to medicines, vaccines and health products 2019-2023; the UN General Assembly Resolution on “International cooperation to ensure global access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment to face COVID-19” (A/RES/74/274); and the 73rd World Health Assembly Resolution on the “COVID-19 response” (WHA73.1).

To access the event: https://who.zoom.us/j/99683467690 - Password: WHO%OMS27

Stop tobacco industry exploitation of children and young people

WHO news - Fri, 05/29/2020 - 07:05

The World Health Organization is today launching a new kit for school students aged 13-17 to alert them to the tobacco industry tactics used to hook them to addictive products. Every year the tobacco industry invests more than USD 9 billion to advertise its products. Increasingly, it is targeting young people with nicotine and tobacco products in a bid to replace the 8 million people that its products kill every year.

This year’s WHO’s World No Tobacco Day campaign focuses on protecting children and young people from exploitation by the tobacco and related industry. The toolkit has a set of classroom activities including one that puts the students in the shoes of the tobacco industry to make them aware of how the industry tries to manipulate them into using deadly products. It also includes an educational video, myth-buster quiz, and homework assignments.

The toolkit exposes tactics such as parties and concerts hosted by the tobacco and related industries, e-cigarette flavours that attract youth like bubble-gum and candy, e-cigarette representatives presenting in schools, and product placement in popular youth  streaming shows.  

Even during a global pandemic, the tobacco and nicotine industry persist by pushing products that limit people’s ability to fight coronavirus and recover from the disease. The industry has offered free branded masks and delivery to your door during quarantine and has lobbied for their products to be listed as ‘essential’.

Smoking suffocates the lungs and other organs, starving them of the oxygen they need to develop and function properly. “Educating youth is vital because nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start before age 18. We want to provide young people with the knowledge to speak out against tobacco industry manipulation,” said Ruediger Krech, Director for Health Promotion at WHO.

Over 40 million young people aged 13-15 have already started to use tobacco. To reach more young people WHO also launched a TikTok dance challenge and welcomed social media partners like Pinterest, Tinder, YouTube and TikTok to amplify messaging.

WHO calls on all sectors to help stop marketing tactics of tobacco and related industries that prey on children and young people:

  • Schools refuse any form of sponsorship and prohibit representatives from nicotine and tobacco companies from speaking to students
  • Celebrities and influencers reject all offers of sponsorship
  • Television and streaming services stop showing tobacco or e-cigarette use on screen
  • Social media platforms ban the marketing of tobacco and related products and prohibit influencer marketing
  • Government and financial sector divest from tobacco and related industries
  • Governments ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

Countries can protect children from industry exploitation by putting in place strict tobacco control laws, including regulating products like e-cigarettes that have already begun to hook a new generation of young people.

 

Menstrual hygiene and health - a call for dignity, rights and empowerment

Maternal, newborn and child health - Thu, 05/28/2020 - 07:20
Authors: Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, PMNCH Board Chair and former Prime Minister of New Zealand; and Mr. Elhadj As Sy, Chair of the Board of the Kofi Annan Foundation and Chair, Advisory Group of the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund/WSSCC
First published in The Guardian

We stand as advocates for addressing women’s issues. Because gender equity is so closely linked to health, we also see the achievement of universal health coverage - the need for which has only been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic - as a global priority. We therefore take the opportunity of Menstrual Hygiene Day – 28 May – to highlight an unacceptable crisis: girls’ and women’s health issues with regards to stigma, taboo and lack of knowledge about menstruation, and unmet needs for essential health interventions and access to sanitation and hygiene systems.

Women leaders take action for women and children during COVID-19

Maternal, newborn and child health - Thu, 05/28/2020 - 07:20
Women leaders from countries ranging from Estonia, New Zealand, Senegal and Costa Rica (full list below) convened to take action to protect some of the most vulnerable communities around the world in the context of COVID-19 and highlight the unique role of women and adolescents in responding to the pandemic. Meeting at a high-level roundtable event organized by Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) alongside The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) and Women Deliver, the leaders agreed that the pandemic represents an unprecedented threat to the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents worldwide that must be addressed by targeted policy and resource allocation.

“COVID-19 is not the great leveller, but rather the great amplifier of inequality. That gives us a clear duty to protect the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, and to address the root causes of inequality. We must act now – while the storm is raging – or be ashamed by the number of lives swept away on our watch,” said Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Board Chair of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, in an OpEd published ahead of the event, co-authored by H.E. Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia and Co-Chair of the High-Level Steering Group for Every Woman Every Child; Jorge Alcocer Varela is Mexico's Secretary of Health; and Graca Machel the founder of the Graca Machel Trust.

COVID-19 intensifies the urgency to expand sustainable energy solutions worldwide

WHO news - Thu, 05/28/2020 - 07:01
Despite accelerated progress over the past decade, the world will fall short of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy by 2030 unless efforts are scaled up significantly, reveals the new Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report released today by the International Energy Agency (IEA) the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Ebola virus disease – Democratic Republic of the Congo

Disease outbreak news - Thu, 05/28/2020 - 03:00
From 20 to 26 May 2020, no new cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Figure 1).

WHO Foundation Established to Support Critical Global Health Needs

WHO news - Wed, 05/27/2020 - 21:46

The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes the creation of the WHO Foundation, an independent grant-making entity, that will support the Organization’s efforts to address the most pressing global health challenges.

Headquartered in Geneva, the Foundation will support global public health needs by providing funds to WHO and trusted implementing partners to deliver on the Organization’s “triple billion” goals. Featured in WHO’s five-year strategic plan, these goals aim to: protect 1 billion people from health emergencies; extend universal health coverage to 1 billion people; and assure healthy lives and wellbeing to 1 billion people by 2023.

The Foundation which is legally separate from WHO, will facilitate contributions from the general public, individual major donors and corporate partners to WHO and trusted partners to deliver on high-impact programmes. Its goal is to help broaden WHO’s donor base and work towards more sustainable and predictable funding.  The WHO Foundation will simplify the processing of philanthropic contributions in support of WHO and make such contributions possible on all aspects of health and WHO’s mission.

“An important part of WHO's future success is broadening its donor base and increasing both the quantity and quality of funds at its disposal," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "The creation of the WHO Foundation, as part of WHO's transformation, is an important step towards this goal, and towards achieving our mission to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.”

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of more than two years of preparation and hard work by countless individuals and partner organizations. I would like to thank Professor Thomas Zeltner for spearheading this incredible adventure and founding the organization.”

“The work of the WHO is vital for both safeguarding and promoting global health – a role that has become all the more crucial in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO’s achievements and contributions to global health and the wellbeing of humanity are tremendous, but we cannot take those accomplishments for granted. The WHO deserves a strong, independent, external advocate who can support and strengthen its impact. I am proud to lead these efforts and to create this missing piece in global health by establishing the WHO Foundation,” said Professor Thomas Zeltner, Founder of the WHO Foundation and former Secretary of Health of Switzerland and Director-General of the Swiss National Health Authority.

Established under the laws of Switzerland, the Foundation has benefitted from the guidance of an Advisory Group that has included experts in global health, philanthropy, ethics, and finance.  The Foundation’s Board will now assume all governance responsibilities and will review all strategic decisions and serve as the highest decision-making body of the Foundation. Founding Board Members are: Mr. Bob Carter, Ms. Clare Akamanzi and Professor Thomas Zeltner.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO Foundation will initially focus on emergencies and pandemic response, and it will also raise and disburse funds for all WHO global public health priorities in full alignment with the WHO Member State adopted General Programme of Work.

A Call to Action: Get Involved with the WHO Foundation

Global health matters for everyone, everywhere. The WHO Foundation is an exceptional opportunity to shape the future of global health together. Be part of this journey, donate now or engage in a long-term strategic partnership and contact the team at partnerships@whfoundationproject.org.  Online giving is active at www.whofoundationproject.org, and tailored donations can be received by contacting donations@whofoundationproject.org. All donations made to the WHO Foundation are tax-deductible to the extent feasible by relevant national laws.

About WHO

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.

About WHO Foundation

The WHO Foundation is an independent grant-making foundation focused on addressing the most pressing global health challenges of today and tomorrow. By funding high-impact initiatives and advancing strategies of innovation, effectiveness, and rapid response, it will support the global health ecosystem. Headquartered in Geneva and legally independent from the WHO, the Foundation will work responsibly with individual donors, the general public and corporate partners to strengthen health systems globally. Specifically, the WHO Foundation will support global public health needs, from prevention, mental health, and non-communicable diseases to emergency preparedness, outbreak response and health system strengthening.

The World Health Organization, UN Foundation and Illumination partner on health messages

WHO news - Wed, 05/27/2020 - 19:15

The Public Service Announcement Features Illumination's Globally Beloved Gru and the Minions Characters and is Voiced by Steve Carrell

May 27, 2020 – (Geneva, Switzerland) –The World Health Organization, the United Nations Foundation and Illumination have partnered to launch a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that reinforces safe and healthy practices during these challenging times, featuring Illumination’s globally beloved Gru and the Minions. The PSA focuses on lifesaving behaviors to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, including physical distancing, being active at home and remaining kind to each other —all aimed at making sure people of all ages stay safe and healthy during this pandemic.

“At this challenging time, we must find all ways possible to provide hope to people while sharing advice that can protect our health,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “WHO is excited to be working with Illumination and Steve Carell and the joys of the Minions and Gru to promote the importance of physical distancing, keeping active and connected, and being kind and compassionate to overcome COVID-19.”

The PSA is voiced by Academy Award® and Emmy Award® nominee Steve Carrell, who voices the character Gru in the Despicable Me franchise. The PSA will be localized into multiple languages including Spanish, French, Portuguese and Arabic, among others.  

“Storytelling is a powerful tool to accelerate positive social change in the world. It is an honor to partner with the WHO and UN Foundation to remind people around the globe to protect themselves, each other and our communities during this pandemic. I am also appreciative to Participant for helping to organize the collaboration and to my partners at Comcast/NBCU for helping to amplify this important message,” said Illumination Founder and CEO Chris Meledandri.

Illumination is the first Hollywood Studio to partner with the World Health Organization, the UN Foundation and the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to create an entertaining and educational PSA for global audiences. Participant helped facilitate the collaboration between Illumination to the United Nations Foundation and the World Health Organization.

"As the world continues to grapple with the challenges of COVID-19, one of our most powerful weapons is kindness," said Elizabeth Cousens, President & CEO of the United Nations Foundation. "We are delighted that the Despicable Me characters are letting their love show and showing ways to keep themselves and their communities safe during this unprecedented time."

Related content:

Watch the public service announcement: https://youtu.be/DYkIKU_PcBc

About the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization directs and coordinates international health within the United Nations system. Working with its 194 Member States, WHO’s mission is to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. For more information about WHO, visit www.who.int. Follow WHO on Twitter and Facebook

About the UN Foundation

The UN Foundation brings together ideas, people, and resources to help the United Nations drive global progress and tackle urgent problems. Our hallmark is to collaborate for lasting change and innovate to address humanity’s greatest challenges. Learn more at www.unfoundation.org

About the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund

To support the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners in their global work on COVID-19, the UN Foundation helped launch the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund that has raised more than $200 million for lifesaving work around the world.  Learn  more about the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the WHO, powered by the UN Foundation at www.covid19responsefund.org.

About Illumination

Illumination, founded by Academy Award® nominee Chris Meledandri in 2007, is one of the entertainment industry’s leading producers of event-animated films, including Despicable Me, the world’s most successful animated franchise. The company’s iconic and beloved properties, which are infused with memorable and distinct characters, global appeal and cultural relevance, include three of the top-ten animated films of all time.

Media Contacts:

For Illumination:
Sarah Levinson Rothman
Sarah.rothman@ledecompany.com

For the World Health Organization:
Paul Garwood
garwoodp@who.int

For the UN Foundation:
Alexis Krieg
press@unfoundation.org

For the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund:
Rachel Bridges
rbridges@unfoundation.org

Women and children will pay for this pandemic – unless we act

Maternal, newborn and child health - Wed, 05/27/2020 - 07:20
By H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia; Rt Hon. Helen Clark, PMNCH Board Chair, former Prime Minister of New Zealand; H.E. Jorge Alcocer Varela, Secretary of Health of Mexico; and Hon. Graça Machel, PMNCH former Board Chair and Founder of the Graça Machel Trust.

First published on news.trust.org here: https://news.trust.org/item/20200526130612-rofbs

Wherever COVID-19 strikes, it magnifies unfairness and inequality. In every nation and every community touched by the virus, hard-won progress for women, newborns and young people is being reversed.

Countries failing to stop harmful marketing of breast-milk substitutes, warn WHO and UNICEF

WHO news - Wed, 05/27/2020 - 03:01

A new report by WHO, UNICEF, and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) reveals that despite efforts to stop the harmful promotion of breast-milk substitutes, countries are still falling short in protecting parents from misleading information.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for stronger legislation to protect families from false claims about the safety of breast-milk substitutes or aggressive marketing practices. Breastmilk saves children’s lives as it provides antibodies that give babies a healthy boost and protect them against many childhood illnesses.

WHO and UNICEF encourage women to continue to breastfeed during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if they have confirmed or suspected COVID-19. While researchers continue to test breastmilk from mothers with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, current evidence indicate that it is unlikely that COVID-19 would be transmitted through breastfeeding or by giving breastmilk that has been expressed by a mother who is confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19.  The numerous benefits of breastfeeding substantially outweigh the potential risks of illness associated with the virus. It is not safer to give infant formula milk.

Of the 194 countries analysed in the report, 136 have in place some form of legal measure related to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent resolutions adopted by the World Health Assembly (the Code). Attention to the Code is growing, as 44 countries have strengthened their regulations on marketing over the past two years.

However, the legal restrictions in most counties do not fully cover marketing that occurs in health facilities. Only 79 countries prohibit the promotion of breast-milk substitutes in health facilities , and only 51 have provisions that prohibit the distribution of free or low-cost supplies within the health care system.

Only 19 countries have prohibited the sponsorship of scientific and health professional association meetings by manufacturers of breast-milk substitutes, which include infant formula, follow-up formula, and growing up milks marketed for use by infants and children up to 36-months old.

“The aggressive marketing of breast-milk substitutes, especially through health professionals that parents trust for nutrition and health advice, is a major barrier to improving newborn and child health worldwide,” says Dr Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition and Food Safety. “Health care systems must act to boost parent’s confidence in breastfeeding without industry influence so that children don’t miss out on its lifesaving benefits.”

WHO and UNICEF recommend that babies be fed nothing but breast milk for their first 6 months, after which they should continue breastfeeding – as well as eating other nutritious and safe foods – until 2 years of age or beyond.

Breastfeeding under threat as health systems stretched thin

Babies who are exclusively breastfed are 14 times less likely to die than babies who are not breastfed. However, today, only 41% of infants 0–6 months old are exclusively breastfed, a rate WHO Member States have committed to increasing to at least 50% by 2025. Inappropriate marketing of breast-milk substitutes continues to undermine efforts to improve breastfeeding rates and the COVID-19 crisis is intensifying the threat.

Health care services aimed at supporting mothers to breastfeed, including counselling and skilled lactation support are strained as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Infection prevention measures, such as physical distancing make it difficult for community counselling and mother-to-mother support services to continue, leaving an opening for the breast-milk substitute industry to capitalize on the crisis, and diminish confidence in breastfeeding.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, health workers are being diverted to the response and health systems are overstretched. At such time, breastfeeding can protect the lives of millions of children, but new mothers cannot do it without the support of health providers,” said Dr. Victor Aguayo, UNICEF’s Chief of Nutrition. “We must, more than ever, step up efforts to ensure that every mother and family receive the guidance and support they need from a trained health care worker to breastfeed their children, right from birth, everywhere.”

The Code bans all forms of promotion of breast-milk substitutes, including advertising, gifts to health workers and distribution of free samples. Labels cannot make nutritional and health claims or include images that idealize infant formula. Instead, labels must carry messages about the superiority of breastfeeding over formula and the risks of not breastfeeding.

WHO and UNICEF call on governments to urgently strengthen legislation on the Code during the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments and civil society organizations should also not seek or accept donations of breast-milk substitutes in emergency situations.

 “The fear of COVID-19 transmission is eclipsing the importance of breastfeeding – and in too many countries mothers and babies are being separated at birth – making breastfeeding and skin to skin contact difficult if not impossible. All on the basis of no evidence. Meanwhile the baby food industry is exploiting fears of infection, promoting and distributing free formula and misleading advice –  claiming that the donations are humanitarian and that they are trustworthy partners,” says Patti Rundall, of IBFAN’s Global Council. 

Monitoring and enforcement of the Code is inadequate in most countries. The report, "Marketing of breast-milk substitutes: National implementation of the International Code – Status report 2020", provides updated information on the status of country implementation, including which measures have and have not been enacted into law.

Given the important role of health workers in protecting pregnant women, mothers and their infants from inappropriate promotion of breast-milk substitutes, the 2020 report provides an extensive analysis of legal measures taken to prohibit promotion of breast-milk substitutes to health workers and in health facilities.

Breastfeeding and COVID-19

Active COVID-19 virus has not, to date, been detected in the breastmilk of any mother with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. It appears unlikely, therefore, that COVID-19 would be transmitted through breastfeeding or by giving breastmilk that has been expressed by a mother who is confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19.

Women with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 can therefore breastfeed if they wish to do so. They should:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rub and especially before touching the baby;
  • Wear a medical mask during any contact with the baby, including while feeding;
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue. Then dispose of it immediately and wash hands again;
  • Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces after touching them.


Even if mothers do not have a medical mask, they should follow all the other infection prevention measures listed, and continue breastfeeding.

Notes to editors

Download photos and b-roll from UNICEF  and WHO.   Download the report here.

Related links:

FAQs on Breastfeeding and COVID-19

About the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.unicef.org/coronavirus. Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook.

FIFA, European Commission and World Health Organization launch #SafeHome campaign to support those at risk from domestic violence

WHO news - Tue, 05/26/2020 - 18:53
FIFA, WHO, and the European Commission have joined forces, to launch the #SafeHome campaign to support women and children at risk of domestic violence. The campaign is a joint response from the three institutions to the recent spikes in reports of domestic violence as stay-at-home measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have put women and children experiencing abuse at greater risk.

Online: EWEC 2019 progress reporting questionnaire for non-State commitment makers

Maternal, newborn and child health - Mon, 05/25/2020 - 07:20
PMNCH and Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) and Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) Secretariats would like to invite all EWEC non-State commitment makers to provide progress updates on the Every Woman Every Child Commitments Platform portal by 5 June 2020.

This 2020 Progress Questionnaire cycle will cover progress made from the period of September 2015 (or the start of the EWEC commitment) to the end of December 2019. All non-State commitment makers to EWEC and FP2020 with ongoing commitments are encouraged to report on the progress achieved via the EWEC 2019 Commitments Progress Questionnaire form.

Dracunculiasis (Guinea worm disease) – Ethiopia

Disease outbreak news - Mon, 05/25/2020 - 03:00
Between 2 and 8 April 2020, six suspected human cases of dracunculiasis in Duli village, Gog district, Gambella region, Ethiopia, were reported to WHO.

At least 80 million children under one at risk of diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio as COVID-19 disrupts routine vaccination efforts, warn Gavi, WHO and UNICEF

WHO news - Fri, 05/22/2020 - 17:59

 

 

 

COVID 19 is disrupting life-saving immunization services around the world, putting millions of children – in rich and poor countries alike – at risk of diseases like diphtheria, measles and polio. This stark warning comes from the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance ahead of the Global Vaccine Summit on 4 June, at which world leaders will come together to help maintain immunization programmes and mitigate the impact of the pandemic in lower-income countries.  

According to data collected by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Gavi and the Sabin Vaccine Institute, provision of routine immunization services is substantially hindered in at least 68 countries and is likely to affect approximately 80 million children under the age of 1 living in these countries.

Routine immunization of children disrupted

Since March 2020, routine childhood immunization services have been disrupted on a global scale that may be unprecedented since the inception of expanded programs on immunization (EPI) in the 1970s. More than half (53%) of the 129 countries where data were available reported moderate-to-severe disruptions, or a total suspension of vaccination services during March-April 2020. 

“Immunization is one of the most powerful and fundamental disease prevention tools in the history of public health,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Disruption to immunization programmes from the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to unwind decades of progress against vaccine-preventable diseases like measles.”

“At the 4 June Global Vaccine Summit in London, donors will pledge their support to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to sustain and accelerate this lifesaving work in some of the most vulnerable countries. From the bottom of my heart, I urge donors to fully fund the Alliance. These countries, these children especially, need vaccines, and they need Gavi.”

The reasons for disrupted services vary. Some parents are reluctant to leave home because of restrictions on movement, lack of information or because they fear infection with the COVID-19 virus. And many health workers are unavailable because of restrictions on travel, or redeployment to COVID response duties, as well as a lack of protective equipment.

“More children in more countries are now protected against more vaccine-preventable diseases than at any point in history,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, Gavi CEO. “Due to COVID-19 this immense progress is now under threat, risking the resurgence of diseases like measles and polio. Not only will maintaining immunization programmes prevent more outbreaks, it will also ensure we have the infrastructure we need to roll out an eventual COVID-19 vaccine on a global scale.”

Transport delays of vaccines are exacerbating the situation. UNICEF has reported a substantial delay in planned vaccine deliveries due to the lockdown measures and the ensuing decline in commercial flights and limited availability of charters. To help mitigate this, UNICEF is appealing to governments, the private sector, the airline industry, and others, to free up freight space at an affordable cost for these life-saving vaccines. Gavi recently signed an agreement with UNICEF to provide advance funding to cover increased freight costs for delivery of vaccines, in light of the reduced number of commercial flights available for transport. 

“We cannot let our fight against one disease come at the expense of long-term progress in our fight against other diseases,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “We have effective vaccines against measles, polio and cholera. While circumstances may require us to temporarily pause some immunization efforts, these immunizations must restart as soon as possible, or we risk exchanging one deadly outbreak for another.”

Next week, WHO will issue new advice to countries on maintaining essential services during the pandemic, including recommendations on how to provide immunizations safely.

Mass immunization campaigns temporarily disrupted

Many countries have temporarily and justifiably suspended preventive mass vaccination campaigns against diseases like cholera, measles, meningitis, polio, tetanus, typhoid and yellow fever, due to risk of transmission and the need to maintain physical distancing during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Measles and polio vaccination campaigns, in particular, have been badly hit, with measles campaigns suspended in 27 countries and polio campaigns put on hold in 38 countries. At least 24 million people in 21 Gavi-supported lower-income countries are at risk of missing out on vaccines against polio, measles, typhoid, yellow fever, cholera, rotavirus, HPV, meningitis A and rubella due to postponed campaigns and introductions of new vaccines.  

In late March, concerned that mass gatherings for vaccination campaigns would enflame transmission of COVID-19 WHO recommended countries to temporarily suspend preventive campaigns while assessments of risk, and effective measures for reducing COVID virus transmission were established.

WHO has since monitored the situation and has now issued advice to help countries determine how and when to resume mass vaccination campaigns. The guidance notes that countries will need to make specific risk assessments based on the local dynamics of COVID-19 transmission, the health system capacities, and the public health benefit of conducting preventive and outbreak response vaccination campaigns.  

Based on this guidance, and following growing concerns about increasing transmission of polio, the  Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), is advising countries to start planning for the safe resumption of polio vaccination campaigns, especially in polio high-risk countries.

Despite the challenges, several countries are making special efforts to continue immunization. Uganda is ensuring that immunization services continue along with other essential health services, even funding transportation to ensure outreach activities. And in Lao PDR, despite a national lockdown imposed in March, routine immunization in fixed sites continued with physical distancing measures in place.

Notes to editors

Download photos and broll from UNICEF  and WHO. New polio guidance available here.

About the AnalysisVaccination campaigns Total # of  countries with postponed campaigns as of 15 May*Measles/ Measles Rubella/ Measles Mumps Rubella (M/MR/MMR)27Polio (IPV)7Bivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (bOPV)26Monovalent Oral Poliovirus Type 2 (mOPV2)13Meningitis A (MenA)2Yellow Fever (YF)4Typhoid (TCV)2Cholera (OCV)5Tetanus (Td)7

The online immunization pulse survey was conducted with over 800 immunization experts, including representatives of Ministries of Health and global health organizations across 107 countries. 53 of these were lower-income countries supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The data on campaigns is based on data reported to WHO by member states as of 15 May 2020. Data on reasons for the disrupted services also came from regions and a survey on the training platform Scholar with 1600 respondents. 

On 4 June the UK government will host the Global Vaccine Summit, which will aim to raise at least US$ 7.4 billion for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to protect 300 million children in 68 lower-income countries against deadly diseases from 2021-25. This funding will help support the mass vaccination campaigns and rebuilding of health systems needed over the coming years to help address the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership led by national governments with six partners – the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the vaccine alliance. Its goal is to eradicate polio worldwide.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 760 million children – and prevented more than 13 million deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 developing countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines

The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. View the full list of donor governments and other leading organizations that fund Gavi’s work here

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.unicef.org/coronavirus. Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

Results of an updated analysis of trends in human African trypanosomiasis from 2000 to 2018

WHO news - Fri, 05/22/2020 - 16:45
A detailed analysis of human African trypanosomiasis data systematically collected by WHO in the years 2000-2018 in the HAT Atlas was published in PloS NTDs showing the updated picture of the elimination trends in this disease.

Exciting new results from long-acting PrEP study show it to be effective in preventing HIV acquisition in men who have sex with men and transgender women

WHO news - Fri, 05/22/2020 - 16:35
The HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN 083) study on the safety and efficacy of the long-acting injectable antiretroviral drug cabotegravir (CAB LA), for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in HIV-uninfected cisgender men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men, was stopped early by the trial Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) as results showed CAB LA to be highly effective in preventing HIV acquisition.

World No Tobacco Day 2020 awards - the winners

WHO news - Fri, 05/22/2020 - 10:00
World No Tobacco Day 2020 awards - the winners

Smithsonian Science Education Center With Support of the World Health Organization Launches New COVID-19 Guide for Youth

WHO news - Thu, 05/21/2020 - 15:01

The Smithsonian Science Education Center, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP)—a partnership of 140 national academies of science, engineering and medicine—has developed “COVID-19! How can I protect myself and others?,” a new rapid-response guide for youth ages 8–17. The guide, which is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, aims to help young people understand the science and social science of COVID-19 as well as help them take actions to keep themselves, their families and communities safe.

Through a set of seven cohesive student-led tasks, participants engage in the activities to answer questions previously defined by their peers. The questions explore the impact of COVID-19 on the world, how to practice hand and respiratory hygiene and physical distancing, and how to research more information about COVID-19. The final task teaches youth how they can take action on the new scientific knowledge they learn to improve their health and the health of others. Each task is designed to be completed at home.

The guide includes updated research, activities, quotes from scientists and frontline public health officials, and physical and emotional safety tips on COVID-19. It also integrates inquiry-based science education with social and emotional learning and civic engagement.

“We are immensely grateful to WHO, the IAP, our colleagues at the Smithsonian and other senior project advisors and translators for their perspectives and technical support in ensuring the science is accurate,” said Carol O’Donnell, director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center. “We are also grateful to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for their support during the development of this module. This work represents the power of collaboration and working closely with others across the globe, even during a time of physical distancing.”

 “Through this project, the Smithsonian Science Education Center makes science exciting and approachable for children and youth all over the world and encourages them to learn by doing” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at WHO. “With all the myths and misconceptions out there, it is important for children and youth to understand the nature of this pandemic and what can be done to prevent future pandemics from happening,”

 “It is so important for children—wherever they are in the world—to develop their scientific understanding and rational thinking,” said Professor Volker ter Meulen, president of IAP. “Only by being able to make rational decisions based on the best science and evidence can any of us adjust our behavior to keep ourselves and our families safe from infections such as COVID-19.”

The Smithsonian Science Education Center will disseminate the information to youth worldwide in collaboration with WHO, IAP, educators, and museum and research center networks. The guide is free, will be available to youth in more than 15 languages, particularly African and Asian languages, and can be found at https://ssec.si.edu/covid-19.

About the Smithsonian Science Education Center

The Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) is transforming K–12 Education Through Science in collaboration with communities across the globe. The SSEC is nationally and internationally recognized for the quality of its programs and its impact on K–12 science education.

About the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019–2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies and provide a further billion people with better health and well-being. For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus, visit www.who.int and follow WHO on TwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedInTikTokPinterestSnapchatYouTube.

About the InterAcademy Partnership

Under the umbrella of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), more than 140 national, regional and global member academies work together to support the vital role of science in seeking evidence-based solutions to the world’s most challenging problems. In particular, IAP harnesses the expertise of the world’s scientific, medical and engineering leaders to advance sound policies, improve public health, promote excellence in science education and achieve other critical development goals. See www.interacademies.org and follow IAP on Twitter https://twitter.com/IAPartnership and YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZl-b7akbFF81bKBZsc8YbQ.

 

WHO and UNHCR join forces to improve health services for refugees, displaced and stateless people

WHO news - Thu, 05/21/2020 - 13:06

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency today signed a new agreement to strengthen and advance public health services for the millions of forcibly displaced people around the world.

The agreement updates and expands an existing 1997 agreement between the two organizations. A key aim this year will be to support ongoing efforts to protect some 70 million forcibly displaced people from COVID-19. Around 26 million of these are refugees, 80 per cent of whom are sheltered in low and middle-income countries with weak health systems. Another 40 million internally displaced people also require assistance.

 For more than 20 years, UNHCR and WHO have worked together worldwide to safeguard the health of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. They have collaborated to provide health services to refugees in every region - from the onset of an emergency and through protracted situations, consistently advocating for the inclusion of refugees and stateless people in the national public health plans of host countries.

Today, the two organizations are working side by side to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that forcibly displaced people can access the health services they need, to keep safe from COVID-19 and other health challenges.

“UNHCR’s long-term partnership with WHO is critical to curb the coronavirus pandemic and other emergencies – day in, day out, it is improving and saving lives of millions of people forced to flee their homes,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi. “Our strengthened partnership will directly benefit refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people, and those who are stateless. It leads to better emergency response and will make the best use of the resources of both our two organizations for public health solutions across all our operations globally.”

"The principle of solidarity and the goal of serving vulnerable people underpin the work of both our organizations," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "We stand side by side in our commitment to protect the health of all people who have been forced to leave their homes and to ensure that they can obtain health services when and where they need them. The ongoing pandemic only highlights the vital importance of working together so we can achieve more."

During Thursday’s signing UNHCR also joined the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The Fund was launched on 13 March and has so far raised $214m to date. The Fund, first-of-its-kind, allows individuals, companies, and organizations all over the world to directly contribute to the global response being led by WHO to help countries prevent, detect and respond to COVID-19.

A $10 million contribution from the Solidarity Response Fund will support UNHCR’s work on urgent needs such as risk communication and community engagement around hygiene practices; provision of hygiene and medical supplies and the establishment of isolation units in countries such as Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, South Sudan and Uganda.The funds will also support innovative global preparedness activities.

“By joining forces with the Solidarity Response Fund, UNHCR can work together on the ground with WHO to better ensure that the preparedness, prevention and public health response measures to COVID-19 are in place and that much-needed aid can reach refugees, displaced people and their host communities,” said Grandi.

For more information on UNHCR's COVID-19 operations

For information about WHO's COVID-19 operations and work on Refugee and Migrant Health

 

Solidarity Response Fund

The Fund was launched at WHO’s request by the UN Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation in mid-March and it is only way for companies and individuals to contribute directly to the work of WHO and partners on the ground, and the fastest way to get resources where they are needed most urgently. More than $100m from the Fund has already been disbursed, ensuring early vital work in the long fight against the pandemic.

 

UNHCR

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We deliver life-saving assistance like shelter, food and water, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality.

UNHCR is taking measures to help respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and prevent further spread. Working together with governments, UNHCR ensures refugees are included in national health response plans and are well-informed on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, have access to soap and clean water, and continue to receive the life-saving aid and assistance they need.

 

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.

For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus, visit www.who.int and follow WHO on TwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedInTikTokPinterestSnapchatYouTube

 

Ebola virus disease – Democratic Republic of the Congo

Disease outbreak news - Thu, 05/21/2020 - 03:00
From 13 to 19 May 2020, no new cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported from North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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