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Updated: 2 hours 8 min ago

Every move counts towards better health – says WHO

12 hours 16 min ago

Up to 5 million deaths a year could be averted if the global population was more active. At a time when many people are home bound due to COVID-19, new WHO Guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour, launched today, emphasize that everyone, of all ages and abilities, can be physically active and that every type of movement counts.

The new guidelines recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week for all adults, including people living with chronic conditions or disability, and an average of 60 minutes per day for children and adolescents.

WHO statistics show that one in four adults, and four out of five adolescents, do not get enough physical activity.  Globally this is estimated to cost US$54 billion in direct health care and another US$14 billion to lost productivity.

The guidelines encourage women to maintain regular physical activity throughout pregnancy and post-delivery. They also highlight the valuable health benefits of physical activity for people living with disabilities.

Older adults (aged 65 years or older) are advised to add activities which emphasize balance and coordination, as well as muscle strengthening, to help prevent falls and improve health.

Regular physical activity is key to preventing and helping to manage heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and cancer, as well as reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, reducing cognitive decline, improving memory and boosting brain health.

“Being physically active is critical for health and well-being – it can help to add years to life and life to years,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Every move counts, especially now as we manage the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. We must all move every day – safely and creatively.” 

All physical activity is beneficial and can be done as part of work, sport and leisure or transport (walking, wheeling and cycling), but also through dance, play and everyday household tasks, like gardening and cleaning.

“Physical activity of any type, and any duration can improve health and wellbeing, but more is always better,” said Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion, World Health Organization, “and if you must spend a lot of time sitting still, whether at work or school, you should do more physical activity to counter the harmful effects of sedentary behaviour.”

“These new guidelines highlight how important being active is for our hearts, bodies and minds, and how the favourable outcomes benefit everyone, of all ages and abilities”, said Dr Fiona Bull, Head of the Physical Activity Unit which led the development of the new WHO guidelines.

WHO encourages countries to adopt the global guidelines to develop national health policies in support of the WHO Global action plan on physical activity 2018-2030. The plan was agreed by global health leaders at the 71st World Health Assembly in 2018 to reduce physical inactivity by 15% by 2030.

Update: WHO revision of pain management guidelines

Wed, 11/25/2020 - 14:58


This is an update of the August 2019 information brief on WHO’s revision of the two following guidelines:

  • Ensuring balance in national policies on controlled substances: Guidance for availability and accessibility of controlled medicines (2011)
  • WHO guidelines on the pharmacological treatment of persisting pain in children with medical illnesses (2012)
   WHO guideline on ensuring balanced national policies for access and safe use of controlled medicinesGuideline on the management of chronic pain in childrenGuideline Stage Lead WHO technical unit Access to Medicines and Health Products
  Maternal Newborn Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing
  Planning WHO GRC planning approval received March 2020 January 2020  Scope The proposed scope for this guideline has been developed and is available here.
  The proposed scope for this guideline was developed following the public hearing in which stakeholders expressed their views.
The proposed scope for this guideline has been developed and is available at the following link:
WHO Guideline for the management of chronic pain in children 
   Public hearing A public hearing regarding the scope of the guideline took place on 19 February 2020. The written statements submitted on the guideline have been consolidated and can be found here. A public hearing in relation to the scope of the guideline for the management of chronic pain in children was held on 16th January 2020. Views were expressed on the proposed scope by 49 different stakeholders across the different WHO regions. These included academic groups, NGOs, practitioners and patient representatives.  Appointment of GDG The list of Guideline Development Group members has been confirmed and is available here.
Public comments on the proposed list were accepted until 9th February 2020. The list of Guideline Development Group members for the guideline for the management of chronic pain in children is available here.
Public comments on the proposed list were accepted until 14 January 2020.
   Planning- initial GDG meeting The first GDG meeting was held in June 2020 to finalise the scope of the guideline.
A second GDG meeting is scheduled for 15th December 2020 to prioritise outcomes. The first GDG meeting was held on 24th January 2020 to finalise the scope of the guideline and prioritise outcomes. 
The guideline will answer the following key question: among children with chronic pain (population), would giving pharmacologic, physical, psychological or a combination of these (intervention), compared to standard care or active comparators (comparator), result in change of pain experience, functional disability, health-related quality of life and other critical outcomes (outcomes)?
   Synthesis of evidence WHO Procurement issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from specialist technical experts. A systematic review team has been selected. WHO Procurement issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from specialist technical experts. A systematic review team was selected.
Systematic and comprehensive evidence retrieval and synthesis on the effectiveness, safety and sociocultural acceptability of the possible interventions is being done by the Cochrane Pain, Palliative and Supportive Care (PaPas) group, Cochrane Qualitative Implementation methods Group (QIMG) and the Cochrane Response team. Development Development- GDG meeting A GDG meeting is planned for May 2021 to review the outcomes of the systematic review and evidence synthesis A second meeting of the GDG took place on 14-18 September 2020 wherein they formulated recommendations based on the evidence and other explicit considerations. Editing / peer review External Review Group An External Review Group (ERG) has been appointed for consultation and peer review An External Review Group (ERG) has been appointed for consultation and peer review. Finalisation Expected publication date The final guideline will be submitted to the WHO Guideline Review Committee for final approval.
The guideline is expected to be published Mid 2021 The final guideline was submitted to the WHO Guideline Review Committee on 15 October 2020 and have been approved.
The guideline is expected to be published in December 2020


Interim guidance: Whilst the documents are being updated, countries in need of guidance on pain management can:

Related information briefs:

January Update here.

27 August 2019: WHO revision of pain management guidelines

20 June 2019: Web statement on pain management guidance(https://www.who.int/medicines/areas/quality_safety/guide_on_pain/en/

Document updated on 21 January 2020 with further details on the Policy guideline.

The city of lights glows teal for cervical cancer elimination

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 16:01
Paris, the City of Lights, celebrated the world’s historic commitment to eliminate cervical cancer by illuminating in teal on November 17th

World leaders join forces to fight the accelerating crisis of antimicrobial resistance

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 16:51

The heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the World Health Organization (WHO) today launched the new One Health Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance.

Group members include heads of government, government ministers, leaders from private sector and civil society. The group is co-chaired by their Excellencies Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, and Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh. 

The full list of the members of the One Health Global Leaders Group is available here.

The group will harness the leadership and influence of these world-renowned figures to catalyze global attention and action to preserve antimicrobial medicines and avert the disastrous consequences of antimicrobial resistance.

The Tripartite organizations launched the group during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2020 (18-24 November), as part of their shared call for united action to preserve and protect antimicrobial medicines. The group was created in response to a recommendation from the Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance and supported by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Directors General described the rapid rise of antimicrobial resistance as one of the world’s most urgent threats to human, animal, plant and environmental health – endangering food security, international trade, economic development and undermining progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Antimicrobial resistance also leads to increased health care costs, hospital admissions, treatment failure, severe illness and death. 

Preventing the most severe outcomes of antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance is making many infections harder to treat worldwide. WHO’s latest reporting shows that the world is running out of effective treatments for several common infections.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest health challenges of our time, and we cannot leave it for our children to solve,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Now is the time to forge new, cross-sector partnerships that will protect the medicines we have and revitalize the pipeline for new ones.” 

A common agenda across human, animal and plant health

Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals and agriculture are the main drivers of antimicrobial resistance. Resistant micro-organisms can spread between humans, animals or the environment, and the antimicrobial medicines used to treat various infectious diseases in animals and humans are often the same.

“No single sector can solve this problem alone,” said QU Dongyu, Director-General of FAO. “Collective action is required to address the threat of antimicrobial resistance – across different economic sectors and country borders.”

Elevating political leadership for good governance

The group will provide political leadership to address this critical global challenge.

It will elevate the need to prioritize best practices to address antimicrobial resistance at global, regional, and national levels. And it will advise and advocate for  the development and implementation of polices and legislation to govern the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of quality antimicrobial drugs across all sectors.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a current problem affecting  animal health, human health, and the environment, we need to act today to protect their efficacy,” said Dr Monique Eloit, Director General of OIE. “I am confident that this group will advocate powerfully to implement legislation and mobilize key stakeholders to change antimicrobial use practices to protect our collective health and welfare.”

More information on the work of the Tripartite (FAO/OIE/WHO) is available here.

For more information on World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, visit WHO’s campaign page. A full calendar of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week events can be found here.

Note to Editors:

The Interagency Coordination Group (IACG) on Antimicrobial Resistance was convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations after the UN High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance in 2017 following the request of the 2016 Political Declaration of the High Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance contained in resolution A/RES/71/3. The IACG brought together partners across the UN, international organizations and individuals with expertise across human, animal and plant health, as well as the food, animal feed, trade, development and environment sectors, to formulate a blueprint for the fight against antimicrobial resistance. The Secretariat for the IACG was provided by WHO, with contributions from FAO and OIE. The IACG completed its mandate on 29 April 2019 upon the handover of its report to the UN Secretary-General.

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 goals for 2019-2023 are to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and to provide a further billion people with better health and well-being.

The Food and Agriculture Organization

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Our goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. We believe that everyone can play a part in ending hunger.

The World Organisation for Animal Health

The OIE is the intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide. Founded in 1924, it is recognised as a reference organisation for international standards relating to animal health and zoonoses by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has a total of 182 Member Countries. The OIE maintains permanent relations with international and regional organisations and has Regional and Sub-regional Offices on every continent.

WHO and other stakeholders join forces to accelerate access to effective paediatric HIV and tuberculosis diagnostics and medicines

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 09:50

On World Children’s Day, WHO is pleased to issue a call urging stakeholders to accelerate access to effective paediatric HIV and tuberculosis (TB) diagnostics and medicines.

The Action Plan, which is launched today, has been developed by a wide group of stakeholders under the auspices of the Fifth Vatican High-Level Dialogue on Paediatric HIV and TB in Children Living with HIV which was held earlier this month.     

Children are one of the most disadvantaged populations in the HIV and AIDS and TB response. In 2019, 95 000 AIDS-related deaths occurred in children, two-thirds of those deaths in 21 focus countries. 850 000 children living with HIV were not accessing treatment, 65% of which were aged 5-14 years. These children are also particularly susceptible to co-infection with tuberculosis, a major cause of AIDS-related deaths in this population. In 2019, an estimated 36 000 children who were living with HIV died from TB.

There are several challenges that hamper the rapid development of paediatric formulations, including lack of paediatric data for new drugs, delay in completion of clinical studies, challenges with taste, and slow market uptake among others. In addition, high prices of diagnostic products, limited availability and accessibility to novel technical and case-finding interventions as well as fragmented and delayed regulatory approvals are some of the challenges faced in finding appropriate diagnostics for children. All in all these delay and affect uptake of essential services to diagnose and treat children with HIV and TB.

The plan agreed upon by participants of the High Level Dialogue includes pledges to accelerate development of new pediatric HIV and TB formulations; improved diagnostic devices and assays for children with TB; and lower prices for early infant HIV diagnosis.

Researchers and pharmaceutical companies have committed to continue and expand their collaborations to investigate and develop better medicines for children. Regulators committed to work towards facilitating the regulatory pathways for priority TB and HIV paediatric medicines. Government representatives confirmed their support for advancing widespread availability of new tests and optimal paediatric medicines. Policymakers committed to continue updating their normative work to capture new developments and support prioritization of research and development for medicines and diagnostics. Finally, key donors expressed their commitment by continuing and expanding their investments to support development of better formulations for children.

Organizers of the High-Level Dialogue included WHO and the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric Aids Foundation, in their capacity as co-chairs of the AIDS Free Working Group of the Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free framework, as well as The US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), UNAIDS, representatives of faith-based organizations, and the Stop TB partnership. Participants included leaders of major diagnostic and pharmaceutical companies, multilateral organizations, governments, regulators, faith-based organizations, and services providers for children and adolescents living with HIV and TB.

The 2020 High-Level Dialogue serves as a reminder of the challenges that exist, but also highlights the opportunities we can capitalize on when we work together.  WHO remains committed in working with its partners in ensuring progress towards a Start Free, Stay Free and AIDS Free generation and to reaching the targets as included in the political declaration of the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on TB and the WHO End TB Strategy

"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the power of collaboration and partnership to accelerate action. The WHO Global HIV programme recognizes this Action Plan as the roadmap to reset the speed at which innovations in drugs and diagnostics can lead to child-centered impact. We are proud to commit to developing the norms and standards, policies and research agendas on this pathway to success" said Dr Meg Doherty, Director the WHO Global HIV, Hepatitis and STI Programmes.

Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO's Global TB Programme reaffirmed: "We welcome the action plan and the impetus it will bring to scale up access to tuberculosis diagnostics and medicines for children and adolescents. Any child who dies from TB, HIV, COVID-19 or any infectious disease is one too many. We look forward to convening countries, partners and civil society to ensure rapid implementation of this plan to save young lives."

Joint Statement on Data Protection and Privacy in the COVID-19 Response

Thu, 11/19/2020 - 18:00

The United Nations, IOM, ITU, OCHA, OHCHR, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNOPS, UPU, UN Volunteers, UN Women, WFP and WHO support the adoption of the following joint statement, in line with the UN Personal Data Protection and Privacy Principles  adopted by the UN System Organizations to support its use of data and technology in the COVID-19 response in a way that respects the right to privacy and other human rights and promotes economic and social development.

The COVID-19 pandemic has become a global emergency, with devastating consequences in terms of loss of life and economic decline, and significantly hampering progress toward achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Poor and vulnerable communities are particularly imperiled by this deadly disease and its economic ramifications.

Mounting evidence demonstrates that the collection, use, sharing and further processing of data can help limit the spread of the virus and aid in accelerating the recovery, especially through digital contact tracing. Mobility data derived from people’s usage of mobile phones, emails, banking, social media, postal services, for instance, can assist in monitoring the spread of the virus and support the implementation of the UN System Organizations’ mandated activities.[1]

Such data collection and processing, including for digital contact tracing and general health surveillance, may include the collection of vast amounts of personal and non-personal sensitive data. This could have significant effects beyond the initial crisis response phase, including, if such measures are applied for purposes not directly or specifically related to the COVID-19 response, potentially leading to the infringement of fundamental human rights and freedoms. This concern is especially pressing if some emergency measures introduced to address the pandemic, such as digital contact tracing, are turned into standard practice.

The UN Secretary-General highlighted in his policy brief on human rights and COVID-19 that “Human rights are key in shaping the pandemic response, both for the public health emergency and the broader impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Human rights put people centre-stage. Responses that are shaped by and respect human rights result in better outcomes in beating the pandemic, ensuring healthcare for everyone and preserving human dignity.”

Any data collection, use and processing by UN System Organizations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic should be rooted in human rights and implemented with due regard to applicable international law, data protection and privacy principles, including the UN Personal Data Protection and Privacy Principles. Any measures taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic should also be consistent with the mandates of the respective UN System Organizations and take into account the balancing of relevant rights, including the right to health and life and the right to economic and social development.

Taking into account the UN Personal Data Protection and Privacy Principles, the UN Secretary-General’s policy brief on human rights and COVID-19, and relevant health and humanitarian standards, data collection, use and processing by  UN System Organizations in their operations should, at a minimum:

  • Be lawful, limited in scope and time, and necessary and proportionate to specified and legitimate purposes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Ensure appropriate confidentiality, security, time-bound retention and proper destruction or deletion of data in accordance with the aforementioned purposes;
  • Ensure that any data exchange adheres to applicable international law, data protection and privacy principles, and is evaluated based on proper due diligence and risks assessments;
  • Be subject to any applicable mechanisms and procedures to ensure that measures taken with regard to data use are justified by and in accordance with the aforementioned principles and purposes, and cease as soon as the need for such measures is no longer present; and
  • Be transparent in order to build trust in the deployment of current and future efforts alike.

A coordinated and inclusive global UN-wide response rooted in solidarity is necessary to contain the pandemic and minimize its negative impact across the world. Although the statement is aimed to address the challenges of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it may serve as a precedent for using data to respond to any future crises of a similar scale quickly and while respecting data protection and privacy.

[1] WHO issued “Ethical considerations to guide the use of digital proximity tracking technologies for COVID-19 contact tracing”. More information can be found at https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-2019-nCoV-Ethics_Contact_tracing_apps-2020.1

Learning from history: Sanitation for prosperity

Thu, 11/19/2020 - 03:00
This story accompanies the UNICEF-WHO State of the World's Sanitaton report launched on 19 November 2020. This report, aims to draw attention to the sanitation crisis, bring together lessons from high-achieving countries, and presenting a vision of what is needed to deliver universal access to safe sanitation.

Regulating sanitation services as a public good

Thu, 11/19/2020 - 03:00

Yvonne Magawa (ESAWAS), Batsirai Majuru (WHO), Bisi Agberemi (UNICEF), Jan-Willem Rosenboom

& Alyse Schrecongost (BMGF)

Faecal sludge transport workers in Kenya - UNICEF/UN0348903/Modola

This blog is part of a series for World Toilet Day highlighting issues within the WHO-UNICEF State of the Worlds Sanitation report.  The topic of sanitation regulation is also covered in 'Catalysing Citywide Sanitation For All Through Regulating Service Providers' by IWA's Regulation for Citywide Inclusive Sanitation initiative's advisory and taskforce members - Yvonne Magawa (ESAWAS), Diego Polania (CRA), and Gustavo Saltiel (World Bank).

For too long sanitation, specifically on-site sanitation systems such as septic tanks and pit latrines, have been left in the realm of household responsibility.

The scant investments available for urban sanitation gravitate towards sewered infrastructure, reaching small proportions of large urban areas, primarily wealthier populations.  Urban populations continue to grow rapidly, often in dense settlements with limited basic public services or infrastructure.  Particularly for sanitation, households are forced to make do, covering the costs of basic access for themselves.  The very nature of safe sanitation, however, means that the decisions and priorities of individuals are largely decoupled from what would be required to protect public health, the environment, and reach the poorest. Services for safely containing, emptying, transporting and treating human waste, and preventing pits and septic tanks from contaminating groundwater and open drains are needed, but without regulation, investments will not prioritize public health outcomes.

This situation is both unfair to the households and ineffective in achieving a primary purpose of sanitation: protecting public health.  Sanitation is fundamentally a public good.  Individuals’ decisions maximize their own best interest – they do not necessarily serve the best interests of society at large.

Investments in sanitation need to be planned, regulated and financed to align the priorities of individual households with those of service providers.  This alignment is required to address the broader social goals of public health protection, cleaner environments, and stronger economies.  Among the countries that have made extraordinary gains in a generation, a common factor among them has been strong political leadership that clarified public goals, gave clear mandates to the responsible authorities to achieve those goals, regulated authorities’ delivery of services, and mobilized the corresponding investments needed.

Where utilities manage sewers, generally those utilities have a defined, public service-oriented mandate, performance accountability, and financing strategies.  Over two thirds of countries have environmental standards for wastewater treatment.

Beyond sewered areas, urban sanitation remains a public good, but it is largely delivered by unorganized and unregulated private or informal actors.  Few countries have standards for faecal sludge treatment or safe reuse of wastewater or sludge.  Individual providers of emptying and transport services may or may not be subject to a smattering of on-paper regulatory codes or standards.  Where standards exist, they are almost universally decoupled from efforts to monitor, incentivize or enforce compliance.  As a result, less than a third of mandated oversight agencies are able to carry out the basic functions of monitoring and enforcement.

Robust regulatory systems can address the market failures of urban sanitation to protect public health and incentivize delivery of safe, inclusive, and viable services.  We highlight three issues critical to pursuit of this outcome that merit case studies, discussion, and sector learning and evolution.

First, regulations can help to better link sanitation services to public health protections.  Simple statement but not a simple task. Regulation of sanitation services has long lagged behind that of water services: only 1 in 5 countries have any indicators for sanitation service quality.  If sanitation services are to protect public health, then public health-aligned guidance and oversight must become the expected norm in all countries, for sewered and non-sewered sanitation systems alike.  Health outcomes must be designed into simple, transparent and effective by-laws, codes and standards; actionable and funded monitoring and enforcement systems are required to make those standards meaningful.  To achieve this, systems must be designed in collaboration with public health authorities.  Public health risk assessment and risk management priorities must underpin product and service standards along the full sanitation service chain.  This includes measures to address the specific health risks, stigma and marginalization faced by sanitation workers in unregulated settings.

Second, as with public health regulation, the focus of economic and performance regulation of sanitation services must be on safe, inclusive services, irrespective of the infrastructure used.  Failure to focus mandates and regulatory frameworks on service outcomes instead of infrastructure inputs exacerbates systemic inequity and exclusion. In most cases, providers of non-sewered products and services remain unregulated and unorganized retail actors.  They deliver services with wide variability in price and quality, with little accountability for the quality of their service to households or for public health. Market structuring – particularly economic and performance regulation of services – is required if public or private providers are to be incentivized to protect public health, to reach low income communities, and to mobilize investment and innovation.  Economic regulatory tools can help align customer inclusion and affordability goals with providers’ financial interests.

Finally, if the public sector is well-structured and regulated, it can increase business opportunity, available finance, and incentivize investment in innovation to meet health and inclusivity goals.  Recognizing sanitation as a public good does not imply that the public sector has sole responsibility for delivering public services.  Indeed, without structuring sanitation as a public service, opportunities for private sector engagement are more restricted, higher risk, less effective, less profitable, and less aligned with the public good.  Tools and business models that align public, customer, and provider interests have not always been clear, but promising innovations are emerging in urban markets in Kenya, Malaysia, Zambia, and other countries.  In these areas, regulators are insisting on improved sector outcomes.  They are also supporting utilities and the private sector to learn and grow as the sector transforms and more is expected of everyone.

Significant challenges remain.  In many countries sanitation is entirely managed by municipalities.  Municipal service systems tend to be subject to individuals’ short term political interests, missing accountability mechanisms, and with limited flexibility to generate or ringfence revenue effectively. Treatment compliance or the relationship between customer-based revenue mechanisms and service quality can be opaque.

We have good reason to believe that well-designed regulatory systems can accelerate global progress toward SDG 6.2 and 6.3, and improve public health.  The WHO Guidelines on Sanitation and Health provide a useful point of departure in addressing public health criteria in sanitation regulations, and articulating the role of the health sector in sanitation authorities’ service provision.

In addition, a new publication – the WHO-UNICEF State of the Worlds Sanitation – launching today draws attention to the role of regulators in solving the sanitation crisis.  The report brings together lessons from high-achieving countries, and presents a vision of what is needed to deliver universal access to safe sanitation.  It calls for urgent action around five areas: governance; financing; capacity development; data; and innovation, and highlights leadership, effective coordination and regulation as effective pathways for achieving safe sanitation for all.  Building on the directions outlined in the report, WHO and other partners working with regulators’ networks such as the East and Southern Africa Water and Sanitation (ESAWAS) Regulators Association and the WHO International Network of Drinking-water and Sanitation Regulators (RegNet), will work to create concrete and contextualized changes in regulation of sanitation services that can inform future updates of the report.





HIV drug resistance: World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2020

Wed, 11/18/2020 - 18:20
Over the past decade, the world has witnessed unprecedented scale-up of antiretroviral therapy, which has saved the lives of tens of millions of people. An increased use of HIV medicines has been accompanied by the emergence of HIV drug resistance, which has also steadily increased in recent years.

Your Right To A Better World

Wed, 11/18/2020 - 13:00


Health is a human right, and tactics learned from the human rights movement can help ensure every person access to the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. 

WHO, HRP and partners present a new documentary series about the power of people to change the world. 

Every individual on the planet has the right to the highest standard of health and well-being in all aspects of their sexuality, their body and their reproductive choices – but there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy for making this a reality.  

Right To A Better World is a documentary video series produced by WHO and HRP, in partnership with UN Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Oxford Human Rights Hub (OxHRH). It explores how tactics developed by the human rights movement can be used to achieve sexual and reproductive health rights, and drive meaningful progress towards the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

A human rights-based approach to health is essential to achieving my top priority as DG – universal health coverage,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, when he signed the 2017 WHO-OHCHR Framework of Cooperation.  

Right To A Better World builds on this major milestone for health and human rights, affirming that rights holders and their experiences belong at the centre of every discussion and decision affecting them. 

“The achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development hinges on the realization of human rights, which necessitates action across sectors and disciplines,” said Veronica Birga, Chief of Women's Human Rights and Gender Section of UN Human Rights. “The lessons in this series created through a multi-disciplinary partnership are invaluable and make it clear that securing rights for all, is not only the right way, but the smart way to achieve truly sustainable development.” 

There are four 20-minute thematic episodes in Right To A Better World, all free to access:  contraceptioncomprehensive sexuality education  maternal mortality and morbidity , and violence against women .   

“This powerful series creates a unique synergy between academic and practical human rights approaches, vividly demonstrating the key role human rights can play when advocating for sexual and reproductive health rights in political, legal, and international forums,” said Professor Sandra Fredman, Director of OxHRH. 

“The “Right to a Better World” series bridge the communicative divide between health and human rights practitioners, throwing the spotlight on the importance of addressing not only health outcomes but the underlying gender inequalities, stereotypes and structures,” adds Dr Meghan Campbell, Deputy Director at OxHRH. 

Although health outcomes and the achievement of rights have improved for many across these core components of sexual and reproductive health, progress overall remains fragile and uneven.   

In each episode across the series, experts in health and human rights share their professional struggles and successes working on the frontline of communities worldwide. As advocates and activists, they represent a broad range of professional fields, ages, levels and backgrounds.  

The episodes can be watched at home, in groups and in classroom settings. Viewers are encouraged to learn from the experiences shared, and consider how tactics could be adapted to their own contexts.  

Human rights are the key to ensuring every person has access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, and WHO and HRP are committed to mainstreaming human rights into health policies and programmes. Our partnership with UN Human Rights and OxHRH affirms that in the changing landscape of sexual and reproductive health, human rights must be heard as loudly as clinical and scientific research,” said Ian Askew, Director of the WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research including HRP.  

Join the conversation at #RightToABetterWorld.  


Right To A Better World VIDEOS 

Comprehensive sexuality education (episode 1 of 4) 

Building support and understanding of every young person’s right to education, health and well-being, in an inclusive and gender equal society. 

 Contraception (episode 2 of 4) 

Ensuring each woman's and adolescent’s right to make decisions about their reproductive health and future.

 Maternal mortality and morbidity (episode 3 of 4) 

Ensuring every woman's and adolescent’s right to not only survive pregnancy and childbirth, but have a positive experience of this profound life event. 


Violence against women (episode 4 of 4) 

Building a world in which women and girls are free from all forms of violence and discrimination.


WHO launches new roadmap on human resource strategies to ensure that all newborns survive and thrive

Wed, 11/18/2020 - 09:21

Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm – before 37 weeks of pregnancy. That is more than 1 in 10 live births. Approximately 1 million children die each year worldwide due to complications from their early birth. Those that survive often face a lifetime of ill-health including disability, learning difficulties, and visual and hearing problems.

Half of the babies born at or below 32 weeks (2 months early) die in low-income settings, due to a lack of feasible, cost-effective care, such as warmth, breastfeeding support, and basic care for infections and breathing difficulties. In high-income countries, almost all these babies survive.

Today, on World Prematurity Day, WHO launched a new Roadmap on human resource strategies to improve newborn care in health facilities in low- and middle-income countries, aimed at improving quality of care for newborns, including small and sick babies, and supporting countries to achieve the SDG target to reduce neonatal mortality to less than 12 per 1000 live births by 2030.

As the COVID-19 pandemic overburdens already weak health systems in many countries, it is expected to increase the number of newborn deaths, particularly among babies born too soon. Disrupted essential health services, like family planning or antenatal check-ups, will leave women more at risk of preterm birth and vulnerable infants without the services they need.

“We have the power to prevent, diagnose and treat preterm birth, and save babies lives, if we invest in competent and specialized nurses and health workers to care for them,” Dr Anshu Banerjee, WHO Director for the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing. “As more pregnant women give birth in health facilities, we must also strengthen our health workforce to provide a positive pregnancy experience for each of them.”

Survival and health outcomes of preterm newborns can be enhanced by increasing access to interventions provided to the mother shortly before or during birth as well as interventions for the newborn baby. However, the highest burden of preterm birth, death and disability is concentrated in low- and middle-income countries, where competent and specialized health workers are in short supply.  

Of the 30 million newborns who require inpatient care every year, approximately half do not have access to neonatal care services and those who have access often receive care of suboptimal quality. Skilled birth attendants, including medical doctors and midwives, are critical to the provision of high-quality newborn care and to improving newborn outcomes, not only at the time of birth and for routine postnatal care but also in health facilities to which mothers and newborns with complications are referred.

The new WHO roadmap consists of 10 strategies to guide countries in developing their policies to improve the number and competence of health workers to deliver high-quality essential care for all newborns and specialized care for small and sick newborns. It also aims to fill the gap in the numbers of health workers with specialized neonatal skills in low- and middle-income countries required to provide high-quality inpatient care for small and sick newborns.

Over the past three decades countries that have invested in their nursing and midwifery workforces have achieved sustained reductions in maternal and newborn mortality. With continued investments in universal access to high-quality newborn care an estimated 1.7 million newborns could be saved each year. Almost half of the effect would result from providing special and intensive hospital care for preterm, low-birth-weight or sick newborns.

Link to new roadmap 


Over US$ 2 billion raised to support equitable access to COVID vaccines with additional US$ 5 billion needed in 2021

Wed, 11/18/2020 - 07:00
The European Commission, France, Spain, The Republic of Korea and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledge US$ 360 million to Gavi’s COVID-19 Vaccines Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC) Latest announcements mean over US$ 2 billion has been raised towards the effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for low- and middle-income economies, with at least US$ 5 billion more needed in 2021 The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has also pledged an additional US$ 20 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to support COVID-19 vaccine research and development

WHO-commissioned global systematic review finds high HCV prevalence and incidence among men who have sex with men

Wed, 11/18/2020 - 00:45
WHO commissioned this systematic review and meta-analysis to summarise the global evidence on the prevalence and incidence of HCV infection among men who have sex with men and to examine associations with HIV and injecting drug use. The results are presented in this paper.

WHO launches assistive technology capacity assessment (ATA-C)

Tue, 11/17/2020 - 22:53

WHO has developed the assistive technology capacity assessment (ATA-C) tool, a system-level tool to evaluate a country’s capacity to finance, regulate, procure and provide assistive technology. The ATA-C tool enables countries to better understand the current status and identify key actions to improve access to assistive technology: it can be used for awareness raising, policy and programme design and ongoing monitoring and evaluation. The ATA-C implementation process can also serve to bring diverse stakeholders together and build momentum for action.

The tool was developed by WHO, in collaboration with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and with support of many other in-country partners. Its development has been informed by implementation in Bahrain, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iraq, Liberia, Malawi, Mongolia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Uganda and Viet Nam. The tool development and country assessments were funded by UK aid under the AT2030 programme led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub, with contributions from the United States Agency for International Development.

To access the tool and supporting documents, WHO has created a dedicated portal. Through this portal, WHO will provide technical support and facilitate coordination and connections between the diverse stakeholders in countries. Click here to access the ATA-C portal.

The ATA-C is part of the WHO Assistive Technology Assessment (ATA) Toolkit, helping countries to collect effective and relevant data on assistive technology. For more information on the toolkit, visit the ATA Toolkit webpage.

WHA resolution calls for integrated action on epilepsy and other neurological disorders

Tue, 11/17/2020 - 18:03
At the 73th Session of the World Health Assembly, Member States endorsed a resolution calling for scaled-up and integrated action on epilepsy and other neurological disorders and asked that a global action plan be developed for consideration at the 75th Session of the World Health Assembly.

WHA73 endorses resolutions on meningitis control and epilepsy, roadmap on neglected tropical diseases

Tue, 11/17/2020 - 15:19

Member States recommended the adoption of two resolutions on meningitis control and epilepsy at the 73rd World Health Assembly on Thursday (November 12).

Committee A, which focuses on programme and budget matters, decided to recommend the adoption of the first-ever resolution on meningitis, which would approve a global roadmap to defeat meningitis by 2030 – a disease that kills 300,000 people annually and leaves one in five of those affected with devastating long-term consequences.

The Committee also recommended the adoption of a resolution calling for scaled-up and integrated action on epilepsy and other neurological disorders such as stroke, migraine and dementia. Neurological disorders are the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death worldwide.

The Committee further decided to recommend the adoption of a decision endorsing the new roadmap for neglected tropical diseases. The roadmap aims to achieve these targets by 2030: reduce by 90% the number of people requiring treatment for NTDs, eliminate at least one NTD in 100 countries, eradicate two diseases (dracunculiasis and yaws), and reduce by 75% the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) related to NTDs.

Committee A noted the Operational Framework for Primary Health Care, which aligns with the Declaration of Astana and resolution WHA72.2 (2019). WHO has established a Special Programme on Primary Health Care to roll out the Operational Framework – supporting Member States to build people-centred, resilient and sustainable primary health care-based health systems.

Committee B – which deals predominantly with administrative, financial and legal matters – reviewed the Director-General’s report on “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan”. The Committee also decided, by vote, to recommend the adoption of a decision requesting the Director-General, amongst others, to report on progress in the implementation of its recommendations to the next World Health Assembly.

All resolutions and decisions recommended by the Committees for adoption by the 73rd World Health Assembly will be included in the Committees’ reports to the Plenary and considered on Friday. 

WHO establishes Council on the Economics of Health for All

Tue, 11/17/2020 - 15:12

The World Health Organization has announced a new Council on the Economics of Health for All, staffed by leading economists and health experts, to put “Health for All” at the centre of how we think about value creation and economic growth.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the consequences of chronic under-investment in public health. But we don’t just need more investment; we must also rethink how we value health,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as he made the announcement on the final day of the resumed 73rd World Health Assembly on Friday.

Chaired by noted economist Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Professor of the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and Founding Director in the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London, the Council will aim to create a body of work that sees investment in local and global health systems as an investment in the future, not as a short-term cost. Designing such investments makes our economies more healthy, inclusive and sustainable.

The COVID-19 pandemic, with 52 million reported cases and 1.3 million deaths, has shown the dire consequences of chronic under-investment in health on the global economy and on the lives and livelihoods of billions worldwide.

Over the past year, the pandemic has ignited a socio-economic crisis like no other; a crisis that has undermined global stability and solidarity. It has stressed how interdependent health and the economy are and served as a reminder that health is a human right.

“We are living through multiple crises: economic, climate and health related. If we continue to patch up the system each time, we will always be one step behind. I am thrilled to work closely with Dr Tedros on a proactive Health for All economic agenda, to shape our economies so they truly have wellbeing and inclusion at the centre of how we create value, measure it and distribute it,” Mazzucato said.  

Returning to the status quo following the pandemic will not be enough – we need an innovation-led transformation of our health systems to achieve economic well-being everywhere.

“The time has come for a new narrative that sees health not as a cost, but an investment that is the foundation of productive, resilient and stable economies,” Dr Tedros said.

The Council on the Economics of Health For All is expected to hold its first virtual session in the coming weeks, to discuss its work plan and mode of operation. The Council will produce thought leadership for implementing change, and help to inform the piloting of initiatives at country level.

WHO announces certification programme for trans fat elimination

Tue, 11/17/2020 - 13:33

A new WHO Certification Programme for Trans Fat Elimination aims to recognize countries that have eliminated industrially produced trans-fatty acids (TFA) from their national food supplies. This is the first-ever certification programme that will recognize countries for their efforts to eliminate one of the main risk factors for noncommunicable diseases and protect their populations from premature death.

Increased TFA intake (>1% of total energy intake) is associated with coronary heart disease events and mortality. Industrially produced TFA is used in baked and fried foods, pre-packaged snacks, and certain cooking oils and fats that are used at home, in restaurants or in street food. Replacing it with healthier oils and fats is cost effective, life-saving, and feasible without changing the taste of food or its cost to the consumer.

The new certification programme also aims to accelerate global progress towards achieving WHO’s goal of eliminating industrially produced TFA by 2023, which was set as a priority target to be achieved in 13th General Programme of Work (2019 – 2023). To support countries reach the target and take action, WHO also released the REPLACE action framework in 2018.

A year later, WHO released six REPLACE modules to provide practical, step-by-step implementation guidance to countries. WHO recommends countries to adopt one of two best-practice policy options for eliminating industrially produced TFA from the food supply: (1) limit industrially produced TFA to 2g per 100g of total fat in all fats, oils, and foods, and (2) ban the production and use of partially hydrogenated oils (PHO).

Today, countries are responding to WHO’s call to action and many have passed and implemented best-practice policies. Currently best-practice TFA policies have come into effect in 14 countries (covering 589 million people) and additional 26 countries have passed a best-practice TFA policy that will come into effect in the next two years (covering additional 815 million people). Thus, in two years, approximately 1.4 billion people will be protected from industrially produced TFA.

Similar to other elimination and eradication programmes (e.g. smallpox, poliovirus, malaria and guinea worm), the proposed certification programme for TFA elimination is essential in establishing country accountability and accelerating global progress towards achieving the 2023 elimination target.

To qualify for certification, countries must demonstrate that a best-practice TFA policy has been implemented and that effective monitoring and enforcement systems are in place.

Application requirements and detailed criteria will be made available on the WHO website soon. WHO calls on all countries[1] to take life-saving action by eliminating industrially produced TFA.

[1] Countries with best-practice policies that are already in effect may meet the criteria for certification and are encouraged to submit expressions of interest: Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Thailand, United States.

Countries with best-practice policies that have passed but have not yet come into effect are encouraged to submit expressions of interest once they meet the criteria for certification: Belgium, Brazil,  Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay.


A cervical cancer-free future: First-ever global commitment to eliminate a cancer

Tue, 11/17/2020 - 13:06

WHO‘s Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer, launched today, outlines three key steps: vaccination, screening and treatment. Successful implementation of all three could reduce more than 40% of new cases of the disease and 5 million related deaths by 2050.

Today’s development represents a historic milestone because it marks the first time that 194 countries commit to eliminating cancer - following adoption of a resolution at this year’s World Health Assembly. 

Meeting the following targets by 2030 will place all countries on the path toward elimination:

  • 90% of girls fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by 15 years of age
  • 70% of women screened using a high-performance test by age 35 and again by 45
  • 90% of women identified with cervical disease receive treatment (90% of women with pre-cancer treated and 90% of women with invasive cancer managed).

The strategy also stresses that investing in the interventions to meet these targets can generate substantial economic and societal returns. An estimated US$ 3.20 will be returned to the economy for every dollar invested through 2050 and beyond, owing to increases in women’s workforce participation. The figure rises to US$ 26.00 when the benefits of women’s improved health on families, communities and societies are considered.

“Eliminating any cancer would have once seemed an impossible dream, but we now have the cost-effective, evidence-based tools to make that dream a reality,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “But we can only eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem if we match the power of the tools we have with unrelenting determination to scale up their use globally.”

Cervical cancer is a preventable disease. It is also curable if detected early and adequately treated. Yet it is the fourth most common cancer among women globally. Without taking additional action, the annual number of new cases of cervical cancer is expected to increase from 570 000 to 700 000 between 2018 and 2030, while the annual number of deaths is projected to rise from 311 000 to 400 000. In low- and middle-income countries, its incidence is nearly twice as high and its death rates three times as high as those in high-income countries.

“The huge burden of mortality related to cervical cancer is a consequence of decades of neglect by the global health community. However, the script can be rewritten,” says WHO Assistant Director-General Dr Princess Nothemba (Nono) Simelela. “Critical developments include the availability of prophylactic vaccines; low-cost approaches to screening and treating cervical cancer precursors; and novel approaches to surgical training. Through a shared global commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals and leaving no-one behind, the countries of the world are forging a new path to ending cervical cancer. “

The strategy is launched at a challenging time, however.

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges to preventing deaths due to cancer, including the interruption of vaccination, screening and treatment services; border closures that reduced the availability of supplies and that prevent the transit of skilled biomedical engineers to maintain equipment; new barriers preventing women in rural areas from travelling to referral centres for treatment; and school closures that interrupt school vaccine programmes. To the extent possible, however, WHO urges all countries to ensure that vaccination, screening and treatment can continue safely, with all necessary precautions. 

“The fight against cervical cancer is also a fight for women’s rights: the unnecessary suffering caused by this preventable disease reflects the injustices that uniquely affect women’s health around the world,” says Dr Princess Nothemba Simelela. “Together, we can make history to ensure a cervical cancer-free future.”

The launch is being celebrated with a day of action across the globe, as ministries of health, partners, and cancer advocates engage in activities to improve access to cancer prevention and treatment for girls and women. 

Around the world,  monuments are being illuminated in the cervical teal, from Niagara Falls in North America to The Dubai Frame, to city skylines across Australia.  (More information about the events in countries around the world and monument lightings will be posted on WHO’s event site: https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2020/11/17/default-calendar/launch-of-the-global-strategy-to-accelerate-the-elimination-of-cervical-cancer).

MVIP update – 1 million doses administered, Kenya 1st anniversary, cooperation for vaccine access

Tue, 11/17/2020 - 11:23
More than one year on across the pilot countries of Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, more than 1 million doses of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine have been administered, and an estimated 480,000 children have received their first dose of vaccine in childhood vaccination and should benefit from this additional malaria prevention.