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Conducting after-action reviews of the public health response to COVID-19

ECDC - News - Tue, 03/21/2023 - 10:57
ECDC has published an updated guidance on designing and conducting after-action reviews (AARs) of the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

MediPIET Cohort 4 and 5 fellows participate in CBRN module in Montenegro

ECDC - News - Mon, 03/20/2023 - 12:19
From 13-17 March, ECDC organised the MediPIET Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Awareness and Mitigation Module in Petrovac, Montenegro.
Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

SAGO statement on newly released SARS-CoV-2 metagenomics data from China CDC on GISAID

WHO news - Sat, 03/18/2023 - 16:14

On 12 March 2023, WHO was made aware of new SARS-CoV-2 sequences and metagenomics data associated with samples collected in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, Wuhan, China, from January 2020, that became available on GISAID for a short period of time. The data had subsequently been downloaded by a number of researchers from several countries. Access was restricted shortly after, apparently to allow further data updates by China CDC.  WHO then immediately reached out to China CDC and to the Chair and Vice-Chair of SAGO. Upon discussions between WHO and Chinese colleagues, it was explained that the genomic data are the basis for an expected update to the existing Liu et al. 2022 preprint (1), which is in the process of being re-submitted for publication to Nature by China CDC.

After discussions with the WHO secretariat and the SAGO Chair and Vice-Chair, a call was arranged on 12 March with the scientists involved from China CDC, and some of those who had accessed the data from GISAID, to gauge the significance of this data and the analyses of this data. WHO subsequently organized a meeting on 14 March 2023 with all SAGO members, and invited researchers from China CDC to present the updated analysis of their data. WHO and SAGO also invited the researchers who had informed WHO that they had accessed data from GISAID, to present their analysis of the temporarily released sequences. 

The presentations from China CDC and invited international researchers indicated that there were newly available data from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. This included metagenomic data of environmental samples from various stalls and wastewater collection sites collected as early as January 2020. Analyses of these data suggest that apart from SARS-CoV-2 sequences, some samples also contained human DNA, as well as mitochondrial DNA of several animal species, including some that are known to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2. This included DNA from wild raccoon dogs, Malaysian porcupine, and bamboo rats among others, in SARS-CoV-2 positive environmental samples.

The findings suggest that animals were present at the market shortly before the market had been cleared on 1 January 2020, as part of the public health measures by Chinese authorities. These results provide potential leads to identifying intermediate hosts of SARS-CoV-2 and potential sources of human infections in the market.

According to the Chinese’s authors pre-print (Liu et al 2022), of 1380, samples collected from the environment and animals within the market in early 2020, 73/923 environmental samples tested positive for SARS-CoV-2-specific RT-qPCR, from various stalls and sewerage systems in and around the market, but no virus was detected in 457 animal samples tested. The animal samples included animal bodies, frozen animal carcases and animal products, as well as stray animals around the market, and covered 18 species. According to the preprint, raccoon dogs were not amongst the animals tested. However, the presence of high levels of raccoon dog mitochondrial DNA in the metagenomics data from environmental samples identified in the new analysis, suggest that raccoon dog and other animals may have been present before the market was cleaned as part of the public health intervention.

Historical photographic evidence was provided that shows raccoon dogs and other animals were sold at these specific stalls in the past. Although this does not provide conclusive evidence as to the intermediate host or origins of the virus, the data provide further evidence of the presence of susceptible animals at the market that may have been a source of human infections.

SAGO will continue to evaluate any and all scientific data shared by Chinese and other researchers from anywhere in the world. SAGO encourages any and all data related to the studying of the origins of SARS-CoV-2 be made available immediately for robust and comprehensive review.

As mentioned in SAGO's preliminary report (2), the SAGO strongly recommends that researchers in China investigate the upstream sources of the animals and animal products present in Huanan market just before its closure and removal of all animal products on 1 January 2020. 

Furthermore, SAGO would like to encourage any and all available sequencing and metagenomic data to be made public on GISAID, or any other sequence database, and the pre-prints that are in review to be shared as soon as possible so the scientific community has the opportunity to analyse these further. In addition, SAGO encourages researchers using this data to collaborate and engage with Chinese researchers. WHO and SAGO are happy to facilitate these collaborations.

(1) Liu et al, 2022. Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in the environment and animal samples of the 2 Huanan Seafood Market, Available: https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-1370392/v1

(2) Preliminary Report for the Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO) June 2022, Available: https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/scientific-advisory-group-on-the-origins-of-novel-pathogens-report

Statement on the update of WHO’s working definitions and tracking system for SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants of interest

WHO news - Wed, 03/15/2023 - 19:48

WHO has updated its tracking system and working definitions for variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to better correspond to the current global variant landscape, to independently evaluate Omicron sublineages in circulation, and classify new variants more clearly when required.

SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple variants of concern (VOCs) and variants of interest (VOIs) have been designated by WHO based on their assessed potential for expansion and replacement of prior variants, for causing new waves with increased circulation, and for the need for adjustments to public health actions.

Based on comparisons of antigenic cross reactivity using animal sera, replication studies in experimental models of the human respiratory tract, and evidence from clinical and epidemiological studies in humans, there is consensus among experts in WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) that compared to previous variants, Omicron represents the most divergent VOC seen to date. Since its emergence, Omicron viruses have continued to evolve genetically and antigenically with an expanding range of sublineages, which so far have all been characterized by properties of evasion of existing population immunity and a preference to infect the upper respiratory tract (versus lower respiratory tract), as compared to pre-Omicron VOCs.

The Omicron viruses account for over 98% of the publicly available sequences since February 2022 and constitute the genetic background from which new SARS-CoV-2 variants will likely emerge, although the emergence of variants derived from previously circulating VOCs or of completely new variants remains possible. The previous system classified all Omicron sublineages as part of the Omicron VOC and thus did not have the granularity needed to compare new descendent lineages with altered phenotypes to the Omicron parent lineages (BA.1, BA.2, BA.4/BA.5). Therefore, from 15 March 2023, the WHO variant tracking system will consider the classification of Omicron sublineages independently as variants under monitoring (VUMs), VOIs, or VOCs.

WHO is also updating the working definitions for VOCs and VOIs. The main update consists in making the VOC definition more specific, to include major SARS-CoV-2 evolutionary steps that require major public health interventions. For the updated definitions, please visit the WHO variant tracking website.

In addition, going forward, WHO will assign Greek labels for VOCs, and will no longer do so for VOIs.

With these changes factored in, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta as well as the Omicron parent lineage (B.1.1.529) are considered previously circulating VOCs. WHO has now classified XBB.1.5 as a VOI. 

WHO will also continue to issue regular risk assessments for both VOIs and VOCs (see latest risk assessment for XBB.1.5).

WHO emphasizes that these changes do not imply that the circulation of Omicron viruses no longer pose a threat to public health. Rather, the changes have been made in order to better identify additional or new threats over and above those posed by the current Omicron viruses in circulation.

Five cities recognized for public health achievements at Partnership for Healthy Cities Summit

WHO news - Wed, 03/15/2023 - 16:40

Partnership for Healthy Cities award recipients include Montevideo, Uruguay for food policy; Mexico City, Mexico for road safety; Vancouver, Canada for surveillance; Athens, Greece for overdose prevention, and Bengaluru, India for tobacco control.

The first-of-its-kind Summit was convened in London by Bloomberg Philanthropies, World Health Organization, Vital Strategies, and Mayor Sadiq Khan of London.

Today, during the inaugural Partnership for Healthy Cities Summit in London, five global cities were recognized for their achievements in preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries. The Summit brought together mayors and officials from more than 50 major cities in the partnership to discuss urgent public health concerns and best practices that save lives and create healthier cities.

With the majority of the global population now living in urban settings, ensuring the health and wellbeing of residents in our world’s urban centers is crucial. NCDs – including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases – and injuries are responsible for over 80% of all deaths globally. Cities are uniquely positioned to transform the fight against NCDs and injuries by implementing policies to significantly reduce exposure to risk factors. The Summit highlights best practices and proven interventions, which is especially important as public health is at risk of becoming less of a priority three years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Noncommunicable diseases and injuries pose the number-one threat to global public health. Mayors worldwide are increasingly uniting to confront it, and the Partnership for Healthy Cities will continue to support their urgent and lifesaving work,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, 108th mayor of New York City, and WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries. “Our network’s first-ever Summit showcased the best of local public health leadership, and given the gains achieved by our inaugural award winners, we expect even more leaders will follow in their footsteps as they create healthier, more vibrant cities.”

"The five cities being recognized today demonstrate that mayors can drive powerful progress to protect the health of their citizens,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “WHO remains committed to working through the Partnership for Healthy Cities to support mayors around the world to build cities that promote and protect health, rather than harm it." 

Founded in 2017, the Partnership for Healthy Cities is a prestigious global network comprised of 70 cities working together to prevent NCDs and injuries. Mayors in the partnership were invited to join and committed to addressing a pressing public health issue in their city. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the WHO and Vital Strategies, this initiative enables cities around the world to deliver a high-impact policy or programmatic intervention to reduce NCDs and injuries in their communities. Through the Partnership for Healthy Cities, local leaders around the world have enacted policies that are improving the health and safety of millions of people.

During the Summit, five member cities were recognized with a 2023 Partnership for Healthy Cities Award for positively impacting the health of their population and making sustainable and lasting strides toward NCD and injury prevention that can be replicated in other jurisdictions. 

The five winning cities, each receiving US$ 150 000 to further their work with the partnership, are:

  • Athens, Greece for increasing access to the opioid overdose reversal agent, naloxone, at community-based organizations and among healthcare professionals. The city also started researching causes of death among people who inject drugs to better understand the impact of the overdose crisis;
  • Bengaluru, India for their efforts in tobacco control, specifically, reducing smoking in public places and improving compliance with existing mandates on public smoking bans;
  • Mexico City, Mexico for improving road safety and safe and active mobility by launching a bike path on a busy road that led to a 275% increase in cyclists; implementing a shared lane for cyclists and buses separate from cars; establishing loading and unloading areas; and optimizing design and management of roads close to schools;
  • Montevideo, Uruguay for establishing nutritional standards for the preparation and sale of food in government agency offices and some public universities, for focusing on sodium reduction policies and developing media campaigns and educational materials; and 
  • Vancouver, Canada for making public health data more inclusive and accessible by launching an online public health data tool that tracks population health indicators and working with urban Indigenous communities to better inform data management.  

“These initiatives are not only improving the health of Londoners, but alleviating pressure off our health service and ensuring that future generations can thrive. Improving the health of Londoners will always be at the heart of my vision to build a safer and more prosperous London for everyone.”said the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan“I’m delighted to be joining Mayors from around the world today to tackle some of the biggest issues facing our cities. The health of our citizens is a city’s greatest asset so I’m taking bold steps to invest in the health of Londoners, such as restricting junk food advertising across the Transport for London network and expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone, which will mean five million more Londoners will be able to breathe cleaner air.”

“Cities are places where health can be produced or compromised,” said José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies. “We applaud the work of urban leaders around the globe in their efforts to create healthier, stronger and more equitable cities. We are eager to continue our work supporting cities with the tools and resources needed to bring proven solutions that prevent noncommunicable diseases and injuries to fruition."

Notes for editors:

The mayors who attended the inaugural Partnership for Healthy Cities Summit—and their city’s public health focus areas—are:

  • Mayor Kiritkumar Jivanlal Parmar, Ahmedabad, India
    Focus area: Noncommunicable disease surveillance
  • Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis, Athens, Greece
    Focus area: Overdose prevention 
  • Mayor José Sarto, Fortaleza, Brazil
    Focus area: Improving air quality surveillance 
  • Mayor Erias Lukwago, Kampala, Uganda
    Focus area: Improving air quality surveillance 
  • Mayor Balendra Shah, Kathmandu, Nepal
    Focus area: Improving air quality surveillance
  • Mayor Samuel Pyne, Kumasi, Ghana
    Focus area: Reducing traffic fatalities through speed management      
  • Mayor Sadiq Khan, London, United Kingdom
    Focus area: Reducing children's exposure to unhealthy food and drink through advertising restrictions
  • Mayor Chilando Chitangala, Lusaka, Zambia
    Focus area: Reducing road traffic injuries, with a special focus on women and children 
  • Mayor Carolina Cosse, Montevideo, Uruguay
    Focus area: Nutrition standards
  • Mayor Joy Belmonte, Quezon City, Philippines
    Focus area: Pursuing healthier restaurant environments, with a focus on calorie labeling on menus
  • Governor Claudio Orrego Larraín, Santiago, Chile
    Focus area: Developing a metropolitan mobility policy  
  • Mayor Carolina Mejía, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
    Focus area: Speed management on urban avenues                                            
  • Mayor Se-hoon Oh, Seoul, South Korea
    Focus area: Improving adherence with tobacco advertising restrictions in public areas   

About the Partnership for Healthy Cities

The Partnership for Healthy Cities (PHC), supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Vital Strategies, is a prestigious global network of 70 cities whose mayors have committed to prevent NCDs—including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and chronic lung disease—and injuries through proven interventions.

In 2021, the Partnership launched the Policy Accelerator to support an initial cohort of 15 cities in the network to create and adopt strong public health policies and to institutionalize development processes for future policy. A second cohort of Policy Accelerator Cities will be announced at the Summit. More information and statistics about the Partnership for Healthy Cities and the Policy Accelerator can be found at cities4health.org.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed US$ 1.7 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org, sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  

About the World Health Organization
Dedicated to the well-being of all people and guided by science, the World Health Organization leads and champions global efforts to give everyone, everywhere an equal chance at a safe and healthy life. We are the UN agency for health that connects nations, partners and people on the front lines in 150+ locations – leading the world’s response to health emergencies, preventing disease, addressing the root causes of health issues and expanding access to medicines and health care. Our mission is to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.

For more information visit www.who.int and follow WHO on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube

About Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies believes every person should be protected by an equitable and effective public health system. We partner with governments, communities and organizations around the world to reimagine public health so that health is supported in all the places we live, work and play. The result is millions of people living longer, healthier lives. To learn more visit www.vitalstrategies.org or follow us @VitalStrat.


Botulism cases in Europe following medical interventions with botulinum neurotoxin

ECDC - News - Tue, 03/14/2023 - 14:00
Since late February 2023 and as of 10 March 2023, 67 cases of botulism linked to intragastric injection of the botulism neurotoxin (BoNT) have been reported in Germany (12), Austria (1), Switzerland (1) and Türkiye (53).
Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

WHO renews alert on safeguards for health worker recruitment

WHO news - Tue, 03/14/2023 - 13:01

The World Health Organization (WHO) released today an updated WHO health workforce support and safeguards list 2023, identifying 55 countries as vulnerable for availability of health workers required to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal target for universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030.

The impact of COVID-19 and widespread disruptions to health services has resulted in a rapid acceleration in the international recruitment of health workers. For countries losing health personnel to international migration, this could negatively impact on health systems and hinder their progress towards achieving UHC and health security.

Of the 55 countries, 37 are in the WHO African region, eight in the Western Pacific region, six in the Eastern Mediterranean region, three in the South-East Asia region and one is in the Americas. Eight countries have been newly added to the WHO health workforce support and safeguards list 2023 since its original publication in 2020.

“Health workers are the backbone of every health system, and yet 55 countries with some of the world’s most fragile health systems do not have enough and many are losing their health workers to international migration,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “WHO is working with these countries to support them to strengthen their health workforce, and we call on all countries to respect the provisions in the WHO health workforce support and safeguards list.”  The list should be used to inform advocacy, policy dialogue at all levels and financing efforts in support of health workforce education and employment in these countries.

The countries included in the WHO health workforce support and safeguards list 2023 have a UHC service coverage index below 55 and health workforce density below the global median: 49 medical doctors, nursing and midwifery personnel per 10 000 people. These countries require priority support for health workforce development and health system strengthening, along with additional safeguards that limit active international recruitment.

The WHO health workforce support and safeguard list 2023 does not prohibit international recruitment, but recommends that government-to-government health worker migration agreements:

  • be informed by health labour market analysis and the adoption of measures to ensure adequate supply of health workers in the source countries;
  • engage Ministries of Health in the negotiation and implementation of agreements; and
  • specify the health system benefits of the arrangement to both source and destination countries.

WHO also recommends that these safeguards be extended to all low- and middle-income countries.

Implementation of the WHO Global code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel (WHO Global Code) can ensure that international movement of health workers is ethically managed, supports the rights and welfare of migrant health workers and maintains health service delivery objectives.

The 2023 update is informed by the report of the WHO Expert Advisory Group on the Relevance and Effectiveness of the WHO Global Code. WHO will update the list every three years, with the next update scheduled for publication in 2026.

This issue will be discussed at the upcoming Fifth Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, which will examine the required policy solutions, investments, and multi-sectoral partnerships to address health and care workforce challenges to advance health systems towards the attainment of UHC and health security. The outcomes of the Forum will inform the United Nations General Assembly’s High-Level Meeting on UHC in September 2023.

Regional workshop on COVID-19 recovery in Tunisia

ECDC - News - Mon, 03/13/2023 - 14:00
The workshop organised by ECDC took place from 7 - 9 March in Tunis, upon invitation of the Tunisian National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases (NONED).
Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

EFSA, ECDC, EURL: ongoing avian influenza outbreaks in birds, low risk to the public

ECDC - News - Mon, 03/13/2023 - 14:00
The situation regarding avian influenza continues to evolve in Europe and globally, with reports of new outbreaks in birds and occasional infections in mammals. Sporadic human infections have been reported in countries outside the EU, while the risk to the public in the EU remains low.
Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

Massive efforts needed to reduce salt intake and protect lives

WHO news - Wed, 03/08/2023 - 21:24
A first-of-its-kind World Health Organization (WHO) Global report on sodium intake reduction shows that the world is off-track to achieve its global target of reducing sodium intake by 30% by 2025.

WHO statement on the situation relating to the Regional Director of the Western Pacific

WHO news - Wed, 03/08/2023 - 16:03
In line with the Organization’s policy of zero tolerance for abusive conduct, the allegations were investigated and subsequently reviewed in accordance with the normal procedures applicable to all WHO staff members. This included the right of the Regional Director to receive all relevant evidence and respond to the allegations in line with due process. These procedures resulted in findings of misconduct.

EU Initiative on Health Security: a look back on the achievements of 2022

ECDC - News - Wed, 03/08/2023 - 14:00
In 2022, ECDC and its partners have continued their efforts through the EU Initiative on Health Security to further strengthen the regional workforce for the prevention and control of challenges posed by communicable diseases in the EU enlargement and the EU Neighbourhood Policy Partner (ENP) countries.
Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

Bacteria resistant to commonly used antimicrobials still frequently found in humans and animals

ECDC - News - Mon, 03/06/2023 - 14:00
Resistance of Salmonella and Campylobacter to commonly used antimicrobials is frequently observed in humans and animals, reveals a report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

Countries begin negotiations on global agreement to protect world from future pandemic emergencies

WHO news - Fri, 03/03/2023 - 22:28

Countries of the World Health Organization have begun negotiations on a global accord on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, using the “zero draft” as a basis for negotiating an agreement to protect nations and communities from future pandemic emergencies.

Ending Friday, discussions on the draft pandemic accord took place during the weeklong fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), which includes WHO’s 194 countries. Negotiations on the draft will continue over the next year according to a timetable laid out by the World Health Assembly.

Mr Roland Driece, Co-Chair of the INB Bureau, from the Netherlands, said: “The start of discussions of concrete language for the WHO pandemic accord sends a clear signal that countries of the world want to work together for a safer, healthier future where we are better prepared for, and able to prevent future pandemic threats, and respond to them effectively and equitably.”

Fellow INB Bureau Co-Chair, Ms Precious Matsoso of South Africa, said: “The efforts this week, by countries from around the world, was a critical step in ensuring we do not repeat the mistakes of the COVID-19 pandemic response, including in sharing life-saving vaccines, provision of information and development of local capacities.”

Ms Matsoso added: “That we have been able to move forward so decisively is testimony to the global consensus that exists on the need to work together and to strengthen WHO’s and the international community’s ability to protect the world from pandemic threats.”

WHO Member States will continue negotiations of the zero draft of the pandemic accord at the INB’s next meeting, to be held over 3-6 April, with a view to collecting all inputs necessary to develop the first draft.

According to the process agreed by governments at a special session of the World Health Assembly in late 2021, negotiations on the draft pandemic accord will aim to produce a final draft for consideration by the 77th World Health Assembly in 2024.

During the week, the senior diplomats from Israel and Morocco, who are serving as co-facilitators of the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response, briefed the INB on their preparations for the 20 September meeting, in order to ensure collaboration between the processes.

In parallel with the pandemic accord negotiations, governments are also discussing more than 300 amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) in an effort to make the world safer from communicable diseases and ensuring greater equity in the global response to public health emergencies.

Governments have been working to ensure consistency and alignment across the INB and IHR processes. The proposed IHR amendments will also be presented to the World Health Assembly in 2024, and would together, with a future pandemic accord, provide a comprehensive, complementary, and synergistic set of global health agreements.

ECDC de-escalates BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5 from its list of variants of concern

ECDC - News - Fri, 03/03/2023 - 14:00
As of 3 March 2023, ECDC will de-escalate BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5 from its list of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC), as these parental lineages are no longer circulating.
Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

WHO launches policy on preventing and addressing sexual misconduct

WHO news - Fri, 03/03/2023 - 11:22
WHO today launched its Policy on preventing and addressing sexual misconduct which places the victims and survivors at its core, sets strict standards of zero tolerance and stresses that there can be “no excuse” for sexual misconduct.

Visit of WHO Director-General to north-west Syria

WHO news - Thu, 03/02/2023 - 16:19

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today visited north-west Syria following the devastating earthquakes that hit northern Syria and southern Türkiye on 6 February 2023. Dr Tedros is the first UN principal to enter north-west Syria since the beginning of the conflict, 12 years ago.

Dr Tedros met with the partners WHO works with in north-west Syria to deliver essential health care, including specialised orthopaedic care and paediatric care.

Also today, WHO distributed additional life-saving medicines, supplies and equipment to three hospitals in north-west Syria.  These are sufficient for over 280,000 treatments, including for the management of trauma, diabetes, and pneumonia, as well as vitally needed anaesthesia drugs and surgical supplies. WHO has sent over 140 tonnes of supplies to north-west Syria, from across the border in Türkiye and across lines within Syria. In the first hours after the earthquakes, WHO distributed 183 metric tonnes of supplies prepositioned inside north-west Syria from warehouses in Azaz and Idlib to more than 200 health facilities. 

Dr Tedros spoke at a media briefing following the visits, saying:

"WHO is playing our role in supporting the Syrian people, who have responded incredibly with the little that they have. WHO has been delivering essential medicines, supplies, and equipment for years, as well as on the day the earthquakes struck. And we will do more. But the people of northwest Syria need the assistance of the international community to recover and rebuild. Even before the earthquake, more than 90% of the Syrian people were living below the poverty line...I call on the international community – governments, philanthropies and individuals – to dig deep to lift up those who are enduring unimaginable loss, poverty and deprivation. At the same time, I call on the leaders of both sides of the Syrian conflict to use the shared suffering of this crisis as a platform for peace."

On 28 February, Dr Tedros met with Turkiye's Minister of Health, health workers and others affected by the earthquake. Earlier in the month, he visited Aleppo, Syria to meet with affected people and officials.

Cluster of avian influenza in Cambodia

ECDC - News - Wed, 03/01/2023 - 14:00
In February 2023, Cambodia reported a family cluster in Sithor Kandal district, Prey Veng province, with two people (a girl and her father) infected with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus.
Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

The Montreux Charter on Patient Safety galvanizes action to address avoidable harm in health care

WHO news - Wed, 03/01/2023 - 10:28

The Fifth Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety was held in Montreux, Switzerland on 23 and 24 February with the slogan “Less Harm, Better Care – from Resolution to Implementation”

The Fifth Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety closed in Montreux, Switzerland on 24 February, after endorsing the Montreux Charter on Patient Safety with recommended actions to address avoidable harm in health care.  This was the first Global Ministerial Patient Safety Summit to take place after the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exposed the high risk of unsafe care to patients, health workers and the general public, and made visible a range of safety gaps across all core components of health systems.  The Summit was hosted by the Swiss government.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, participated in the Summit with the host, the Swiss President Alain Berset.  In his address to the ministerial segment, Dr Tedros urged health ministers to invest in patient safety as part of their commitment to universal health coverage and health security; to build a culture of safety and strengthen reporting and learning systems; to support health workforce and strengthen their capacity; to strengthen data systems; and to engage patients and families in their own care.  Dr Tedros announced that the theme for World Patient Safety Day 2023 will be “Engaging patients for patient safety”.  

In Montreux, delegations from more than 80 countries discussed the gaps and key challenges for the implementation of the World Health Assembly resolution (WHA72.6) "Global Action on Patient Safety" and the global roadmap for patient safety, the Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021–2030: Towards eliminating avoidable harm in health care

Despite progress to address patient safety challenges worldwide, concerted efforts are needed to ensure safety of patients and health and care workers, noted the delegations and stressed that lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis hold huge potential to build safer and more resilient health systems.

The Montreux Charter on Patient Safety, endorsed at the Summit, reaffirms that patient harm in health care is an urgent public health issue, pertinent to countries of all income settings and geographies and therefore a shared global challenge.  It identifies actions for countries to narrow implementation gaps in patient safety, including by treating patient safety as a global public health priority, building upon lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, deepening partnerships, collaboration and mutual learning, and engaging patients and their families.  The Charter also urged setting priorities for patient safety, including medication safety, safe surgery, infection prevention and control, and antimicrobial resistance.

Unsafe care is among the leading causes of death and disability in the world.  It is particularly acute in resource-constrained settings.  In the years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, 2.6 million people died every year due to safety lapses in hospitals in lower-income countries.  Rich countries are not immune: nearly 15 per cent of hospital expenditure and activity in countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development could be attributed to treating safety failures.

It is estimated that more than half of cases of patient harm are preventable, by working together to create a safer healthcare system for all and to build a culture of safety that emphasizes continuous improvement, learning, and innovation.

The Summit in Montreux builds on the preceding Global Ministerial Summits on Patient Safety which have raised awareness about burden of avoidable patient harm in health care and fostered strategic approaches to strengthening Patient Safety, from London (2016), to Bonn (2017), to Tokyo (2018) and to Jeddah (2019).  

The Sixth Summit will be held in Chile in 2024. 

SARS-CoV-2 in animals: susceptibility of animal species, risk for animal and public health, monitoring, prevention and control

ECDC - Risk assessments - Tue, 02/28/2023 - 14:00
The epidemiological situation of SARS-CoV-2 in humans and animals is continually evolving. To date, animal species known to transmit SARS-CoV-2 are American mink, raccoon dog, cat, ferret, hamster, house mouse, Egyptian fruit bat, deer mouse and white-tailed deer. Among farmed animals, American mink have the highest likelihood to become infected from humans or animals and further transmit SARS-CoV-2.
Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)


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