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New guidance aims to reduce bloodstream infections from catheter use

WHO news - Thu, 05/09/2024 - 12:52

The World Health Organization (WHO) publishes the first global guidelines to prevent the occurrence of bloodstream and other infections caused by use of catheters placed in minor blood vessels during medical procedures.

Poor practices in the insertion, maintenance, and removal of these catheters carry a high risk of introducing germs directly to the bloodstream, which can lead to serious conditions such as sepsis, and difficult-to-treat complications in major organs like the brain and kidneys. Soft tissue infections at the insertion site of the catheter can also occur.

Up to 70% of all inpatients require the use of a catheter inserted into a peripheral vein or artery, also known as peripherally inserted catheters (PIVCs), at some point during their hospital stay.  People who receive treatments through catheters often are particularly vulnerable to infections, as they might be seriously ill or have low immunity.  WHO estimated that between 2000–2018, average mortality among patients affected by health care-associated sepsis was 24.4%, increasing to 52.3% among patients treated in intensive care units.

Many bloodstream infections are caused by antibiotic resistant bacterial infections. It is estimated that bacterial antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was directly responsible for at least 1.27 million deaths and contributed to an additional 4.95 million deaths in 2019.

“Infections associated with health care delivery represent a preventable tragedy and a serious threat to the quality and safety of health care.” said Dr Bruce Aylward, WHO Assistant Director-General for Universal Health Coverage, Life Course. “Implementing clean care and infection prevention and control recommendations is critical to saving lives and alleviating a great deal of avoidable suffering experienced by people around the world”.  

Developing and implementing guidance to prevent the spread of such infections has been a key priority for WHO. The new guidelines include 14 good practice statements and 23 recommendations on key areas for health workers, including:

  • education and training of health workers
  • techniques of asepsis and hand hygiene practices
  • insertion, maintenance, access, removal of catheters, and
  • catheter selection
  • WHO will continue to work with countries to develop and implement best practices to reduce the occurrence of bloodstream infections in hospitals, and to ensure all patients receive safe and effective care.

    Increase in pertussis cases in EU/EEA: infants under six months of age at the highest risk

    ECDC - News - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 12:59
    During 2023 and until April 2024, EU/EEA countries have reported nearly 60 000 cases, a more than 10-fold increase compared to 2022 and 2021.
    Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

    ECDC expert deployed to Zambia to contribute to cholera outbreak response efforts

    ECDC - News - Tue, 05/07/2024 - 16:53
    An ECDC expert was in Zambia from 25 March to support in the response to the recent cholera outbreak as part of and funded by the ‘ECDC for Africa CDC’ project.
    Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

    ECDC Head of Emergency Preparedness and Response visits Africa CDC

    ECDC - News - Tue, 05/07/2024 - 14:19
    The Head of ECDC's Emergency Preparedness and Response section, Thomas Hofmann, visited Africa CDC on 25 and 26 of April to meet Dr. Merawi Aragaw, Head of Surveillance, and other experts involved in the ECDC4AfricaCDC project.
    Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

    WHO Results Report 2023 shows notable health achievements and calls for concerted drive toward Sustainable Development Goals

    WHO news - Tue, 05/07/2024 - 14:18
    The World Health Organization (WHO) Results Report 2023, the most comprehensive to date, showcases achievement of key public health milestones, even amid greater global humanitarian health needs driven by conflict, climate change and disease outbreaks.

    One Health: a joint framework for action published by five EU agencies

    ECDC - News - Tue, 05/07/2024 - 12:50
    Today, the ECDC, ECHA, EEA, EFSA and EMA published a joint framework for action to strengthen cooperation to support the implementation of the One Health agenda in the European Union (EU).
    Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

    World Hand Hygiene Day 2024

    ECDC - News - Mon, 05/06/2024 - 12:56
    World Hand Hygiene Day is marked every year on 5 May, to raise awareness of the importance of handwashing to prevent the spread of infections.
    Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

    Each year, 4.3 million patients in hospitals in the EU/EEA are affected by healthcare-associated infections

    ECDC - News - Mon, 05/06/2024 - 12:46
    Each year, 4.3 million patients in hospitals in the EU/EEA acquire at least one healthcare-associated infection during their stay in the hospital.
    Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

    Rafah incursion would substantially increase mortality and morbidity and further weaken an already broken health system

    WHO news - Fri, 05/03/2024 - 17:33

    WHO is deeply concerned that a full-scale military operation in Rafah could lead to a bloodbath. More than 1.2 million people are currently sheltering in the area, many unable to move anywhere else.   

    A new wave of displacement would exacerbate overcrowding, further limiting access to food, water, health and sanitation services, leading to increased disease outbreaks, worsening levels of hunger, and additional loss of lives.  

    Only 33% of Gaza’s 36 hospitals and 30% of primary health care centers are functional in some capacity amid repeated attacks and shortages of vital medical supplies, fuel, and staff.

    As part of contingency efforts, WHO and partners are urgently working to restore and resuscitate health services, including through expansion of services and pre-positioning of supplies, but the broken health system would not be able to cope with a surge in casualties and deaths that a Rafah incursion would cause.   

    The three hospitals (Al-Najjar, Al-Helal Al-Emarati and Kuwait hospitals) currently partially operational in Rafah will become unsafe to be reached by patients, staff, ambulance, and humanitarians when hostilities intensify in their vicinity and, as a result quickly become nonfunctional.  The European Gaza Hospital in east Khan Younis, which is currently functioning as the third-level referral hospital for critical patients, is also vulnerable as it could become isolated and unreachable during the incursion. Given this, the south will be left with six field hospitals and Al-Aqsa Hospital in the Middle Area, serving as the only referral hospital.  

    As part of ongoing contingency efforts, WHO, partners and hospital staff have completed the first phase of restoration of Nasser Medical Complex, including cleaning and ensuring essential equipment is functioning. The emergency ward, nine operating theaters, intensive care unit, maternity ward, neonatal intensive care unit and the outpatient department are now partly functional, and national staff alongside emergency medical teams are working there. 

    To alleviate the burden on hospitals, WHO and partners are establishing additional primary health centers and medical points in Khan Younis, Middle Area, and northern Gaza as well as pre-positioning medical supplies to enable these facilities to detect and treat communicable and non-communicable diseases and manage wounds.  A new field hospital is being set up in Al Mawasi in Rafah.    

    A large WHO warehouse has been established in Deir al Bala and a sizable volume of medical supplies has been shifted there from WHO warehouses in Rafah as they could become unreachable during the incursion. These measures will help to ensure the rapid movement of supplies to Khan Younis, Middle Area and northern Gaza when needed. 

    In the north, WHO and partners are scaling up efforts to resupply and expand services at Kamal Adwan, Al-Ahli, and Al-Awda hospitals, along with supporting the transfer of very ill patients to hospitals where they can get the treatment they need to survive. Plans are also underway to support the restoration of Patients’ Friendly Hospital, focusing on pediatric services.  

    Despite the contingency plans and efforts, WHO warns that substantial additional mortality and morbidity is expected when the military incursion takes place. 

    WHO calls for an immediate and lasting ceasefire and the removal of the obstacles to the delivery of urgent humanitarian assistance into and across Gaza, at the scale that is required.  

    WHO additionally calls for the sanctity of health care to be respected. Parties to the conflict have the coordinates of health facilities: it is imperative they are actively protected and remain accessible to patients, health workers and partners. The safety of health and humanitarian workers must be guaranteed. Those striving to save lives should not have to endanger their own.  


    Call for EU Reference Laboratories for public health in the fields of food- and waterborne pathogens

    ECDC - News - Thu, 05/02/2024 - 11:12
    On 30 April 2024, the European Commission has issued three new calls for applications for EU Reference Laboratories (EURLs) in public health.
    Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

    Governments near agreement on package of amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005)

    WHO news - Sat, 04/27/2024 - 16:56

    In the eighth meeting of the Working Group on Amendments to the International Health Regulations (WGIHR), which was suspended yesterday until 16 May, State Parties to the IHR took a major step towards agreeing on the package of amendments which will be put forward to the World Health Assembly, which takes place from 27 May–1 June.

    The amendments, proposed by IHR State Parties in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen the international community’s ability to detect and respond to pandemic threats, will be further discussed at the resumed eighth meeting on 16-17 May with a view to finalizing an agreed package for submission to the World Health Assembly in May for its consideration and, if agreed, formal adoption.

    “The International Health Regulations have been the cornerstone of global health security for decades, but the COVID-19 pandemic showed the need to strengthen them in some areas to make them fit for purpose,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Countries are grasping this historic opportunity to protect future generations from the impact of epidemics and pandemics, with a commitment to equity and solidarity.”

    This eighth meeting of the Working Group on Amendments to the IHR (WGIHR) started on 22 April and suspended today. Whilst the process is being held alongside negotiations of the world’s first pandemic agreement to strengthen global collaboration among governments to prepare for, prevent and respond to pandemics, it was proposed in WGIHR8 that two separate Resolutions on the two processes be submitted to the World Health Assembly in May. Negotiations resume on the pandemic agreement on 29 April and continue until 10 May.

    During the eighth meeting of the WGIHR, substantial progress on finalizing the package of amendments was made as State Parties reached agreement in critical areas.

    WGIHR Co-Chair Dr Ashley Bloomfield said: “The work to bolster our global defenses against public health emergencies and risks, through agreeing a stronger set of International Health Regulations, reflects both the risks our highly interconnected world faces today, and the recognition and readiness of countries to ensure their citizens are better protected.”

    Fellow WGIHR Co-Chair, Dr Abdullah Assiri, said the proposed amendments to the IHR are readily implementable and recognize the importance of equity in ensuring effective global response.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic showed the world that viruses of pandemic potential do not respect national borders,” Dr Assiri said. “Amending the International Health Regulations reflects the critical need to bolster our collective defenses against current and future public health risks so people’s health, societies and economies can be better protected, all whilst firmly respecting and adhering to the principle of national sovereignty.”

    The eighth meeting of the WGHIR will resume in a two-day final session 16-17 May to continue and conclude the work of the Working Group according to its mandate from the Health Assembly

    The IHR have 196 State Parties, comprising all 194 WHO Member States plus Liechtenstein and the Holy See. These Parties have led the process to amend the IHR. The Regulations have been negotiated under Article 21 of the WHO Constitution. Any amendment will come into force for all States Parties, after a set period, except for those that notify the WHO Director-General of a rejection or reservation.

    Statement on the antigen composition of COVID-19 vaccines

    WHO news - Fri, 04/26/2024 - 18:36
    Key points
    • SARS-CoV-2 continues to circulate and evolve with important genetic and antigenic evolution of the spike protein.
    • The objective of an update to COVID-19 vaccine antigen composition is to enhance vaccine-induced immune responses to circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.
    • As the virus is expected to continue to evolve from JN.1, the TAG-CO-VAC advises the use of a monovalent JN.1 lineage as the antigen in future formulations of COVID-19 vaccines.
    • In accordance with WHO SAGE policy, vaccination programmes should continue to use any of the WHO emergency-use listed or prequalified COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination should not be delayed in anticipation of access to vaccines with an updated composition.

    The WHO Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition (TAG-CO-VAC) meets regularly to assess the impact of SARS-CoV-2 evolution on the performance of approved COVID-19 vaccines. This includes meeting in person approximately every six months to determine the implications of SARS-CoV-2 evolution on COVID-19 vaccine antigen composition and to advise WHO on whether changes are needed to the antigen composition of future COVID-19 vaccines. The twice-yearly evidence review by the TAG-CO-VAC is based on the need for continued monitoring of the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and the kinetics and protection of vaccine-derived immunity.

    In May 2023, the TAG-CO-VAC recommended the use of a monovalent XBB.1 descendent lineage, such as XBB.1.5, as the vaccine antigen. In December 2023, the TAG-CO-VAC advised retaining the use of a monovalent XBB.1 descendent lineage, such as XBB.1.5, as the vaccine antigen. Several manufacturers (using mRNA, protein-based and viral vector vaccine platforms) have developed COVID-19 vaccines with a monovalent XBB.1.5 formulation which have been approved for use by regulatory authorities and introduced into COVID-19 vaccination programmes in some countries. Previous statements from the TAG-CO-VAC can be found on the WHO website.

    The TAG-CO-VAC reconvened on 15-16 April 2024 to review the genetic and antigenic evolution of SARS-CoV-2; immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection and/or COVID-19 vaccination; the performance of currently approved vaccines against circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants; and the implications for COVID-19 vaccine antigen composition.

    Evidence reviewed

    The published and unpublished evidence reviewed by the TAG-CO-VAC included: (1) SARS-CoV-2 genetic evolution with support from the WHO Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE); (2) Antigenic characterization of previous and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants using virus neutralization tests with animal antisera or human sera and further analysis of antigenic relationships using antigenic cartography; (3) Immunogenicity data on the breadth of neutralizing antibody responses elicited by currently approved vaccine antigens against circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants using animal and human sera, including modelling data; (4) Vaccine effectiveness estimates (VE) of currently approved vaccines during periods of circulation of XBB.1 and JN.1 lineages; (5) Preliminary immunogenicity data on immune responses following infection with circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants; and (6) Preliminary preclinical and clinical immunogenicity data on the performance of candidate vaccines with updated antigens shared confidentially by vaccine manufacturers with TAG-CO-VAC. Further details on the publicly available data reviewed by the TAG-CO-VAC can be found in the accompanying data annex. Unpublished and/or confidential data reviewed by the TAG-CO-VAC are not shown.

    Summary of available evidence
    • SARS-CoV-2 continues to circulate and evolve; there are genetic changes in important regions of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2.
    • As of April 2024, nearly all (>94%) SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequences in publicly available databases are derived from JN.1, and these variants continue to displace existing XBB lineage variants (e.g. EG.5). This displacement indicates greater fitness of JN.1 derived variants as compared to other circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants in the human population.
    • Several JN.1 derived variants (e.g. JN.13.1, JN.1.11.1, KP.2) have independently evolved changes in the spike protein at epitopes involving amino acid residues 346 and/or 456. Substitutions at these amino acid residues have been identified in previous SARS-CoV-2 variants (e.g. R346T in BQ.1 and XBB; F456L in EG.5 and HK.3) and are within epitopes known to be targeted by neutralizing antibodies.
    • Given the displacement of XBB lineage variants by JN.1 derived variants, it is likely that, in the near-term, circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants will be derived from JN.1.
    • In immunologically naïve animal and human sera, XBB.1.5 and JN.1 are antigenically distinct SARS-CoV-2 variants. In non-naïve animals and humans, post-monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccination sera, with or without recent prior infection, neutralize XBB.1.5 and its derivatives including EG.5, HK.3, HV.1, as well as BA.2.86 and JN.1. However, neutralization titres against JN.1 in published and unpublished studies were typically lower (2-5-fold) than those against the homologous XBB.1.5 immunizing antigen. There are further reductions in cross neutralization of JN.1 variants with F456L and/or R346T substitutions.
    • Secondary analysis of published immunogenicity data demonstrates that an additional vaccine dose with an updated vaccine antigen results in an average 40% increase in neutralizing antibodies to that variant as compared to vaccines with a previous vaccine antigen. Using statistical modeling, the predicted additional effectiveness of a vaccine dose with an updated vaccine antigen may be approximately 23-33% against severe disease as compared to a previous vaccine antigen and 11-25% against symptomatic disease.
    • In a context of high infection- and vaccine-derived immunity in the population, contemporary vaccine effectiveness (VE) estimates are mostly relative (rVE), rather than absolute (comparing vaccinated to unvaccinated individuals), and demonstrate the added protection of recent vaccination over and above pre-existing infection- and vaccine-derived immunity:
      • Bivalent (index virus and BA.1- or BA.4/5) mRNA vaccines and a Beta-based protein vaccine continue to offer protection against severe disease during periods of XBB descendent lineage circulation. Protection against symptomatic disease and infection is lower and wanes more rapidly over several months.
      • Monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccines were introduced into some vaccination programmes in the last quarter of 2023. Protection against severe disease during periods of XBB descendent lineage circulation is high during the first three months after vaccination, but protection against symptomatic disease is lower.
      • There are fewer studies estimating rVE for the monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccines during periods of JN.1 descendent lineage circulation. These initial studies show some additional protection offered during the first three months after vaccination, but point towards a slight reduction in VE against JN.1, as compared to XBB.1 lineage variants, for protection against severe and symptomatic disease. These observations are consistent with reductions in neutralizing antibody titres observed in preclinical and clinical immunogenicity studies of monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccinee sera against JN.1 derived variants.
    • Preclinical data shared confidentially with the TAG-CO-VAC by vaccine manufacturers show that immunization of naïve mice, as well as mice previously immunized with SARS-CoV-2 variants, with monovalent JN.1-containing vaccine candidates elicits higher neutralizing antibody responses to JN.1 and its emerging descendent variants, as compared to responses elicited by currently approved vaccines. A single immunogenicity study in humans of a monovalent JN.1-containing vaccine candidate suggests that a JN.1 vaccine antigen is likely to produce higher neutralising antibodies to co-circulating JN.1 variants (e.g., KP.2) than an XBB.1.5 or related vaccine antigen.

    The TAG-CO-VAC acknowledges several limitations of the available data:

    • There are persistent and increasing gaps in genetic/genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 globally, including low numbers of samples sequenced and limited geographic diversity. The TAG-CO-VAC strongly supports the establishment of the WHO Coronavirus Network (CoViNet) to help address this information gap.
    • The trajectory of further SARS-CoV-2 evolution indicates that JN.1 will likely be the progenitor of SARS-CoV-2 variants, in the near term. However, the timing, specific mutations and antigenic characteristics, and the potential public health impact of newly emerged (e.g. KP.2) and future variants remain unknown. The TAG-CO-VAC strongly supports the ongoing work of the TAG-VE.
    • Although neutralizing antibody titres have been shown to be important correlates of protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection and of estimates of vaccine effectiveness, there are multiple components of immune protection elicited by infection and/or vaccination. Data on the immune responses following XBB or JN.1 descendent lineage infection or XBB.1.5 vaccination are largely restricted to neutralizing antibodies and data on other aspects of the immune response, including cellular immunity, are limited.
    • Immunogenicity data against currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants are not available for all COVID-19 vaccines.
    • Estimates of rVE against recently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants, including XBB or JN.1 descendent lineages, are limited in terms of the number of studies, geographic diversity, vaccine platforms evaluated, populations assessed, duration of follow-up and comparative estimates for monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccines versus other formulations delivered during the same time period.
    Recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine antigen composition

    As of April 2024, nearly all circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants reported in publicly available databases are JN.1 derived variants. As virus evolution is expected to continue from JN.1, future formulations of COVID-19 vaccines should aim to induce enhanced neutralizing antibody responses to JN.1 and its descendent lineages. One approach recommended by TAG-CO-VAC is the use of a monovalent JN.1 lineage (GenBank: OY817255.1, GISAID: EPI_ISL_18538117, WHO Biohub: 2024-WHO-LS-001) antigen in vaccines.

    The continued use of the current monovalent XBB.1.5 formulation will offer protection given the neutralizing antibody responses to early JN.1 descendent lineages, and the evidence from early rVE studies against JN.1. However, it is expected that the ability for XBB.1.5 vaccination to protect against symptomatic disease may be less robust as SARS-CoV-2 evolution continues from JN.1. Other formulations and/or platforms that achieve robust neutralizing antibody responses against currently circulating variants, particularly JN.1 descendent lineages, can also be considered.

    In accordance with WHO SAGE policy, vaccination programmes should continue to use any of the WHO emergency-use listed or prequalified COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination should not be delayed in anticipation of access to vaccines with an updated composition. WHO stresses the importance of access to and equity in the use of all available COVID-19 vaccines.

    Further data requirements and considerations

    Given the limitations of the evidence upon which the recommendations above are derived and the anticipated continued evolution of the virus, the TAG-CO-VAC strongly encourages generation of data on immune responses and clinical endpoints (i.e. VE) on the performance of all currently approved COVID-19 vaccines against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, and candidate vaccines with an updated antigen over time.

    As previously stated, the TAG-CO-VAC continues to encourage the further development of vaccines that may improve protection against infection and reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2. 

    ECDC and Africa CDC strengthen surveillance collaboration during meeting in Stockholm

    ECDC - News - Fri, 04/26/2024 - 16:16
    From 23–26 April 2024, experts from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) met in Stockholm, Sweden, to exchange expertise on surveillance, data management and epidemic intelligence.
    Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

    WHO reports widespread overuse of antibiotics in patients hospitalized with COVID-19

    WHO news - Fri, 04/26/2024 - 10:20
    WHO classifies antibiotics as per AWaRe (Access, Watch, Reserve) classification, according to the risk of AMR. Concerningly, the study found that ‘Watch’ antibiotics with higher resistance potential were most frequently prescribed globally.

    WHO and France convene high-level meeting to defeat meningitis

    WHO news - Thu, 04/25/2024 - 18:42
    The event is taking place on 26-27 April 2024 at the Institut Pasteur and is supported by prominent athletes advocating on the cause ahead of the Paris Paralympics.

    Rapid Outbreak Assessment: Prolonged multi-country outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes ST1607 linked to smoked salmon products

    ECDC - Risk assessments - Thu, 04/25/2024 - 16:40
    A prolonged genomic cluster of 20 human Listeria monocytogenes ST1607 infections has been reported to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, with cases identified in Denmark (17), Germany (1), and Italy (2) since 2019.
    Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

    Spain's Secretary of State for Health discusses health priorities with WHO

    WHO news - Thu, 04/25/2024 - 11:39

    WHO welcomed Mr Javier Padilla Bernáldez, Spain’s Secretary of State for Health and his delegation on 23 and 24 April 2024 to discuss joint global health priorities. Amongst others, Spain's focus is on universal health coverage and health systems strengthening; pandemic response and emergency medical teams; organ and tissue transplantation; malaria and other tropical diseases; and polio.

    During the visit, participants focused on plans and on-going work across a number of areas, including WHO’s Transplantation Program to increase availability; ethical access and oversight of transplantation of human cells; tissues and organs. They also discussed social determinants of health; tobacco and alcohol control; primary health care; access to medicines; universal health coverage; ensuring healthy lives at all ages; nutrition and food safety; health workforce; and emergencies.

    Mr Javier Padilla was accompanied by Ms Paola Cannata Molero, Director of the Cabinet of the Secretary of State for Health, Mr Jacobo Fernández Álvarez, Technical Secretary General, Mr Héctor Tejero Franco, Advisor in the Cabinet of the Minister of Health and Responsible for Health and Climate Change, and Mr Roberto Carro Vázquez, Senior Technician of the Office of the Secretary of State for Health. The delegation also had representatives of Spain’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva, including H.E. Ambassador Ms A. Díaz-Rato Revuelta, H.E. Ambassador Ms Clara Cabrera Brasero, and Counsellor Ms María del Carmen Martínez de la Peña.

    The Spanish delegation met with Dr Ailan Li, Assistant Director General (ADG) for Universal Health Coverage, Healthier Populations, Dr Catharina Boehme, ADG for External Relations and Governance, Dr Yukiko Nakatani, ADG for Access to Medicines and Health products and ADG for Antimicrobial Resistance ad interim, Dr Michael Ryan, Deputy Director-General and Executive Director for WHO Health Health Emergencies Programme.

    Left to right: Dr Maria Neira, Director, Environment, Climate Change and Health, H.E. Ambassador Aurora Díaz-Rato Revuelta, Dr Javier Padilla Bernáldez, Secretary of State for Health, Michael Ryan, Deputy Director-General and Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme. Credit: WHO/Chris Black

    WHO’s Management and their teams thanked Spain for their financial and technical support over the years. Spain’s support was instrumental in the last biennium in improving access to quality essential health services and medicines; addressing climate change and healthier environments; and strengthening country capacity in both data and innovation. Spain continues to be a champion of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

    Spain also contributes to WHO’s work in tackling malaria and neglected and other tropical diseases, and has helped the Organization strengthen countries’ preparedness, readiness, prevention and response for health emergencies, epidemics and pandemics. Spain’s contribution to WHO’s Health Emergency Appeal has helped to protect health in humanitarian emergencies to break the cycles of poverty.

    As a world leader in the field of organ and tissue transplantation, Spain plays a key role in WHO’s efforts through its Ministry of Health to improve the safety, quality, efficacy and access to transplants. WHO appreciates and acknowledges Spain as a partner who is not only leading and sharing expertise in support of countries’ development of sustainable, self-sufficient organ transplant systems, but also more generally, a key partner to WHO in health for all.


    High burden of Hepatitis B and C persists in the EU/EEA

    ECDC - News - Thu, 04/25/2024 - 10:37
    Recent ECDC data show that despite progress in prevention and control efforts, the hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses (HBV and HCV) continue to pose significant public health challenges in the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA).
    Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

    Call for abstracts for ESCAIDE 2024 open until 15 May

    ECDC - News - Wed, 04/24/2024 - 16:21
    The annual European Scientific Conference on Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology (ESCAIDE) is taking place in Stockholm and online from 20-22 November 2024.
    Categories: C.D.C. (Europe)

    Global immunization efforts have saved at least 154 million lives over the past 50 years

    WHO news - Wed, 04/24/2024 - 10:24

    A major landmark study to be published by The Lancet reveals that global immunization efforts have saved an estimated 154 million lives – or the equivalent of 6 lives every minute of every year – over the past 50 years. The vast majority of lives saved – 101 million – were those of infants.

    The study, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), shows that immunization is the single greatest contribution of any health intervention to ensuring babies not only see their first birthdays but continue leading healthy lives into adulthood.

    Of the vaccines included in the study, the measles vaccination had the most significant impact on reducing infant mortality, accounting for 60% of the lives saved due to immunization. This vaccine will likely remain the top contributor to preventing deaths in the future.

    Over the past 50 years, vaccination against 14 diseases (diphtheria, Haemophilus influenzae type B, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, measles, meningitis A, pertussis, invasive pneumococcal disease, polio, rotavirus, rubella, tetanus, tuberculosis, and yellow fever) has directly contributed to reducing infant deaths by 40% globally, and by more than 50% in the African Region.

    "Vaccines are among the most powerful inventions in history, making once-feared diseases preventable,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Thanks to vaccines, smallpox has been eradicated, polio is on the brink, and with the more recent development of vaccines against diseases like malaria and cervical cancer, we are pushing back the frontiers of disease. With continued research, investment and collaboration, we can save millions more lives today and in the next 50 years.”

    The study found that for each life saved through immunization, an average of 66 years of full health were gained – with a total of 10.2 billion full health years gained over the five decades. As the result of vaccination against polio more than 20 million people are able to walk today who would otherwise have been paralysed, and the world is on the verge of eradicating polio, once and for all.

    These gains in childhood survival highlight the importance of protecting immunization progress in every country of the world and accelerating efforts to reach the 67 million children who missed out on one or more vaccines during the pandemic years.

    Monumental efforts to increase access to vaccination over five decades

    Released ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) to take place in May 2024, the study is the most comprehensive analysis of the programme’s global and regional health impact over the past five decades.

    Founded in 1974 by the World Health Assembly, EPI's original goal was to vaccinate all children against diphtheria, measles, pertussis, polio, tetanus, tuberculosis, as well as smallpox, the only human disease ever eradicated. Today, the programme, now referred to as the Essential Programme on Immunization, includes universal recommendations to vaccinate against 13 diseases, and context-specific recommendations for another 17 diseases, extending the reach of immunization beyond children, to adolescent and adults.

    The study highlights that fewer than 5% of infants globally had access to routine immunization when EPI was launched. Today, 84% of infants are protected with 3 doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) – the global marker for immunization coverage.

    Nearly 94 million of the estimated 154 million lives saved since 1974, were a result of protection by measles vaccines. Yet, there were still 33 million children who missed a measles vaccine dose in 2022: nearly 22 million missed their first dose and an additional 11 million missed their second dose.

    Coverage of 95% or greater with 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine is needed to protect communities from outbreaks. Currently, the global coverage rate of the first dose of measles vaccine is 83% and the second dose is 74%, contributing to a very high number of outbreaks across the world.

    To increase immunization coverage, UNICEF, as one of the largest buyers of vaccines in the world, procures more than 2 billion doses every year on behalf of countries and partners for reaching almost half of the world’s children. It also works to distribute vaccines to the last mile, ensuring that even remote and underserved communities have access to immunization services.

    “Thanks to vaccinations, more children now survive and thrive past their fifth birthday than at any other point in history,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “This massive achievement is a credit to the collective efforts of governments, partners, scientists, healthcare workers, civil society, volunteers and parents themselves, all pulling in the same direction of keeping children safe from deadly diseases. We must build on the momentum and ensure that every child, everywhere, has access to life-saving immunizations.”

    In 2000, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which includes WHO, UNICEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) as core founding members, was created to expand the impact of EPI and help the poorest countries in the world increase coverage, benefit from new, life-saving vaccines and expand the breadth of protection against an increasing number of vaccine-preventable diseases. This intensified effort in the most vulnerable parts of the world has helped to save more lives and further promote vaccine equity. Today, Gavi has helped protect a whole generation of children and now provides vaccines against 20 infectious diseases, including the HPV vaccine and vaccines for outbreaks of measles, cholera, yellow fever, Ebola and meningitis.

    “Gavi was established to build on the partnership and progress made possible by EPI, intensifying focus on protecting the most vulnerable around the world,” said Dr Sania Nishtar, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “In a little over two decades we have seen incredible progress – protecting more than a billion children, helping halve childhood mortality in these countries, and providing billions in economic benefits. Vaccines are truly the best investment we can make in ensuring everyone, no matter where they are born, has an equal right to a healthy future: we must ensure these efforts are fully funded to protect the progress made and help countries address current challenges of their immunization programmes.”

    Immunization programmes have become the bedrock of primary health services in communities and countries due to their far reach and wide coverage. They provide not only an opportunity for vaccination but also enable other life-saving care to be provided, including nutritional support, maternal tetanus prevention, illness screenings and bed net distribution to protect families from diseases like malaria.

    Since the study only covers the health impact of vaccination against 14 diseases, the number of lives saved due to vaccination is a conservative estimate and not a full account of the life-saving impact of vaccines. Societal, economic or educational impacts to health and well-being over the 50 years have also contributed to further reductions in mortality. Today, there are vaccines to protect against more than 30 life-threatening diseases.

    While the HPV vaccine, which protects against cervical cancer in adults, was not included in the study, it is expected to prevent a high number of future deaths as countries work towards increasing immunization targets aimed at eliminating cervical cancer by 2030. New vaccine introductions, such as those for malaria, COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and meningitis, as well as cholera and Ebola vaccines used during outbreaks, will further save lives in the next 50 years.

    Saving millions more is “Humanly Possible”

    Global immunization programmes have shown what is humanly possible when many stakeholders, including heads of state, regional and global health agencies, scientists, charities, aid agencies, businesses, and communities work together.

    Today, WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, and BMGF are unveiling “Humanly Possible”, a joint campaign, marking the annual World Immunization Week, 24-30 April 2024. The worldwide communication campaign calls on world leaders to advocate, support and fund vaccines and the immunization programmes that deliver these lifesaving products – reaffirming their commitment to public health, while celebrating one of humanity’s greatest achievements. The next 50 years of EPI will require not only reaching the children missing out on vaccines, but protecting grandparents from influenza, mothers from tetanus, adolescents from HPV and everyone from TB, and many other infectious diseases.

    “It's inspiring to see what vaccines have made possible over the last fifty years, thanks to the tireless efforts of governments, global partners and health workers to make them more accessible to more people,” said Dr Chris Elias, president of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We cannot let this incredible progress falter. By continuing to invest in immunization, we can ensure that every child – and every person – has the chance to live a healthy and productive life.”


    Notes to editors

    For more information on WHO World Immunization Week 2024 campaign, visit World Immunization Week 2024 (who.int) and Humanly Possible campaign, http://itshumanlypossible.org.

    Access photos and broll on immunization here.

    About the data
    WHO led the analysis of the impact of the Expanded Programme on Immunization from 1974 to 2024 with input from researchers from University of Basel, Safinea Ltd., University of Washington, KidRisk Inc., Penn State University, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of Cape Town, Imperial College London, the Vaccine Impact Modelling Consortium, and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The analysis covers the global and regional health impact of vaccination against 14 diseases: diphtheria, Haemophilus influenzae type B, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, measles, meningitis A, pertussis, invasive pneumococcal disease, polio, rotavirus, rubella, tetanus, tuberculosis, and yellow fever.

    About WHO
    Dedicated to the health and 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. www.who.int

    About UNICEF
    UNICEF works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit: www.unicef.org. Follow UNICEF on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube

    About Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
    Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate more than half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunize a whole generation – over 1 billion children – and prevented more than 17.3 million future deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 78 lower-income countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningococcal and yellow fever vaccines. After two decades of progress, Gavi is now focused on protecting the next generation, above all the zero-dose children who have not received even a single vaccine shot. The Vaccine Alliance employs innovative finance and the latest technology – from drones to biometrics – to save lives, prevent outbreaks before they can spread and help countries on the road to self-sufficiency. Learn more at www.gavi.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

    About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
    Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman, under the direction of Co-chairs Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates and the board of trustees.



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