WHO 2020 Global TB Report app – now available in English, French and Russian

20 Oct

The new version of the World Health Organization (WHO) 2020 Global TB Report app is now available for your smartphone and tablet. The game-changing app brings to the users’ fingertips the latest TB statistics and trends, country and region comparisons and quick search for indicators.

The app is now updated with latest data from the WHO 2020 Global Tuberculosis Report.

In addition to allowing users to explore and interact with data from 215 countries and areas, this update includes new features, such as:

·       the ability to create your own groups of countries for which the app will automatically calculate values for key indicators;

·       an expanded ‘favourites’ functionality where you can make specific countries, regions, personalized groups, as well as profile comparisons easily available;

·       the app is now available in English, French and Russian – switch between languages at any time.

Other languages and more features will be available in future updates of the app.

 

The app is available for free download on the Google Play and Apple App stores. It works both online and offline.

TB Report App - Apple QR code     Global TB Report 2020 App Android QR code
         iOS: link                          Android: link

*The data in the app are from WHO’s Global TB Report, which provides a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the TB epidemic, and progress in the response at global, regional and country levels. TB remains one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide and is the world’s top infectious killer.

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Kim Sledge and the World We Want partner with WHO Foundation to re-record unity anthem “We Are Family” in response to COVID-19 and to focus on global public health needs

19 Oct
  • Special edition cover of the classic song “We Are Family’ will be accompanied by a worldwide viral video starring celebrities, frontline health heroes, leaders and members of the public singing together in a show of solidarity and support for addressing present and future global public health needs, including COVID-19.
  • Launching today, the #WeAreFamily video campaign will invite people worldwide to star in the music video, recording videos of themselves with their close family and friends singing the song and then sharing this on their social media channels.
  • Part of the proceeds from the new song, being released 9 Nov, will be donated to the WHO Foundation to support the response to COVID-19 and promotion and protection of health for people around the world. 
 

A special edition cover of Sister Sledge’s timeless hit We Are Family will be released in a new and inspiring call for global solidarity to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to generate proceeds to address the most pressing global health challenges of our time. The initiative is being launched by The World We Want, the global social impact enterprise, and Kim Sledge, part of the legendary multi-Gold and Platinum recording music group, in benefit of the WHO Foundation, and supported by the World Health Organization (WHO).

This new initiative, being launched ahead of United Nations Day on 24 October, will also be accompanied by a unique video and social media campaign, and sound a bold and hopeful call for solidarity, unity, and collaboration to promote and protect the health and wellbeing for every person on the planet. 

A call for solidarity 

The inspiration to release a special edition of the classic track came in March 2020 as communities around the world were left reeling from the impact of COVID-19.

Kim Sledge said: “From the doctors and nurses on the front lines, to the paramedics and police, from the midwives and scientists to the carers for the vulnerable, the We Are Family initiative will salute each and every one with a feeling of unity, strength and solidarity in response to the unprecedented challenges the world faces as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.”

“There are many people who motivated me to embark on this new initiative in support of making We Are Family come to life, and who are very dedicated to finding ways to conquer this crisis. They include my close family friend Lou Weisbach, my Mercy Seat Ministry brothers and sisters, and all of the global health workers, scientists, the essential labourers, care givers and emergency personnel around the world who have been working day and night during the pandemic in support of others,” added Kim, a vocalist, philanthropist, novelist, songwriter, producer and Minister.

Using music’s universal power in bringing the world together, the #WeAreFamily campaign is focused on raising awareness on, and much needed resources for, addressing global public health needs, from emergency preparedness, outbreak response, and stronger health systems to promoting mental health and preventing non-communicable diseases.

Natasha Mudhar, founder of The World We Want and the driving force behind the #WeAreFamily campaign, said: “We Are Family is one of the most instantly recognizable anthems in the world.  The song carries such an inspiring message of unity and solidarity. We are certain that the We Are Family song and video initiative is being launched at the right time. It is a rallying cry for togetherness, for the strength of our global family. We are all together during these times.”

Special edition version song to support health efforts

The special edition of the classic We Are Family song will be released online for download on 9 November 2020 in conjunction with the opening of the World Health Assembly, at which Kim Sledge is also scheduled to perform the song alongside choral singers from New York to Tonga. A portion of the song’s proceeds will be donated to the WHO Foundation to support the delivery of life-saving health services.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, said: “We Are Family is more than a song. It is a call to action for collaboration and kindness, and a reminder of the strength of family and the importance of coming together to help others in times of need.”

Dr Tedros added: “Now more than ever, communities and individuals all over the world need to heed this message and come together, as a global family, to support each other through this COVID-19 challenge, and to remember that our health and wellbeing is our most precious gift. I am grateful to Kim Sledge and the World We Want for sharing this masterpiece and message of hope with us all. It is only through national unity and global solidarity that we will overcome COVID-19 and ensure people all over the world attain the highest level of health and well-being."

Join the We Are Family video campaign

In support of the song’s release, a call is being launched today (19 October) for people worldwide to submit videos of themselves singing We Are Family for inclusion in a unique and inspiring compilation video for release on 7 December 2020. This video will honour the incredible work of the frontline workforces risking their lives around to save ours, and all those around the world who have been affected by the pandemic.

To submit sing-along videos to the Special Edition Cover Version of the We Are Family song, the key steps are:

  • Record yourself singing We Are Family either alone, or with friends and family, whilst observing physical distancing guidelines.
  • Share the video on your favourite social media channel, with the hashtag #WeAreFamily #COVID19 #HealthforAll and tag @WHO, @The_WorldWeWant and @thewhof.
  • Upload your video to https://unitystrong.com.  
  •  If you want your video to be considered for inclusion in the global We Are Family video, you will need to share your video by Monday, 30 November 2020.
  •  Video clips will be selected based on age, geographical diversity, and appropriate physical distancing if the video includes groups of people beyond immediate family members and correct handwashing if singing along to the song while washing hands.
  • More details including Terms & Conditions can be found here www.unitystrong.com

For further information, please contact The World We Want:  WAFmedia@theworldwewant.global

 

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Strategic exchange with representatives from civil society and communities

19 Oct

The WHO Department of Global HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections Programmes (HHS) convened 65 members of former civil society reference groups for HIV and hepatitis, the WHO advisory group of women living with HIV and community and civil society representatives who had formally engaged with the department in recent years to a virtual exchange of ideas on 16 October 2020.

The meeting provided an opportunity to share updates on WHO’s work on HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in 2020 and hear feedback from civil society and community partners on key issues and questions to be explored at the WHO Strategic and Technical Committee on HIV and Viral Hepatitis (STAC-HIVHEP) scheduled to meet virtually from 28-30 October. Participants were invited to share ideas around four areas: 

  • Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on essential HIV, hepatitis and STI services;
  • Proposing key elements, themes and principles for 2022-2030 strategies;
  • Balancing the need for disease specificity and sustainability in health including through universal health coverage, primary healthcare and health systems strengthening; and
  • Raising the profile of STIs.

During discussion meeting participants stressed the importance of WHO securing support for 2022-2030 strategies and described the impact of COVID-19 on the disruption of essential HIV, hepatitis and STI services exacerbated by the influence of populist challenges to science, community organizing and rights. WHO was also encouraged to be bolder in highlighting the countries, regions and populations were progress is unacceptably slow, including as a result of policy and financial barriers. Other issues raised during the meeting included:

  • Future strategies must urgently prioritize key populations for all three disease areas, universal health coverage and should include further focus on criminalization, prisoners, social determinants and people in humanitarian crises including displaced and migrant populations;
  • Re-focus on prevention, including primary prevention, across the disease areas with a clear focus on reaching priority populations first and enhancing support to innovation;
  • The importance of raising the profile of HTLV1 as a sexually transmitted infection and encouraging expanded HTLV1 testing and prevention programming including through safer sex and condom promotion with links to other disease areas and sexual reproductive health and rights;
  • COVID-19 mitigation approaches should continue to promote and support funding for community delivery of services including for testing, harm reduction and other prevention services and the distribution of medicines for HIV and viral hepatitis;
  • WHO should ensure that guidance on all disease areas and on COVID-19 seeks to ensure women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights by maintaining essential services and ensuring an increased focus on gender based and intimate partner violence and mental health;
  • Participants shared perspectives on how “COVID criminalization” was impacting on sex workers, people who use drugs and other key populations and called for further attention on the health of prisoners in context of COVID-19;
  • WHO was asked to optimize all options to secure lower commodity prices including for middle-income countries and to apply the learning and expertise from HIV and hepatitis access strategies to emerging COVID-19 commodities;
  • Essential HIV, hepatitis and STI services and interventions need to be included in all essential UHC packages in all countries with WHO support including through the planned UHC Compendium;
  • WHO has an important role in ensuring that community-based data generation and digital approaches are valued and supported and that funders see the value in community-based and community-led responses.

A number of community and civil society participants who joined the exchange on 16 October are also STAC-HIVHEP members including: Javier Hourcarde Bellocq from Argentina, Othman Mellouk from Morocco, Isabelle Andrieux-Meyer from Switzerland, Annette Sohn from Thailand and Oanh Khuat Thi Hai from Viet Nam. Cary James from the UK will also attend as an observer. All agreed to ensure that key points, including detailed points not captured here, raised during the consultation are shared at the STAC-HIVHEP meeting for consideration.

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Solidarity Therapeutics Trial produces conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of repurposed drugs for COVID-19 in record time

16 Oct

In just six months, the world’s largest randomized control trial on COVID-19 therapeutics has generated conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of repurposed drugs for the treatment of COVID-19.

Interim results from the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial, coordinated by the World Health Organization, indicate that remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the in-hospital course of COVID-19 among hospitalized patients.

The study, which spans more than 30 countries, looked at the effects of these treatments on overall mortality, initiation of ventilation, and duration of hospital stay in hospitalized patients. Other uses of the drugs, for example in treatment of patients in the community or for prevention, would have to be examined using different trials.

The progress achieved by the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial shows that large international trials are possible, even during a pandemic, and offer the promise of quickly and reliably answering critical public health questions concerning therapeutics.

The results of the trial are under review for publication in a medical journal and have been uploaded as preprint at medRxiv available at this link: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.10.15.20209817v1

The global platform of the Solidarity Trial is ready to rapidly evaluate promising new treatment options, with nearly 500 hospitals open as trial sites.

Newer antiviral drugs, immunomodulators and anti-SARS COV-2 monoclonal antibodies are now being considered for evaluation. 

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WHO appoints co-chairs of Independent Commission on sexual misconduct during the Ebola response in North Kivu and Ituri, the Democratic Republic of the Congo

15 Oct

The World Health Organization has appointed two distinguished leaders to co-chair an Independent Commission on sexual abuse and exploitation during the response to the tenth Ebola Virus Disease epidemic in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The commission will be co-chaired by Her Excellency Aïchatou Mindaoudou, former minister of foreign affairs and of social development of Niger, who has held senior United Nations posts in Côte d’Ivoire and in Darfur.

She will be joined by co-chair Julienne Lusenge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an internationally recognized human rights activist and advocate for survivors of sexual violence in conflict.

The role of the Independent Commission will be to swiftly establish the facts, identify and support survivors, ensure that any ongoing abuse has stopped, and hold perpetrators to account.

It will comprise up to seven members, including the co-chairs, with expertise in sexual exploitation and abuse, emergency response, and investigations.

The co-chairs will choose the other members of the Commission, which will be supported by a Secretariat based at WHO.

To support the Independent Commission’s work, the Director-General has decided to use an open process to hire an independent and external organization with experience in conducting similar inquiries.

The tenth epidemic of Ebola Virus Disease in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri – the world’s second largest Ebola outbreak on record – was declared over on 25 June 2020, after persisting for nearly two years in an active conflict zone, and causing 2,300 deaths.

WHO has a zero tolerance policy with regard to sexual exploitation and abuse. We reiterate our strong commitment to preventing and protecting against sexual exploitation and abuse in all our operations around the world.

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Sixth Annual meeting of the “Friends of the Task Force” Working with Member States to deliver the NCD-related SDG targets during and beyond COVID-19

15 Oct

On 24 September 2020, the Friends of the Task Force met in the margins of the high-level segment of the 75thsession of the United Nations General Assembly. Participants included Member States, UN agencies and non-State actors.

The meeting was co-hosted by the Government of the Russian Federation and the World Health Organization, and co-sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme, the International Development Law Organization, and the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. 

The meeting provided an opportunity to review the contribution of the Task Force to global efforts to scale up prevention and control NCDs, with a special focus on NCDs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO Director-General also announced the fifteen winners of the 2020 UNIATF Awards.  

The Task Force Secretariat provided a brief overview of Task Force activities over the last year.  

Mikhail Murashko, Minister of Health of the Russian Federation, highlighted the importance of a systematic approach to combating NCDs and expressed his appreciation of the work done by the Task Force in promoting multi-sectoral collaboration in the area of NCDs, including through the development of the national NCD investment cases under the WHO-UNDP joint programme.  The Russian Federation is now providing an additional $ 5 million over the next five years to build on this work. Minister Murashko welcomed contributions from Italy, the European Commission and the Gulf Health Council for the work of the Task Force. 

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, emphasized the importance of strengthening NCD response during and beyond COVID-19. He highlighted the impact of the pandemic on NCDs and mental health and that strong action on NCDs must be an integral part of the COVID-19 response and recovery. The Director-General reminded participants that he had recently launched a joint WHO, UNDP and Task Force publication, Responding to NCDs during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.  Dr Tedros described WHO’s commitment to work with Task Force members to establish the NCD and Mental Health Multi-Partner Trust Fund. Once established, Dr Tedros said that he would be calling on partners to mobilize additional resources beyond WHO’s budget to scale up support to countries for their response to NCDs.

“There’s no doubt that COVID-19 is a setback to our efforts to beat NCDs, but we cannot allow it to become an excuse for failing to deliver on our commitments. On contrary, we must use it as motivation to work all the harder!” Dr Tedros. 

 

Aksel Jacobsen, State Secretary of International Development for the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, described Norway’s NCD Development Policy (2020-2024), which will support low-income countries in their efforts to address NCDs. He underscored the high burden of NCD and COVID-19 comorbidity. The State Secretary called upon countries to ensure that NCD prevention, detection, and treatment is included in their COVID-19 response plans, highlighting the importance of political commitment to achieve equality and equity in access to health protection.

“The long-time global underinvestment in NCD prevention and control is part of the reason behind this tragic development.” Hon Jakobsen. 

Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health of Nigeria, thanked the Task Force for its mission to Nigeria earlier this year, indicating that the mission’s recommendations have been approved by the President, and an implementation unit to implement the recommendations has been established. 

Dr Jennifer Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the United Kingdom, spoke about the UK’s experience in fighting major NCD risk factors, as well as obesity, and the UK’s efforts to support people to stay mentally well during the pandemic. Dr Harries emphasized the importance of multilateral approaches to address NCDs, highlighting national WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) investment cases that the UK has been supporting. 

“The UK would support further joint programming across multilaterals through the Multi-Partner Trust Fund to catalyse action on NCDs in low- and middle-income countries at such a critical time.” Dr Harries.  

Mr Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency described IAEA’s collaboration with WHO over many years, especially with regards the Human Health Programme to address NCD challenges across a range of medical issues. Mr Grossi highlighted IAEA’s work in building capacity for NCD and COVID-19 detection, which has involved the provision of thousands of health professionals with resources on the use of radiology for diagnosis and treatment.

“Medical imaging has had a significant impact on our understanding of COVID-19-related signs and symptoms.” Mr Grossi.

Emanuela Del Re, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, shared the experience of Italy in dealing with NCDs though promotion of healthy diets and food quality assurance.

“Healthy lifestyles and balanced diet not only prevent NCDs, but also have a positive impact on people's general health, especially children in the first years of life.” Hon Del Re.  

Ahmed Mohammed Obaid Al Saidi, Minister of Health of the Sultanate of Oman, highlighted the increased use of innovative digital technology solutions for NCD care which emerged from the constraints imposed by COVID-19. 

“In Oman service pathways for those seeking NCD care have been rearranged to ensure safety for patients and safe delivery of services and medications. This had undoubtedly invited innovation and the introduction of new measures that rely on technology." Hon Al Saidi.

Ms Jan Beagle, Director General of the International Development Law Organization, stressed the importance of the rule of law and functioning of legal and regulatory frameworks for adequate and equitable NCD and COVID-19 care for all. 

“Now, more than ever, COVID-19 has exposed and is being aggravated by the entrenched injustices and equalities under which too many people still live and from which no nation can claim to be exempt.” Ms. Beagle.

Ms Katie Dain, Chief Executive Officer of the NCD Alliance welcomed the Task Force's recent attention on NCD treatment and management as well as the development of the Multi-Partner Trust Fund. 

 “COVID-19 must be a wake-up call for governments and political leaders to value, prioritize, and invest in health, NCDs, and prevention. We simply won't be prepared for the next pandemic, or any other health threat unless we really get to grips with the burden of NCDs.” Ms. Dain.

Dr Adriana Blanco Marquizo, Head of Secretariat of the FCTC spoke about the threat posed by tobacco industry in the context of COVID-19 and NCDs, and the important role that the WHO FCTC plays in directing national and international effort at reducing global tobacco prevalence. Dr Blanco highlighted the urgent need to support tobacco users who want to quit, pointing to sensitization of population about importance of health that occurred due to COVID-19. 

Ms Lena Nanushyan, from the Ministry of Health in Armenia, highlighted the experience of Armenia in working with the Task Force on development and implementation of a national NCD investment case. Ms Nanushyan underscored that the results of the investment case were used to argue for the adoption of a stricter tobacco control law earlier this year.

Dr Douglas Webb, Cluster Leader, HIV Health and Development Group at the United Nations Development Programme,spoke about the opportunity to address NCDs through national COVID-19 response and recovery plans, which increasingly reveal synergies with NCD-related action within and beyond the health sector. Dr Webb endorsed the Multi-Partner Trust Fund, noting the significant funding gap in responding to NCDs. 

“The Multi-Partner Trust Fund is a critical technical tool to allow member states to advance on strengthening their NCD response.” Dr Webb.

Mr Yahya Alfasi, from the Gulf Health Council, informed the participants about the ongoing work to develop NCD investment cases for six countries across the region through the WHO-UNDP joint programme under the Task Force.

Mr William Twomey, from Johnson and Johnson, praised the Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco (AIQT) to improve global access to tobacco cessation support, stating that it was an important step to curbing the very high economic and social costs that tobacco imposes on our society.  

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Sixth Annual meeting of the “Friends of the Task Force” Working with Member States to deliver the NCD-related SDG targets during and beyond COVID-19

15 Oct

On 24 September 2020, the Friends of the Task Force met in the margins of the high-level segment of the 75thsession of the United Nations General Assembly. Participants included Member States, UN agencies and non-State actors.

The meeting was co-hosted by the Government of the Russian Federation and the World Health Organization, and co-sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme, the International Development Law Organization, and the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. 

The meeting provided an opportunity to review the contribution of the Task Force to global efforts to scale up prevention and control NCDs, with a special focus on NCDs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO Director-General also announced the fifteen winners of the 2020 UNIATF Awards.  

The Task Force Secretariat provided a brief overview of Task Force activities over the last year.  

Mikhail Murashko, Minister of Health of the Russian Federation, highlighted the importance of a systematic approach to combating NCDs and expressed his appreciation of the work done by the Task Force in promoting multi-sectoral collaboration in the area of NCDs, including through the development of the national NCD investment cases under the WHO-UNDP joint programme.  The Russian Federation is now providing an additional $ 5 million over the next five years to build on this work. Minister Murashko welcomed contributions from Italy, the European Commission and the Gulf Health Council for the work of the Task Force. 

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, emphasized the importance of strengthening NCD response during and beyond COVID-19. He highlighted the impact of the pandemic on NCDs and mental health and that strong action on NCDs must be an integral part of the COVID-19 response and recovery. The Director-General reminded participants that he had recently launched a joint WHO, UNDP and Task Force publication, Responding to NCDs during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.  Dr Tedros described WHO’s commitment to work with Task Force members to establish the NCD and Mental Health Multi-Partner Trust Fund. Once established, Dr Tedros said that he would be calling on partners to mobilize additional resources beyond WHO’s budget to scale up support to countries for their response to NCDs.

“There’s no doubt that COVID-19 is a setback to our efforts to beat NCDs, but we cannot allow it to become an excuse for failing to deliver on our commitments. On contrary, we must use it as motivation to work all the harder!” Dr Tedros. 

 

Aksel Jacobsen, State Secretary of International Development for the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, described Norway’s NCD Development Policy (2020-2024), which will support low-income countries in their efforts to address NCDs. He underscored the high burden of NCD and COVID-19 comorbidity. The State Secretary called upon countries to ensure that NCD prevention, detection, and treatment is included in their COVID-19 response plans, highlighting the importance of political commitment to achieve equality and equity in access to health protection.

“The long-time global underinvestment in NCD prevention and control is part of the reason behind this tragic development.” Hon Jakobsen. 

Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health of Nigeria, thanked the Task Force for its mission to Nigeria earlier this year, indicating that the mission’s recommendations have been approved by the President, and an implementation unit to implement the recommendations has been established. 

Dr Jennifer Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the United Kingdom, spoke about the UK’s experience in fighting major NCD risk factors, as well as obesity, and the UK’s efforts to support people to stay mentally well during the pandemic. Dr Harries emphasized the importance of multilateral approaches to address NCDs, highlighting national WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) investment cases that the UK has been supporting. 

“The UK would support further joint programming across multilaterals through the Multi-Partner Trust Fund to catalyse action on NCDs in low- and middle-income countries at such a critical time.” Dr Harries.  

Mr Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency described IAEA’s collaboration with WHO over many years, especially with regards the Human Health Programme to address NCD challenges across a range of medical issues. Mr Grossi highlighted IAEA’s work in building capacity for NCD and COVID-19 detection, which has involved the provision of thousands of health professionals with resources on the use of radiology for diagnosis and treatment.

“Medical imaging has had a significant impact on our understanding of COVID-19-related signs and symptoms.” Mr Grossi.

Emanuela Del Re, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, shared the experience of Italy in dealing with NCDs though promotion of healthy diets and food quality assurance.

“Healthy lifestyles and balanced diet not only prevent NCDs, but also have a positive impact on people's general health, especially children in the first years of life.” Hon Del Re.  

Ahmed Mohammed Obaid Al Saidi, Minister of Health of the Sultanate of Oman, highlighted the increased use of innovative digital technology solutions for NCD care which emerged from the constraints imposed by COVID-19. 

“In Oman service pathways for those seeking NCD care have been rearranged to ensure safety for patients and safe delivery of services and medications. This had undoubtedly invited innovation and the introduction of new measures that rely on technology." Hon Al Saidi.

Ms Jan Beagle, Director General of the International Development Law Organization, stressed the importance of the rule of law and functioning of legal and regulatory frameworks for adequate and equitable NCD and COVID-19 care for all. 

“Now, more than ever, COVID-19 has exposed and is being aggravated by the entrenched injustices and equalities under which too many people still live and from which no nation can claim to be exempt.” Ms. Beagle.

Ms Katie Dain, Chief Executive Officer of the NCD Alliance welcomed the Task Force's recent attention on NCD treatment and management as well as the development of the Multi-Partner Trust Fund. 

 “COVID-19 must be a wake-up call for governments and political leaders to value, prioritize, and invest in health, NCDs, and prevention. We simply won't be prepared for the next pandemic, or any other health threat unless we really get to grips with the burden of NCDs.” Ms. Dain.

Dr Adriana Blanco Marquizo, Head of Secretariat of the FCTC spoke about the threat posed by tobacco industry in the context of COVID-19 and NCDs, and the important role that the WHO FCTC plays in directing national and international effort at reducing global tobacco prevalence. Dr Blanco highlighted the urgent need to support tobacco users who want to quit, pointing to sensitization of population about importance of health that occurred due to COVID-19. 

Ms Lena Nanushyan, from the Ministry of Health in Armenia, highlighted the experience of Armenia in working with the Task Force on development and implementation of a national NCD investment case. Ms Nanushyan underscored that the results of the investment case were used to argue for the adoption of a stricter tobacco control law earlier this year.

Dr Douglas Webb, Cluster Leader, HIV Health and Development Group at the United Nations Development Programme,spoke about the opportunity to address NCDs through national COVID-19 response and recovery plans, which increasingly reveal synergies with NCD-related action within and beyond the health sector. Dr Webb endorsed the Multi-Partner Trust Fund, noting the significant funding gap in responding to NCDs. 

“The Multi-Partner Trust Fund is a critical technical tool to allow member states to advance on strengthening their NCD response.” Dr Webb.

Mr Yahya Alfasi, from the Gulf Health Council, informed the participants about the ongoing work to develop NCD investment cases for six countries across the region through the WHO-UNDP joint programme under the Task Force.

Mr William Twomey, from Johnson and Johnson, praised the Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco (AIQT) to improve global access to tobacco cessation support, stating that it was an important step to curbing the very high economic and social costs that tobacco imposes on our society.  

Uncategorised

New electronic survey manual supports countries to combat micronutrient deficiencies

15 Oct

A new Micronutrient survey manual (2020) and toolkit, developed in collaboration by WHO, CDC, UNICEF and Nutrition International were published today to meet the demand of countries interested in assessing the micronutrient status of their populations.

Addressing micronutrient malnutrition is one of the greatest global health challenges. Surveys assessing micronutrient status provide a basis for policy makers and programme implementers to understand the magnitude of micronutrient deficiencies and to gather the evidence needed to improve programming. Guidance on how to evaluate the impact of interventions to improve micronutrient status is also included in the manual.

This user-friendly resource enables programme managers, government officials and researchers alike to access the entire knowledge library of best practices and resources for conducting micronutrient surveys through an interactive website.

Certain population groups, especially women and children, are at greater risk of micronutrient deficiencies. Micronutrients are critical for a well-functioning immune system, which is of utmost importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a population has poor status for key micronutrients, such as vitamin A, zinc or vitamin D, then they may be less well equipped to mount a proper immune response when exposed to viral or bacterial infections than if they had adequate micronutrient status.

The manual emphasizes the use of indicators recommended by WHO and other internationally recognized agencies for assessing vitamin and mineral status, for classifying deficiencies at the individual and population levels, for defining public health problems and for monitoring progress toward preventing and eliminating micronutrient deficiencies.

There is also a downloadable platform that functions like the website such that resources can be accessible to users offline. The content includes 16 modules of information and more than 200 tools, examples and resources in a searchable platform.

The manual and website are an update of the 2007 publication, Indicators and methods for cross-sectional surveys of vitamin and mineral status of populations and its associated online survey toolkit.

Link to publication: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240012691 

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WHO Bulletin Call for Papers: Behavioural and Social Sciences for Better Health

15 Oct
As part of WHO’s efforts to scale up the use of behavioural and social sciences, the Bulletin will publish a special issue on Behavioural and Social Sciences for Health in late 2021.

The call for papers was published in the October 2020 issue and can be accessed here.

The deadline for submissions is 31 December 2020.

 

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WHO takes a position on genetically modified mosquitoes

14 Oct

Each year, more than 700 000 people die from vector-borne diseases (VBDs) such as malaria, dengue, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis, among others. More than 80% of the global population live in areas at risk of at least one major vector-borne disease, and more than half are at risk of two or more. Taken together, these diseases exact an immense toll on economies and can impede both rural and urban development.

Recognizing the urgent need for new tools to combat VBDs, and in the spirit of fostering innovation, WHO supports the investigation of all potentially beneficial technologies, including genetically-modified mosquitoes (GMMs). A new position statement, launched today in a WHO seminar, clarifies WHO’s stance on the evaluation and use of GMMs for the control of vector-borne diseases. 

“These diseases are not going away,” noted Dr John Reader, Director of TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, as he presented the position statement in the seminar. “We really do need to think about new tools that could make an impact.” 

New position statement 

In recent years, there have been significant advances in GMM approaches aimed at suppressing mosquito populations and reducing their susceptibility to infection, as well as their ability to transmit disease-carrying pathogens. These advances have led to an often-polarized debate on the benefits and risks of genetically-modified mosquitoes. 
According to the new WHO statement, computer simulation modelling has shown that GMMs could be a valuable new tool in efforts to eliminate malaria and to control diseases carried by Aedes mosquitoes. WHO cautions, however, that the use of GMMs raises concerns and questions around ethics, safety, governance, affordability and cost–effectiveness that must addressed.

The statement notes that GMM research should be conducted through a step-wise approach and supported by clear governance mechanisms to evaluate any health, environmental and ecological implications. It underscores that any effective approach to combating vector-borne diseases requires the robust and meaningful engagement of communities. This is especially important for area-wide control measures such as GMMs, as the risks and benefits may affect large segments of the population.

Countries and other stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback on the new position statement by contacting WHO at: geneticallymodifiedmosquitoes@who.int.

New guidance

Despite the growing threat of vector-borne diseases to individuals, families and societies, the ethical issues raised by VBDs have received only limited attention. Recognizing this gap, WHO has issued new guidance to support national VBD control programmes in their efforts to identify and respond to the core ethical issues at stake.

The new guidance, titled “Ethics & vector-borne diseases,” was issued today alongside the position statement on GMMs. Grounded in a multidisciplinary framework, the guidance emphasizes the critical role of community engagement in designing and implementing an appropriate, sustainable public health response.

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