The United States Applauds the Interim Government’s “People’s Vote”

8 Dec

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

The United States continues to support Interim President Juan Guaidó, the National Assembly, and the Venezuelan people in their struggle to restore democracy in their country.  From December 7 to 12, the Venezuelan people will have the opportunity to voice their opinion of the illegitimate Maduro regime through the Consulta Popular, or People’s Vote.  The “Consulta” is being held under the authority of the legitimate National Assembly and in accordance with the Venezuelan Constitution.  It provides a platform for Venezuelans, including those forced to flee abroad under threat of persecution, torture, or death, to demand free and fair presidential and legislative elections.  It is an opportunity to voice their support for a transition to democracy in Venezuela and reject the regime’s fraudulent legislative elections.

The Venezuelan electoral process has been reduced to a farce by the Maduro dictatorship.  In the face of tremendous repression, the Consulta Popular is giving the Venezuelan people a voice.  While the “Consulta” will not end the humanitarian, political, and economic crises caused by Maduro, it is a courageous step to fairly and transparently give a voice to the suffering of the Venezuelan people and establish momentum towards truly free and fair elections for president and the National Assembly.

The democratically elected National Assembly and the voice of the Venezuelan people are the only things standing in the way of authoritarianism in Venezuela.  The international community can best support democracy in Venezuela by uniting behind the Venezuelan people as they raise their voices to demand an end to the brutal Maduro dictatorship and a return to democracy.

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G20 First-time Released Report on Digital Health Interventions for Pandemic Management

8 Dec

The first G20 report in area of digital health, Report on Digital Health Implementation Approach to Pandemic Management, was announced in advent of the G20 Summit. This report promptly outlines digital health emergency responses landscape and proposed actions and implementation recommendations. WHO assumes leadership in multiple strategic recommendation areas in this report, and is committed to support countries to enhance capacity in leveraging digital intervention for emergency response through strengthened international collaboration.  

Creation of G20 Digital Health Taskforce

During the Saudi Arabian G20 presidency, a G20 Digital Health Taskforce was created by endorsement of the Health Ministers. The aim of the Taskforce is to strengthen international collaboration on leveraging digital health interventions, addressing challenges in access to foundational requirements and supporting policy making. In response to the Covid-19 emergency, in April 2020, the taskforce started to tackle the pandemic challenge by bringing together 17 countries, international organization, including WHO, ITU, OECD, Global Digital Health Partnership (GDPH), Global Fund, and UNICEF to explore mechanisms to harness the digital health interventions for Covid-19 emergency response.  ‘The pandemic has revealed our vulnerability, but the Digital Health Taskforce confirms that today sharing resources, utilities and expertise can go across national borders and beyond.’  Dr Mona AlMehaid, Saudi Arabia G20 Digital Health Lead, Ministry of Health Saudi Arabia, stated.

Launch of G20 Report on Digital Health Implementation Approach to Pandemic Management

The first G20 report in the area of digital health, G20 Report on Digital Health Implementation Approach to Pandemic Management, was launched by the Taskforce. 'This report provides the basis of a blueprint for countries to use digital health interventions for emergencies and in future, and it supports countries to select information and tools relevant to each country’s health situation, regulatory environment, and digital maturity.' Colleen Brooks, from the G20 Digital Health Taskforce Secretariat explains the objectives of the report. Based on data collected by the Saudi G20 Digital Health Secretariat, this report provides timely information to facilitate countries’ digital health emergency responses with proposed actions and implementation resources/recommendations. The information covered the whole circle of emergency response, including preparation and initiation, prevention and triage, tracking, tracing and testing, treatment and vaccine, and post-pandemic preparation. 11 recommendations have been raised for future work, among which WHO takes leadership in multiple areas:

  1. Support countries documenting digital health maturity in key ‘building blocks’ areas including: leadership and governance; strategy and investment; legislation, policy, and compliance; workforce; standards and interoperability; and infrastructure;
  2. Support international collaboration of countries in developing data standards and interoperability specifications for all types of surveillance; (co-lead with ITU);
  3. Support international collaboration in determining the best process for supplementing the available information;
  4. Support open source digital health applications to be compliant with interoperability  standards and specifications;
  5. Support sharing telemedicine tools and platforms for free/open source during a state of emergency, where these tools are not available.

WHO is committed to take leadership to strengthen international cooperation and digital health  capacity building of countries' response to emergencies, and will continue this effort together with G20, to enhance global health system strengthening, building on  lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic, and will continue this dialogue in G20 2021 hosted by Italy, stated Bernardo Mariano Junior, Chief Information Officer, Director of Department of Digital Health and Innovation, World Health Organization.  

The report can be downloaded from digitalhealthtaskforce.org.

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WHO reveals leading causes of death and disability worldwide: 2000-2019

8 Dec

Noncommunicable diseases now make up 7 of the world’s top 10 causes of death, according to WHO’s 2019 Global Health Estimates, published today. This is an increase from 4 of the 10 leading causes in 2000. The new data cover the period from 2000 to 2019 inclusive.

The estimates reveal trends over the last 2 decades in mortality and morbidity caused by diseases and injuries. They clearly highlight the need for an intensified global focus on preventing and treating cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, as well as tackling injuries, in all regions of the world, as set out in the agenda for the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“These new estimates are another reminder that we need to rapidly step up prevention, diagnosis and treatment of noncommunicable diseases,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “They highlight the urgency of drastically improving primary health care equitably and holistically. Strong primary health care is clearly the foundation on which everything rests, from combatting noncommunicable diseases to managing a global pandemic.”

Heart disease remains the number 1 killer; diabetes and dementia enter the top 10

Heart disease has remained the leading cause of death at the global level for the last 20 years. However, it is now killing more people than ever before. The number of deaths from heart disease increased by more than 2 million since 2000, to nearly 9 million in 2019. Heart disease now represents 16% of total deaths from all causes. More than half of the 2 million additional deaths were in the WHO Western Pacific region. Conversely, the European region has seen a relative decline in heart disease, with deaths falling by 15% [1].

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are now among the top 10 causes of death worldwide, ranking 3rd in both the Americas and Europe in 2019. Women are disproportionally affected: globally, 65% of deaths from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are women.

Deaths from diabetes increased by 70% globally between 2000 and 2019, with an 80% rise in deaths among males. In the Eastern Mediterranean, deaths from diabetes have more than doubled and represent the greatest percentage increase of all WHO regions.

Global decline in deaths from communicable diseases, but still a major challenge in low- and middle-income countries

In 2019, pneumonia and other lower respiratory infections were the deadliest group of communicable diseases and together ranked as the fourth leading cause of death. However, compared to 2000, lower respiratory infections were claiming fewer lives than in the past, with the global number of deaths decreasing by nearly half a million.

This reduction is in line with a general global decline in the percentage of deaths caused by communicable diseases. For example, HIV/AIDS dropped from the 8th leading cause of death in 2000 to the 19th in 2019, reflecting the success of efforts to prevent infection, test for the virus and treat the disease over the last two decades. While it remains the fourth leading cause of death in Africa, the number of deaths has dropped by more than half, falling from over 1 million in 2000 to 435 000 in 2019 in Africa.

Tuberculosis is also no longer in the global top 10, falling from 7th place in 2000 to thirteenth in 2019, with a 30% reduction in global deaths. Yet, it remains among the top 10 causes of deaths in the African and South-East Asian regions, where it is the 8th and 5th leading cause respectively. Africa saw an increase in tuberculosis mortality after 2000, though this has started to decline in the last few years.  

The new estimates also emphasize the toll that communicable diseases still take in low-income countries: 6 of the top 10 causes of death in low-income countries are still communicable diseases, including malaria (6th), tuberculosis (8th) and HIV/AIDS (9th). Meanwhile, in recent years, WHO reports highlight an overall concerning slow-down or plateauing of progress against infectious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

People are living longer – but with more disability

The estimates further confirm the growing trend for longevity: in 2019, people were living more than 6 years longer than in 2000, with a global average of more than 73 years in 2019 compared to nearly 67 in 2000. But on average, only 5 of those additional years were lived in good health.

Indeed, disability is on the rise. To a large extent, the diseases and health conditions that are causing the most deaths are those that are responsible for the greatest number of healthy life-years lost. Heart disease, diabetes, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were collectively responsible for nearly 100 million additional healthy life-years lost in 2019 compared to 2000.

Injuries are another major cause of disability and death: there has been a significant rise in road traffic injuries in the African region since 2000, with an almost 50% increase in both death and healthy life-years lost. Similar but slightly smaller increases (at around 40%) were also observed for the Eastern Mediterranean region. Globally, deaths from road traffic injuries are 75% male.

In the Americas, drug use has emerged as a significant contributor to both disability and death. There was a nearly threefold increase in deaths from drug use disorders in the Americas between 2000 and 2019. This region is also the only one for which drug use disorder is a top 10 contributor to healthy life-years lost due to premature deaths and disability, while in all other regions, drug use does not make the top 25.

Data sources and methodology

WHO’s Global Health Estimates present comprehensive, comparable and transparent time-series data for population health, including life expectancy, healthy life expectancy, mortality and morbidity, and burden of disease at global, regional and country levels disaggregated by age, sex and cause, from 2000 onwards.

“These estimates are produced using data from the best available sources from countries and the international community,” said Dr Bochen Cao, the technical lead for WHO’s Global Health Estimates. “They are based on robust scientific methods for the processing, synthesis and analysis of data. These updated estimates also benefited from the valuable contributions of WHO’s Member States through active country consultation and dialogue.”

The availability of services to prevent, diagnose and treat disease is key to reducing death and disability, influencing where different conditions are ranked. These new estimates clearly indicate where additional investments in services are most urgently needed.

“Robust health data are critical to address inequalities, prioritize policies and allocate resources to  prevent disability and save lives,” adds Dr Samira Asma, Assistant Director-General for the Division of Data, Analytics and Delivery for Impact at WHO. “The WHO Global Health Estimates are a powerful tool to maximize health and economic impact. We call upon governments and stakeholders to urgently invest in data and health information systems to support timely and effective decision-making.”

As of today, COVID-19 has tragically claimed more than 1.5 million lives. People living with pre-existing health conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes and respiratory conditions) are at higher risk of complications and death due to COVID-19.

Health authorities worldwide depend on timely, reliable and actionable data to make informed decisions – this is especially true during a global pandemic. The next update to these estimates will include an assessment of the direct and indirect impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mortality and morbidity.

 


[1] See www.who.int/countries for the list of countries in each WHO region

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WHO launches year-long campaign to help 100 million people quit tobacco

8 Dec

WHO today launches a year-long global campaign for World No Tobacco Day 2021 - “Commit to Quit During COVID-19”, releasing the new Quit Challenge on WhatsApp and publishing “More than 100 reasons to quit tobacco.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to millions of tobacco users saying they want to quit. The campaign will support at least 100 million people as they try to give up tobacco through communities of quitters. 

“Commit to Quit During COVID-19”  will help create healthier environments that are conducive to quitting tobacco by advocating for strong tobacco cessation policies; increasing access to cessation services; raising awareness of tobacco industry tactics, and empowering tobacco users to make successful quit attempts through “quit & win” initiatives. 

WHO, together with partners, will create and build-up digital communities where people can find the social support they need to quit. The focus will be on high burden countries* where the majority of the world’s tobacco users live.

WHO welcomes new contributions from partners, including private sector companies that have offered support, including Allen Carr’s Easyway, Amazon Web Services, Cipla, Facebook, GlaxoSmithKline, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Praekelt, Soul Machines, and WhatsApp. 

Quitting tobacco is challenging, especially with the added social and economic stresses that have come as a result of the pandemic. Worldwide around 780 million people say they want to quit, but only 30% of them have access to the tools that can help them do so. Together with partners, WHO will provide people with the tools and resources they need to make a successful quit attempt.

“Smoking kills 8 million people a year, but if users need more motivation to kick the habit, the pandemic provides the right incentive,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

WHO released a scientific brief earlier this year showing that smokers are at higher risk of developing severe disease and death from COVID-19. Tobacco is also a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes. Moreover, people living with these conditions are more vulnerable to severe COVID-19.

Both global and regional cessation tools will be rolled out as part of the campaign. WHO’s 24/7 digital health worker to help people quit tobacco is available in English and will soon be released to support people in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish. 

“Millions of people worldwide want to quit tobacco – we must seize this opportunity and invest in services to help them be successful, while we urge everyone to divest from the tobacco industry and their interests,” said Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion. 

To create environments conducive to quitting tobacco, WHO has worked with partners and countries around the globe to implement tobacco control measures that effectively reduce the demand for tobacco. 

WHO calls on all governments to ensure their citizens have access to brief advice, toll-free quit lines, mobile and digital cessation services, nicotine replacement therapies and other tools that are proven to help people quit. Strong cessation services improve health, save lives and save money.  

Note to editors: 

*The campaign focus countries are:  

  • Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
  • Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
  • Federal Republic of Germany                             
  • Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • Federative Republic of Brazil
  • Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  • Islamic Republic of Iran 
  • Islamic Republic of Pakistan
  • People’s Republic of Bangladesh
  • People’s Republic of China, 
  • Republic of India
  • Republic of Indonesia
  • Republic of the Philippines, 
  • Republic of Poland
  • Republic of South Africa
  • Republic of Suriname
  • Republic of Turkey
  • Russian Federation
  • Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
  • United Mexican States
  • United States of America
  • Ukraine

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Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with Slovenian Foreign Minister Logar

8 Dec

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Principal Deputy Spokesperson Cale Brown:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met with Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar today in Washington, D.C.  Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Logar discussed the importance of energy security and how civil nuclear cooperation can strengthen the strategic bilateral relationship.  Both leaders noted the anticipated  signature of the U.S.-Slovenia Nuclear Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding scheduled for December 8.  They also welcomed establishment of a U.S.-Slovenian Strategic Dialogue to further strengthen our foreign and security policy cooperation, advance economic prosperity for our two nations, and enhance our longstanding people-to-people ties.  Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Logar agreed on the need for coordinated action to defend our shared values and interests from threats posed by malign actors.  Secretary Pompeo also congratulated Slovenia for officially declaring Hizballah in its entirety a terrorist organization.

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Prospects for Peace between Israelis, Palestinians Remain Remote as Ever, Secretary‑General Stresses, as International Media Seminar Opens

8 Dec

Journalists, media experts, policymakers and scholars within academic and faith communities in Palestine, Israel and elsewhere gathered for the opening of the twenty‑seventh annual International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East today, held for the first time in virtual format, amid the ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic.

Top Officials, Briefing Security Council, Urge International Support for Sudan, as Recent Political Progress Faces Complex Challenges

8 Dec

Officials briefing the Security Council today called for international support for Sudan as it advances in the face of complex challenges, outlining that country’s recent political progress and the transition from the African Union‑United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) to a newly mandated presence.

General Assembly Adopts Resolution Regarding Sustainable Fisheries, Postpones Action on Law of Sea Convention, Awaiting Input Concerning Text’s Budget Implications

8 Dec

The General Assembly adopted a draft resolution today on sustainable fisheries, and postponed action on a second text on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, as delegates reflected on how the COVID‑19 pandemic derailed what should have been a watershed year for international action on the world’s oceans.