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.
In recognition of World Sight Day 2020, the UN Friends of Vision, the Permanent Missions of Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh and Ireland to the United Nations, organized a high-Level event entitled ‘2020 and Beyond: Accelerating Vision for Everyone’. The event was aimed at bringing awareness and global attention to blindness and vision impairment, as well as discussion with Member States the way forward towards a UN General Assembly resolution on Vision Care and a preview of the forthcoming report of The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health.
WHO ADG Stewart Simonson gave key remarks, presenting WHO’s work on the issue and emphasizing the importance of multi-sectoral approach to scale up integrated people-centred eye care for all. He expressed appreciation of the Member States’ support in implementing the recommendations included in the WHO World Report on Vision fortified by the recent adoption of the WHA resolution 73.4 - ‘Integrated people-cantered eye care, including preventable vision impairment and blindness’. Dr. Alarcos Cieza: Unit Head, Sensory Functions, Disability and Rehabilitation in WHO, also participated in the technical panel discussion and provided further details on the WHO Report as well as its work on prevention of blindness and promoting eye care. Participants voiced their concerns of disrupted services for eye care, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and stressed the need to strengthen health systems so that eye care becomes an integral part of health care service delivery to ensure all people obtain the eye care services they need without hindrance or financial hardship.
The World Health Organization invites independent film-makers, production companies, NGOs, communities, students, and film schools from around the world to submit their original short films to the 2nd Health for All Film Festival.
Launched in 2020, the festival aims to recruit a new generation of film and video innovators to champion global health issues.
The inaugural Health for All Film Festival in 2019/2020 accepted 1,300 short film submissions from more than 110 countries.
“Telling stories is as old as human civilization. It helps us understand our problems and heal ourselves. WHO is proud to announce the second Health for All Film Festival, to cultivate visual storytelling about public health,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “We look forward to receiving creative entries inspired by WHO’s mission to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.”
The competition categories this year will align with WHO’s global goals for public health.
For each of these three grand prix categories, judges will accept short documentaries or fiction films (3 to 8 minutes in length), short videos for social media or animation films (1 to 5 minutes in length).
Three other prizes will be awarded for a student-produced film, a health educational film aimed at youth, and a short video designed exclusively for social media platforms.
Submissions are open from 24 October 2020 to 30 January 2021.
After the close of submissions, critically-acclaimed artists from the film and music industries will review the shortlisted films with WHO experts and recommend winners to WHO’s Director-General, who will make the final decision. The jury composition
will be announced in by January 2021.
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.
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.”
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."
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:
For further information, please contact The World We Want: WAFmedia@theworldwewant.global
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.
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.
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.
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 lives in areas at risk of at least one major vector-borne disease. 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 Reeder, 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.”
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 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite the growing threat of vector-borne diseases to individuals, families and societies, the ethical issues raised by vector-borne diseases 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 genetically modified mosquitoes. Grounded in a multidisciplinary framework, the guidance emphasizes the critical role of community engagement in designing and implementing an appropriate, sustainable public health response.
UN Women and WHO are publishing the RESPECT implementation package for preventing violence against women. This implementation package comprises of a suite of practical resources and tools to support the implementation of the RESPECT women: preventing violence against women framework, which was developed by WHO, with UN Women, in 2019 and is endorsed by 12 other UN agencies and bilateral partners.
The RESPECT implementation package is aimed at helping policy makers and practitioners to design and implement evidence-based, ethical and effective national and sub-national, policies, programmes and interventions for preventing violence against women based on each of the seven strategies of RESPECT.
It distills programming knowledge based on existing and up-to-date global evidence. It is divided into a series of standalone materials, which include:
The package is presented in a user-friendly design to cater to the busy schedules of policy makers, enabling easy access and reference to relevant materials. It can be used as a resource to support policy dialogues or as a capacity building tool. It can be used in its entirety or as individual strategy and programme summaries.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries were making steady progress in tackling tuberculosis (TB), with a 9% reduction in incidence seen between 2015 and 2019 and a 14% drop in deaths in the same period. High-level political commitments at global and national levels were delivering results. However, a new report from WHO shows that access to TB services remains a challenge, and that global targets for prevention and treatment will likely be missed without urgent action and investments.
Approximately 1.4 million people died from TB-related illnesses in 2019. Of the estimated 10 million people who developed TB that year, some 3 million were not diagnosed with the disease, or were not officially reported to national authorities.
The situation is even more acute for people with drug-resistant TB. About 465 000 people were newly diagnosed with drug-resistant TB in 2019 and, of these, less than 40% were able to access treatment. There has also been limited progress in scaling up access to treatment to prevent TB.
“Equitable access to quality and timely diagnosis, prevention, treatment and care remains a challenge,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “Accelerated action is urgently needed worldwide if we are to meet our targets by 2022.”
About 14 million people were treated for TB in the period 2018-2019, just over one-third of the way towards the 5-year target (2018-2022) of 40 million, according to the report. Some 6.3 million people started TB preventive treatment in 2018-2019, about one-fifth of the way towards the 5-year target of 30 million.
Funding is a major issue. In 2020, funding for TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care reached
US$ 6.5 billion, representing only half of the US$ 13 billion target agreed by world leaders in the UN Political Declaration on TB.
The COVID-19 pandemic and TB
Disruptions in services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to further setbacks. In many countries, human, financial and other resources have been reallocated from TB to the COVID-19 response. Data collection and reporting systems have also been negatively impacted.
According to the new report, data collated from over 200 countries has shown significant reductions in TB case notifications, with 25-30% drops reported in 3 high burden countries – India, Indonesia, the Philippines – between January and June 2020 compared to the same 6-month period in 2019. These reductions in case notifications could lead to a dramatic increase in additional TB deaths, according to WHO modelling.
However, in line with WHO guidance, countries have taken measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on essential TB services, including by strengthening infection control. A total of 108 countries – including 21 countries with a high TB burden – have expanded the use of digital technologies to provide remote advice and support. To reduce the need for visits to health facilities, many countries are encouraging home-based treatment, all-oral treatments for people with drug-resistant TB, provision of TB preventive treatment, and ensuring people with TB maintain an adequate supply of drugs.
“In the face of the pandemic, countries, civil society and other partners have joined forces to ensure that essential services for both TB and COVID-19 are maintained for those in need,” said Dr Tereza Kaseva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “These efforts are vital to strengthen health systems, ensure health for all, and save lives.”
A recent progress report from the UN Secretary General outlines 10 priority actions for Member States and other stakeholders to close gaps in TB care, financing and research, as well as advance multisectoral action and accountability, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Note for the editors
In 2014 and 2015, all Member States of WHO and the UN adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and WHO’s End TB Strategy. The SDGs and End TB Strategy both include targets and milestones for large reductions in TB incidence, TB deaths and costs faced by TB patients and their households.
TB is included under Goal 3 Target 3.3 of the SDGs which aims to “end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases” by the year 2030.
The WHO End TB Strategy aims for a 90 per cent reduction in TB deaths and an 80 per cent reduction in the TB incidence rate by 2030, compared to the 2015 baseline. Milestones for 2020 include a 20% reduction in the TB incidence rate and a 35% reduction in TB deaths.
Efforts to step up political commitment in the fight against TB intensified in 2017 and 2018 culminating, in September 2018, in the first-ever high-level meeting on TB at the UN General Assembly. The outcome was a political declaration in which commitments to the SDGs and End TB Strategy were reaffirmed. The UN Political Declaration on TB also included 4 new targets for the period 2018-2022:
Progress towards global targets
According to the new report, the WHO European Region is on track to achieve key 2020 targets of the WHO End TB Strategy, with reductions in incidence and deaths of 19% and 31%, respectively, over the last 5-year period. The African Region has also made impressive gains, with corresponding reductions of 16% and 19% in the same timeframe. On a global scale, however, the pace of progress has lagged, and critical 2020 milestones of the End TB Strategy will be missed.
As in previous years, most available TB funding (85%) in 2020 came from domestic sources, with Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa providing 57% of the global total. International donor funding, as reported by national TB programmes (NTPs), increased from US$ 0.9 billion in 2019 to US$ 1.0 billion in 2020. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was the single largest source of international TB financing in 2020, while the United States remains the biggest bilateral funder of efforts to end TB.
Research and innovation
Reaching the 2030 global TB targets will require technological breakthroughs by 2025. The world needs affordable and accessible rapid point-of-care tests, as well as new, safer and more effective treatments and vaccines. To meet these challenges, Member States called on WHO in 2018 to develop a Global strategy for TB research and innovation that lays out key steps that governments and non-state actors can undertake. The strategy was adopted by the World Health Assembly in August 2020.
Multisectoral action and accountability
Further progress towards ending TB will depend on action across sectors, underscoring the importance of the implementation of WHO’s multisectoral accountability framework on TB. In 2019 and 2020, WHO worked with high TB-burden countries to ensure the inclusion of accountability mechanisms in national budget planning and pursuing assessment during high-level missions and joint TB programme reviews with engagement of civil society representatives.
Tuberculosis (TB) , the world’s deadliest infectious killer, is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. It can spread when people who are sick with TB expel bacteria into the air – for example, by coughing.
Approximately 90 percent of those who fall sick with TB each year live in 30 countries. Most people who develop the disease are adults, and there are more cases among men than women.
TB is preventable and curable. About 85% of people who develop TB disease can be successfully treated with a 6-month drug regimen; treatment has the added benefit of curtailing onward transmission of infection.
Since 2000, TB treatment has averted more than 60 million deaths – although with access to universal health coverage still falling short, many millions have also missed out on diagnosis and care.
With the right approach and effective investment, digital health interventions can be successful long-term solutions that help to improve the health and well-being of the people they were designed to reach. A new guide has been launched by WHO today to help ensure that digital health investments are effective, sustainable, and equitable – and that they are implemented in a coordinated way and appropriate for the local context.
The Digital implementation investment guide: integrating digital interventions into health systems, (also known as the DIIG), has been published by WHO and HRP in collaboration with partners UNICEF, UNFPA and PATH. This guidance will be particularly useful for donors and ministries of health who make decisions on digital investments for health – in government, in technical bodies, and in national health and/or digital systems.
Ian Askew, Director of WHO Department of sexual and reproductive health and research and HRP comments, “No matter where you live, there are unique health needs which digital technologies can help to meet. But these technologies can only be effective if they recognize these unique needs, if they are appropriate to the context – and if they receive sustained and informed investment.”
Digital health tools have the potential to transform health services and help accomplish universal health coverage. With sustainable and robust governance structures in place, It can reform public health systems by improving its reach, impact, and efficiency.
Wiser investment in digital health technologies is needed however, in order to fully realise their potential, and to enhance the integral role that they can play within health systems – but it is crucial that such investment is responsible and well-thought through.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at WHO remarks in the foreword to the guide that, “Investment must be carefully and thoughtfully coordinated for equitable access to meet the full spectrum of health needs leveraging mature digital public goods, and building on digital development and donor principles to maximize the benefits of digital investments.”
Responsible and informed investment in the right technologies, appropriate for the context and health system and for the existing digital architecture, is critical for ensuring their success.
Good planning and governance on digital health or by investors, governments, and technical bodies is needed when working to integrate digital investments into health systems. Coordination of digital health systems is key for ensuring that digital investments are effective, promote equitable access to health, and address the health needs of the local context.
The DIIG aims to help all people involved with decision making related to digital technologies for health coordinate effectively, in order to harmonise their efforts in investing in and integrating digital health technologies.
Mr.Bernardo Mariano, Director of WHO Digital Health Department and Innovation, comments, “The DIIG is a tool that encourages strategic collaboration and governance. It helps decision-makers make ethical and evidence-based decisions, with sustainability and equity at their core, in coordination with people working across sectors.”
The guide is underpinned by a set of 9 principles known as The principles for digital development to help stakeholders effectively and appropriately apply digital technologies in their health programmes.
Dr Garrett Mehl, Scientist in WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research including HRP comments, “If implemented in a strategically harmonized manner, leveraging the key principles and messages presented in the DIIG, these digital health systems are powerful tools that will help us achieve the ultimate goal of health and well-being for all. “
The DIIG is rooted in evidence and WHO guidance, and is part of a growing suite of digital health tools to help countries effectively put into place, scale-up, maintain, and evaluate the impact of, digital health interventions. It complements the WHO
guidance on digital health interventions, which examined the evidence for and issues to consider around implementing digital health.
The WHO and UNICEF recently published a module to guide policy makers and programme implementers working in quality improvement in maternal, newborn and child health, to support making comprehensive and meaningful stakeholder and community engagement an integral part of quality improvement (QI) initiatives.
This module compliments the implementation guide developed by The Network for Improving Quality of care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (QoC Network). Four key topics are covered, including: rationale for engagement; building and strengthening partnerships; strategies for information, communication and advocacy; and monitoring, evaluation and learning.
Mapping of tools
The mapping of tools identified 70 tools to further support implementation of stakeholder and community engagement across the seven steps of the Quality of Care Network’s Implementation Framework*. The tools are available through an online portal, which allows uses to filter based on the different topic focus and phase of implementation.
* 1) establish leadership group, 2) situation analysis, 3) adapt standards of care, 4) identify QI interventions, 5) implementation of QI interventions, 6) continuous measurement of quality outcomes and 7) refinement of strategies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide and presents an unprecedented challenge to public health, food systems and the world of work. The economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic is devastating: tens of millions of people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty, while the number of undernourished people, currently estimated at nearly 690 million, could increase by up to 132 million by the end of the year.
Millions of enterprises face an existential threat. Nearly half of the world’s 3.3 billion global workforce are at risk of losing their livelihoods. Informal economy workers are particularly vulnerable because the majority lack social protection and access to quality health care and have lost access to productive assets. Without the means to earn an income during lockdowns, many are unable to feed themselves and their families. For most, no income means no food, or, at best, less food and less nutritious food.
The pandemic has been affecting the entire food system and has laid bare its fragility. Border closures, trade restrictions and confinement measures have been preventing farmers from accessing markets, including for buying inputs and selling their produce, and agricultural workers from harvesting crops, thus disrupting domestic and international food supply chains and reducing access to healthy, safe and diverse diets. The pandemic has decimated jobs and placed millions of livelihoods at risk. As breadwinners lose jobs, fall ill and die, the food security and nutrition of millions of women and men are under threat, with those in low-income countries, particularly the most marginalized populations, which include small-scale farmers and indigenous peoples, being hardest hit.
Millions of agricultural workers – waged and self-employed – while feeding the world, regularly face high levels of working poverty, malnutrition and poor health, and suffer from a lack of safety and labour protection as well as other types of abuse. With low and irregular incomes and a lack of social support, many of them are spurred to continue working, often in unsafe conditions, thus exposing themselves and their families to additional risks. Further, when experiencing income losses, they may resort to negative coping strategies, such as distress sale of assets, predatory loans or child labour. Migrant agricultural workers are particularly vulnerable, because they face risks in their transport, working and living conditions and struggle to access support measures put in place by governments. Guaranteeing the safety and health of all agri-food workers – from primary producers to those involved in food processing, transport and retail, including street food vendors – as well as better incomes and protection, will be critical to saving lives and protecting public health, people’s livelihoods and food security.
In the COVID-19 crisis food security, public health, and employment and labour issues, in particular workers’ health and safety, converge. Adhering to workplace safety and health practices and ensuring access to decent work and the protection of labour rights in all industries will be crucial in addressing the human dimension of the crisis. Immediate and purposeful action to save lives and livelihoods should include extending social protection towards universal health coverage and income support for those most affected. These include workers in the informal economy and in poorly protected and low-paid jobs, including youth, older workers, and migrants. Particular attention must be paid to the situation of women, who are over-represented in low-paid jobs and care roles. Different forms of support are key, including cash transfers, child allowances and healthy school meals, shelter and food relief initiatives, support for employment retention and recovery, and financial relief for businesses, including micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. In designing and implementing such measures it is essential that governments work closely with employers and workers.
Countries dealing with existing humanitarian crises or emergencies are particularly exposed to the effects of COVID-19. Responding swiftly to the pandemic, while ensuring that humanitarian and recovery assistance reaches those most in need, is critical.
Now is the time for global solidarity and support, especially with the most vulnerable in our societies, particularly in the emerging and developing world. Only together can we overcome the intertwined health and social and economic impacts of the pandemic and prevent its escalation into a protracted humanitarian and food security catastrophe, with the potential loss of already achieved development gains.
We must recognize this opportunity to build back better, as noted in the Policy Brief issued by the United Nations Secretary-General. We are committed to pooling our expertise and experience to support countries in their crisis response measures and efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. We need to develop long-term sustainable strategies to address the challenges facing the health and agri-food sectors. Priority should be given to addressing underlying food security and malnutrition challenges, tackling rural poverty, in particular through more and better jobs in the rural economy, extending social protection to all, facilitating safe migration pathways and promoting the formalization of the informal economy.
We must rethink the future of our environment and tackle climate change and environmental degradation with ambition and urgency. Only then can we protect the health, livelihoods, food security and nutrition of all people, and ensure that our ‘new normal’ is a better one.
Dr. Tedros, WHO Director-General, joined the Foreign Ministers of Japan, Thailand and Georgia to host a Ministerial Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the High-level Meeting on UHC and promote the release of the UN Secretary-General’s Policy Brief on COVID-19 and UHC. Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of Health from around the world reflected on the commitments made in the Political Declaration on UHC, taking stock of national and global efforts to deliver UHC in the context of COVID-19 and the challenges and opportunities for building back better for a more equitable and sustainable world. The Foreign Minister of Japan announced US$130 million to the COVAX Advanced Market Commitments, of which the United Kingdom matched £32.5 million.
The event also included a thematic panel with global health leaders, who explored new and innovative partnerships to accelerate and scale up the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines, as well as needed health system transformation to better protect health and human security.
Click here to watch the event.
Moderated by Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, the event included the participation of: