News & Information       http://info.owt.com

General Science & Health

09/22/2021   Wired Science
As the agency develops plans for exploring the moon and Mars, it's seeking cutting-edge research that could turn science fiction into reality.
09/22/2021   Wired Science
An alarming new study finds that infant feces contain 10 times more polyethylene terephthalate (aka polyester) than an adult’s.
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: New Drug Combo Boosts Survival Against Aggressive Form of Breast Cancer
Category: Health News
Created: 9/20/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: Common Form of Liver Cancer on the Rise in Rural America
Category: Health News
Created: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: Post-Stroke Rehab: There's a Sweet Spot in the Timing
Category: Health News
Created: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: Doctors Often Miss Signs of Type 1 Diabetes in Kids
Category: Health News
Created: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: Watch Their Backs -- Don't Overload Those Schoolbags
Category: Health News
Created: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: COVID Has Killed More Americans Than the 1918 Flu
Category: Health News
Created: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: HPV Infection Tied to Higher Odds of Premature Delivery
Category: Health News
Created: 9/20/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: AHA News: Clot-Removing Procedure Appears Safe for Pregnant Stroke Patients
Category: Health News
Created: 9/20/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: Telemedicine Gets High Marks for Follow-Ups After Surgery
Category: Health News
Created: 9/20/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: U.S. Will Lift Restrictions on Fully Vaccinated International Travelers in November
Category: Health News
Created: 9/20/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: CPAP Machine Recall Causes Serious Problems for Sleep Apnea Patients
Category: Health News
Created: 9/20/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: Pandemic Changed Families' Eating Habits, for Good and Bad: Poll
Category: Health News
Created: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: Animal Sedative Is Driving Rise in Fatal Drug ODs
Category: Health News
Created: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: AHA News: A Year of Committed Exercise in Middle Age Reversed Worrisome Heart Stiffness
Category: Health News
Created: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: Most Supermarket Chicken Laced With White Fat: Report
Category: Health News
Created: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/22/2021   MedicineNet Daily Health
Title: Dealing With Grief in the Time of COVID
Category: Health News
Created: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
Last Editorial Review: 9/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
09/21/2021   Wired Science
For her new book, Devi Lockwood traveled around the world gathering stories of how people are being directly affected by a warming planet.
09/21/2021   Wired Science
The question has plagued scientists for centuries. A new study offers some answers.
09/20/2021   Wired Science
The goo that grows in soaked buildings can cause infections and allergies—an issue that’s understudied even as climate change leads to more frequent deluges.
09/19/2021   Wired Science
The concept of a dimension seems simple enough, but mathematicians struggled for centuries to precisely define and understand it.
09/18/2021   Wired Science
The first all-civilian, all-private spaceflight splashed down off the coast of Florida.
09/18/2021   WHO News
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recognizes Mr Brown as a leader who can shape and drive a future of robust, equitable investment in global public health.
09/18/2021   Wired Science
‘Zombie’ purple urchins have obliterated West Coast kelp forests with their insatiable appetites. Can they be stopped?
09/17/2021   Wired Science
Catch up on the most important updates from this week.
09/17/2021   Wired Science
A new study of the American West shows that climate change is driving more days that are hot, dry, and windy—the perfect conditions for deadly wildfires.
09/17/2021   WHO News

WHO is urging leaders attending the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to guarantee equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and other life-saving tools; ensure the world is better prepared to respond to future pandemics; and renew efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed the lives of nearly 5 million people around the globe, and the virus continues to circulate actively in all regions of the world.

Vaccines are the most critical tool to end the pandemic and save lives and livelihoods. More than 5.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, but 73% of all doses have been administered in just 10 countries. High-income countries have administered 61 times more doses per inhabitant than low-income countries. The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more the virus will keep circulating and evolving, and the longer the social and economic disruption will continue.

WHO’s targets are to vaccinate at least 40% of the population of every country by the end of this year, and 70% by the middle of next year. These targets are achievable if countries and manufacturers make a genuine commitment to vaccine equity.

WHO is calling on countries to fulfil their dose-sharing pledges immediately and to swap their near-term vaccine deliveries with COVAX and AVAT (African COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team); WHO is also calling on manufacturers to prioritize supplies to COVAX and partners, and for countries and manufacturers to facilitate the sharing of technology, know-how and intellectual property to support regional vaccine manufacturing.

Even as countries focus on ending this pandemic, the world must also prepare for future pandemics and other health emergencies.

COVID-19 caught the world – including wealthy nations – unprepared for a pandemic of this speed and scale. It hit vulnerable populations particularly hard and exacerbated inequalities.  

WHO urges all countries to break the cycle of ‘panic and neglect’ seen after previous health emergencies, and commit adequate financial resources, as well as political will, to strengthening health emergency preparedness across the globe. 

Universal health coverage (UHC) is a keystone of global health security. Despite progress in UHC in recent years, 90% of countries have reported disruptions in essential health services due to the pandemic, with the consequences reverberating beyond the health sector.

Serious investment in UHC and pandemic preparedness is critical not only to bolster global health security but also to getting the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda back on track. 

The pandemic has reversed progress towards the SDGs, including gains that had been made on eradicating poverty, eliminating gender inequality, vaccinating children against communicable diseases and girls’ and boys’ education. But it is also providing the world with new opportunities to do things differently, and to truly collaborate on building back better – towards a healthier, fairer, more inclusive and sustainable world. 

WHO urges world leaders gathering at UNGA this week to seize the moment and commit to concerted action, adequate resources and solidarity, in order to build a better future for people and the planet.

 

Note to editors:

COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, and is co-convened by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner, developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.

So far, COVAX has shipped more than 260 million doses to 141 countries.

09/16/2021   Wired Science
Utilities have upgraded the infrastructure for rooftop power in richer neighborhoods, but low-income areas don't have the same capacity.
09/16/2021   WHO News

The heads of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, World Health Organization and World Trade Organization met with the CEOs of leading vaccine manufacturing companies to discuss strategies to improve the access to COVID-19 vaccines, especially in low- and lower middle-income countries and in Africa. The Task Force expressed concerns that without urgent steps the world is unlikely to achieve the end-2021 target of vaccinating at least 40% of the population in all countries—a critical milestone to end the pandemic and for global economic recovery.

The Task Force members noted that, despite adequate total global vaccine production in the aggregate, the doses are not reaching low- and lower middle-income countries in sufficient amounts, resulting in a crisis of vaccine inequity. The Task Force encouraged countries that have contracted high amounts of vaccine doses, and vaccine manufacturers, to come together in good faith to urgently accelerate COVID-19 vaccine supplies to COVAX and AVAT, two multilateral mechanisms that are crucial for equitable distribution of vaccines. 

Task Force members welcomed the willingness of the CEOs to work collectively with them to end vaccine inequity and their readiness to form a technical working group with the Task Force to exchange and coordinate information on vaccine production and deliveries.

The Task Force stressed that if the 40% coverage threshold is to be reached in all countries by the end of 2021, the following actions need to be taken immediately by governments and vaccine manufacturers: 

Release doses to low- and lower middle-income countries: Task Force members take note that countries with high vaccination rates have collectively pre-purchased over two billion doses in excess of what is required to fully vaccinate their populations.  The Task Force calls again on those countries to urgently: i) swap their near-term delivery schedules with COVAX and AVAT, ii) fulfill their dose donation pledges with unearmarked upfront deliveries to COVAX, and iii) release vaccine companies from options and contracts so those doses can be delivered to people in low- and lower middle-income countries. In addition, vaccine manufacturers should prioritize and fulfill their contracts to COVAX and AVAT.

Transparency on supply of vaccines: To ensure that doses reach countries that need them the most, particularly low- and lower middle-income countries, the Task Force calls on vaccine manufacturers to share details on month-by-month delivery schedules for all vaccine shipments, especially for COVAX and AVAT. In its remarks, WHO emphasized its call for a moratorium on booster doses until the end of 2021, with the exception of the immune-compromised, to help optimize supply to low-income countries.

Eliminate export restrictions, prohibitions: The Task Force calls on all countries to urgently address export restrictions, high tariffs and customs bottlenecks on COVID-19 vaccines and the raw materials and supplies required for the production and timely distribution of vaccines.

Regulatory streamlining and harmonization: The Task Force calls on all regulatory authorities around the world to create regulatory consistency and standardization on the approval of vaccines, and to support the acceptance of the WHO Emergency Use Listing procedure. In parallel, efforts should be made to boost production of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments globally and expedite equitable delivery of such lifesaving tools to developing countries. 

 

09/15/2021   Wired Science
The first all-civilian, all-private mission to orbit prepares to blast off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
09/15/2021   Wired Science
Four civilians—none of them NASA astronauts—are expected to blast into space aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket.
09/14/2021   WHO News
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and a group of global health leaders today issued an urgent call for vaccine equity globally and in Africa in particular.
09/13/2021   Wired Science
Human behavior has changed along with the virus and public health measures to contain it. For modelers, it’s a curveball.
09/13/2021   Wired Science
Dozens of microchips scattered over the cortical surface might allow researchers to listen in on thousands of neurons at the same time.
09/12/2021   Wired Science
Voice analysis of a 34-year-old recording proves that Ripper the musk duck “independently evolved” to mimic his human caretakers.
09/12/2021   Wired Science
Scientists taught an artificial neural network to imitate a biological neuron. The result offers a new way to think about the complexity of brain cells.
09/12/2021   Wired Science
The tiny optical devices turn up in lane markers, road signs, bike gear and even on the moon, helping us see under low-light conditions.
09/11/2021   Wired Science
A spate of studies claim that the disease was circulating in Italy long before the pandemic—but they struggle to support the theory.
09/11/2021   Wired Science
Overfishing, habitat loss, and climate change are driving species collectively known as chondrichthyan fishes toward a global crisis.
09/08/2021   WHO News

Twelve months ago, the world came together to support COVAX, a multilateral initiative aimed at guaranteeing global access to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines.

With the support of the international community, COVAX immediately began securing financing, entering into negotiations with vaccine developers and manufacturers and addressing the host of technical and operational challenges associated with rolling out the largest and most complex vaccination programme in history.

COVAX has already achieved significant progress: more than US$10 billion has been raised; legally-binding commitments for up to 4.5 billion doses of vaccine; 240 million doses have been delivered to 139 countries in just six months.

Yet the global picture of access to COVID-19 vaccines is unacceptable. Only 20% of people in low- and lower-middle-income countries have received a first dose of vaccine compared to 80% in high- and upper-middle income countries.

In the critical months during which COVAX was created, signed on participants, pooled demand, and raised enough money to make advance purchases of vaccines, much of the early global supply had already been bought by wealthy nations. Today, COVAX’s ability to protect the most vulnerable people in the world continues to be hampered by export bans, the prioritisation of bilateral deals by manufacturers and countries, ongoing challenges in scaling up production by some key producers, and delays in filing for regulatory approval.

According to its latest Supply Forecast, COVAX expects to have access to 1.425 billion doses of vaccine in 2021, in the most likely scenario and in the absence of urgent action by producers and high-coverage countries to prioritize COVAX. Of these doses, approximately 1.2 billion will be available for the lower income economies participating in the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC). This is enough to protect 20% of the population, or 40% of all adults, in all 92 AMC economies with the exception of India. Over 200 million doses will be allocated to self-financing participants. The key COVAX milestone of two billion doses released for delivery is now expected to be reached in the first quarter of 2022.

In addition to working closely with participating governments to ensure the conditions are in place on the ground to facilitate successful rollout of vaccines, COVAX and its partners call on donors and manufacturers to recommit their support, and prevent further delays to equitable access by ensuring the following:

  • Manufacturers deliver to COVAX in accordance with firm commitments and provide transparency on timelines for availability to COVAX to allow countries to plan in advance. 
  • Where countries are ahead of COVAX in manufacturer queues, and already have achieved high coverage, to give up their place in the queue to COVAX so that its participants can access the doses already secured via supply contracts and deliver vaccines to where they are needed most.​
  • Expand, accelerate, and systematize dose donations from countries that are already well advanced in their vaccination programmes. This includes ensuring doses are available in larger and more predictable volumes, with longer shelf lives – reducing the burden on countries trying to prepare for deliveries.

 As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim lives, destroy livelihoods and stunt economic recovery, we continue to emphasise that no one is safe until everyone is safe. There is only one way to end the pandemic and prevent the emergence of new and stubborn variants and that is by working together.

Notes to editors

About COVAX

COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-convened by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner, developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.

CEPI’s role in COVAX

CEPI is leading on the COVAX vaccine research and development portfolio, investing in R&D across a variety of promising candidates, with the goal to support development of three safe and effective vaccines which can be made available to countries participating in the COVAX Facility. As part of this work, CEPI has secured first right of refusal to potentially over one billion doses for the COVAX Facility to a number of candidates, and made strategic investments in vaccine manufacturing, which includes reserving capacity to manufacture doses of COVAX vaccines at a network of facilities, and securing glass vials to hold 2 billion doses of vaccine. CEPI is also investing in the ‘next generation’ of vaccine candidates, which will give the world additional options to control COVID-19 in the future.

Gavi’s role in COVAX

Gavi leads on procurement and delivery at scale for COVAX: designing and managing the COVAX Facility and the Gavi COVAX AMC and working with its traditional Alliance partners UNICEF and WHO, along with governments, on country readiness and delivery. As part of this role, Gavi hosts the Office of the COVAX Facility to coordinate the operation and governance of the mechanism as a whole, holds financial and legal relationships with 193 Facility participants, and manages the COVAX Facility deals portfolio: negotiating advance purchase agreements with manufacturers of promising vaccine candidates to secure doses on behalf of all COVAX Facility participants. Gavi also coordinates design, operationalisation and fundraising for the Gavi COVAX AMC, the mechanism that provides access to donor-funded doses of vaccine to 92 lower-income economies. As part of this work, Gavi provides funding and oversight for UNICEF procurement and delivery of vaccines to all AMC participants – operationalising the advance purchase agreements between Gavi and manufacturers – as well as support for partners’ and governments work on readiness and delivery. This includes tailored support to governments, UNICEF, WHO and other partners for cold chain equipment, technical assistance, syringes, vehicles, and other aspects of the vastly complex logistical operation for delivery. Gavi also co-designed, raises funds for and supports the operationalisation of the AMC’s no fault compensation mechanism as well as the COVAX Humanitarian Buffer.

WHO’s role in COVAX

WHO has multiple roles within COVAX: It provides normative guidance on vaccine policy, regulation, safety, R&D, allocation, and country readiness and delivery. Its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization develops evidence-based immunization policy recommendations. Its Emergency Use Listing (EUL) / prequalification programmes ensure harmonized review and authorization across member states. It provides global coordination and member state support on vaccine safety monitoring. It developed the target product profiles for COVID-19 vaccines and provides R&D technical coordination. WHO leads, together with UNICEF, the Country Readiness and Delivery workstream, which provides support to countries as they prepare to receive and administer vaccines. Along with Gavi and numerous other partners working at the global, regional, and country-level, the CRD workstream provides tools, guidance, monitoring, and on the ground technical assistance for the planning and roll-out of the vaccines. Along with COVAX partners, WHO has developed a no-fault compensation scheme as part of the time-limited indemnification and liability commitments

UNICEF’s role in COVAX

UNICEF is leveraging its experience as the largest single vaccine buyer in the world and working with manufacturers and partners on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine doses, as well as freight, logistics and storage. UNICEF already procures more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunisation and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries. In collaboration with the PAHO Revolving Fund, UNICEF is leading efforts to procure and supply doses of COVID-19 vaccines for COVAX. In addition, UNICEF, Gavi and WHO are working with governments around the clock to ensure that countries are ready to receive the vaccines, with appropriate cold chain equipment in place and health workers trained to dispense them. UNICEF is also playing a lead role in efforts to foster trust in vaccines, delivering vaccine confidence communications and tracking and addressing misinformation around the world.

About ACT-Accelerator

The Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator, is a new, ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March and launched by the WHO, European Commission, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.

The ACT-Accelerator is not a decision-making body or a new organisation, but works to speed up collaborative efforts among existing organisations to end the pandemic. It is a framework for collaboration that has been designed to bring key players around the table with the goal of ending the pandemic as quickly as possible through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines, thereby protecting health systems and restoring societies and economies in the near term. It draws on the experience of leading global health organisations which are tackling the world’s toughest health challenges, and who, by working together, are able to unlock new and more ambitious results against COVID-19. Its members share a commitment to ensure all people have access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19 and to work with unprecedented levels of partnership to achieve it.

The ACT-Accelerator has four areas of work: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and the health system connector. Cross-cutting all of these is the workstream on Access & Allocation.

 

09/07/2021   WHO News

Access to controlled medicines in humanitarian emergencies remains constrained

Recognizing World Humanitarian Day 2021, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) once again call on governments to facilitate access to medicines containing controlled substances in emergency settings, including during pandemics and the increasing number of climate-related disasters.

The theme of World Humanitarian Day 2021 acknowledged the impact of climate-related emergencies. Over 7,348 disasters have been reporting in the last two decades of which 40% are now estimated to be climate-related according to United Nations reports. The impact of their increasing number combined with the persistent COVID-19 pandemic creates a complex landscape for ensuring access to controlled medicines in emergencies.

A year after an  earlier joint statement, unprecedented trade restrictions, shortages of medicines, surges in infections and new variants of SARS-CoV-2 compound the problems related to maintaining supply of controlled medicines, according to WHO and the World Trade Organization.

The problem of access to controlled medicines in emergencies

There is an increase in demand for controlled medicines in emergency responses. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO has identified over 20 medicines with global-level shortages, including four that contain controlled substances that are used in intensive care units for treatment of severe cases of COVID-19. Internationally controlled medicines such as morphine, diazepam and midazolam listed as WHO essential medicines, are vital for the management of pain, palliative care, surgical care and anesthesia, and treatment of drug-use disorders, mental health and neurological conditions.

Shortages impact countries of all income levels. Low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) are often disproportionately impacted by shortages--partly related to their relative purchasing power in international medicines markets and partly because specialized systems to manage controlled medicines do not always accommodate sufficient exceptions for emergencies.

Urgent action is needed to ensure that national systems improve access to controlled medicines for people affected by emergencies, including pandemics, and climate-related disasters.

Action by governments and the international community

WHO guidelines on controlled medicines in emergencies outline simplified control measures for the cross-border trade of controlled medicines during humanitarian emergencies. They have been adapted into operational terms in the Inter-Agency Emergency Health Kit guidance. These guidelines and others have been in place for many years but are not consistently or effectively used by all countries.

In the current global landscape, it is of paramount importance that relevant authorities in exporting and importing countries exercise and apply the flexibilities described in these guidelines in several key areas, such as:

  • Amendments, waivers or new provisions that allow for greater flexibility in the use of control measures on controlled medicines during emergencies;
  • Enhanced partnerships, including reliance on relevant humanitarian agencies to carry out certain activities on behalf of governments;
  • Flexibilities that would ensure safe, timely and appropriate use of controlled medicines in emergencies, including provisional and long-term solutions.

Collaboration towards solutions

Interagency collaboration is critically important in our race against the climate crisis and humanitarian emergencies. On World Humanitarian Day, humanitarian personnel deserve our support and we honor and recognize their efforts. For those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes, we remember and honour the spirit of everything they have done. Our collective best effort is essential to facilitate the timely supply of controlled medicines for those in need during humanitarian crises.

Resource documents

Best practice guidance and international experience can be useful in interim national guidance as well as necessary changes to legislation. The following provide examples of from UN agencies and other useful information:

 

09/01/2021   WHO News
Only a quarter of countries worldwide have a national policy, strategy or plan for supporting people with dementia and their families, according to the WHO’s ‘Global status report on the public health response to dementia’, released today.
08/31/2021   WHO News

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for innovative health technologies that can help countries improve health outcomes by providing shortcuts to solutions despite lack of infrastructure and resources. However, many of the new technologies that have come to market are unaffordable or unsuitable for low- and middle-income countries.

To ensure that all countries benefit from health innovation, WHO has compiled a compendium of 24 new technologies that can be used in low-resource settings.

“Innovative technologies are accelerating access to healthcare everywhere, but we must ensure that they are readily available in all health facilities, fairly priced and quality-assured,” said Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant Director General for Access to Health Products. “WHO will continue to work with governments, funders and manufacturers to promote sustainable supplies of these tools during and beyond the COVID emergency.”

The compendium’s main objective was to select and assess technologies that can have an immediate and future impact on COVID-19 preparedness and response, potentially improve health outcomes and quality of life, and/or offer a solution to an unmet medical need. 15 of these technologies are already commercially available in countries, while the rest are still at the prototype stage.

The compendium includes simple items ranging from a colourized bleach additive, which allows the naked eye to identify non-sterilized surfaces and objects, to  more complex though easy-to-use equipment such as a  portable respiratory monitoring system and  ventilators with an extended battery that can be used where electricity is not available or unstable. The list also includes a deployable health facility for emergencies decked out in a shipping container.

Some of these technologies are already in use and have proven their value through pilot programmes. For example, the solar powered oxygen concentrator has been highly effective in treating pneumonia, which kills 900,000 children a year, in a regional children’s hospital in Somalia’s Galmudug state.

Studies have demonstrated that reliable access to oxygen can reduce child deaths due to pneumonia by 35%. Given the shortage of oxygen in numerous countries, the concentrator is a critical tool in the treatment of hospitalized COVID patients.

WHO has been assessing innovative technologies for the last 10 years, some of the selected products are now addressing priority health problems in low-resource settings. A critical example is a smartphone application that allows the user to instantly record accurate blood pressure measurements. According to a report released by WHO last week, the number of adults aged 30–79 years with hypertension has increased from 650 million to 1.28 billion in the last thirty years and almost half these people do not know they have hypertension.

Smartphones are widely available, even in the most remote areas or low-resource settings. The software-based platform transforms existing smartphones into a medical device capable of measuring blood pressure accurately, with no need to add any other devices or accessories. The other advantage of the app is that even in the absence of a trained health worker, patients can self-test and better manage their blood pressure.

The compendium provides a full assessment of the technologies, carried out by a group of international experts working with WHO technical teams, on the basis of: compliance with WHO specifications regarding performance, quality and safety; suitability in low-resource settings; affordability; ease of use; and regulatory approval status.  This information is vital to help governments, non-governmental organizations and funders decide which products to procure.

Conclusions on the suitability of each technology is communicated through a simple traffic light scoring system, indicating whether the product is recommended (for use without any known limitations); recommended with caution (limitations may have been identified related to maintenance and need for trained staff); or not recommended (inappropriate, unsafe or unaffordable).

08/30/2021   WHO News

To better prepare and protect the world from global disease threats, H.E. German Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization Director-General, will today inaugurate the new WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, based in Berlin. 

“The world needs to be able to detect new events with pandemic potential and to monitor disease control measures on a real-time basis to create effective pandemic and epidemic risk management,” said Dr Tedros. “This Hub will be key to that effort, leveraging innovations in data science for public health surveillance and response, and creating systems whereby we can share and expand expertise in this area globally.” 

The WHO Hub, which is receiving an initial investment of US$ 100 million from the Federal Republic of Germany, will harness broad and diverse partnerships across many professional disciplines, and the latest technology, to link the data, tools and communities of practice so that actionable data and intelligence are shared for the common good.

The  WHO Hub is part of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme and will be a new collaboration of countries and partners worldwide, driving innovations to increase availability of key data; develop state of the art analytic tools and predictive models for risk analysis; and link communities of practice around the world. Critically, the WHO Hub will support the work of public health experts and policy-makers in all countries with the tools needed to forecast, detect and assess epidemic and pandemic risks so they can take rapid decisions to prevent and respond to future public health emergencies.

“Despite decades of investment, COVID-19 has revealed the great gaps that exist in the world’s ability to forecast, detect, assess and respond to outbreaks that threaten people worldwide,” said Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergency Programme. “The WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence is designed to develop the data access, analytic tools and communities of practice to fill these very gaps, promote collaboration and sharing, and protect the world from such crises in the future.” 

The Hub will work to:

  • Enhance methods for access to multiple data sources vital to generating signals and insights on disease emergence, evolution and impact;
  • Develop state of the art tools to process, analyze and model data for detection, assessment and response;
  • Provide WHO, our Member States, and partners with these tools to underpin better, faster decisions on how to address outbreak signals and events; and
  • Connect and catalyze institutions and networks developing disease outbreak solutions for the present and future.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, currently Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, has been appointed to lead the WHO Hub. WHO would like to acknowledge the Nigerian government for its support, which ensures strong leadership for this important initiative.

The WHO Hub is currently operating from a centre provided by the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. It will soon move to a permanent campus at the heart of Berlin in Kreuzberg that will provide a collaborative work environment for the Hub’s staff, who will represent a wide range of disciplines.

“All the work that goes into pandemic and epidemic preparedness must occur before an outbreak starts,” said Dr Tedros. “Data linkage and analysis, and the ability to better detect and assess risks of disease events in their earliest stages before they amplify and cause death and societal disruption, is what the WHO Hub will focus on. WHO is grateful that partners like Germany and Chancellor Merkel are joining the world on this necessary path.”

 

08/27/2021   WHO News
The Digital Documentation of COVID-19 Certificates is proposed as a mechanism by which a person’s COVID-19-related health data can be digitally documented via an electronic certificate.
08/27/2021   WHO News

At its third meeting, the Multilateral Leaders Taskforce on COVID-19 (MLT), the heads of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, World Health Organization and World Trade Organization - met with the leaders of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), Africa CDC, Gavi and UNICEF to tackle obstacles to rapidly scale-up vaccines in low- and lower middle-income countries, particularly in Africa, and issued the following statement:

The global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is progressing at two alarmingly different speeds. Less than 2% of adults are fully vaccinated in most low-income countries compared to almost 50% in high‑income countries. 

These countries, the majority of which are in Africa, simply cannot access sufficient vaccine to meet even the global goals of 10% coverage in all countries by September and 40% by end 2021, let alone the African Union’s goal of 70% in 2022.

This crisis of vaccine inequity is driving a dangerous divergence in COVID-19 survival rates and in the global economy. We appreciate the important work of AVAT and COVAX to try and address this unacceptable situation.

However, effectively tackling this acute vaccine supply shortage in low- and lower middle-income countries, and fully enabling AVAT and COVAX, requires the urgent cooperation of vaccine manufacturers, vaccine-producing countries, and countries that have already achieved high vaccination rates. To ensure all countries achieve the global goals of at least 10% coverage by September and 40% by end-2021:

  • We call on countries that have contracted high volumes of vaccines to swap near-term delivery schedules with COVAX and AVAT.
  • We call on vaccine manufacturers to immediately prioritize and fulfill their contracts to COVAX and AVAT, and to provide regular, clear supply forecasts.
  • We urge G7 and all dose-sharing countries to fulfill their pledges urgently, with enhanced pipeline visibility, product shelf life and support for ancillary supplies, as barely 10% of nearly 900 million committed doses have so far been shipped.
  • We call on all countries to eliminate export restrictions and any other trade barriers on COVID-19 vaccines and the inputs involved in their production.

We are in parallel intensifying our work with COVAX and AVAT to tackle persistent vaccine delivery, manufacturing and trade issues, notably in Africa, and mobilize grants and concessional financing for these purposes. We will also explore financing mechanisms to cover future vaccine needs as requested by AVAT. We will advocate for better supply forecasts and investments to increase country preparedness and absorptive capacity. And we will continue to enhance our data, to identify gaps and improve transparency in the supply and use of all COVID-19 tools.

The time for action is now. The course of the pandemic—and the health of the world—are at stake.”

 

 

08/27/2021   WHO News

The pandemic continues to highlight a pressing need to use social and behavioural data alongside biomedical data to mount an effective response. Timely data and insights into people’s changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours helps to ensure that the response is tailored and adapted to the needs of the population.

Due to the rapidly evolving situation, many countries are facing challenges in the availability of accurate and up-to-date social and behavioural data. In response to this situation, WHO has developed the “Social and Behavioural Insights COVID-19 Data Collection Tool for Africa”. The tool can be used by WHO Country Offices, NGOs, universities or other groups interested in capturing quantitative and qualitative social and behavioural data.

08/25/2021   WHO News

A victim/survivor-centered approach must be central to all work on preventing and responding to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. This was the key message of the UN Victims’ Rights Advocate  Jane Connors who visited WHO’s new PSEAH team at our Geneva Headquarters.

Ms Connors held a meeting with the WHO’s Chef de Cabinet, Dr Catharina Boehme and Director of PRSEAH, Dr Gaya Gamhewage and team members on 23rd August, 2021. Later in the day she was joined virtually by Senior Victims’ Rights Advocates from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Haiti amongst other members of her team to discuss support to and collaboration with WHO for PSEAH work.

The Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate (OVRA) seeks to put the rights and dignity of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN staff and related personnel at the forefront of the UN’s prevention and response efforts. They work together with all entities of the UN system so that victims get the assistance and support they need. They also work in collaboration with Government institutions, civil society, and including national and legal and human rights organizations to build networks of support and help ensure that the full effect of local laws, including remedies for victims, are brought to bear.

Ms Connors emphasized that having a dedicated person on the ground tasked to see that victims’ rights are prioritized, someone victims trust, and to whom they can turn to seek assistance and advocate on their behalf makes a real difference. Her office provides a variety of services to victims of SEA, regardless of the status of investigations into complaints and allegations. Field Victims’ Rights Advocates receive safely complaints and refer safely victims to the services they need and  support the development of livelihood projects funded by the Trust Fund in Support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. The support offered to victims or survivors includes medical assistance, psychosocial support, livelihood support, and school fees, school support packages as well as legal aid for  paternity and child support for children born out of SEA.

Several ideas for collaboration between OVRA and WHO’s PRSEAH team were identified: better collaboration between focal points from the two entities in high-risk countries; collaboration on joint training including psycho-social first-aid, and leveraging WHO technical experts to support victims and survivors of SEA.

08/24/2021   WHO News
The number of adults aged 30-79 years with hypertension has increased from 650 million to 1.28 billion in the last thirty years, according to the first comprehensive global analysis of trends in hypertension prevalence, detection, treatment and control.