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General Science & Health

05/27/2024   WHO News
WHO together with Swiss and Geneva partners, the UN family, Member States, athletes, local sports clubs, and health partners came together on Sunday 26 May 2024, to celebrate the importance of healthy lifestyles and to kick off the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly.
05/27/2024   WHO News
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus presented his Award for Global Health to the Prime Minister of Barbados and two scientists for their contributions to advancing global health at the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly.
05/27/2024   Wired Science
Using DNA from tangerines and tobacco, food scientists have made a familiar fruit tastier—and more Instagrammable—than ever. We looked into pink pineapples so you don’t have to.
05/27/2024   Wired Science
Increasing solar activity over the next year could bring more opportunities to see fantastic displays of the northern lights.
05/26/2024   WHO News

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched its first-ever Investment Round on Sunday as part of a broader plan to transform the way the Organization is funded heading into an era of climate change, mass migration, pandemic threats, an ageing world population, and turbulent geopolitics.

The launch, on the eve of the Seventy-Seventh World Health Assembly, marks the start of a year-long series of engagements and events, co-hosted by countries, where Member States and other donors will be invited to contribute funds to WHO’s strategy for 2025 through 2028 and show high-level political commitment to WHO and global health.

The Investment Round will culminate in November with a major pledging event to be hosted by Brazil around the G20 Leaders’ Summit.

“It’s about ensuring WHO is fully funded and improving the quality of the funding we receive. Much of the funding we receive is unpredictable, reactive, and tightly defined,” Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, opening the high-level event on the eve of the Health Assembly. “The Investment Round aims to change that, by generating funding that is more flexible, predictable, and resilient.”

WHO’s third investment case, to be launched at the Health Assembly on Tuesday 28 May, estimates that full funding of the strategy, the Fourteenth General Programme of Work (GPW 14), will contribute to saving 40 million lives from 2025-2028.

High-level support for Investment Round

During Sunday’s high-level event, the Government of Brazil announced that as part of its G20 presidency, the country will host high-level events including at the Leaders’ Summit in November to support the Investment Round and rally countries to join the initiative.

“Global problems need global solutions, and no other organization has turned out to be in a better position to provide us a chance to come to global solutions,” Brazil’s Minister of Health Nísia Trindade said in a video address. “We will use the convening power of G20 to help mobilize efforts to make the Investment Round a success.”

Qatar Minister of Health Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari announced a contribution of US$ 4 million in fully flexible funds to the Investment Round, and an intention to contribute further.

“Health care is a fundamental human right and we must continue to invest in the World Health Organization to safeguard our health. Unity is the key to our success,” Dr Mohamed Al Kuwari said.

France, Germany, and Norway announced that they would serve as co-hosts for the Investment Round.

“The WHO must be the guardian of scientific rigour, the whistleblower, and above all, the orchestra conductor, in Geneva and in each of its Member States, of the actions of all those involved in global health,” said Frédéric Valletoux, Minister Delegate in charge of Health and Prevention, France.

“We as Member States need to deliver more predictable, more flexible, and sufficient funding of the WHO,” Norway’s Health Minister Jan Christian Vestre said. “Norway is committed to co-host the Investment Round, which will be an important step in securing the Organization more sustainable financing.”

Further statements of support for the Investment Round came from Dr Gabriel Leung representing the Institute of Philanthropy, and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is WHO’s Ambassador for Global Health Financing.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley accepted a Global Health Leaders Award for lifetime achievement from WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and gave a statement supporting the WHO Investment Round and noting how important it was for Small Island Developing States.

“We live in a world where we ought to know better, and I say so on the launch of this Investment Round largely because what is being asked for is miniscule in proportion to where money is being spent elsewhere,” Ms Mottley said.

As part of Sunday’s event, prizes were awarded to winners of the 5th edition of WHO’s Health for All Film Festival by Indian actor, filmmaker and social advocate Nandita Das, a member of the distinguished international festival jury.

The launch event featured performances by internationally-acclaimed Egyptian opera singer Farrah El-Dibany and Franco-American pianist Jeff Cohen.

A post-event reception was hosted by Germany at WHO headquarters, opened by Karl Lauterbach, Federal Minister of Health. The reception also featured remarks from basketball star and childhood obesity control champion Pau Gasol, and a performance by Sherrie Silver, choreographer, dancer, actor, UN development advocate and philanthropist, and a troupe of young dancers.

Matching WHO’s funding to its obligations

The WHO Executive Board approved the Investment Round in January, noting that funding had not kept pace with the Organization’s mandate to promote well-being, prevent disease, expand access to health care, and coordinate the world’s response to a growing number of health emergencies brought on by war, disease outbreaks, and natural disasters.

By 2022-23, Member States’ assessed contributions (membership dues) covered only 13% of WHO’s budget, which left the Organization reliant on voluntary, often earmarked and unpredictable contributions to fund its work, a dynamic that created uncertainty and inefficiency across the Organization and left areas where approved activities went unfunded.

Holding an Investment Round was one of the key recommendations put forward by the Member State-led WHO Working Group on Sustainable Financing and approved by Member States to make WHO a predictably, sustainably, flexibly funded organization. Member States have also approved an increase in their assessed contributions, on the pathway to providing 50% of WHO’s base budget by 2030. With the Investment Round, WHO is seeking to expand its donor base by mobilizing new contributions from the WHO Member States that have not yet provided voluntary contributions and by tapping into new private sector donors through the WHO Foundation.

05/26/2024   Wired Science
Using machine learning, string theorists are finally showing how microscopic configurations of extra dimensions translate into sets of elementary particles—though not yet those of our universe.
05/26/2024   Wired Science
This year has seen wind farm costs rise and many projects canceled as developers struggle with opaque regulations and determined opposition—but the industry is far from dead.
05/26/2024   Wired Science
Las Barrancas, in the state of Veracruz, has struggled for 10 years against the rising Gulf of Mexico waters. Its best hope may lie in mangrove trees.
05/26/2024   WHO News
The World Health Organization has announced the official selection of this year’s winning films of its 5th Health for All Film Festival. The awards were announced today at a special event launching WHO’s Investment Round on the eve of the Seventy-Seventh World Health Assembly in Geneva.
05/25/2024   Wired Science
In a rapidly warming world, cities need more tree cover to stay cool—but only certain species can handle soaring temperatures, and often they aren’t native species.
05/25/2024   Wired Science
Authorities and conservation groups are investigating the deaths of dozens of howler monkeys in Tabasco, where extreme heat and land-use change appear to be threatening the vulnerable species.
05/24/2024   WHO News

WHO Member States have ended intensive negotiations aimed at strengthening global capacities to respond to future pandemics and outbreaks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and agreed to submit outcomes of their work for consideration by the upcoming World Health Assembly, starting Monday.

Two parallel negotiation processes were undertaken to make a series of amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) and to develop a first-ever pandemic agreement, convention or other legal instrument.

Delegations to the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly, running from 27 May–1 June, will consider the outcomes of both processes, and the next steps for the two.

“Over the past two years, WHO Member States have dedicated enormous effort to rise to this challenge posted by COVID-19 and respond to the losses it caused, including at least 7 million lives lost,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “COVID-19 affected everybody, in many ways, and that is why Member States started a process to develop a pandemic agreement to make the world better prepared for the next pandemic. While great progress was made during these negotiations, there are challenges still to overcome. We need to use the World Health Assembly to re-energize us and finish the job at hand, which is to present the world with a generational pandemic agreement.”

Countries today ended their resumed 9th meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) comprising WHO’s 194 Member States. Initial agreement was reached by the INB on multiple elements of the draft agreement, and convergence on others. There were also areas of non-convergence and divergent views.

The INB Bureau, which has been guiding the process, will present a report outlining the two-plus years of work of the process, and the outcome of that work, which is the draft text that has been negotiated to date. Options for next steps to conclude the agreement process will also be put to the WHA for consideration.

Bureau co-Chair Mr Roland Driece, of the Netherlands, said WHO Member States remain committed to completing the pandemic agreement process and looked forward to the World Health Assembly to consider the progress made on this landmark initiative.

“Clearly there is agreement among governments that the world must forge a new approach to combatting pandemics,” Mr Driece said. “The next steps in this essential process will now be guided by the World Health Assembly.”

Fellow co-Chair Ms Precious Matsoso, of South Africa, added that the quest for building a generational, equitable agreement to prepare for, prevent and respond to pandemics remains. “The world must not take its focus off the job at hand, which is to ensure the world is better protected from the next pandemic. This will require continuous commitment and action from all parties to build the world’s collective defenses.”

The Working Group on the IHR (WGIHR) amendments will also be presenting its outcome to the WHA for consideration, including some provisions for which agreement in principle was reached and others that the WGIHR Bureau updated its proposed text for consideration by Member States.

The IHR, which were first adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1969 and last revised in 2005, were conceived to maximize collective efforts to manage public health events while at the same time minimizing their disruption to travel and trade. They have 196 State Parties, comprising all 194 WHO Member States plus Liechtenstein and the Holy See. These Parties have led the process to amend the IHR through the Working Group on Amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) (WGIHR). Today marked the end of the resumed session of the eighth meeting of the WGIHR.

 

05/24/2024   WHO News

UNICEF delivered over 43 000 doses of the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine by air to Bangui, Central African Republic, today, with more than 120 000 doses to follow in the next days. It is the first country to receive the R21 malaria vaccine for use in routine childhood immunization, marking another step forward in preventing the disease and saving children’s lives.  

R21 is the second malaria vaccine to be recommended by WHO for children living in endemic areas. Along with the earlier WHO recommendation of the RTS,S vaccine, there is now sufficient vaccine supply to scale up malaria vaccination in Africa. The rollout of both vaccines is funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

“With two products now available to countries, expanded supply of malaria vaccines is a game changer for child survival and health,” said Director of UNICEF Supply Division Leila Pakkala. “Previous concerns about supply meeting demand are firmly behind us. Now our priority is for the vaccines to reach every child at risk.”

The R21 and RTS,S vaccines are proven safe and effective in preventing malaria in children. The RTS,S vaccine was delivered to more than 2 million children in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi in a four-year pilot programme that demonstrated a 13% reduction in all-cause mortality.

Malaria is one of the world’s most lethal diseases, killing nearly half a million children under 5 years of age each year in Africa.

The Central African Republic has one of the highest rates of malaria incidence globally. In 2022, an estimated 1 733 000 malaria cases were reported in the country, averaging about 4747 cases a day. The disease also claimed around 5180 lives over the year, or 14 deaths each day.

“Having two safe and effective vaccines means we have greater supply security and can be more confident about meeting countries’ needs,” said Dr Sania Nishtar, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “That is what matters most – that countries where our vaccines can be most impactful are able to access them, saving thousands of lives each year and offering relief to families, communities and entire health systems.”

Central African Republic, along with Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Uganda, are preparing to receive R21 shipments.

Around 4.33 million doses of RTS,S have been delivered to 8 countries so far – Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, and Sierra Leone – that are offering the vaccine in their routine child immunization programmes as part of national malaria control plans. Burundi and Niger are next on the list for RTS,S shipments.

Vaccine deliveries to countries that are funded through the Vaccine Alliance depend on government requests and readiness to include the vaccine in routine immunization programmes.

Gavi, UNICEF, WHO, and partners are supporting governments as they prepare to receive and introduce the vaccines. This involves supporting countries to develop vaccine implementation plans and communication strategies, conducting health worker trainings and community engagement, and ensuring sufficient cold chain capacity.

“Malaria vaccines, introduced as part of the tools available in comprehensive national malaria control plans, will substantially reduce early childhood deaths and can help revitalize the fight against malaria. With the R21 vaccine now joining RTS,S vaccine for use in country immunization programmes, scale up of malaria vaccine across parts of Africa, where malaria remains a major cause of childhood death will continue. The high community demand for malaria vaccines also provides an opportunity for children to receive other childhood vaccines that may be due, resulting in even more lives saved,” said Dr Kate O’Brien, Director of WHO's Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals.

Malaria vaccines are an important addition to the fight against the disease. Careful planning is essential to ensure the successful introduction of the malaria vaccines and to combine them with other interventions including insecticide-treated bed nets or targeted indoor residual spraying, chemoprevention, diagnosis and prompt treatments to maximize the impact on public health.

 

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Notes to editors:

Download photos and videos here (content will be added post-shipment arrival).

Follow this link for the UNICEF vaccine market dashboard, which provides the latest market developments, including deliveries and a global overview of prices.

 

For more information, please contact:

Sara Alhattab, UNICEF New York, Tel: +1 917 957 6536, salhattab@unicef.org

Meghana Sharafudeen, Gavi, Tel: +41 79 711 55 54, msharafudeen@gavi.org

Matt Grek, Gavi, mgrek@gavi.org

WHO Press Office, mediainquiries@who.int

 

About UNICEF
UNICEF works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit: www.unicef.org

Follow UNICEF on TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube

 

About Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

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

Learn more at www.gavi.org and connect with us on Facebook and X (Twitter).

 

About WHO

Dedicated to the health and well-being of all people and guided by science, the World Health Organization leads and champions global efforts to give everyone, everywhere, an equal chance at a safe and healthy life. We are the UN agency for health that connects nations, partners and people on the front lines in 150+ locations – leading the world’s response to health emergencies, preventing disease, addressing the root causes of health issues and expanding access to medicines and health care. Our mission is to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. www.who.int

05/24/2024   WHO News

Mpox continues to affect people around the world. A new framework released today by WHO will guide health authorities, communities and other stakeholders in preventing and controlling mpox outbreaks, eliminating human-to-human transmission of the disease, and reducing spillover of the virus from animals to humans.

Mpox is a viral illness caused by the monkeypox virus (MPXV). It can cause a painful rash, enlarged lymph nodes and fever. Most people fully recover, but some get very sick. The virus transmits from person to person through close, including sexual, contact. It also has animal reservoirs in east, central and west Africa, where spillovers from animals to humans can occasionally occur, sparking further outbreaks.

There are two different clades of the virus: clade I and clade II. Clade I outbreaks are deadlier than clade II outbreaks.

A major emergence of mpox linked to clade II began in 2017, and since 2022, has spread to all regions of the world. Between July 2022 and May 2023, the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. While that outbreak has largely subsided, cases and deaths continue to be reported today, illustrating that low-level transmission continues around the world.

Currently, there is also a major outbreak of clade I virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where cases have been on the rise for decades. Since the beginning of the year, over 6500 cases and 345 deaths have been reported in the DRC. Almost half of these are among children under the age of 15 years.

The Strategic framework for enhancing prevention and control of mpox (2024–2027) provides a roadmap for health authorities, communities, and stakeholders worldwide to control mpox outbreaks in every context, advance mpox research and access to countermeasures, and to minimize zoonotic transmission.

05/24/2024   Wired Science
The aurora borealis is usually seen near the Arctic, but solar winds and magnetic turbulence are sparking some of the best light shows in centuries throughout the US.
05/24/2024   Wired Science
Physicists have figured out how a warp drive could work—even if it's more useful for our understanding of gravity than interstellar travel.
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Not only do heat pumps work fine in cold weather, they’re still more efficient than gas furnaces in such conditions.
05/23/2024   WHO News

The latest edition of the World Health Statistics released today by the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic reversed the trend of steady gain in life expectancy at birth and healthy life expectancy at birth (HALE).

The pandemic wiped out nearly a decade of progress in improving life expectancy within just two years. Between 2019 and 2021, global life expectancy dropped by 1.8 years to 71.4 years (back to the level of 2012). Similarly, global healthy life expectancy dropped by 1.5 years to 61.9 years in 2021 (back to the level of 2012).

The 2024 report also highlights how the effects have been felt unequally across the world. The WHO regions for the Americas and South-East Asia were hit hardest, with life expectancy dropping by approximately 3 years and healthy life expectancy by 2.5 years between 2019 and 2021. In contrast, the Western Pacific Region was minimally affected during the first two years of the pandemic, with losses of less than 0.1 years in life expectancy and 0.2 years in healthy life expectancy.

“There continues to be major progress in global health, with billions of people who are enjoying better health, better access to services, and better protection from health emergencies,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “But we must remember how fragile progress can be. In just two years, the COVID-19 pandemic erased a decade of gains in life expectancy. That's why the new Pandemic Agreement is so important: not only to strengthen global health security, but to protect long-term investments in health and promote equity within and between countries.”

Noncommunicable diseases remain the top killer

COVID-19 rapidly emerged as a leading cause of death, ranking as the third highest cause of mortality globally in 2020 and the second in 2021. Nearly 13 million lives were lost during this period. The latest estimates reveal that except in the African and Western Pacific regions, COVID-19 was among the top five causes of deaths, notably becoming the leading cause of death in the Americas for both years.

The WHO report also highlights that noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as ischemic heart disease and stroke, cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, and diabetes were the biggest killers before the pandemic, responsible for 74% of all deaths in 2019. Even during the pandemic, NCDs continued to account for 78% of non-COVID deaths.

Increasing obesity and malnutrition

The world faces a massive and complex problem of a double burden of malnutrition, where undernutrition coexists with overweight and obesity. In 2022, over one billion people aged five years and older were living with obesity, while more than half a billion were underweight. Malnutrition in children was also striking, with 148 million children under five years old affected by stunting (too short for age), 45 million suffering from wasting (too thin for height), and 37 million overweight.

The report further highlights the significant health challenges faced by persons with disabilities, refugees and migrants. In 2021, about 1.3 billion people, or 16% of the global population, had disability. This group is disproportionately affected by health inequities resulting from avoidable, unjust and unfair conditions.

Access to healthcare for refugees and migrants remains limited, with only half of the 84 countries surveyed between 2018 and 2021 providing government-funded health services to these groups at levels comparable to their citizens. This highlights the urgent need for health systems to adapt and address the persisting inequities and changing demographic needs of global populations.

Progress towards the Triple Billion targets and SDGs

Despite setbacks caused by the pandemic, the world has made some progress towards achieving the Triple Billion targets and health-related indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Since 2018, an additional 1.5 billion people achieved better health and well-being. Despite gains, rising obesity, high tobacco use and persistent air pollution hinder progress.

Universal Health Coverage expanded to 585 million more people, falling short of the goal for one billion. Additionally, only 777 million more people are likely to be adequately protected during health emergencies by 2025, falling short of the one billion target set in WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work. This protection is increasingly important as the effects of climate change and other global crises increasingly threaten health security.

“While we have made progress towards the Triple Billion targets since 2018, a lot still needs to be done. Data is WHO’s superpower. We need to use it better to deliver more impact in countries,” said Dr Samira Asma, WHO Assistant Director-General for Data, Analytics and Delivery for Impact. “Without accelerating progress, it is unlikely that any of the health SDGs will be met by 2030.”

Editors’ note:

The World Health Statistics report is WHO’s annual compilation of the most recent available data on health and health-related indicators. For inquiries, contact healthstat@who.int

 

05/23/2024   WHO News

Ahead of the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly, the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have signed a Core Contribution Agreement to support the implementation of WHO’s extended Thirteenth General Programme of Work.

The agreement entails a contribution of US$ 4 million from the State of Qatar to WHO, through QFFD, aimed at enhancing the Organization's efforts in addressing global health challenges. This partnership underscores the State of Qatar and QFFD's unwavering commitment to improving health outcomes and promoting sustainable development goals worldwide.

"Our partnership with WHO is a testament to our dedication to leaving no one behind in the pursuit of health equity worldwide. By supporting WHO, we aim to empower communities, enhance healthcare access, and contribute to a healthier future for all," said Mr Sultan Ahmed Al-Aseeri, Acting Director-General of QFFD.

“Flexible funds are critical for WHO’s life-saving work. With thanks to long-standing partners like the Qatar Fund for Development, WHO can use these funds to swiftly respond to global health needs as they arise. I am grateful to the State of Qatar for their support and for allowing us the flexibility we need to carry out our mission and mandate,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The extended Thirteenth General Programme of Work (GWP13) focuses on a comprehensive approach to health, addressing communicable and non-communicable diseases, strengthening health systems, and promoting health through the life course. This collaboration will particularly emphasize supporting countries in crisis and post-crisis contexts, aligning with the State of Qatar and QFFD's mission to provide crucial aid where it is needed most.

As the world continues to navigate complex health challenges, the partnership between QFFD and WHO represents a beacon of hope and a model for international cooperation in the realm of global health. This agreement is a significant step towards achieving the shared goal of a healthier, more resilient world.

05/23/2024   WHO News

The World Health Organization (WHO) and STOP, a global tobacco industry watchdog, are launching today “Hooking the next generation,” a report highlighting how the tobacco and nicotine industry designs products, implements marketing campaigns and works to shape policy environments to help them addict the world’s youth.

This comes just ahead of World No Tobacco Day marked on 31 May, where WHO is amplifying the voices of young people who are calling on governments to protect them from being targets of the tobacco and nicotine industry.

The report shows that globally an estimated 37 million children aged 13–15 years use tobacco, and in many countries, the rate of e-cigarette use among adolescents exceeds that of adults. In the WHO European Region, 20% of 15-year-olds surveyed reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.

Despite significant progress in reducing tobacco use, the emergence of e-cigarettes and other new tobacco and nicotine products present a grave threat to youth and tobacco control. Studies demonstrate that e-cigarette use increases conventional cigarette use, particularly among non-smoking youth, by nearly three times.

"History is repeating, as the tobacco industry tries to sell the same nicotine to our children in different packaging,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “These industries are actively targeting schools, children and young people with new products that are essentially a candy-flavoured trap. How can they talk about harm reduction when they are marketing these dangerous, highly-addictive products to children?”

These industries continue to market their products to young people with enticing flavours like candy and fruit. Research in the United States of America found that more than 70% of youth e-cigarette users would quit if the products were only available in tobacco flavour.

"These industries are intentionally designing products and utilizing marketing strategies that appeal directly to children," said Dr Ruediger Krech, Director, WHO Director of Health Promotion. "The use of child-friendly flavours like cotton candy and bubblegum, combined with sleek and colourful designs that resemble toys, is a blatant attempt to addict young people to these harmful products."

These deceptive tactics highlight the urgent need for strong regulations to protect young people from a lifetime of harmful dependence.

WHO urges governments to protect young people from the uptake of tobacco, e-cigarettes and other nicotine products by banning or tightly regulating these products. WHO recommendations include creating 100% smoke-free indoor public places, banning flavoured e-cigarettes, bans on marketing, advertising and promotion, higher taxes, increasing public awareness of the deceptive tactics used by the industry and supporting youth-led education and awareness initiatives.

“Addicted youth represent a lifetime of profits to the industry,” said Jorge Alday, Director, STOP at Vital Strategies. “That’s why the industry aggressively lobbies to create an environment that makes it cheap, attractive and easy for youth to get hooked. If policy makers don’t act, current and future generations may be facing a new wave of harms, characterized by addiction to and use of many tobacco and nicotine products, including cigarettes.”

Youth advocates around the world are taking a stand against the tobacco and nicotine industry’s destructive influence and manipulative marketing. They are exposing these deceptive practices and advocating for their own tobacco-free future. Youth organizations from around the world participated in the latest session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (COP10) to deliver a powerful message to policy makers: “Future generations will remember you as the ones who protected them or the ones who failed them and put them in danger.”

Dr Tedros recognized the following youth organizations among the 2024 World No Tobacco Day Awards:

  • Thailand Youth Institute, Kingdom of Thailand
  • Tobacco Abstinence Club, Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Argentine Republic

These inspiring young leaders are protecting their generation from an industry that sees them as profits, not people.

By working together, governments, public health organizations, civil society, and empowered youth can create a world where the next generation is free from the dangers of tobacco and nicotine addiction.

05/22/2024   WHO News

As the world continues to grapple with the aftermath of the most severe pandemic in a century, the Seventy-seventh session of the World Health Assembly will convene under the banner of "All for Health, Health for All." Scheduled to run from 27 May to 1 June, with the participation of ministers of health and other high-level country representatives, the Health Assembly serves as a critical platform for addressing existing global health challenges such as HIV, measles and polio, amidst the climate emergency and the rise of conditions like hypertension and obesity. 

One of the pivotal moments anticipated during the Health Assembly is the Pandemic prevention, preparedness and response accord and the amendments to the International Health Regulations, signaling a concerted effort by Member States to bolster global preparedness and response mechanisms.  

A pre-Health Assembly opening event on Sunday 26 May will kickstart the WHO Investment Round efforts, an engagement with current and potential donors aimed at ensuring sustainable funding for WHO. Additionally, the launch on Tuesday 28 May of WHO’s third Investment case will explain the value proposition, in terms of additional lives saved, if the Fourteenth General Programme of Work (GPW 14), WHO’s strategy for 2025–2028, is carried out in its entirety.  

"The cumulative effects of climate change, disease outbreaks and conflict mean ever more pressure on WHO to respond to the world's health needs,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "This Health Assembly presents our Member States with key opportunities to promote, provide and protect health and well-being for everyone, by adopting the Fourteenth General Programme of Work, the global health strategy for the next four years; by supporting WHO's continued transformation through the WHO Investment Round; and by making the world safer through the Pandemic Agreement and the amendments to the International Health Regulations.” 

Key highlights and decisions 
Key moments and outcomes expected during the Health Assembly include the approval on 28 May of WHO’s 2025–2028 strategy, GPW 14, to address health-related implications of such megatrends as climate change, ageing, migration, and advances in science and technology. The four-year period represents a window to get the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) back on track. 

Crucial decisions are expected on a range of health priorities such as climate and health, WHO’s work in health emergencies, access to transformative tools, communicable diseases, noncommunicable diseases, mental health, women's health and the reform of WHO itself.  

The Health Assembly will feature high-level participation from political leaders and ambassadors, and representatives from civil society and non-State actors, underscoring the global commitment to advancing the public health agenda. 

On Friday 31 May, the Health Assembly President will present six 2024 public health awards to eight laureates for outstanding contributions to public health.

Pre-Health Assembly opening events 

Some events will take place on Sunday 26 May, prior to the Health Assembly official opening on Monday morning. The fifth edition of the Walk the Talk: Health for All challenge will start at Place des Nations at 08:00 CEST to promote physical and mental health. Sports and entertainment leaders will be participating, including WHO Goodwill ambassador Didier Drogba; basketballer and childhood obesity control champion Pau Gasol; Olympic and World 800m champion David Rudisha; Swiss, world Paralympic wheelchair marathon champion Marcel Hug; and choreographer and development advocate Sherrie Silver.  

Later on Sunday, 26 May, from 17:00 to 20:00, the All for Health, Health for All event at WHO headquarters will launch WHO’s first Investment Round and host the Grand Prix awards for the Health for All Film Festival. Mezzo-soprano opera singer Farrah El Dibany will also perform. The event will be live-streamed.  

On Monday 27 May, the Health Assembly will open at 09:00 at the Palais des Nations. The high-level segment is expected to begin at 09:30 with the WHO Director-General presenting the Director-General's Global Health Leaders awards to laureates at about 10:00. (Note: one laureate will receive their award at the 26 May event.) Dr Tedros’ main address will starts at approximately 14:30.   

Strategic Roundtables 
Strategic Roundtables will take place throughout Health Assembly with the theme of “Invest in global health – Invest in WHO.” These events will host discussions among Health Assembly delegates, partner agencies, representatives of civil society and WHO experts on public health priorities. Sessions run from 28 May to 1 June 2024 at 13:00–14:15. A session will also take place on Tuesday evening, 28 May. All sessions can be followed online.  

As WHO’s highest decision-making body, the Health Assembly sets out the Organization’s policy and approves its budget. The Health Assembly is attended by delegations from all 194 WHO Member States. The Health Assembly’s agenda is preceded by the 40th meeting of the Programme, Budget and Administration Committee of the Executive Board, meeting on 22–24 May 2024. After the Health Assembly, the 155th meeting of the Executive Board will take place on 3–4 June. 

05/22/2024   WHO News
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Task Team on Climate Change, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and Malaria, in partnership with Reaching the Last Mile (RLM), has released a major scoping review published in Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
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05/21/2024   WHO News
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05/20/2024   WHO News
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05/18/2024   WHO News

In an historic milestone for global public health, State Parties today agreed in principle on a large, ground-breaking package of amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005). These amendments build on over 300 proposals made by countries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. They set out to improve the ability of countries to prepare for, detect and respond to Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEICs), and will be part of a package to be put forward to the World Health Assembly (WHA). The WHA takes place from 27 May–1 June 2024. Negotiators will meet again next week to wrap up their work on the few remaining issues that need to be finalised.

The IHR, which were first adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1969 and last revised in 2005, were conceived to maximize collective efforts to manage public health events while at the same time minimizing their disruption to travel and trade. They have 196 State Parties, comprising all 194 WHO Member States plus Liechtenstein and the Holy See. These Parties have led the process to amend the IHR through the Working Group on Amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) (WGIHR). Today marked the end of the resumed session of the eighth meeting of the WGIHR.  

This process has been running in parallel to an intergovernmental process to develop an international agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. The draft pandemic agreement, with its own Member State-led negotiating process which resumes on 20 May, is also due to go to the World Health Assembly.

“The International Health Regulations have served the world well for nearly 20 years but our collective experience in using this vital tool for the management of multiple public health emergencies, including the COVID-19 pandemic, has demonstrated important areas in which they could be strengthened for the benefit of all 196 State Parties,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This is historic. Countries have come together around improved international mechanisms to protect every person in the world and future generations from the impact of epidemics and pandemics, with a commitment to equity and solidarity. I thank all the Member States for their unswerving dedication.”

WGIHR Co-Chair Dr Ashley Bloomfield, of New Zealand, said: “It has been a long but very productive and gratifying process to achieve consensus on the majority of the proposed amendments. This shows the importance the world places on being able to prepare effectively for and respond better to epidemic and pandemic threats, and that there is strong international consensus on how to go about international public health protection.”

Fellow WGIHR Co-Chair, Dr Abdullah Assiri, of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, said: “Amending the International Health Regulations reflects the critical need to bolster our collective defences against current and future public health risks, all whilst firmly adhering to the principle of national sovereignty and respecting equity. Today, we have coalesced around a robust set of amendments which will make international cooperation more effective and easier to implement.”

A potential new pandemic agreement and the amended IHRs would be complementary international instruments designed and negotiated by Member States to help countries protect their peoples better from future pandemic threats. The IHRs focus on building countries’ capacities to detect and respond to public health events which could take on international dimensions, whilst the draft pandemic accord focuses on a coordinated international response to pandemics, with equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics at the centre.

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05/17/2024   WHO News

Ireland is becoming a global leader in the field of innovation in harnessing digital technologies as a tool to address various barriers for access to care. In alignment with WHO, Ireland recognizes the importance of mobilizing assistive technology to help the 2.5 billion people in need globally, including older persons, people with disabilities, and those living with health conditions. This includes ensuring equitable access to assistive products such as glasses, hearing aids, walking aids, wheelchairs, prosthetics, and communication and memory devices.

In March 2024, Anne Rabbitte, T.D., Ireland’s Minister of State with special responsibility for disabilities at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, agreed to a €12.5 million donor agreement between the Government of Ireland and WHO, aimed at accelerating affordability and availability of assistive technology for those in need.

The cooperation has been building throughout the years. Back in 2022, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD, launched the Global report on assistive technology, along with the Director-General of WHO and the Executive Director of UNICEF. The Taoiseach highlighted the importance of international cooperation to ensure more equitable access to assistive technology, in order to achieve a society where everyone is included and enabled to live their best life.

Minister Rabbitte stated that: “Ireland has identified the serious need to invest in public health systems alongside the WHO. The present risk of rising health needs coupled with a decreasing pool of health and social care professionals globally reveals an urgent need for all of us to act now. Ireland’s contribution aligns with the recommendations of the Global Report on Assistive Technology and supports a five-year initiative towards achieving national health system models that include assistive technology. The programme will explore and demonstrate how digital technology can facilitate people-centred services, assistive technology policy, improve the affordability and appropriateness of assistive products, enable effective provision systems, and boost the capacity of health personnel to identify, screen, refer and provide assistive technology for all those in need.”


Health personnel in Tanzania participating in on-line training on assistive products, as part of an overall program aimed at provision of simple assistive products through community and primary health care facilities - making products such as walking aids and reading glasses more readily available for people within their local area. Digital technology was instrumental in facilitating efficient learning through the platform, and enabling support for health workers from their mentors through communication apps after the training. Credit: WHO/Kylie Shae

With an ageing global population and a rise in noncommunicable diseases, an estimated 3.5 billion people will need assistive technology by 2050. Dr Yukiko Nakatani, WHO Assistant Director-General, Access to Medicines and Health Products, welcomes this important contribution from Ireland and their leadership in the digital initiative. She said: “The 2018 World Health Assembly resolution on assistive technology calls upon WHO to take the necessary steps to promote equitable access to assistive technology in our endeavour to build a more inclusive world. Our partnership with the Government of Ireland will support WHO in achieving our mission to ensure health for all, everywhere, with assistive technologies as an important enabler of well-being, inclusion, and participation.”

Through Ireland’s contribution, and in collaboration with its broad network of partners, WHO will develop evidence-based guidance for Member States on strengthening access to assistive technology through understanding, prioritising and stimulating increased innovation and use of digital solutions. The work will also involve national, regional, and global projects that test digital solutions designed to address persistent access barriers such as: digital platforms that empower users with information about assistive technology and how to access it; digital tracking of products to manage supply; and online training and support for health workers. The results and lessons learned will help countries expand their knowledge, skills, and capacities in the provision of assistive technology as an integral component of Universal Health Care.

‘Leaving no one behind’ means ensuring that people with disabilities, the older population, those affected by chronic diseases and everyone who needs assistive technology are included in society and able to live healthy and dignified lives.

* * * *

Click below to find out what is assistive technology, who needs it, and how it improves lives

Assistive technology is an umbrella term for external products used by individuals to help maintain or improve their bodily functions. Common examples are wheelchairs, glasses, prosthetic limbs, white canes, and hearing aids as well as digital solutions such as speech recognition or time management software. Assistive technology helps people in all aspects of their lives, including in education, employment, fitness, leisure and other everyday activities such as self-care, cooking and reading.

Most people will need assistive technology at some point in their lives, especially as they age. While some may require assistive technology temporarily, such as after an accident or illness, others may require it for a longer period or throughout their lifespan. It is commonly needed by older people, children and adults with disabilities, people who have been injured or who have a health condition such as diabetes, stroke and dementia.

Equitable access is key

Improving access to assistive technology enables the inclusion and participation of users in their family, community and all areas of society, including the political, economic and social spheres. Assistive technology positively impacts a person, their family and friends, and has broader socioeconomic benefits. For example:

  • early provision of hearing aids for young children supports their development of language and communication skills, limiting negative impacts on their education, future employment and community participation;
  • provision of appropriate wheelchairs facilitates mobility, improving individuals’ access to education and employment while reducing healthcare costs due to a reduction in secondary complications such as pressure sores and contractures;
  • therapeutic footwear for diabetes reduces the incidence of foot ulcers, preventing amputations and the associated impact on individuals and burden on health-care systems; and
  • timely provision of assistive technology for older people can improve their independence and safety as well as enable them to live at home for as long as possible.
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05/16/2024   WHO News
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05/15/2024   WHO News
A new vaccine for dengue received prequalification from the World Health Organization (WHO) on 10 May 2024. TAK-003 is the second dengue vaccine to be prequalified by WHO. Developed by Takeda, it is a live-attenuated vaccine containing weakened versions of the four serotypes of the virus that cause dengue.
05/10/2024   WHO News

Governments of the world today agreed to continue working on a proposed pandemic agreement, and to further refine the draft, ahead of the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly that starts 27 May 2024.

Governments meeting at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva agreed to resume hybrid and in-person discussions over coming weeks to advance work on critical issues, including around a proposed new global system for pathogen access and benefits sharing (i.e. life-saving vaccines, treatments and diagnostics); pandemic prevention and One Health; and the financial coordination needed to scale up countries’ capacities to prepare for and respond to pandemics.

"During more than two years of intensive negotiations, WHO’s Member States have shown unwavering commitment to forging a generational agreement to protect the world from a repeat of the horrors caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “I welcome the determination that all countries have shown to continue their work and fulfill the mission on which they embarked.”

The Member State-led Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) was established over two years ago to take this effort forward. The Bureau of the INB, which is guiding the process, will submit its outcome for consideration at the World Health Assembly.

INB Bureau Co-Chair Dr Precious Matsoso, from South Africa, said progress had been made during this latest round of discussions on a wide range of issues contained in the draft agreement.

“We are witnessing history play out before our eyes during this process, with the coming together of all countries to decide a binding pact to protect all citizens of the world,” said Ms Matsoso. “This is not a simple exercise. This is the first ever process to develop a proposed agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Getting this done means getting it right, and the INB Bureau is committed to help finalize a meaningful, lasting agreement.”

Fellow INB Bureau Co-Chair, Mr Roland Driece, from the Netherlands, said when countries launched the process two years ago to develop a pandemic agreement, they did so knowing they had set an ambitious timeline to reach an ambitious goal.

“This unprecedented effort by all WHO Member States was launched in response to an unprecedented global emergency – the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr Driece. “These sovereign states did so recognizing that great collaboration and coordination were needed in the face of pandemics. While negotiations have been challenging at times, all countries agree that the world must be better prepared for the next pandemic. It is not a matter of if a pandemic will happen again; it is a matter of when. We cannot afford to miss this historic opportunity to make the world safer from the next pandemic threat.”

In March 2021, heads of state and government from two dozen countries issued a statement of commitment calling for global collaboration to prepare for, prevent and respond to pandemics. In December 2021, WHO Member States decided to launch a global process to draft and negotiate a legally binding convention, agreement or other international instrument to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

 

05/09/2024   WHO News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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