World Health Organization Corporate news releases, statements, and notes for media issued by the World Health Organization.

  • WHO reveals shocking extent of exploitative formula milk marketing
    on Apr 28 2022 at 15:04

    Formula milk companies are paying social media platforms and influencers to gain direct access to pregnant women and mothers at some of the most vulnerable moments in their lives. The global formula milk industry, valued at some US$ 55 billion, is targeting new mothers with personalized social media content that is often not recognizable as advertising.

  • UNICEF and WHO warn of perfect storm of conditions for measles outbreaks, affecting children
    on Apr 27 2022 at 13:51

     An increase in measles cases in January and February 2022 is a worrying sign of a heightened risk for the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases and could trigger larger outbreaks, particularly of measles affecting millions of children in 2022, warn WHO and UNICEF. Pandemic-related disruptions, increasing inequalities in access to vaccines, and the diversion of resources from routine immunization are leaving too many children without protection against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases. The risk for large outbreaks has increased as communities relax social distancing practices and other preventive measures for COVID-19 implemented during the height of the pandemic. In addition, with millions of people being displaced due to conflicts and crises including in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Somalia and Afghanistan, disruptions in routine immunization and COVID-19 vaccination services, lack of clean water and sanitation, and overcrowding increase the risk of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks.Almost 17 338 measles cases were reported worldwide in January and February 2022, compared to 9665 during the first two months of 2021. As measles is very contagious, cases tend to show up quickly when vaccination levels decline. The agencies are concerned that outbreaks of measles could also forewarn outbreaks of other diseases that do not spread as rapidly.Apart from its direct effect on the body, which can be lethal, the measles virus also weakens the immune system and makes a child more vulnerable to other infectious diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea, including for months after the measles infection itself among those who survive.  Most cases occur in settings that have faced social and economic hardships due to COVID-19, conflict or other crises, and have chronically weak health system infrastructure and insecurity.“Measles is more than a dangerous and potentially deadly disease. It is also an early indication that there are gaps in our global immunization coverage, gaps vulnerable children cannot afford,” said Catherine Russell, UNICEF Executive Director. “It is encouraging that people in many communities are beginning to feel protected enough from COVID-19 to return to more social activities. But doing so in places where children are not receiving routine vaccination creates the perfect storm for the spread of a disease like measles.”  In 2020, 23 million children missed out on basic childhood vaccines through routine health services, the highest number since 2009 and 3.7 million more than in 2019. Top 5 countries with reported measles cases in the last 12 months, until April 2022 1Country Reported Measles cases Rate per million cases First dose measles coverage (%), 20192First dose measles coverage (%), 20203 Somalia 9068 554 46 46 Yemen 3629 119 67 68 Afghanistan 3628 91 64 66 Nigeria 12 341 58 54 54 Ethiopia 3039 26 60 58 As of April 2022, the agencies report 21 large and disruptive measles outbreaks around the world in the last 12 months. Most of the measles cases were reported in Africa and the East Mediterranean region. The figures are likely higher as the pandemic has disrupted surveillance systems globally, with potential underreporting. Countries with the largest measles outbreaks since the past year include Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Ethiopia. Insufficient measles vaccine coverage is the major reason for outbreaks, wherever they occur. “The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted immunization services, health systems have been overwhelmed, and we are now seeing a resurgence of deadly diseases including measles. For many other diseases, the impact of these disruptions to immunization services will be felt for decades to come,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “Now is the moment to get essential immunization back on track and launch catch-up campaigns so that everybody can have access to these life-saving vaccines.”As of 1 April 2022, 57 vaccine-preventable disease campaigns in 43 countries that were scheduled to take place since the start of the pandemic are still postponed, impacting 203 million people, most of whom are children. Of these, 19 are measles campaigns, which put 73 million children at risk of measles due to missed vaccinations. In Ukraine, the measles catch-up campaign of 2019 was interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and thereafter due to the war. Routine and catch-up campaigns are needed wherever access is possible to help make sure there are not repeated outbreaks as in 2017–2019, when there were over 115 000 cases of measles and 41 deaths in the country – this was the highest incidence in Europe.Coverage at or above 95% with 2 doses of the safe and effective measles vaccine can protect children against measles. However, COVID-19 pandemic related disruptions have delayed the introduction of the second dose of the measles vaccine in many countries. As countries work to respond to outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, and recover lost ground, UNICEF and WHO, along with partners such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the partners of the Measles & Rubella Initiative (M&RI), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others are supporting efforts to strengthen immunization systems by:restoring services and vaccination campaigns so countries can safely deliver routine immunization programmes to fill the gaps left by the backsliding;helping health workers and community leaders communicate actively with caregivers to explain the importance of vaccinations;rectifying gaps in immunization coverage, including identifying communities and people who have been missed during the pandemic;ensuring that COVID-19 vaccine delivery is independently financed and well-integrated into overall planning for immunization services so that it is not carried out at the cost of childhood and other vaccination services; andimplementing country plans to prevent and respond to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases and strengthening immunization systems as part of COVID-19 recovery efforts.__________________________________________________1 Source: Provisional data based on monthly data reported to WHO as of April 20222 Source: WHO/UNICEF estimates of national immunization coverage, 2020 revision.3 Source: WHO/UNICEF estimates of national immunization coverage, 2020 revision. ######Download UNICEF photos and broll here. Download WHO photos For more information on the 24–30 April WHO World Immunization Week campaign and all resources. About UNICEFUNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 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 for children, visit www.unicef.org. Follow UNICEF on Twitter and FacebookAbout WHOThe World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States across six regions, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019–2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and well-being. Visit www.who.int and follow WHO on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube and Twitch.   

  • WHO recommends highly successful COVID-19 therapy and calls for wide geographical distribution and transparency from originator
    on Apr 21 2022 at 15:03

    Today, WHO made a strong recommendation for nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, sold under the name Paxlovid, for mild and moderate COVID-19 patients at highest risk of hospital admission, calling it the best therapeutic choice for high-risk patients to date. However, availability, lack of price transparency in bilateral deals made by the producer, and the need for prompt and accurate testing before administering it, are turning this life-saving medicine into a major challenge for low- and middle-income countries. Pfizer’s oral antiviral drug (a combination of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir tablets) is strongly recommended for patients with non-severe COVID-19 who are at highest risk of developing severe disease and hospitalization, such as unvaccinated, older, or immunosuppressed patients. This recommendation is based on new data from two randomized controlled trials involving 3078 patients. The data show that the risk of hospitalization is reduced by 85% following this treatment. In a high-risk group (over 10% risk of hospitalization), that means 84 fewer hospitalizations per 1000 patients. WHO suggests against its use in patients at lower risk, as the benefits were found to be negligible. One obstacle for low- and middle-income countries is that the medicine can only be administered while the disease is at its early stages; prompt and accurate testing is therefore essential for a successful outcome with this therapy. Data collected by FIND show that the average daily testing rate in low-income countries is as low as one-eightieth the rate in high-income countries. Improving access to early testing and diagnosis in primary health care settings will be key for the global rollout of this treatment. WHO is extremely concerned that -- as occurred with COVID-19 vaccines -- low- and middle-income countries will again be pushed to the end of the queue when it comes to accessing this treatment. Lack of transparency on the part of the originator company is making it difficult for public health organizations to obtain an accurate picture of the availability of the medicine, which countries are involved in bilateral deals and what they are paying. In addition, a licensing agreement made by Pfizer with the Medicines Patent Pool limits the number of countries that can benefit from generic production of the medicine. The originator product, sold under the name Paxlovid, will be included in the WHO prequalification list  today, but generic products are not yet available from quality-assured sources. Several generic companies (many of which are covered by the licensing agreement between the Medicines Pool and Pfizer) are in discussion with WHO Prequalification but may take some time to comply with international standards so that they can supply the medicine internationally. WHO therefore strongly recommends that Pfizer make its pricing and deals more transparent and that it enlarge the geographical scope of its licence with the Medicines Patent Pool so that more generic manufacturers may start to produce the medicine and make it available faster at affordable prices. Along with the strong recommendation for the use of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, WHO has also updated its recommendation on remdesivir, another antiviral medicine. Previously, WHO had suggested against its use in all COVID-19 patients regardless of disease severity, due to the totality of the evidence at that time showing little or no effect on mortality. Following publication of new data from a clinical trial looking at the outcome of admission to hospital, WHO has updated its recommendation. WHO now suggests the use of remdesivir in mild or moderate COVID-19 patients who are at high risk of hospitalization. The recommendation for use of remdesivir in patients with severe or critical COVID-19 is currently under review.

  • Walk the Talk is back in Place des Nations this year - here’s how we’re doing it safely
    on Apr 21 2022 at 12:57

    The Walk the Talk event returns on Sunday, 22 May 2022 to Geneva, Switzerland on the morning of the 75th World Health Assembly. WHO is joining with the UN family and the Geneva community to celebrate the importance of healthy lifestyles and demonstrate measures to safely conduct public events. The third edition of the Walk the Talk: The Health for All Challenge, and the first since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is an opportunity to gather safely and to promote solidarity and a health lifestyle. There is no “zero risk” when it comes to any kind of gathering – especially events that bring groups of people together. Regardless of the size of the event, we are at risk from COVID-19 whenever we get together with people. Safety precautions will be taken for this event including the following measures: Proper crowd management including safe distancing - employing physical barriers (cones, ropes, poles, etc.) to maintain distance between people, separating accesses and way outs, adopting one-way pathways and corridors to enforce unidirectional flow, establishing spacious waiting areas to complement crowd control measures. Adequate ventilation of spaces, either by natural means or mechanical means (i.e. by supplying air to or removing air from an indoor space by powered air movement components)Ensuring availability of handwashing facilities with water and soap and/or hand sanitizer dispensersAvailability of close bins to ensure safe disposal of water bottles and other itemsMake available public health and safely measure messages on the website and onsite for prospective participantsTrain volunteers and inform them on what is expected from them, especially if they will be required of actively disseminate health messages or enforce any PHSMParticipants are also advised to observe the following health protocols:If you don’t feel well, show any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, or test positive for COVID-19, stay home. Get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s your turn. If you choose to attend a public event, always follow precautionary measures, regardless of your COVID-19 vaccination status or history of prior infection.Keep at least a 1-metre distance from others at all times.Wear a well-fitting mask that covers the nose and mouth when physical distancing of at least 1-metre is not possible and in poorly ventilated indoor settings. Do not remove the mask to speak.Avoid crowded or poorly ventilated areasWhen coughing and sneezing - cover with bent elbow or tissues. Clean your hands frequently with alcohol-based hand rub or wash with soap & waterTo learn more and register, go to www.who.int/global-walk-the-talk

  • Over 1 million African children protected by first malaria vaccine
    on Apr 19 2022 at 11:51

    As World Malaria Day approaches, more than 1 million children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have received one or more doses of the world’s first malaria vaccine, thanks to a pilot programme coordinated by WHO. The malaria vaccine pilots, first launched by the Government of Malawi in April 2019, have shown that the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) vaccine is safe and feasible to deliver, and that it substantially reduces deadly severe malaria. These findings paved the way for the historic October 2021 WHO recommendation for the expanded use of RTS,S among children living in settings with moderate to high malaria transmission. If widely deployed, WHO estimates that the vaccine could save the lives of an additional 40 000 to 80 000 African children each year. More than US$ 155 million has been secured from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to support the introduction, procurement and delivery of the malaria vaccine for Gavi-eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa. WHO guidance is available to countries as they consider whether and how to adopt RTS,S as an additional tool to reduce child illness and deaths from malaria.“As a malaria researcher in my early career, I dreamed of the day we would have an effective vaccine against this devastating disease,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This vaccine is not just a scientific breakthrough, it’s life-changing for families across Africa. It demonstrates the power of science and innovation for health. Even so, there is an urgent need to develop more and better tools to save lives and drive progress towards a malaria-free world.”Prospects for new interventionsRTS,S is a first-generation vaccine that could be complemented in the future by other vaccines with similar or higher efficacy. WHO welcomes progress in the development of R21/Matrix-M and other malaria vaccine candidates in early clinical development. The successful completion of clinical trials for these vaccines will be important to assess their safety and efficacy profiles. WHO also welcomes the news from BioNTech, manufacturer of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, that it aims to develop a malaria vaccine using mRNA technology. In the field of vector control, a number of new tools and technologies have been submitted to WHO for evaluation. Should they demonstrate efficacy in controlling the disease, WHO will formulate new recommendations or amend existing ones to support their deployment. These include, for example, new types of insecticide-treated nets, spatial mosquito repellents, gene-drive approaches and sugar baits designed to attract and kill Anopheles mosquitoes. There are also new medicines in the pipeline. WHO welcomes the recent approval by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration of dispersible tablets of single-dose tafenoquine for the prevention of P. vivax malaria among children. Tafenoquine has also been approved for use in adults by the US Federal Drug Administration and by drug regulatory bodies in other countries, including Brazil, Peru and Thailand. As a single dose, tafenoquine is expected to support patient adherence to treatment. The current standard of care requires a 7- or 14-day course of medication. A number other antimalarial medicines with new modes of action are being developed for the treatment of uncomplicated and severe malaria. Ganaplacide-Lumefantrine, currently in a Phase II clinical trial, is the first non-artemisinin combination therapy and could be an asset in fight against emerging drug-resistant malaria in Africa.In addition to drug resistance, WHO has reported other pressing threats in the fight against malaria, such as mosquito resistance to insecticides, an invasive malaria vector that thrives in urban and rural areas, and the emergence and spread of mutated P. falciparum parasites that are undermining the effectiveness of rapid diagnostic tests. Innovation in tools and strategies will be critical to contain these threats, together with a more strategic use of the tools that are available today.More investment neededAccording to the 2021 World malaria report, global progress in reducing malaria cases and deaths has slowed or stalled in recent years, particularly in countries hardest hit by the disease. The report notes the need for continued innovation in the research and development of new tools if the world is to achieve the 2030 targets of the WHO malaria strategy.Funding for malaria-related research and development reached just over US$ 619 million in 2020. An average annual R&D investment of US$ 851 million will be needed in the period 2021–2030.Making better use of the tools we have nowReaching global malaria targets will also require innovations in the way that currently available tools are deployed. Through the “ High burden to high impact” approach, launched by WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria in 2018, countries hardest hit by malaria have been collecting and analysing malaria data to better understand the geographical spread of the disease. Instead of applying the same approach to malaria control everywhere, they are considering the potential impact of tailored packages of interventions informed by local data and the local disease setting. These analyses will enable countries to use available funds in a more effective, efficient and equitable way.Note to the editor:For more information on the WHO World Malaria Day campaign, visit:  https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-malaria-day/2022More on the RTS,S malaria vaccine and the pilot programmeWHO guidance is now available to countries as they consider whether and how to adopt the RTS,S vaccine into their national malaria control strategies. The WHO recommendation for the vaccine was recently added to WHO’s consolidated malaria guidelines, and WHO has also published an updated position paper on the vaccine.To date, in routine use, the vaccine has been well accepted by African communities. Demand for the vaccine is expected to outstrip supply in the near to medium term; current vaccine production capacity stands at a maximum of 15 million doses per year, while demand is estimated to exceed 80 million doses annually. WHO is working with partners to increase supply through increased manufacturing capacity of RTS,S and by facilitating the development of other first-generation and next-generation malaria vaccines. To guide where initial doses of the vaccine will be deployed, WHO is coordinating the development of a framework for the allocation of limited malaria vaccine supply; the aim is to prioritize areas of greatest need and highest malaria burden until supply meets demand. The RTS,S pilot programme is made possible by an unprecedented collaboration between in-country and international partners, including Ministries of Health of Ghana, Kenya and Malawi; in-country evaluation partners; PATH, GSK, UNICEF and others; and the funding bodies of Gavi, the Global Fund and Unitaid. The RTS,S malaria vaccine is the result of 30 years of research and development by GSK and through a partnership with PATH, with support from a network of African research centres. 

  • General Assembly adopts consensus resolution welcoming 2022 World Cup football championship hosted by Qatar as first to be held in Middle East
    on Apr 14 2022 at 13:28

    The U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution welcoming the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar football championship and hailed the promotion of the tournament as a public health benchmark for other nations hosting future mega sporting events.By the terms of the resolution (document A/76/L.48), which was passed on 8 April, the 193-member Assembly also expressed its support for the launch of “Healthy 2022 World Cup — Creating Legacy for Sport and Health”, a multi-year collaboration among the International Federation of Association Football, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Qatar, which aims to make the 2022 World Cup a beacon for the promotion of healthy lives, physical and mental health and psychosocial well-being.The project goals are very closely tied to WHO’s #HealthForAll campaign, which underscores that noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases can be prevented by reducing risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity. After the World Cup ends, the project will be evaluated in an effort to build a legacy aimed at developing and implementing an outreach plan for WHO to identify new opportunities to apply the benchmarks set by Qatar during the World Cup.The World Cup is scheduled to be held in Qatar from 21 November to 18 December and will be the first World Cup held in the Middle East. Qatar’s representative, introducing the draft, said the text welcomes her country for hosting the first World Cup in the Middle East, and stresses the importance of community health. Qatar is ready to offer an exceptional event that no one will forget, with authentic hospitality.Read full twitter   

  • Ukraine next country to receive technology from the WHO mRNA technology transfer hub
    on Apr 14 2022 at 13:22

    Ukraine has joined the growing list of countries that will receive support from the global WHO mRNA technology transfer hub in South Africa. The manufacturer, Darnitsa, was evaluated by WHO and found to have the potential to be able to absorb the mRNA technology to produce vaccines and potentially other health products.So far, there are 15 selected recipients of the mRNA technology through the WHO hub.WHO and partners will work with these countries’ governments and with the technology recipients to develop a roadmap and put in place the necessary training and support to enable the technology transfer as effectively as possible.WHO continues to review applications and to engage with local governments to fulfil the hub’s mission of expanding manufacturing capacity for mRNA vaccines to boost access to these tools in underserved areas.See full list of mRNA technology recipients through the WHO hub. 

  • Statement on the eleventh meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic
    on Apr 13 2022 at 13:20

    The eleventh meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic took place on Monday 11 April 2022 from 12:00 to 16:30 Geneva time (CEST).Proceedings of the meetingMembers and Advisors of the Emergency Committee were convened by videoconference. The Director-General welcomed the Committee members and advisers. The Director-General explained that the world has tools to limit transmission, save lives, and protect health systems. He expressed hope in the current epidemiological situation, noting that the world is currently experiencing the lowest number of reported deaths in two years. However, the unpredictable behavior of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and insufficient national responses are contributing to the continued global pandemic context. The Director-General emphasized the importance of States Parties using available medical countermeasures and public health and social measures (PHSM). He highlighted the publication of the updated Strategic Preparedness, Readiness, and Response Plan which provides a roadmap for how the world can end the COVID-19 emergency in 2022 and prepare for future events. Representatives of the Office of Legal Counsel (LEG) and the Department of Compliance, Risk Management, and Ethics (CRE) briefed the members on their roles and responsibilities. The Ethics Officer from CRE provided the members and advisers with an overview of the WHO Declaration of Interests process. The members and advisers were made aware of their individual responsibility to disclose to WHO, in a timely manner, any interests of a personal, professional, financial, intellectual or commercial nature that may give rise to a perceived or direct conflict of interest. They were additionally reminded of their duty to maintain the confidentiality of the meeting discussions and the work of the Committee. Each member who was present was surveyed. No conflicts of interest were identified. The Secretariat turned the meeting over to the Chair, Professor Didier Houssin, who reviewed the objectives and agenda of the meeting. The Secretariat presented on the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic and a vision for how to optimize the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic  for 2022. The presentation focused on:the global epidemiological context and factors that continue to drive transmission; updates on international traffic as well as COVID-19 proof of vaccination and test result certificates; the status of COVID-19 vaccination; andthe strategic objectives for countries to incorporate in their COVID-19 response. The Committee discussed key issues including SARS-CoV-2 variants; use and equitable access to antivirals; vaccine protection and global shifts in the supply and demand for COVID-19 vaccines; hybrid immunity; potential future scenarios for SARS-CoV-2 transmission and challenges posed by concurrent health emergencies; and how Member States are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee also noted with concern the growing fatigue among communities worldwide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and challenges posed by the lack of trust in scientific guidance and governments. The Committee recognized that SARS-CoV-2 is a novel respiratory pathogen that has not yet established its ecological niche. SARS-CoV-2 continues to have unpredictable viral evolution, which is compounded by its wide-spread circulation and intense transmission in humans, as well as widespread introduction of infection to a range of animal species with potential for animal reservoirs to be established. SARS-COV-2 is continuing to cause high levels of morbidity and mortality, particularly among vulnerable human populations. In this context, the Committee raised concerns that the inappropriate use of antivirals may lead to the emergence of drug-resistant variants. In addition, Committee members acknowledged national, regional, and global capacities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic context, but noted with concern that some States Parties have relaxed PHSM and reduced testing, impacting thus the global ability to monitor evolution of the virus. The Committee also noted with concern the inconsistency of global COVID-19 requirements for international travel and the negative impact that inappropriate measures may have on all forms of international travel. In this context, the Committee noted that offering vaccination to high-risk groups of international travelers on arrival could be considered a means to mitigate the risk of severe disease or death due to COVID-19 among these individuals.The Committee stressed the importance of maintaining PHSM to protect vulnerable populations, and maintaining the capacity to scale up PHSM if the epidemiological situation changes. States Parties are advised to regularly adjust their response strategies by monitoring their epidemiological situation (including through use of rapid tests), assessing their health system capacity, and considering the adherence to and attributable impact of individual and combined PHSM. In addition, the Committee reinforced the continued need for international cooperation and coordination for surveillance, as well as for robust and timely reporting to global systems (such as the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System) to inform national, regional, and global response efforts. Surveillance activities require coordination between the human and animal sectors and more global attention on the detection of animal infections and possible reservoirs among domestic and wild animals. Timely and systematic monitoring and data sharing on SARS-CoV-2 infection, transmission and evolution in humans and animals will assist global understanding of the virus epidemiology and ecology, the emergence of new variants, their timely identification, and assessment of their public health risks. Continued provision of technical support and guidance from all three levels of the WHO can enable States Parties’ adjustment of COVID-19 surveillance and its integration into respiratory pathogen surveillance systems.  The Committee acknowledged that COVID-19 vaccination is a key tool to reduce morbidity and mortality and reinforced the importance of vaccination (primary series and booster doses, including through heterologous vaccine schedules). The Committee expressed appreciation for WHO and partners’ work to enhance global vaccine supply and distribution.  Committee members highlighted the challenges posed by limited vaccination protection, particularly in low-income countries, as well as by waning population-level immunity. As outlined in the SAGE roadmap, vaccination should be prioritized for high-risk groups such as health workers, older adults, and immune-compromised populations, refugees, and migrants. To enhance vaccine uptake, States Parties are encouraged to address national and sub-national barriers for vaccine deployment and to ensure COVID-19 response measures align with and strengthen immunization activities and primary health services.In addition, the Committee noted the continued importance of WHO’s provision of guidance, training, and tools to support States Parties’ recovery planning process from the COVID-19 pandemic and future respiratory pathogen pandemic preparedness planning.The Committee unanimously agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic still constitutes an extraordinary event that continues to adversely affect the health of populations around the world, poses an ongoing risk of international spread and interference with international traffic, and requires a coordinated international response. The Committee stressed the importance for States Parties to prepare for future scenarios with the assistance of WHO and to continue robust use of the essential tools (e.g. vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics). The Committee concurred that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a PHEIC and offered its advice to the Director-General.  The Director-General determined that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to constitute a PHEIC. He accepted the advice of the Committee and issued the Committee’s advice to States Parties as Temporary Recommendations under the IHR. The Emergency Committee will be reconvened within three months or earlier, at the discretion of the Director-General. The Director-General thanked the Committee for its work. Temporary Recommendations to States PartiesThe Committee identified the following actions as critical for all countries:NEW: Strengthen national response to the COVID-19 pandemic by updating national preparedness and response plans in line with the priorities and potential scenarios outlined in the 2022 WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP). States Parties should conduct assessments (e.g. intra action and after action reviews) to inform current and future response and preparedness efforts. WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP)MODIFIED: Achieve national COVID-19 vaccination targets in line with global WHO recommendations of at least 70% of all countries’ populations vaccinated by the start of July 2022. States Parties are requested to support global equitable access to vaccines and to prioritize vaccination of high-risk populations through a primary series and booster schedule. These populations include health workers, older people, people with underlying conditions, immune-compromised, refugees, migrants, people living in fragile settings, and individuals with insufficient access to treatment. States Parties should continually assess their vaccine coverage and epidemiological situation in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and modify their national responses accordingly. WHO SAGE Prioritization Roadmap  MODIFIED: Continue to use evidence-informed and risk-based PHSM. State Parties should be prepared to scale up PHSM rapidly in response to changes in the virus and the population immunity, if COVID-19 hospitalizations, intensive care admissions, and fatalities increase and compromise the health system’s capacity. States Parties are advised to continue the risk-based use of basic PHSM (e.g. wearing masks, staying home when sick, increased hand washing, and improving ventilation of indoor spaces, even in periods of low circulation of SARS-CoV-2). Considerations for implementing and adjusting public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19MODIFIED: Take a risk-based approach to mass gathering events by evaluating, mitigating, and communicating risks. Recognizing that there are different drivers and risk tolerance for mass gatherings, it is critical to consider the epidemiological context (including the prevalence of variants of concern and the intensity of transmission), surveillance, contact tracing and testing capacity, as well as adherence to PHSM when conducting this risk assessment and  planning events, in line with WHO guidance. Key planning recommendations for mass gatherings in the context of COVID-19MODIFIED: Adjust COVID-19 surveillance to focus on the burden and impact and prepare for sustainable integration with other surveillance systems. States Parties should collect and publicly share indicators to monitor the burden of COVID-19 (e.g. new hospitalizations, admissions to intensive care units, and deaths). States Parties should integrate respiratory disease surveillance by leveraging and enhancing the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS). States Parties should be encouraged to 1) maintain representative testing strategies; 2) focus on early warning and trend monitoring, such as use of wastewater surveillance; 3) monitor severity in vulnerable groups; and 4) enhance genomic surveillance to detect potential new variants and monitor the evolution of SARS-COV-2. Guidance for surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variants; WHO global genomic surveillance strategy for pathogens with pandemic and epidemic potential 2022–2032MODIFIED: Ensure availability of essential health, social, and education services. States Parties should enhance access to health, including through the restoration of health services at all levels and strengthening of social systems to cope with the impacts of the pandemic, especially on children and young adults. Within this context, States Parties should maintain educational services by keeping schools fully open with in-person learning. In addition, essential health services, including COVID-19 vaccination, should be provided to migrants and other vulnerable populations as a priority. Building health systems resilience for universal health coverage and health security during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond: WHO position paper;  The State of the Global Education Crisis | UNICEFMODIFIED: Lift international traffic bans and continue to adjust travel measures, based on risk assessments. The failure of travel bans introduced after the detection and reporting of Omicron variant to limit international spread of Omicron demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such measures over time. The implementation of travel measures (such as vaccination, screening, including via testing, isolation/quarantine of travelers) should be based on risk assessments and should avoid placing the financial burden on international travelers, in accordance with Article 40 of the IHR. WHO advice for international traffic in relation to the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variantMODIFIED: Do NOT require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for international travel as the only pathway or condition permitting international travel. States Parties should consider a risk-based approach to the facilitation of international travel. Interim position paper: considerations regarding proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travelers; Policy considerations for implementing a risk-based approach to international travel in the context of COVID-19MODIFIED: Address risk communications and community engagement challenges, proactively counter misinformation and disinformation, and include communities in decision making. To re-build trust and address pandemic fatigue, States Parties should explain clearly and transparently changes to their response strategy. WHO risk communications resourcesMODIFIED: Support timely uptake of WHO recommended therapeutics. Local production and technology transfer should be encouraged and supported as increased production capacity can contribute to global equitable access to therapeutics. States Parties should provide access to COVID-19 treatments for vulnerable populations, particularly immunosuppressed people as this can also reduce the likelihood of new variants’ emergence. Therapeutics and COVID-19: living guidelineMODIFIED: Conduct epidemiological investigations of SARS-CoV-2 transmission at the human-animal interface and targeted surveillance on potential animal hosts and reservoirs. Investigations at the human animal interface should use a One Health approach and involve all relevant stakeholders, including national veterinary services, wildlife authorities, public health services, and the environment sector. To faciliate international transparency, and in line with international reporting obligations, findings from joint investigations should be reported publicly.  Statement from the Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Evolution in Animals

  • WHO, Ghana and Norway agree to accelerate actions to save lives in first International Strategic Dialogue on Noncommunicable Diseases and the Sustainable Development Goals
    on Apr 12 2022 at 14:35

    WHO welcomes the establishment of a new Heads of State and Government Group to accelerate progress towards the SDG target for noncommunicable diseases  ̶ a one-third reduction in “premature” deaths from diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart and lung disease and the promotion of mental health and well-being.The decision was taken at the inaugural International Strategic Dialogue on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) and the Sustainable Development Goals, held today in Accra, Ghana, where a new Global Compact on NCDs was launched. The dialogue was co-hosted by WHO, together with the Governments of Ghana and Norway. Heads of State highlighted the urgency of the NCD pandemic, which kills 7 out of 10 people globally from risk factors like tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and air pollution. NCDs are largely preventable and treatable, nearly 7 million lives could be saved for just US$ 0.84 per person per year from now until 2030. This investment would realize more than US$ 230 billion in economic and societal benefits and avert nearly 10 million heart attacks and strokes globally by 2030. The Heads of States and Governments Group announced that it will gather countries championing the NCD agenda and will convene annually at the UN General Assembly. The first meeting is expected to take place in September 2022. The NCD Compact will focus on five key areas of commitment: saving, by 2030, the lives of 50 million people from dying prematurely of NCDs by implementing the most cost-effective measures to prevent and control NCDs;protecting 1.7 billion people living with NCDs by ensuring that they have access to the medicines and care they need during humanitarian emergencies;integrating NCDs within primary health care and universal health coverage;comprehensive NCD surveillance and monitoring; and meaningfully engaging 1.7 billion people living with NCDs and mental health conditions in policy-making and programming.The economic, as well as the health, benefits of investing in NCDs was a clear theme at the Dialogue. Norway has been a frontrunner in investment in the fight against NCDs, investing internationally, becoming the first donor country to include NCDs in its international development strategy. Mr Nana Addo Dankwa Afuko-Addo, President of Ghana, outlined the successes of Ghana in implementing tobacco demand-reduction measures and introducing guidelines for NCD management, but also highlighted the challenges for lower-income countries in accelerating action.Statements from the meeting: Mr Nana Addo Dankwa Afuko-Addo, President of Ghana: “Tacking the phenomenon of NCDs requires leadership to provide visibility to NCD issues. I ask my Heads of State colleagues to join hands with me as we establish a Presidential Group (non-binding), and as we find solutions to NCDs with a roadmap of universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals. In our time, this will be our legacy”. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization: “Apart from the lives they take, NCDs take a heavy toll on economies, cutting down people in their most productive years. Overcoming this challenge requires technical, financial, and above all, political commitment. I thank the Governments of Norway and Ghana for establishing the first Global Heads of State and Government Group on NCDs, and launching the Global NCD Compact 2020-2030.”  Mr Jonas Gahr Støre, Prime Minister of Norway: "Investing in stronger health systems, service delivery and the prevention of NCDs will make vulnerable populations more resilient to COVID-19 and future pandemics. This is also vital for promoting universal health coverage. NCD prevention, and access to treatment and medicine must be a core component in the efforts to enhance pandemic preparedness and response, and in building back better in the post-pandemic recovery." Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa: “Noncommunicable diseases account for nearly a third of deaths in Africa, where they not only pose a grave threat to health and well-being, but also blunt socioeconomic development. The commitment reached today marks a crucial step in speeding up the progress against these diseases and their risk factors as well as the suffering and deaths they cause.”

  • WHO records 100th attack on health care in Ukraine
    on Apr 7 2022 at 21:17

     A grim milestone has been crossed today in the war in Ukraine – more than 100 attacks on health care verified by WHO since the start of the war on 24 February. The attacks so far have claimed 73 lives and injured 51.Of the current total of 103 attacks, 89 have impacted health facilities and 13 have impacted transport, including ambulances.“We are outraged that attacks on health care are continuing. Attacks on health care are a violation of international humanitarian law," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, at a press conference. “Peace is the only way forward. I again call on the Russian Federation to stop the war.”“It’s a truly sad irony that we are recording this milestone of over 100 attacks on health in Ukraine on World Health Day,” noted Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, who visited the humanitarian hub of Lviv in western Ukraine today. “I have been personally struck by the resilience and fortitude of health care providers and indeed of the health system itself in Ukraine. WHO has been working to ensure supply lines remain open to allow lifesaving health and medical supplies to reach cities and towns nationwide, and continued attacks on health make this effort all the more challenging.”This milestone of over 100 attacks on health spans barely 42 days since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. The impact of this violence is not only immediate, in the numbers of deaths and injuries – but also long-term in the consequences for Ukraine’s health care system. It’s a major blow to the country’s efforts to institute health reforms and achieve universal health coverage, a goal it had made significant progress on before the war erupted.“Across Ukraine, 1000 health facilities are in proximity to conflict areas or in changed areas of control,” explained Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine. “Health workers throughout the country are risking their lives to serve those in need of medical services, and they, and their patients, must never be targeted. Further, when people are prevented from seeking and accessing health care, either because the facilities have been destroyed or out of fear that they may become a target, they lose hope. The mental health toll wreaked by the war cannot be underestimated, affecting civilians and the health workforce alike."Attacks on health are unfortunately seen amid conflicts globally. Since 1 January 2022, WHO has verified 160 attacks on health care in 11 countries and territories resulting in 97 deaths and 74 injuries. Outside of Ukraine at this time, Sudan is also witnessing a recent increase in attacks on health care. Notes to the editorWhat’s the definition of an attack on health?An attack on health care is any act of verbal or physical violence or obstruction or threat of violence that interferes with the availability, access and delivery of curative and/or preventive health services. Types of attacks vary across contexts and can range from physical violence, psychosocial threats and intimidation to use of heavy weaponry against healthcare facilities.Attacks on health care include attacks on health facilities, transport, personnel, patients, supplies and warehouses.What’s WHO’s role?WHO has been tasked by WHA to monitor and disseminate reports on attacks on health (WHA Resolution 65.20).Our Attacks on Health Care initiative aims to strengthen protection for health workers everywhere so they can provide healthcare in a safe environment without disruption from acts of violence. The initiative has three main pillars of work including (1) the systematic collection of data on attacks, (2) advocacy for preventing attacks, and for stopping them if they occur, and (3) the promotion of good practices and heightened awareness for protecting healthcare from attacks. How does WHO carry out its role?WHO’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care (SSA), launched in December 2017, is the main mechanism for collecting primary source data of attacks on healthcare in countries with complex humanitarian emergencies. Its methodology allows the cataloguing of attacks and provides data based on a level of certainty for each incident. The resulting information is then made publicly available. Does WHO make other information on attacks on health care publicly available?WHO does not share data beyond information published on the SSA dashboard, which has specific measures in place to protect the confidentiality of sources and to prevent any further harm to survivors of an attack and the affected community. Does WHO investigate attacks on health care?WHO is neither mandated nor equipped to investigate these attacks, including identification of the perpetrators.  WHO’s role is to systematically collect and disseminate data on attacks. It does so by verifying that attacks on healthcare have occurred in order to highlight their extent and consequences. Other bodies within the United Nations system have the mandate to investigate attacks on healthcare and WHO cooperates with them.   

  • WHO urges accelerated action to protect human health and combat the climate crisis at a time of heightened conflict and fragility
    on Apr 6 2022 at 12:22

    On this World Health Day (April 7, 2022), WHO is issuing an urgent call for accelerated action by leaders and all people to preserve and protect health and mitigate the climate crisis as part of an “Our planet, our health” campaign marking the organization’s founding day, which falls at a time of heightened conflict and fragility.In issuing its call-to-action, WHO notes that 99% of people breathe unhealthy air mainly resulting from burning of fossil fuels. A heating world is seeing mosquitos spread diseases further and faster than ever before. Extreme weather events, biodiversity loss, land degradation and water scarcity are displacing people and affecting their health. Pollution and plastics are found at the bottom of our deepest oceans, the highest mountains, and have made their way into our food chain and blood stream. Systems that produce highly processed, unhealthy foods and beverages are driving a wave of obesity, increasing cancer and heart disease while generating up to one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. This health and social crisis is compromising people’s ability to take control over their health and lives.  “The climate crisis is a health crisis: the same unsustainable choices that are killing our planet are killing people,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We need transformative solutions to wean the world off its addiction to fossil fuels, to reimagine economies and societies focused on well-being, and to safeguard the health of the planet on which human health depends.” The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fault lines of inequity across the world, underlining the urgency for creating sustainable, well-being societies which do not breach ecological limits and which ensure that all people have access to life-saving and life-enhancing tools, systems, policies and environments. WHO’s Manifesto to ensure a healthy and green recovery from COVID-19 prescribes protecting and preserving nature as the source of human health; investing in essential services from water and sanitation to clean energy in healthcare facilities; ensuring a quick and healthy energy transition; promoting healthy and sustainable food systems; building healthy and livable cities; and stopping the use of taxpayers’ money to fund pollution. The Geneva Charter for well-being highlights what global commitments are needed to achieve equitable health and social outcomes now and for future generations, without destroying the health of our planet. Through its World Health Day campaign, WHO is calling on governments, organizations, corporations, and citizens to share actions they are taking to protect the planet and human health. 

  • Suspension of supply of COVID-19 vaccine (COVAXIN®)
    on Apr 4 2022 at 09:59

    Suspension of supply of Covaxin produced by Bharat, through UN procurement agencies and recommending to countries that received the vaccine to take actions as appropriate.

  • WHO, Qatar, FIFA leaders agree actions to promote health at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™
    on Apr 1 2022 at 15:05

    As part of a unique global partnership to promote health, the senior leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO), the State of Qatar and FIFA today agreed a range of measures that will be implemented at this year’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ to protect and encourage health; and take lessons learned from the first tournament in the Middle East and Arab world to share with future mega sporting events.The heads of WHO, Qatar Ministry of Public Health, FIFA and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) met together for the first Steering Committee meeting of the “Healthy FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – Creating Legacy for Sport and Health” partnership. Launched in late 2021, the partnership is committed to:protecting the health of all those involved in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™: FIFA, WHO and Qatar have teamed up to ensure the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ is a healthy and safe event from the implementation of precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the provision of healthy menu options;using the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ as a platform to promote healthy lifestyles:The tournament will inspire millions around the world to play more football and be more active including a global campaign to raise awareness of the health benefits of physical activity. The State of Qatar have also signed a 3-year partnership with WHO to improve healthcare access and promote healthy lifestyles across the country; andcreating a blueprint to protect and promote health at future mass gatherings: The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™represents a unique opportunity to develop a new approach to organizing mega sports events factoring-in lessons learnt from the pandemic and reinforcing sports and health as a pathway for recovery."The State of Qatar is proud to be the first country from the Middle East to host the FIFA World Cup,” said HE Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Qatar’s Minister of Public Health and Chair of the Steering Committee Meeting. “Our overall goal is not just to hold a successful sporting event, but to also show how football and sports in general can be drivers of better health for all people. This is why we are working so closely with WHO, FIFA and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.”At today’s meetings, the Steering Committee leaders agreed a range of action areas to be taken for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and future events, including:build on actions taken at the FIFA Arab Cup™ in late 2021, strengthen health emergency preparedness and ensure maintenance of precautionary measures for containing infectious diseases, including COVID-19, to keep people safe and healthy;provide healthy food options inside stadiums and fan zones; enhance tobacco prevention in stadiums, fan zones and other areas;start collaborative agreements with countries to benchmark legacy building activities; andexchange lessons learned with the International Olympic Committee for Paris 2024 and Milano Cortina 2026.“WHO is committed to working with the State of Qatar and FIFA to leverage the global power of football to help people lead the healthiest lives possible,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This partnership will help to make the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 a role model for healthy sporting events.” The first-of-its-kind agreement was also lauded by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who said, “It’s important that the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East will be the healthiest World Cup ever. Here, we put our efforts together through this innovative partnership to promote health in a different way, using the power of football to communicate certain messages. We have been working together on different awareness campaigns and what better platform now than the FIFA World Cup for passing the Health for All message?"“You have to do whatever you can to protect your health and that of those around you. That is part of education and that is why we are proud to be part of this team here. We need health for football, and we need football for health. Let’s win this World Cup, our World Cup, which is a World Cup of humanity in the end,” Mr Infantino added.As part of the agreement, two SC legacy programmes – Generation Amazing and B4Development (B4D) – will provide operational and technical collaboration on a range of projects. Generation Amazing is a football for development programme that has positively impacted more than 725 000 people globally since being launched during Qatar’s bid to host the FIFA World Cup™, while B4D is the region’s first “nudge unit” that utilizes behavioural science to solve a range of societal issues. H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, SC Secretary General, said, “As FIFA World Cup hosts, Qatar has worked to underscore the importance of leaving sustainable and transformative social legacies that improve lives – in Qatar, within our region and around the world.” “This partnership is critical for us as we prepare for hosting the world at the end of this year in the context of the pandemic, which has affected so many lives around the world.  We’re engaging in every effort along with local and international partners to ensure a healthy and safe FIFA World Cup.”“Together, our work with FIFA and WHO will add to our current efforts, including projects delivered by our legacy programmes such as Generation Amazing and B4Development, to ensure the first FIFA World Cup in our region serves as a benchmark for future mega-events across the globe,” he added. Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, reinforced the Organization’s commitment to advancing health for all in the Region, and said that the partnership between WHO and Qatar would support improvements in physical activity, mental health and organized sports. “WHO looks forward to working closely with Qatar in the months ahead to use the platform that sporting events offer to bring people together and foster solidarity, which is the core of our regional vision of 'Health for all by all: a call for solidarity and action', while at the same time promoting healthier habits, from diet to physical activity, for people of all ages, genders and cultures.”

  • Billions of people still breathe unhealthy air: new WHO data
    on Apr 1 2022 at 09:44

    Almost the entire global population (99%) breathes air that exceeds WHO air quality limits, and threatens their health. A record number of over 6000 cities in 117 countries are now monitoring air quality, but the people living in them are still breathing unhealthy levels of fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, with people in low and middle-income countries suffering the highest exposures.

  • WHO’s training for caregivers of children with autism goes online
    on Mar 30 2022 at 17:17

    In the lead-up to World Autism Awareness Day on 2 April, WHO is releasing an online version of its training programme for caregivers of children with developmental delays or disabilities, including autism. The programme, which has already been piloted in face-to-face format in more than 30 countries, such as Brazil, India, Italy and Kenya, teaches parents and other caregivers day-to-day skills that help boost the well-being and development of children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

  • Egypt and Nigeria medicines regulators achieve high maturity level in WHO classification and WHO launches list of regulatory authorities that meet international standards
    on Mar 30 2022 at 13:14

    Today, WHO announced that Egypt’s and Nigeria’s medical products regulatory agencies had reached maturity level 3. This means that these national bodies have been found to function well and that they could be eligible for inclusion into the transitional WHO Listed Authorities, a list that will comprise the world’s regulators of reference – that is, regulatory authorities that should be globally recognized as meeting WHO and other international standards.Egypt has reached maturity level 3 for vaccines regulation (locally produced and imported) and Nigeria for medicines and imported vaccines. The two countries join Ghana and Tanzania as effective regulatory systems on the African continent. Several other African regulators are currently under assessment.   WHO’s assessment of regulatory authorities is based on the ‘ Global Benchmarking Tool’ – an evaluation tool that checks regulatory functions against a set of more than 260 indicators – covering core regulatory functions such as product authorization, testing of products, market surveillance and the ability to detect adverse events – to establish their level of maturity and functionality. Regulatory authorities that reach maturity levels 3 and 4 will be eligible for inclusion among WHO-listed authorities, after additional evaluation of their performance.The benchmarking of Egypt and Nigeria’s regulators was carried out by a WHO-led team of international experts. In February and March 2022, WHO conducted a formal evaluation of the authorities and found them to perform well against most of the indicators in the Global Benchmarking Tool.The importance of regulatory oversight for local manufacturingEgypt and Nigeria were also chosen in February 2022 as recipients of mRNA technology from the WHO mRNA Technology Transfer Hub. Effective and efficient regulatory oversight is critical to efforts to boost manufacturing capacity as they ensure that medical products entering the market are safe, effective and produced according to international quality standards.“Egypt and Nigeria have come a long way to improve their regulatory work and performance,” said Mariangela Simao, WHO Assistant Director General for Access to Health Products. “Given that medical products regulatory oversight and manufacturing must work in tandem, this is very good news for access to quality health products on the African continent.”Regulation of medical products is extremely important for all health systems and for access to quality vaccines, medicines and other health products. Apart from ensuring the quality, safety and efficacy of medical products, regulatory authorities that function well also perform critical functions such as faster authorization of products and safety monitoring after authorization.Fewer than 30% of the world’s regulatory authorities are considered fully functioning and operational. For that reason, WHO has intensified efforts to bolster the capacity to regulate medical products in all regions.WHO listed authoritiesWHO today also announced a transitional WHO-Listed Authorities (WLAs) list. The introduction of a framework for designating and publicly listing a regulatory authority as a WLA aims to provide a transparent and evidence-based pathway for regulatory authorities to be globally recognized as meeting and applying WHO and other internationally recognized standards and guidelines, as well as good regulatory practices.The designation of a regulatory authority as a WLA is intended to promote access and the supply of safe, effective and quality medical products. It also encourages the optimal use of limited resources by facilitating reliance on the work and decisions of mature and advanced agencies in the decision-making of other regulatory authorities, the WHO Prequalification Programme, and procurement bodies.The transitional WLA combines pre-existing lists of Stringent Regulatory Authorities for medicines, highly performing regulatory authorities for vaccines, Regional Reference Authorities for medicines and vaccines in the Americas (AMRO/PAHO), national regulatory authorities operating at maturity levels 3 and 4, and vaccine producing countries with functional regulatory authorities. The WHO Listed Authorities framework will come into full effect pending successful pilots later this year. 

  • WHO releases 10-year strategy for genomic surveillance of pathogens
    on Mar 30 2022 at 09:33

    WHO is releasing a strategy to strengthen and scale up genomic surveillance around the world.Historically, few countries have routinely done genomic surveillance in-country, a technology considered complicated and expensive. But COVID-19 changed that. Genomic surveillance is the process of constantly monitoring pathogens and analyzing their genetic similarities and differences. It helps researchers, epidemiologists and public health officials to monitor the evolution of infectious diseases agents, alert on the spread of pathogens, and develop counter measures like vaccines.The Global genomic surveillance strategy for pathogens with pandemic and epidemic potential 2022–2032 is not specific to a single pathogen or disease threat. It provides a high-level unifying framework to leverage existing capacities, address barriers and strengthen the use of genomic surveillance worldwide. Data collected by WHO show that in March 2021, 54% of countries had this capacity. By January 2022, thanks to the major investments made during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number had increased to 68%. Even greater gains were made in the public sharing of sequence data: in January 2022, 43% more countries published their sequence data compared to a year before. Despite this fast progress, much remains to be done. Any new technology comes with the risk of increasing inequity, which is one of the gaps this strategy targets.Various public health programmes – from Ebola to cholera – use genomic surveillance to understand a pathogen at its molecular level, but COVID-19 has highlighted the challenges of bringing genomics to scale. The complexities of genomics and the challenges of sustaining capacities in different settings, including workforce needs, means that most countries cannot develop these capabilities on their own. The global strategy helps keep our eyes on the horizon and provides a unifying framework for action. WHO looks forward to working with countries and partners in this important and highly dynamic field.     - Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus       WHO Director-General“The complexities of genomics and the challenges of sustaining capacities in different settings, including workforce needs, means that most countries cannot develop these capabilities on their own. The global strategy helps keep our eyes on the horizon and provides a unifying framework for action. WHO looks forward to working with countries and partners in this important and highly dynamic field,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “We will do best if we work together.”The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that health systems need genomic surveillance so that risks are rapidly detected and addressed. This technology has been critical in this response, from the identification of a novel coronavirus, to the development of the first diagnostic tests and vaccines, to the tracking and identification of new virus variants. “Genomic surveillance is critical for stronger pandemic and epidemic preparedness and response,” said Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme. “This pandemic has laid bare the fact that we live in an interconnected world and that we are only as strong as our weakest link. Improving global disease surveillance means improving local disease surveillance. That is where we need to act, and this strategy will provide us with the foundation.” Read more about the strategy here.  

  • European Union funding boosts COVID-19 vaccination in Africa
    on Mar 30 2022 at 08:47

    A contribution of €16 million from the European Commission's Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) will help the World Health Organization (WHO) boost COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and increase coverage in 15 African countries, where only 15 percent of the population is vaccinated.The funding is part of the European Union's (EU) humanitarian initiative for COVID-19 vaccination in Africa, which aims to ensure increased access for the most vulnerable and those living in hard-to-reach, remote and conflict-affected areas.The EU also supports the COVAX Facility, the vaccines part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator created to develop and deliver tools to fight the pandemic."Solidarity is key to ending this pandemic and to building back better,” said Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “These are not just words. These principles have been already exemplified by the generous support with vaccines and funding provided by the European Union to the global pandemic response. Together in Europe, in Africa and beyond, WHO and the EU are working with local partners to ensure COVID-19 vaccination reaches the arms of everyone and that lessons learned contribute to resilient health systems.”Read the full Press Release here.

  • The Netherlands and WHO: Partners for health and human rights around the world
    on Mar 28 2022 at 11:32

    Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, Ms Liesje Schreinemacher, met for the first time with Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General in WHO headquarters. The discussions focused on the strategic partnership between WHO and the Netherlands in support of global health security and a healthier world for all.“It was an honor to welcome Minister Schreinemacher, and I express my deep gratitude to the Netherlands for its longstanding partnership with WHO. The Netherlands is a leading voice for health and human rights around the world, defending global access to the full breadth of sexual and reproductive health services, including for vulnerable populations and people living in humanitarian crises,” said Dr Tedros. “The support of the Netherlands for WHO through flexible and catalytic funding enables us to respond quickly and efficiently to global health challenges and health emergencies, including COVID-19, to save lives and prevent suffering."The Netherlands is a key supporter and strategic partner of WHO. It funds crucial activities in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, water and sanitation, mental health in emergencies, emergency preparedness, tuberculosis, One Health, primary health care, antimicrobial resistance, while facilitating cooperation with top Dutch institutions. Between 2020 – 2021, the Netherlands provided over US$ 94 million to WHO, including US$ 16 million in fully flexible Core Voluntary Contributions making it the 4th largest flexible contributor to the Organization. Such support allows WHO to be both agile and strategic in its efforts to achieve the Triple Billion targets and support countries in improving the health and well-being of their populations.The Netherlands is also the fourth largest contributor to WHO’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies, which plays a critical role in helping WHO respond rapidly to disease outbreaks and other health emergencies around the world.Learn more about the partnership between WHO and the Netherlands.

  • WHO urges quality care for women and newborns in critical first weeks after childbirth
    on Mar 28 2022 at 10:08

    Worldwide, more than 3 in 10 women and babies do not currently receive postnatal care in the first days after birth - the period when most maternal and infant deaths occur. Meanwhile the physical and emotional consequences of childbirth – from injuries to recurring pain and trauma - can be debilitating if unmanaged, but are often highly treatable when the right care is given at the right time.

  • WHO establishes the Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India
    on Mar 25 2022 at 11:35

    The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of India today signed an agreement to establish the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine. This global knowledge centre for traditional medicine, supported by an investment of USD 250 million from the Government of India, aims to harness the potential of traditional medicine from across the world through modern science and technology to improve the health of people and the planet.Around 80% of the world’s population is estimated to use traditional medicine. To date, 170 of the 194 WHO Member States have reported the use of traditional medicine, and their governments have asked for WHO’s support in creating a body of reliable evidence and data on traditional medicine practices and products.“For many millions of people around the world, traditional medicine is the first port of call to treat many diseases,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Ensuring all people have access to safe and effective treatment is an essential part of WHO’s mission, and this new center will help to harness the power of science to strengthen the evidence base for traditional medicine. I’m grateful to the Government of India for its support, and we look forward to making it a success.”The term traditional medicine describes the total sum of the knowledge, skills and practices indigenous and different cultures have used over time to maintain health and prevent, diagnose and treat physical and mental illness. Its reach encompasses ancient practices such as acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine and herbal mixtures as well as modern medicines.But today, national health systems and strategies do not yet fully integrate the millions of traditional medicine workers, accredited courses, health facilities, and health expenditures.“It is heartening to learn about the signing of the Host Country Agreement for the establishment of Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM). The agreement between Ministry of Ayush and World Health Organization (WHO) to establish the WHO-GCTM at Jamnagar, Gujarat, is a commendable initiative,” said HE (Mr) Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India.“Through various initiatives, our government has been tireless in its endeavour to make preventive and curative healthcare, affordable and accessible to all. May the global centre at Jamnagar help in providing the best healthcare solutions to the world.”Traditional medicine is also increasingly prominent in the world of modern science.Some 40% of approved pharmaceutical products in use today derive from natural substances, highlighting the vital importance of conserving biodiversity and sustainability. For example, the discovery of aspirin drew on traditional medicine formulations using the bark of the willow tree, the contraceptive pill was developed from the roots of wild yam plants and child cancer treatments have been based on the rosy periwinkle. Nobel-prize winning research on artemisinin for malaria control started with a review of ancient Chinese medicine texts.There has been a rapid modernization of the ways traditional medicine is being studied. Artificial intelligence is now used to map evidence and trends in traditional medicine and to screen natural products for pharmacokinetic properties. Functional magnetic resonance imaging is used to study brain activity and the relaxation response that is part of some traditional medicine therapies such as meditation and yoga, which are increasingly drawn on for mental health and wellbeing in stressful times.In addition, traditional medicine use has also been updated by mobile phone apps, online classes, and other technologies.The new WHO centre will be established in Jamnagar, Gujarat, India. While Jamnagar will serve as the hub, the new centre is being designed to engage and benefit all regions of the world.It will concentrate on building a solid evidence base for policies and standards on traditional medicine practices and products and help countries integrate it as appropriate into their health systems and regulate its quality and safety for optimal and sustainable impact.The new centre focuses on four main strategic areas: evidence and learning; data and analytics; sustainability and equity; and innovation and technology to optimize the contribution of traditional medicine to global health and sustainable development.The onsite launch of the new WHO global centre for traditional medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat, India will take place on April 21, 2022.For more information, see: who.int/initiatives/who-global-centre-for-traditional-medicine/    

  • EU and WHO join forces to improve global health security and access to medical products and health technologies in Africa
    on Mar 24 2022 at 08:18

    On 23 March 2022, Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, met in Geneva to deliberate on the EU - WHO partnership in global health and the ongoing preparations for a global accord on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. The two senior representatives of the partner organizations signed a letter of intent for a € 24.5 million EU contribution to the World Health Organization, to support the local manufacturing of and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa.Thanking Commissioner Urpilainen, Dr Tedros commented: ‘’One of the most obvious lessons of the pandemic is the urgent need to increase local production of vaccines, especially in low- and middle-income countries. WHO is grateful to the EU for this new project that will empower African countries and partners to ensure equitable access to safe, effective, quality-assured and affordable essential medicines and other health products for their populations.’’The new initiative is designed to empower African countries and partners such as the African Union to further enable local manufacturing of medical products and health technologies by advancing regulatory convergence across the continent, supporting technology transfer and capacity building for local production, and improving the consolidation of the demand and strategic purchasing of such products.Commissioner Urpilainen and Dr Tedros also noted the rich EU - WHO collaboration to help achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Dr Tedros noted that “WHO is grateful to the EU for its strong and lasting commitment to UHC. Together we provide critical support in 115 countries to ensure that all people, especially the most vulnerable, have access to quality, affordable health services when and where they need them’’. Under the 2019-2022 EU - WHO Partnership for health systems strengthening, the EU had already allocated US$ 168 million to WHO to assist countries in designing and implementing interventions to strengthen national health systems, tackle the threat of COVID-19 and promote an inclusive post-pandemic recovery.During the meeting, the EU and WHO also reviewed the current efforts to improve the global health architecture with a strong WHO at its centre, including through the preparation for a global accord on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Welcoming the key role of the EU in promoting this initiative, Dr Tedros shared that these discussions represented a once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen the global health architecture to protect and promote the well-being of all people.WHO has a longstanding, strategic partnership with the EU, as they work together to support countries in building systems for resilient, sustainable and inclusive development through the promotion of health and wellbeing, strengthening of health systems and preparedness and response to health emergencies. In 2020 - 2021, the EU consolidated its position as the 5th largest WHO contributor with US$ 466 million, confirming its leading role in global health.Read more about the strategic partnership between the EU and WHO

  • France and WHO: Working together for effective, united and inclusive global health governance
    on Mar 23 2022 at 11:44

    On 11 March 2022 the Government of France and WHO convened for their annual strategic dialogue in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting was opened by H.E. Mr Jérôme Bonnafont, Ambassador, Permanent Representative, Professor Jérôme Salomon, Director General of Health, Ministry of Solidarities and Health, and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, Dr Hans Kluge, Regional Director for Europe and Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director for Africa. The discussions focused on how to strengthen the global architecture, including accelerating equitable access to health technologies within the COVID-19 response via ACT-A; health emergency preparedness and response; the “One-health approach”; the WHO Academy;  Universal health coverage; non-communicable diseases; and mental health. The two partners also discussed concrete measures to enhance cooperation given the development of a new French Global Health Strategy.Her Excellency, Ms Stéphanie Seydoux, French Ambassador for Global Health and Dr Tedros both agreed that the strategic dialogue had a particular resonance this year given the increasingly alarming situation in Ukraine. “As we face an increasingly unstable world, the strategic partnership between France and WHO is ever more important,” said Dr Tedros. “I thank the Government of France for its longstanding commitment to safe, equitable and accessible healthcare for the most vulnerable.”France is a key player in the global health arena and has a long and productive partnership with WHO. In order to support WHO’s key leadership role since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, France’s contributions to WHO doubled from US$ 73 million in 2018-2019, to US$ 141 million in 2020-2021. Moreover, in the last biennium, France became one of the top five contributors of thematic funding and remains one of the donors who continue to support the core voluntary contributions account, providing valuable flexible funding to the Organization. In addition, France has now joined the Contingency Fund for Emergencies, that enables WHO to rapidly respond and disburse supplies and funds anywhere in the world in the event of a health emergency. A leader in supporting innovative initiatives,  in February 2022 France signed a new €50 million contribution agreement with WHO supporting the ACT-Accelerator Health Systems and Response Connector to strengthen health systems to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. “Through our strategic partnership, we are working together to consolidate effective, united and inclusive global health governance” said H.E. Mr Bonnafont. “We were glad to attend this year’s bilateral meeting, that was very fruitful, in person in Geneva,” added H.E. Ms Seydoux. “We covered many concrete areas of discussion and cooperation, in the acutely worrying context, and as we continue to deal with the unprecedented pandemic crisis.” Read more about France’s strategic support to WHO 

  • Learning from women’s experiences during childbirth to improve quality of care
    on Mar 22 2022 at 16:36

    More and more evidence shows that women across the world face unacceptable mistreatment during childbirth. Women everywhere face violations of their rights – including rights to privacy, informed consent, and the right have a trusted companion of choice throughout childbirth. Mistreatment can seriously erode trust in the health facility, which can mean that women are less likely to access facility-based care before, during and after birth.

  • On World TB day WHO calls for increased investments into TB services and research
    on Mar 21 2022 at 13:36

    On World TB Day, WHO calls for an urgent investment of resources, support, care and information into the fight against tuberculosis (TB). Although 66 million lives have been saved since 2000, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed those gains. For the first time in over a decade, TB deaths increased in 2020. Ongoing conflicts across Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East have further exacerbated the situation for vulnerable populations.Global spending on TB diagnostics, treatments and prevention in 2020 were less than half of the global target of US$ 13 billion annually by 2022. For research and development, an extra US$ 1.1 billion per year is needed. “Urgent investments are needed to develop and expand access to the most innovative services and tools to prevent, detect and treat TB that could save millions of lives each year, narrow inequities and avert huge economic losses,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “These investments offer huge returns for countries and donors, in averted health care costs and increased productivity.”Investments in TB programmes have demonstrated benefits not just for people with TB but for health systems and pandemic preparedness. Building on lessons learnt from COVID-19 research, there is a need to catalyse investment and action to accelerate the development of new tools, especially new TB vaccines.Progress towards reaching the 2022 targets set in the UN High Level Meeting political declaration and the WHO Director-General’s Flagship Initiative Find.Treat.All is at risk mainly due to lack of funding. Between 2018–2020, 20 million people were reached with TB treatment. This is 50% of the 5-year target of 40 million people reached with TB treatment for 2018-2022. During the same period 8.7 million people were provided TB preventive treatment. This is 29% of the target of 30 million for 2018-2022. The situation is even worse for children and adolescents with TB. In 2020, an estimated 63 % of children and young adolescents below 15 years with TB were not reached with or not officially reported to have accessed life-saving TB diagnosis and treatment services; the proportion was even higher - 72% - for children under 5 years. Almost two thirds of eligible children under 5 did not receive TB preventive treatment and therefore remain at risk of illness.COVID-19 has had a further negative and disproportionate impact on children and adolescents with TB or at risk, with increased TB transmission in the household, lower care-seeking and access to health services. WHO is sounding the alarm on World TB Day for countries to urgently restore access to TB services, disrupted due to COVID-19 pandemic for all people with TB, especially children and adolescents.“Children and adolescents with TB are lagging behind adults in access to TB prevention and care”, said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “The WHO guidelines issued today are a gamechanger for children and adolescents, helping them get diagnosed and access care sooner, leading to better outcomes and cutting transmission. The priority now is to rapidly expand implementation of the guidance across countries to save young lives and avert suffering”Updated guidelines for the management of TB in children and adolescents  Updated guidelines for the management of TB in children and adolescents released by WHO today highlight new patient-centred recommendations for diagnosis, treatment and prevention.  The most recent recommendations are:Diagnostic testing has expanded to include non-invasive specimens, such as stools. Rapid molecular diagnostics are recommended as the initial test for TB diagnosis for children and adolescents.Children and adolescents who have non-severe forms of drug-susceptible TB are now recommended to be treated for four months instead of six months, as well as TB meningitis, where a six-month regimen is now recommended instead of 12 months. This promotes a patient-centred approach that will reduce the costs of TB care for children, adolescents and their families.  Two of the newest TB medicines to treat drug resistant TB (bedaquiline and delamanid) are now recommended for use in children of all ages, making it possible for children with drug-resistant TB to receive all-oral treatment regimens regardless of their age.New models of decentralized and integrated TB care are also recommended, which will allow more children and adolescents to access TB care or preventive treatment, closer to where they live. TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers. Each day, over 4 100 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30 000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. Ending TB requires concerted action by all sectors. On World TB Day, WHO calls on everyone- individuals, communities, societies, donors and governments to do their part to end TB.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Note to the editor:WHO is working closely with its offices in Ukraine and neighboring countries, the WHO Regional Office for Europe and partners to rapidly respond to the health emergency triggered by the conflict and to minimize disruptions to the delivery of critical healthcare services. As part of these overarching efforts, given that Ukraine has a high burden of drug-resistant TB, WHO is proactively supporting efforts to enable access to TB care services for the people with TB, refugees and displaced populations at risk. 



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