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

  • Interim guidance for use of the Bharat BBV152 Covaxin vaccine published
    on Nov 3 2021 at 14:59

    The interim recommendations for use of the Bharat BBV152 Covaxin vaccine have been published.Bharat BBV152 Covaxin interim recommendations

  • WHO issues emergency use listing for eighth COVID-19 vaccine
    on Nov 3 2021 at 13:37

    Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued an emergency use listing (EUL) for COVAXIN® (developed by Bharat Biotech), adding to a growing portfolio of vaccines validated by WHO for the prevention of COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2.WHO’s EUL procedure assesses the quality, safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and is a prerequisite for COVAX vaccine supply. It also allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines. “This emergency use listing expands the availability of vaccines, the most effective medical tools we have to end the pandemic,” said Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products. ‘But we must keep up the pressure to meet the needs of all populations, giving priority to the at-risk groups who are still waiting for their first dose, before we can start declaring victory.” COVAXIN® was assessed under the WHO EUL procedure based on the review of data on quality, safety, efficacy, a risk management plan and programmatic suitability. The Technical Advisory Group (TAG), convened by WHO and made up of regulatory experts from around the world, has determined that the vaccine meets WHO standards for protection against COVID-19, that the benefit of the vaccine far outweighs risks and the vaccine can be used globally.The vaccine is formulated from an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 antigen and is presented in single dose vials and multidose vials of 5, 10 and 20 doses.COVAXIN® was also reviewed on 5 October by WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), which formulates vaccine specific policies and recommendations for vaccines’ use in populations (i.e. recommended age groups, intervals between doses, specific groups such as pregnant and lactating women). The SAGE recommended use of the vaccine in two doses, with a dose interval of four weeks, in all age groups 18 and above. COVAXIN® was found to have 78% efficacy against COVID-19 of any severity, 14 or more days after the second dose, and is extremely suitable for low- and middle-income countries due to easy storage requirements. Available data on vaccination of pregnant women with the vaccine are insufficient to assess vaccine safety or efficacy in pregnancy; studies in pregnant women are planned, including a pregnancy sub-study and a pregnancy registry. WHO emergency use listing The emergency use listing (EUL) procedure assesses the suitability of novel health products during public health emergencies. The objective is to make medicines, vaccines and diagnostics available as rapidly as possible to address the emergency while adhering to stringent criteria of safety, efficacy and quality. The assessment weighs the threat posed by the emergency as well as the benefit that would accrue from the use of the product against any potential risks.The EUL pathway involves a rigorous assessment of late phase II and phase III clinical trial data, as well as substantial additional data on safety, efficacy, quality and a risk management plan. These data are reviewed by independent experts and WHO teams who consider the current body of evidence on the vaccine under consideration, the plans for monitoring its use, and plans for further studies.As part of the EUL process, the company producing the vaccine must commit to continue to generate data to enable full licensure and WHO prequalification of the vaccine. The WHO prequalification process will assess additional clinical data generated from vaccine trials and deployment on a rolling basis to ensure the vaccine meets the necessary standards of quality, safety and efficacy for broader availability.See all EUL listingsSAGESAGE is the principal advisory group to WHO for vaccines and immunization. It is charged with advising WHO on overall global policies and strategies, ranging from vaccines and immunization technology, research and development, to delivery of immunization and its linkages with other health interventions. SAGE is concerned not just with childhood vaccines and immunization, but all vaccine-preventable diseases.SAGE assesses evidence on safety, efficacy, effectiveness, impact and programmatic suitability, considering both individual and public health impact.  SAGE Interim recommendations for EUL products provide guidance for national vaccination policy makers.  These recommendations are updated as additional evidence becomes available and as there are changes to the epidemiology of disease and the availability of additional vaccines and other disease control interventions.See Sage interim recommendations  

  • Urgent need for vaccine to prevent deadly Group B streptococcus
    on Nov 1 2021 at 13:07

    A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) reveals the alarming global impact of Group B streptococcus (GBS) – a common bacterium that can be transmitted in the womb, during birth, or in the early weeks of life – leading to around 150,000 deaths of babies each year, more than half a million preterm births and significant long-term disability.

  • An appeal to G20 leaders to make vaccines accessible to people on the move
    on Oct 29 2021 at 14:20

    We are writing to you on behalf of the millions around the world struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic far from home. Some have been forced to flee wars, conflict, persecution and human rights violations. Others are on the move to escape socioeconomic hardship or the consequences of climate change.As strangers far from home, many are at risk of exclusion or neglect. Owing to their living situation, many face barriers accessing vaccinations, testing, treatment, care, and even reliable information. It is a stark reality that some of the world’s poorest countries shoulder the greatest responsibility for supporting displaced people and other people on the move. They need a reliable and adequate supply of vaccines and other critical supplies to stabilize their fragile and over-burdened health systems, to help save the lives of their citizens, migrants, as well as refugees and other displaced people they host.Yet the current vaccine equity gap between wealthier and low resource countries demonstrates a disregard for the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. For every 100 people in high-income countries, 133 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, while in low-income countries, only 4 doses per 100 people have been administered.Vaccine inequity is costing lives every day, and continues to place everyone at risk. History and science make it clear: coordinated action with equitable access to public health resources is the only way to face down a global public health scourge like COVID-19. We need a strong, collective push to save lives, reduce suffering and ensure a sustainable global recovery.And while vaccines are a very powerful tool, they’re not the only tool. Tests are needed to know where the virus is, treatments including dexamethasone and medical oxygen are needed to save lives, and tailored public health measures are needed to prevent transmission.As the leaders of the world’s largest economies, you have the power and responsibility to help stem the pandemic by expanding access to vaccines and other tools for the people and places where these are in shortest supply. We welcome the fact that this weekend’s summit in Rome will call for “courage and ambition” to tackle some of the greatest challenges of our time, and specifically the need to recover from the pandemic and overcome inequality. We collectively call on you, G20 leaders, to commit to:Increase vaccine supplies for the world’s poorest: We call on the world’s leading economies to fully fund and implement the Strategic Plan and Budget for the ACT Accelerator, and to distribute vaccines, tests and treatments where they are needed most. If we are to recover from the pandemic, we must — at a minimum — meet the targets to vaccinate 40 per cent of the world’s population by year-end – and 70 per cent globally by mid-2022.Ensure access to vaccines for all people on the move: We call on every country to ensure that everyone on its territory regardless of legal status – including refugees, migrants, internally displaced people, asylum-seekers, and others on the move – have access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatment for COVID-19. They should adopt concrete measures to remove barriers to vaccination for everyone on their territory — for example the need for specific documents, geographical barriers,  the requirement in some settings that health care seekers are reported to immigration authorities, high fees — and fight misinformation that fuels vaccine hesitancy.Support low- and middle-income countries to combat COVID-19 with all available means: Low- and middle-income countries need comprehensive support – financial, political, technical, logistical – to vaccinate people quickly and effectively to expand access to tests and treatments, to implement tailored public health measures, and to build more resilient health systems to prepare for, prevent, detect and respond rapidly to future health emergencies. We urge you to take swift action to ease the pandemic’s devastating human toll.Yours faithfully,Filippo Grandi UN High Commissioner for Refugees  António Vitorino IOM Director General   Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO Director-General       

  • World Health Organization Secretariat announcement regarding the election of the next WHO Director-General
    on Oct 29 2021 at 09:15

    The appointment of the next Director-General of the World Health Organization will take place at the Seventy-fifth World Health Assembly in May 2022 (WHA75).

  • On World Cities Day 2021 WHO calls on countries to build resilient and healthy cities
    on Oct 28 2021 at 15:14

    Well over half the world’s population already lives in towns and cities.  By 2050, that  proportion is expected to increase to almost 70%. On World Cities Day 2021, we see how this rapid urban growth presents both challenges and opportunities.The climate and COVID-19 crises have exacerbated existing social injustices and vulnerabilities in our communities and our health systems, especially in cities.  Inadequate housing and transport, poor sanitation and waste management, and air quality that fails to meet WHO guidelines are still big issues in many cities. The lack of space for safe walking, cycling and active living also make cities epicentres of the noncommunicable diseases epidemic and drivers of climate change.But WHO has seen cities react rapidly and innovatively to address the challenges raised by COVID-19 and keep citizens safe from the virus, including by adapting the way people travel, maintaining food security and safety, and protecting older people and marginalized populations. During the pandemic, many cities have strengthened existing networks and partnerships with communities to best respond to people’s needs, while strengthening multisectoral collaboration and strong leadership from the health sector.  WHO has been supporting cities in building and shaping these policies and actions. The Organization wants to ensure that this progress continues so that cities are better prepared to face future health emergencies.Cities with a strong focus on public transport, access to blue and green spaces, and where it is easy for people to walk around will be more accessible, provide more equal access to goods and services, and provide a healthier living environment. Urban farmers’ markets – connecting consumers with local producers of fresh fruits and vegetables – have been seen to prevent diseases and promote health, improve social well-being, while also addressing climate change and environmental degradation. They have also helped residents cope with  the effects of public health measures, such as COVID-19 lockdowns.What does building urban resilience look like?Governments should integrate health, emergency preparedness, equity, and nature considerations into urban and regional planning policies and interventions, including in economic impact and cost-benefit assessments. They should promote land-use policies and interventions that deliver diverse, compact, green, and well-connected cities, and secure sustained funding and resources for delivering on healthy urban environments for both humans and nature. As a priority they should also prepare – at the highest level of government in all Member States – for health emergencies in cities and urban settings.

  • New ACT-Accelerator strategy calls for US$ 23.4 billion international investment to solve inequities in global access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests & treatments
    on Oct 28 2021 at 13:25

    New ACT-Accelerator strategic plan sets out urgent actions to address crucial gaps in access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, vaccines and personal protective equipment in low- and middle-income countries, using the latest epidemiological, supply and market information.  Delivering this plan is crucial to reaching globally agreed targets for COVID-19 tools, to help prevent at least 5 million potential additional deaths, save the global economy more than US$ 5.3 trillion, and accelerate the end of the pandemic everywhere.The ACT-Accelerator needs US$ 23.4 billion until September 2022 to implement this plan, reflecting a fresh scope, advances in science and supply, and new actors joining the pandemic response.The new plan also responds to the recent independent Strategic Review’s key recommendations and will be implemented alongside global health, government, civil society and private sector partners. The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator has today launched its strategic plan and budget for the next 12 months, outlining the urgent actions and funding needed to address deep inequities in the COVID-19 response, save millions of lives and end the acute phase of the pandemic.The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator has today launched its strategic plan and budget for the next 12 months, outlining the urgent actions and funding needed to address deep inequities in the COVID-19 response, save millions of lives and end the acute phase of the pandemic. Inequitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines is prolonging the pandemic everywhere and risking the emergence of new, more dangerous variants that could evade current tools to fight the disease. So far, only 0.4% of tests and 0.5% of vaccines administered worldwide have been used in low-income countries, despite these countries comprising 9% of the global population.The ACT-Accelerator partnership of leading global health agencies needs US$23.4 billion to help the most at-risk countries secure and deploy COVID-19 tools between now and September 2022. This figure pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars in economic losses caused by the pandemic and the cost of stimulus plans to support national recoveries. The new strategic plan, which integrates key findings of the recent Strategic Review, will see the ACT-Accelerator leverage its progress to date, to shift to a more targeted focus on addressing access gaps in underserved countries, delivering vaccines, treatments, tests and personal protective equipment where they’re most needed. Fully funding the new strategic plan and budget will enable the partnership to: Support the vaccination objectives of 91 lower-income countries in the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) and other countries, by delivering sufficient doses and supporting vaccination campaigns to achieve 43% coverage in AMC countries – contributing to the global target of 70% coverage in all countries by mid-2022.Assist the 144 countries in the Diagnostics Consortium in reaching a minimum testing rate of at least 1 per 1000 people per day, and ensuring sufficient genetic sequencing capacity globally to rapidly detect new variants of concern.Ensure 120 million COVID-19 patients in low- and middle-income countries have access to existing and emerging treatments, including medical oxygen.Keep 2.7 million health workers in low- and middle-income countries safe with personal protective equipment (PPE).Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said: “To end the pandemic, governments, manufacturers and donors must fully fund the ACT-Accelerator to address inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments. In focusing its energies on addressing the great equity gap for these tools, the ACT-Accelerator is bolstering its role as an ally for countries side-lined by market forces in securing life-saving interventions. Fully funding the ACT-Accelerator is a global health security imperative for us all – the time to act is now.”The ACT-Accelerator’s plan to address inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments will help avert more than 5 million potential deaths. It is also essential to the global economic recovery. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates a loss of US $5.3 trillion in global revenues by 2026 if large parts of the world remain unprotected from COVID-19.The ACT-Accelerator Facilitation Council provides high-level political leadership and advice on global advocacy and resource mobilization to the initiative, and is co-chaired by Norway and South Africa. President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa said: “South Africa welcomes the launch of this new strategic plan, which seeks to address the escalating inequities in the global COVID-19 response. Nowhere is this inequity more apparent than on the African continent, where just 8% of the population has received a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Every delay in fully funding the ACT-Accelerator will see the pandemic prolonged, more lives will be lost and more livelihoods will be devastated. We need equitable access now to COVID-19 treatments, tests and vaccines, and this is a plan to achieve that.” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre of Norway said: “While a new normal is emerging for people who have access to COVID-19 tools, this is still a distant prospect for the majority of the world’s population. Without access to COVID-19 tools, we will not be able to achieve full economic and social recovery. The new ACT-Accelerator strategy is key to address inequities in access to COVID-19 tools. This is a collective effort. Now we must ensure inclusive and effective implementation.” The new strategic plan integrates key recommendations from an independent Strategic Review of the ACT-Accelerator that was published on 8 October 2021, including to extend the mandate of the ACT-Accelerator, enhance focus on delivery, and to further strengthen engagement with low- and middle-income countries and civil society organisations to maximise impact.A key element of the new plan is the reconfigured Health Systems & Response Connector (HSRC). The connector will ensure closer engagement with countries and that they have the necessary technical, operational, and financial resources to deploy tools.   From research to rollout, the ACT-Accelerator remains the world’s only end-to-end solution for accelerating the development and fair distribution of COVID-19 tools. Through the COVAX pillar – led by Gavi, CEPI and WHO, alongside UNICEF as key delivery partner – and the Diagnostics pillar– led by FIND and the Global Fund– the ACT-Accelerator is working to address challenges of equitable access and to help the world meet the global targets of 70% vaccination coverage by mid-2022 and minimum testing rates of at least 1 per 1000 people per day in 2022.Through the Therapeutics pillar – led by Unitaid and Wellcome – the ACT-Accelerator is working to provide treatments for up to 120 million COVID-19 cases expected in the next 12 months in low-income countries, lower middle-income countries and underserved upper middle-income countries, focused on equitable access to effective tools, including existing and potential new treatments and medical oxygen. The Health Systems & Response Connector priorities for the next year include connecting countries with financing, tracking needs in real time, and addressing surge staffing requirements for vaccine rollouts, with work being led by the Global Fund, the World Bank, WHO, with UNICEF and the Global Financing Facility as implementing partners.The ACT-Accelerator’s impact so far includes: Delivering more than 425 million vaccine doses to 144 countries and territories through COVAX; Halving the cost of COVID-19 rapid tests, transferring technology to low and middle-income countries, and delivering more than 128 million tests through the Diagnostics Consortium; Increasing essential oxygen, personal protective equipment (PPE) and treatment supplies, including through the advance purchase of nearly 3 million doses of dexamethasone and more than US$4 billion worth of support from the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response Mechanism (C19RM). To provide enough vaccines, tests and treatments for distribution to all in need, the ACT-Accelerator has also helped build a robust development pipeline of COVID-19 tools through investments in areas from research and clinical trials to product development, rapid regulatory approvals and market shaping. ENDNotes to Editors: The lead partner agencies of the ACT-Accelerator are: CEPI, FIND, Gavi, The Global Fund, UNICEF, Unitaid, Wellcome, WHO, the World Bank and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.Breakdown of the ACT-Accelerator’s US$ 23.4 billion funding needs from October 2021 to September 2022: S$7.0 billion for diagnostics US$7.0 billion for vaccines US$3.5 billion for therapeuticsUS$5.9 billion for the Health Systems & Response Connector  The Strategic Plan and Budget document can be found here.QUOTE SHEET Carl Bildt, WHO Special Envoy for the ACT-Accelerator, said: “Fully funding the ACT-Accelerator is the best way for the world to avert further economic losses caused by the pandemic. Vaccine inequity kills. Efforts on tests and treatments are seriously underfunded, blinding and weakening us in fighting this virus. We have the tools to end this pandemic, but they will only succeed in doing so if every community in every country has access to them. Equitable pandemic policy is also good economic policy and will help minimise the costs of this crisis. The time for warm words is over, the deadline to act is now.” Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, said: “The pandemic is far from over so the ACT-Accelerator, as the only global initiative dedicated to equitable access, remains critical to global health security. However, the ACT-Accelerator cannot deliver on its promises unless it receives dramatically more funding. The global community must step up and support our mission to get life-saving tools to people who need them, wherever they are in the world, so we can finally put an end to this pandemic.”Dr Bill Rodriguez, CEO of FIND, said: “The ACT-Accelerator has made critical updates to its strategy and plan to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes acknowledge the reality of the two-track pandemic we are now fighting, and the ongoing inequity of access to the tests, treatments, and vaccines that were so quick to be developed and so slow to reach billions of people. It is also clear that no single tool is a panacea – while the roll out of vaccines must continue, it is equally important to hit the new testing targets so that we can track and defeat variants, break chains of transmission, and link people to new treatments and life-saving care.”Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said: “It is vitally important that governments, donors, industry and others support the ACT-Accelerator and its efforts to remedy the inequity in access to vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments. In 2022, COVAX will be supporting countries’ vaccination objectives, focusing particularly on those that rely on it for access to safe and effective vaccines. We have seen the consequences of not having resources in place to make deals for doses: with the race to secure doses for 2022 already underway, early funding will be essential to ensuring COVAX participants can achieve equitable coverage.”Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, said: “Inequity in access to COVID-19 tools remains unacceptably high while we face new variants, acute oxygen shortages and the urgent need to protect health workers in low- and middle-income countries. Only by fully funding the ACT-Accelerator and working even more closely with the countries and communities can we fill those gaps and make vaccines, personal protective equipment, tests and treatments accessible to everyone. As long as the poorest are left behind, the pandemic will not go away and any progress against COVID-19 will be at risk."Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, said: "The pathway out of the pandemic is paved by equal access to vaccines, treatments and tests. Until we achieve this, we all remain at risk. UNICEF is delivering these vital supplies where they are most needed, and helping countries prepare for their vaccination efforts. However, we cannot do this without the help and support of our donors and partners. Together, we can stop the pandemic from continuing to upend the lives of children and their families everywhere."Dr Philippe Duneton, Executive Director of Unitaid, said: “To fight COVID-19 we need medicines such as oral antivirals, tests and vaccines. Unitaid, the co-lead of the ACT Accelerator’s therapeutics pillar, is committed to rapidly bring state-of-the-art treatments to those in need, when approved by WHO. Getting new lifesaving medicines available to low- and middle-income countries at the same time as they come to wealthy countries, is not just key to speeding up an end to the pandemic; it’s a moral imperative. For that we need to create a quality generic market.”Juan Pablo Uribe, Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population, World Bank; Director for Global Financing Facility (GFF), said: “The World Bank is an active partner of ACT-A and we fully support the newly restructured Health Systems & Response Connector (HSRC). While vaccines, tests and treatments are key to fight the pandemic, it is as important to help countries be able to effectively deploy these tools to the people who need them. That’s what the HSRC will be focusing on.”        

  • WHO launches the third edition Health for All Film Festival call for short films
    on Oct 28 2021 at 12:24

    The World Health Organization (WHO) is launching the third edition of the Health for All Film Festival call for short films.The first two editions demonstrated its relevance for health promotion and health education and yielded great candidates and winners (Please, see the related links).The third call for short film (three to eight minutes of length) opens on 28 October 2021 and will close on 30 January 2022. The WHO invites independent film-makers, production companies, broadcasters, public institutions, NGOs, communities, students in public health and film schools from around the world to submit their original short film. The WHO prizes for the winning films have helped to increase awareness and support about some key health issues. With an average of 1250 submissions every year from 110 countries, it has also proven to be a useful global tool for a vast variety of expressions about people’s health concerns. “The COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful reminder that when health is at risk, everything is at risk,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “In two years, the WHO Health for All Film Festival has become an incredible platform for telling powerful stories in powerful ways about people around the world who face health challenges of all kinds, and the people who devote their lives to defending health. I can’t wait to see this year’s entries, and I look forward to another successful Health for All Film Festival this year, and many more to come.”A new series of about 65 short films will be presented to the public in April 2022 via WHO Youtube channel and is also calling for at least six distinguished professionals, artists and activists to join in the next jury of its film festival in March 2022. Ms Sharon Stone, critically acclaimed actress from the United States and public advocate in favour of many health and humanitarian issues, has already accepted to join this future jury. They will act as external advisors to WHO’s Director-General. This jury will also be composed of three WHO’s senior experts: Dr Ren Minghui for the Universal Health Coverage category of the competition; Dr Maria Van Kerkhove for health emergencies category; and Dr Hanan H. Balkhy for Better health and well-being.Three “GRAND PRIX” will be announced in May 2022, one for each main category.WHO also plans to award three special prizes for a student-produced film, a health innovation film, and a film about rehabilitation.“Storytelling is an engagement between people. It’s not just someone making a film, it’s someone watching a film.», said WHO Executive Director of Health Emergencies Programme, Dr Mike Ryan, film festival juror in 2021. “This is exactly how WHO should be transforming: Transforming how we engage with the world and this festival is just one example of how we can change our mindset.”For more details on this call, the awards, previous official selections and jury compositions and further information, visit the multilingual festival website. 

  • WHO kicks off a Decade of Action for Road Safety
    on Oct 28 2021 at 10:09

    WHO is kicking off the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 today in Geneva, with the ambitious target of preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030. WHO and the UN regional commissions, in cooperation with other partners in the UN Road Safety Collaboration, have developed a Global Plan for the Decade of Action, which is released today. Globally, over 3500 people die every day on the roads, which amounts to nearly 1.3 million preventable deaths and an estimated 50 million injuries each year – making it the leading killer of children and young people worldwide. As things stand, they are set to cause a further estimated 13 million deaths and 500 million injuries during the next decade, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. These unacceptable numbers, both in absolute and relative terms. Road traffic crashes have remained a major cause of death globally, even though every one of those deaths and injuries is preventable. “The loss of lives and livelihoods, the disabilities caused, the grief and pain, and the financial costs caused by road traffic crashes add up to an intolerable toll on families, communities, societies and health systems,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, “So much of this suffering is preventable, by making roads and vehicles safer, and by promoting safe walking, cycling and greater use of public transport. The Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety lays out the practical, evidence-based steps all countries and communities can take to save lives.” Recognizing the importance of the problem and the need to act, governments from around the world declared unanimously – through UN General Assembly Resolution 74/299 – the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 with the explicit target to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries by at least 50% during that period. “One of the best ways to save and improve lives is to make our streets safer -- but that work often doesn’t get the attention it deserves,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries. “Bloomberg Philanthropies has been working to improve road safety since 2007 by strengthening laws, increasing enforcement, redesigning streets, and using data. I’m glad to say that the WHO’s ambitious global plan for road safety includes many of the strategies that we’ve used to save lives, and it will help encourage governments around the world to make road safety the high priority it should be.”This Global Plan describes the actions needed to achieve that target. This includes accelerated action to make walking, cycling and using public transport safe, as they are also healthier and greener modes of transport; to ensure safe roads, vehicles and behaviours; and to guarantee timely and effective emergency care.  It is aimed to inspire countries, including governments and partners to act boldly and decisively, using the tools and knowledge gained from the last Decade of Action to change course.“More than 50 million people have died on the world’s roads since the invention of the automobile.  This is more than the number of deaths in World War One or some of the worst epidemics.” says Dr Etienne Krug, the Director of the Department of the Social Determinants of Health. “It is time to put in action what we know works and shift to a much safer and healthier mode of transport. This new plan will lead countries onto a more sustainable path.” The Global Plan outlines recommended actions drawn from proven and effective interventions, as well as best practices for preventing road trauma. It should be used as a blueprint to inform and inspire national and local plans that are tailored to local contexts, available resources and capacity. The Global Plan is aimed not only at senior policy-makers, but also other stakeholders who can influence road safety, such as civil society, academia, the private sector and community and youth leaders. NOTE TO EDITORS:The Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 will be formally presented on 28 October 2021, during a virtual event to be held from 14:00 to 15:00 Geneva time. This event will provide an opportunity for the WHO Director-General and road safety stakeholders from national and municipal governments, NGOs, and youth groups to make brief remarks on its importance as a tool for preventing road traffic deaths and injuries. To join, register in advance at: The event will be held in English.  

  • WHO-Unitaid statement on the MPP licensing agreement for molnupiravir
    on Oct 27 2021 at 16:26

    WHO and Unitaid welcome the signing of a voluntary licensing agreement by the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and MSD to facilitate affordable access to molnupiravir, a new medicine being tested in clinical trials for treating COVID-19 in adults. Molnupiravir, an investigational oral antiviral medicine, was reported to reduce the risk of hospitalization in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 by 50% in interim phase III clinical trials. It is currently being evaluated for inclusion into the WHO living guideline on COVID-19 therapeutics and is pending authorization for its use from regulatory bodies. If approved, it will be the first oral medicine for non-hospitalized mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients. The MPP/MSD licensing agreement is a positive step towards creating broader access to the treatment as quickly as possible by allowing generic licensees from around the world to prepare supplies and create more affordable versions of the medicine, pending WHO recommendations and other regulatory authorizations. This will shorten the time from approval of the medicine to its availability in the 105 low- and middle-income countries covered by the licence and where there is no patent infringement and licensed know-how has not been used. We hope the company will include other key countries in the scope of the agreement in the near future. We commend MPP for negotiating the licence from a public health perspective – in line with WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) principles, it is non-exclusive and transparent. We urge the manufacturer to provide data of clinical trials to WHO as soon as possible, so that the agency can evaluate the medicine for global use. Other companies developing vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics should consider open and transparent licences as soon as possible, especially for other promising COVID-19 health technologies, for which we also need to ensure broad supply and affordability in all countries in order to end the pandemic. Both the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and C-TAP, in partnership with MPP, are working to facilitate such licences, and look forward to an open dialogue with relevant developers.   

  • Health – A Political Choice: Solidarity, Science and Solutions
    on Oct 27 2021 at 09:52

    Ending the COVID-19 pandemic is among the world’s most pressing priorities.The challenges we have all faced since the beginning of the outbreak have put health centre stage, highlighting the urgent need to invest resources and effort in strengthening health systems, addressing health inequities, and embracing innovation to find solutions to old and new problems.We will only find a way out of this crisis through science, finding solutions and by working together, in solidarity.In this new book, key leading figures in international health and development have come together to share their thoughts about some of the most important choices we face in public health. It offers a unique opportunity to permanently increase global action and multilateral collaboration to address health equity.With a welcome from WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and two introductory articles signed by Ilona Kickbusch, Founding Director or the Global Health Centre of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies; and John Kirton, Director of the Global Governance Programme, key leading figures and leading global authorities and experts from governmental, intergovernmental, civil society, business and research, including Amina J Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations; Gordon Brown, former United Kingdom Prime Minister and WHO Ambassador for Global Health Financing; and Mariana Mazzucato, Chair of the WHO Council on Economics of Health for All.Health – A Political Choice: Solidary, Science and Solutions is a digital publication, the third annual edition, edited and produced of the Global Governance Project, supported by the World Health Organization.Access the digital publication List of authors by order of appearance  

  • Journalism in a pandemic: Covering COVID-19 vaccines -- What journalists need to know
    on Oct 26 2021 at 18:35

    On 29 March, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas-Austin, in collaboration with the WHO, UNESCO and UNDP and with funding from the European Union, will launch its second massive open online course for journalists to improve their coverage of COVID-19 vaccines.  The course, led by former CNN correspondent and WIRED journalist Maryn McKenna is initially being offered in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. The course is free and available to journalists who are interested in acquiring new knowledge and resources to improve their coverage of COVID-19 vaccine development, production, and distribution. The course is four once-a-week modules that runs from 29 March to 25 April.Module 1: The development and technology behind the different vaccines that have been released and that are being created.   Module 2: The acquisition and distribution of vaccines globally, including “vaccine nationalism” and questions of equity.   Module 3: Vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaccination activism, as well as misinformation and disinformation against vaccines  immunity, community masking and social distancing measures, as well as emerging variants   Click here to register for this course 

  • Journalism in a pandemic: Covering COVID-19 now and in the future -- A self-directed course for journalists
    on Oct 26 2021 at 18:28

    Produced in collaboration with the WHO, UNESCO and UNDP, this course -- created by the University of Texas-Austin and the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas -- helps journalists to improve their coverage of the pandemic.  The course is offered in English,  Arabic,  French, Portuguese,  Russian and Spanish and is self-directed. (Chinese and Hindi self-directed versions are also in the works and will be posted here in the coming months.) The course is free and available to journalists who are interested in acquiring new knowledge and resources to improve your coverage and understanding of the pandemic.The course was originally presented in May 2020 as a four-week virtual massive open online course (MOOC). Maryn McKenna, a former CNN reporter, created, curated, and presented the content for the course, which includes video classes, readings, exercises, and more. The course materials are broken up into five modules:Intro Module: Introduction to the course and the outline of topicsModule 1: Where did COVID-19 come from?Module 2: Covering COVID-19 right nowModule 3: The hope for treatments and vaccinesModule 4: Coronavirus: The way forwardClick here to take this self-directed course 

  • Statement on the ninth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic
    on Oct 26 2021 at 11:41

    The ninth 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 Friday 22 October 2021 from 13:00 to 17:05 Geneva time (CEST).Proceedings of the meetingMembers and Advisors of the Emergency Committee were convened by videoconference. The Director-General welcomed the Committee and thanked its members and advisers for their support and guidance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted the importance of the Committee’s work considering the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Director-General emphasized that a tailored risk-based approach of vaccination in conjunction with appropriate public health and social measures (PHSM) is needed and reiterated the global call for action to scale up vaccination to achieve 40% coverage for every country’s population by the end of 2021.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. Two members reported changes in their professional responsibilities since the last meeting, but their new roles were assessed and not considered to generate a conflict of interest. One adviser has been appointed to WHO and will no longer participate in the Committee in his former capacity. As such, no conflicts of interest were identified.The Secretariat turned the meeting over to the Chair, Professor Didier Houssin. Professor Houssin reviewed the objectives and agenda of the meeting.The Secretariat presented updates on:global epidemiological context and the factors driving transmission; anticipated evolution of COVID-19 and forecasted potential future scenarios;ongoing challenge of global COVID-19 vaccine inequity and projections for increasing COVAX Facility vaccine supply; andStates Parties’ increasing consistency in following recommendations regarding health measures for international traffic.  The Committee discussed key issues including: SARS-CoV-2 surveillance efforts and challenges;immunity acquired through natural infection or vaccination and protection offered by both; the value of intra-action reviews for States Parties to inform and enhance response efforts; andthe importance of maintaining risk-informed and multi-faceted PHSM. The Committee expressed concerns over the challenges faced by the African Region in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including accessing sufficient vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics, as well as collecting, analysing, and reporting epidemiological and quality laboratory data, including genomic sequencing data, required to monitor the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee urged for adequate resourcing, capacity building, and technical support for the Region and its Member States to strengthen their surveillance and response efforts.The Committee thanked WHO for its leadership in coordinating the global COVID-19 pandemic response and for its continued effort and support to States Parties in reporting on implementation of the Temporary Recommendations. The Committee highlighted the need for WHO Headquarters, Regional Offices, and Country Offices to continue supporting States Parties in implementing and reporting on Temporary Recommendations.The Committee recognized the value of WHO’s continued coordination of short, medium, and long-term research agendas to address knowledge gaps and to respond to the evolving pandemic. Further research is needed on One Health aspects of SARS-CoV-2, tools and medical devices (such as reusable masks and respirators), and next generation vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics for long-term control of the pandemic. In addition, research is needed to understand the attributable impact of individual and combined PHSM in the evolving pandemic context, including aspects related to variants, host immunity from natural infection, and vaccine-derived immunity. The Committee underlined that, while progress has been made through increased uptake of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, analysis of the present situation and forecasting models indicate that the pandemic is far from finished. The Committee emphasized that there is a critical need for States Parties to continue using all available tools including PHSM, vaccination, diagnostics, therapeutics, and effective communications to control the pandemic and mitigate its negative impacts on health as well as social-economic and educational contexts. In addition, the Committee recognized that the protracted nature of the COVID-19 pandemic poses an additional burden in the context of complex humanitarian emergencies, mass migration, population displacement, and other crises. As such, the Committee suggested States Parties consider revising their preparedness and response plans and assistance policies to account for these interdependencies.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 a risk of international spread and interference with international traffic, and requires a coordinated international response. As such, the Committee concurred that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a public health emergency of international concern (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 PartiesWhile the Committee noted that there are nuances associated with diverse regional contexts related to the implementation of the Temporary Recommendations, they identified the following as critical for all countries:MODIFIED: Continue to use evidence-informed Public Health and Social Measures (PHSM) and life-saving tools such as WHO recommended therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines for COVID-19.  States Parties are advised to regularly adjust their response strategies by monitoring their epidemiological situation, assessing their vulnerabilities including their health system capacity, as well as considering the adherence to and attributable impact of individual and combined PHSM. The use of masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and improving ventilation of indoor spaces remain key to reducing transmission of SARS CoV-2. The use of established PHSM in response to individual cases or clusters of cases, including contact tracing, quarantine and isolation, must continue to be adapted to the epidemiological and social context and enforced. Link to WHO guidanceMODIFIED: 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 and mass migrations, it is critical to consider the epidemiological context (including the prevalence of variants of concern, the strength of transmission, as well as contact tracing and testing capacity) when conducting this risk assessment in line with WHO guidance. In particular, fragile and vulnerable States Parties need additional support to address the challenges posed by conflicts, mass migration, or unplanned mass gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Link to WHO guidance MODIFIED: Achieve the WHO call to action to have at least 40% of all countries’ populations vaccinated by the end of 2021. Increased global solidarity and production capacity is needed to protect vulnerable populations from the emergence and spread of SARS CoV-2 variants. States Parties are requested to share doses to increase global vaccine equity and to use a step-wise approach to vaccination, in accordance with advice from SAGE. Vaccination programmes should include vulnerable populations, including sea farers and air crews. To enhance vaccine uptake, States Parties are encouraged to assess enablers and barriers to vaccination. Link to WHO SAGE Prioritization Roadmap and SAGE Interim Statement on Booster Doses for COVID-19 Vaccination MODIFIED: Enhance surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and continue to report to WHO to enable rapid identification, tracking, and evaluation of variants and continued monitoring of the pandemic’s evolution and its control. States Parties are encouraged to strengthen their surveillance systems by implementing a dual-pronged approach for acute event and molecular surveillance strategies, including timely and representative genomic surveillance data. States Parties should leverage existing national, regional, and global networks, such as the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System, for SARS-CoV-2 surveillance. Link to WHO guidanceEXTENDED: Maintain essential health services with sufficient funding, supplies, and human resources; strengthen health systems to cope with mental health impacts of the pandemic in adults and children, concurrent disease outbreaks, and other emergencies. Link to WHO position paper EXTENDED: Continue a risk-based approach to facilitate international travel and share information with WHO on use of travel measures and their public health rationale. In accordance with the IHR, measures (e.g. masking, testing, isolation/quarantine, and vaccination) should be based on risk assessments, consider local circumstances, and avoid placing the financial burden on international travellers in accordance with Article 40 of the IHR. Link to WHO guidanceEXTENDED: Do NOT require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for international travel as the only pathway or condition permitting international travel given limited global access and inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. State Parties should consider a risk-based approach to the facilitation of international travel by lifting or modifying measures, such as testing and/or quarantine requirements, when appropriate, in accordance with the WHO guidance. Link to WHO interim position paper and Link to WHO guidanceMODIFIED: Recognize all vaccines that have received WHO Emergency Use Listing and all vaccine schedules as per SAGE recommendations, including in the context of international travel. Link to Explanation of WHO Emergency Use Listing and Link to WHO Emergency Use ListingEXTENDED: Address community engagement and communications gaps at national and local levels to reduce COVID-19 transmission, counter misinformation, and improve COVID-19 vaccine acceptance, where applicable. This will require reinforcing messages that a comprehensive public health response is needed. Link to WHO risk communications resourcesNEW: Support uptake of WHO recommended therapeutics by addressing increased accessibility and affordability. Local production and technology transfer can contribute to global equitable access to therapeutics.  

  • Top economists call for radical redirection of the economy to put Health for All at the centre in the run-up to G20
    on Oct 26 2021 at 06:56

    The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought into focus the stark reality of the large and growing inequities across the globe in access to health care and health products: for every 100 people in high-income countries, 133 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, while in low-income countries, only 4 doses per 100 people have been administered.Yet, to date, the world continues to follow the same economic paradigm that doesn’t change the underlying finance structure and applies outdated thinking on economic development, which stands in the way of Health For All. As the G20 Summit approaches in Rome from 29-31 October, where, first, health and finance ministers, and then heads of state and government, come together, there is a window of opportunity for a radical redirection from health for the economy to the economy for health for all. The critical challenge is both to increase the magnitude of the finance available for health and to govern it in a more directed and effective manner. The World Health Organization (WHO) Council on the Economics of Health For All (WHO Council on the Economics of Health For All) calls now, more than ever, for clear, ambitious goals to mobilize and focus investments towards health, considering financing for health as a long-term investment and not a short-term cost. The Council’s new brief on Financing Health for All prioritizes two key dimensions: more finance and better finance and lays out the way forward through three pathways to action: Creating fiscal space by easing artificial constraints imposed by outdated economic assumptions and reversing the harmful effects of reforms that lead to big health cuts, allowing spending and investments towards Health For All to increase significantly;Directing investments to ensure Health for All becomes the central purpose of economic activities, and increase public leadership and dynamic state capabilities to create a conducive regulatory, tax, industrial policy and investment environment; and Governing public and private finance by regulating the functioning and financing of private health markets through measures that crowd in and direct private finance towards improving health outcomes globally and equitably.The Council believes that a new paradigm must be pursued that avoids macroeconomic policies and assumptions that move us away from Health For All. This means designing policies to reach health for all now and in the long-term and realigning finance from all sectors and sources through conditionalities that fuel symbiotic gains in the public interest. Not only more financing of the health sector, but better-quality finance is crucial to deliver Health For All, which must be equitable and ensure a sustainable impact on peoples’ lives. The challenge is to change mindsets within countries that impose internal constraints on spending and to transform externally-imposed conditionalities that hinder spending on what matters for health and promote Health For All. Changing the rules of the game is a fundamental priority of any strategy to deliver Health For All, and policymakers have the ability to rethink finance now. “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that the financing of health systems needs to change radically to protect and promote the health of all people,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “The latest report by the Council on the Economics of Health For All makes a clear and compelling argument for the need for sustained financing to be directed to achieving health for all people, and for investments to be understood as long-term gains for national and global development.”“While health systems are under-resourced, more finance is not the only solution. The work of the Council stresses the need to reform and redirect finance in radical ways so that the objective is Health For All is designed into the financial structures, the conditionalities and the partnerships between business and the state,” said Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Chair of the Council.By way of background, the WHO Council on the Economics of Health For All was established in November 2020 by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The Council’s core mission is to rethink how value in health and wellbeing is measured, produced, and distributed across the economy. It will recommend a new way to shape the economy with the objective of building healthy societies that are just, inclusive, equitable, and sustainable. Made up of ten of the world’s most eminent economists and health experts, the Council works on four areas on how to rethink measurement of economic development, financing, capacity, and innovation with the aim of achieving Health for All. Briefs in each of these areas, and a comprehensive final report to be produced in 2023, will be used to build momentum amongst finance ministers, heads of state/government, as well as other decision makers such as other financial authorities and international development authorities, towards changing the structure of economic activity in favor of Health For All.The members of the Council are Professor Mariana Mazzucato (Chair), Professor Senait Fisseha, Professor Jayati Ghosh, Vanessa Huang, Professor Stephanie Kelton, Professor Ilona Kickbusch, Zelia Maria Profeta da Luz, Kate Raworth, Dr Vera Songwe and Dame Marilyn Waring (see bottom of page: WHO Council on the Economics of Health For All). 

  • WHO unveils action plan to address findings of Independent Commission on Dem. Rep. of Congo SEA allegations
    on Oct 21 2021 at 18:49

    WHO today published its Management Response Plan to address the findings of the Independent Commission (IC) on allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation (SEA) during the response to the 10th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Dem. Rep. of Congo) following the issuing of the IC’s report on 28 September.

  • WHO and partners call for action to better protect health and care workers from COVID-19
    on Oct 21 2021 at 07:29

    The World Health Organization and partners[i] have issued an urgent call for concrete action to better protect health and care workers worldwide from COVID-19 and other health issues. The organizations are concerned that large numbers of health and care workers have died from COVID-19, but also that an increasing proportion of the workforce are suffering from burnout, stress, anxiety and fatigue.In a Joint Statement issued this week, WHO and partners are calling on all Member State governments and stakeholders to strengthen the monitoring and reporting of COVID-19 infections, ill-health and deaths among health and care workers. They should also include disaggregation by age, gender and occupation as a standard procedure, to enable decision makers and scientists to identify and implement mitigation measures that will further reduce the risk of infections and ill-health. The Statement also urges political leaders and policy makers to do all within their power to make regulatory, policy and investment decisions that ensure the protection of health and care workers. It highlights the opportunity to align this with a forthcoming global health and care worker compact and the International Labour Organization’s call for a human-centered recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Finally, the partners call upon leaders and policy makers to ensure equitable access to vaccines so that health and care workers are prioritized in the uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations. Available data from 119 countries suggest that by September 2021, 2 in 5 health and care workers were fully vaccinated on average, with considerable difference across regions and economic groupings. Less than 1 in 10 have been fully vaccinated in the African region while 22 mostly high-income countries reported that above 80% of their health and care workers are fully vaccinated. These rates only account for data reported to WHO through the standard mechanisms.“We have a moral obligation to protect all health and care workers, ensure their rights and provide them with decent work in a safe and enabling practice environment. This must include access to vaccines”, said Jim Campbell, Director of the WHO Health Workforce Department. “Beyond vaccines , economic recovery  and all new investments in emergency preparedness and response must prioritize  the education and employment of health and care workers, linking to the UN  Secretary-General’s Global Accelerator for Jobs and Social Protection,” he added. A new WHO working paper estimates that between 80 000 to 180 000 health and care workers could have died from COVID-19 in the period between January 2020 to May 2021, converging to a medium scenario of 115 500 deaths. These estimates are derived from the 3.45 million COVID-19 related deaths reported to WHO as at May 2021; a number by itself considered to be much lower than the real death toll (60% or more than what is reported to WHO). “This WHO working paper provides a stark number to stimulate greater action; we cannot afford to lose more health and care workers and our world will not recover from the pandemic without long-term, sustainable investments in the health workforce,” said Catherine Duggan, Chief Executive Officer of the International Pharmaceutical Federation and one of several members of the World Health Professions Alliance allied with the Joint Statement.WHO is currently leading efforts to develop a global health and care worker compact, based on existing legal instruments, conventions and resolutions. The compact aims to provide Member States, stakeholders and institutions with comprehensive guidance on their existing obligations to protect health and care workers, safeguard their rights, and to promote and ensure decent work, free from gender, racial and all other forms of discrimination. The guidance will be presented to the 75th World Health Assembly in May 2022.[i] Frontline Health Workers Coalition; Global Health Workforce Network; Health Service Executive, Ireland; International Council of Nurses; International Pharmaceutical Federation; International Labour Organization; OECD; Public Services International and the World Medical Association.

  • SAGE October 2021 meeting highlights
    on Oct 15 2021 at 10:14

    The highlights of the SAGE plenary 4-8 October 2021 meeting have been published.The full report will be published in the Weekly Epidemiological Record on 17.12.2021, and only the wording of the full report should be considered as final.  

  • State of Qatar and WHO team up for a healthy and safe FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
    on Oct 14 2021 at 17:30

    The World Health Organization (WHO) and the State of Qatar today launched a new multiyear collaboration to make the 2022 FIFA World Cup, being held in Qatar, a beacon for physical and mental health promotion, and also a model for ensuring future mega sport events are healthy and safe.The three-year joint project, titled "Healthy 2022 World Cup - Creating Legacy for Sport and Health," was announced at a joint ceremony at WHO’s headquarters, in Geneva, by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghrebreyesus, WHO Director-General; H.E. Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Qatar Minister of Public Health; H.E. Mr Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Qatari Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy; FIFA President Mr Gianni Infantino; and Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean. WHO and Qatar, working closely with FIFA, will undertake joint activities to place the promotion of healthy lives, health security and physical and mental well-being at the heart of the world football’s pinnacle event, being held from 21 November-18 December next year.In addition, another critical goal of the project is to set and translate the best practices in health promotion, security and safety, as practiced at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, for use at major sporting events around the world.“I would like to thank Minister Al Kuwari and the State of Qatar for teaming up with WHO to make the 2022 FIFA World Cup a role model for healthy sporting events,” said Dr Tedros. “WHO is committed to working with Qatar and FIFA to leverage the global power of football to help people lead the healthiest and safest lives possible.”D Tedros added: “As the Qatar tournament will be the first FIFA World Cup held during the pandemic, the event offers a unique opportunity to show how sport can promote health now and provide a lasting legacy for organizing healthy sporting events as the world recovers from the pandemic."Dr Al Kuwari, Qatar’s Minister of Public Health, said: "The State of Qatar is proud to be the first country from the Middle East to host the FIFA World Cup. But our goal is not just to hold a successful sporting event – it is also to hold the healthiest sporting event possible. It is for this reason we have teamed up with WHO." “We look forward to working closely with WHO, FIFA and other partners on this new project to deliver a fantastic, healthy World Cup and leave a legacy that supports the staging of healthy, sustainable and safe mega sporting events in the future.”The main themes the project will focus on are supporting people to practice healthy lifestyles, including through physical activity, healthy diets and tobacco cessation and control; promoting health security, with a focus on ensuring mass gatherings and events are safe; and advocacy and awareness-raising for health.Mr Gianni Infantino, President of FIFA, praised the new partnership between Qatar and WHO, and said it built on the successful partnership between FIFA and WHO signed in 2019 through a memorandum of understanding. “In these past two years, FIFA and WHO have doubled our efforts to promote the importance of physical and mental health to millions of people everywhere, especially in light of the global challenges from COVID-19. We are committed to working with the world of football, from elite players to grassroots teams, to advance the message of health for all. WHO’s new project with Qatar aligns perfectly with FIFA’s collaboration with both sides. Working together, we will harness the power of sports as a catalyst for a safer and healthier world."H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said: “Since being awarded the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we have carefully considered the importance of leaving sustainable and transformative social legacies that improve lives – in Qatar, within our region, and around the world.  With the experience of the pandemic, the importance of utilizing this platform to build awareness and improve public health has significantly increased.”“This partnership with WHO will serve to elevate and enhance our existing efforts and contribute to ensuring that our region’s first FIFA World Cup maximizes its potential for social impact and serves as a benchmark for future events of a similar nature.’Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said the new partnership between WHO and Qatar would play a powerful role in spreading advice and messages throughout the Region on the benefits of sports for health. In addition, it will help promote the goal of achieving “Health for All By All,” which is at the heart of WHO’s strategic focus for the Region, Vision 2023.“Sport offers one of the most effective ways for people to lead healthy lives. WHO looks forward to working closely with Qatar to use the platform that sporting events offer to bring people together and foster solidarity, while at the same time promoting healthier habits, from diet to physical activity, for people of all ages, genders and cultures.”The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital importance of physical activity for mental and physical health. According to the World Health Organization, up to 5 million deaths, a year could be averted if the global population was more active. WHO statistics show that one in four adults, and four out of five adolescents, do not get enough physical activity.  Globally this is estimated to cost US$54 billion in direct health care and another US$14 billion to lost productivity.At a time when the pandemic has deepened vulnerabilities and inequities, it is more than ever important to ensure everyone of all ages and abilities can have access to safe sports.

  • Tuberculosis deaths rise for the first time in more than a decade due to the COVID-19 pandemic
    on Oct 14 2021 at 12:08

    The COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of global progress in tackling tuberculosis and for the first time in over a decade, TB deaths have increased, according to the World Health Organization’s 2021 Global TB report.In 2020, more people died from TB, with far fewer people being diagnosed and treated or provided with TB preventive treatment compared with 2019, and overall spending on essential TB services falling.The first challenge is disruption in access to TB services and a reduction in resources. In many countries, human, financial and other resources have been reallocated from tackling TB to the COVID-19 response, limiting the availability of essential services.The second is that people have struggled to seek care in the context of lockdowns.“This report confirms our fears that the disruption of essential health services due to the pandemic could start to unravel years of progress against tuberculosis,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This is alarming news that must serve as a global wake-up call to the urgent need for investments and innovation to close the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people affected by this ancient but preventable and treatable disease.”TB services are among many others disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but the impact on TB has been particularly severe.For example, approximately, 1.5 million people died from TB in 2020 (including 214 000 among HIV positive people).The increase in the number of TB deaths occurred mainly in the 30 countries with the highest burden of TB[1]. WHO modelling projections suggest the number of people developing TB and dying from the disease could be much higher in 2021 and 2022.Challenges with providing and accessing essential TB services have meant that many people with TB were not diagnosed in 2020. The number of people newly diagnosed with TB and those reported to national governments fell from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020.WHO estimates that some 4.1 million people currently suffer from TB but have not been diagnosed with the disease or have not officially reported to national authorities. This figure is up from 2.9 million in 2019.The countries that contributed most to the global reduction in TB notifications between 2019 and 2020 were India (41%), Indonesia (14%), the Philippines (12%) and China (8%). These and 12 other countries accounted for 93% of the total global drop in notifications.There was also a reduction in provision of TB preventive treatment. Some 2.8 million people accessed this in 2020, a 21% reduction since 2019.  In addition, the number of people treated for drug-resistant TB fell by 15%, from 177 000 in 2019 to 150 000 in 2020, equivalent to only about 1 in 3 of those in need.Global investment for TB fallsFunding in the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) that account for 98% of reported TB cases remains a challenge. Of the total funding available in 2020, 81% came from domestic sources, with the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa) accounting for 65% of total domestic funding.The largest bilateral donor is the Government of the United States of America. The biggest international donor is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.The report notes a fall in global spending on TB diagnostic, treatment and prevention services, from US$ 5.8 billion to US$ 5.3 billion, which is less than half of the global target for fully funding the TB response of US$ 13 billion annually by 2022.  Meanwhile, although there is progress in the development of new TB diagnostics, drugs and vaccines, this is constrained by the overall level of R&D investment, which at US$ 0.9 billion in 2019 falls far short of the global target of US$ 2 billion per year.Global TB targets off trackReversals in progress mean that the global TB targets are off track and appear increasingly out of reach, however there are some successes.  Globally, the reduction in the number of TB deaths between 2015 and 2020 was only 9.2% - about one quarter of the way to the 2020 milestone of 35%.Globally, the number of people falling ill with TB each year (relative to population) dropped 11% from 2015 to 2020, just over half-way to the 2020 milestone of 20%.However, the WHO European Region exceeded the 2020 milestone, with a reduction of 25%. This was mostly driven by the decline in the Russian Federation, where incidence fell by 6% per year between 2010 to 2020. The WHO African Region came close to reaching the milestone, with a reduction of 19%, which reflects impressive reductions of 4–10% per year in South Africa and  several other countries in southern Africa, following a peak in the HIV epidemic and the expansion of TB and HIV prevention and care.  “We have just one year left to reach the historic 2022 TB targets committed by Heads of State at the first UN High Level Meeting on TB. The report provides important information and a strong reminder to countries to urgently fast-track their TB responses and save lives,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “This will be crucial as preparations begin for the 2nd UN High Level Meeting on TB mandated for 2023.”The report calls on countries to put in place urgent measures to restore access to essential TB services. It further calls for a doubling of investments in TB research and innovation as well as concerted action across the health sector and others to address the social, environmental and economic determinants of TB and its consequences.The new report features data on disease trends and the response to the epidemic from 197 countries and areas, including 182 of the 194 World Health Organization (WHO) Member States. Note to the editorSince the declaration of COVID-19 as a public health emergency of international concern, WHO’s Global TB Programme has monitored the impact of the pandemic on TB services and provided guidance and support.Global targetsIn 2014 and 2015, all Member States of WHO and the UN adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and WHO’s End TB Strategy. The SDGs and End TB Strategy both include targets and milestones for large reductions in TB incidence, TB deaths and costs faced by TB patients and their households.The WHO End TB Strategy aims for a 90 per cent reduction in TB deaths and an 80 per cent reduction in the TB incidence rate by 2030, compared to the 2015 baseline. Milestones for 2020 include a 20% reduction in the TB incidence rate and a 35% reduction in TB deaths.The UN Political Declaration on TB also included 4 new targets for the period 2018-2022:Treat 40 million people for TB diseaseReach at least 30 million people with TB preventive treatment for a latent TB infectionMobilize at least US$13 billion annually for universal access to TB diagnosis, treatment and careMobilize at least US$2 billion annually for TB researchTB factsTuberculosis (TB), the second (after COVID- 19) deadliest infectious killer, is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. It can spread when people who are sick with TB expel bacteria into the air – for example, by coughing.Approximately 90 percent of those who fall sick with TB each year live in 30 countries. Most people who develop the disease are adults –in 2020 - men accounted for 56% of all TB cases, adult women accounted for 33% and children for 11%. Many new cases of TB are attributable to five risk factors: undernutrition, HIV infection, alcohol use disorders, smoking and diabetes.TB is preventable and curable. About 85% of people who develop TB disease can be successfully treated with a 6-month drug regimen; treatment has the added benefit of curtailing onward transmission of infection.[1] 30 countries with the highest burden of TB include: Angola, Bangladesh, Brazil, Central African Republic, China, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam and Zambia. 

  • Football champion Didier Drogba appointed WHO Ambassador for Sports and Health
    on Oct 14 2021 at 08:47

    Football legend Didier Drogba was today announced as the World Health Organization's Goodwill Ambassador for Sport and Health. Drogba, from Côte d’Ivoire, will support WHO to promote the Organization’s guidance on the benefits of physical activity and other healthy lifestyles, and highlight the value of sports, particularly for youth. Mr Drogba, well known for his football career at Chelsea and as a two-time African Footballer of the Year (2006 and 2009), has a long track record of participating in various health campaigns such as healthy lifestyles, anti-malaria and HIV prevention and control.“I am honoured to team up with the World Health Organization and support its work to help people reach the highest level of health possible, especially young people in all countries,” said Mr Drogba during his ambassadorship announcement event at WHO’s Geneva headquarters. “I have benefited first hand from the power of sports to lead a healthy life and I am committed to working with WHO to share such gains worldwide.”Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, hailed Mr Drogba as not only a football legend but a dedicated advocate for the health and sustainable development of communities, and added that his support for WHO can help curb the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) through the promotion of healthy lifestyles, including the benefits of physical activity and sports for all people."Didier is a proven champion and game changer both on and off the pitch,” said Dr Tedros. “We are pleased to have him playing on our team, and helping communities worldwide reach and score goals through sports for their physical and mental health and well-being. He will also support the mobilization of the international community to promote sports as an essential means for improving the physical, mental health and social well-being of all people, including in helping COVID-19 recovery efforts.”Current global estimates show four in five adolescents, and one in four adults, do not do enough physical activity. Increased physical inactivity also negatively impacts health systems, the environment, economic development, community well-being, and quality of life. Regular physical activity, including through sports, helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and various types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer).Mr Drogba’s announcement as a WHO Goodwill Ambassador was made during a ceremony to launch the "Healthy 2022 World Cup – Creating Legacy for Sport and Health" partnership between Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health and its Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, WHO and world football’s governing body, FIFA.Mr Drogba joins other WHO ambassadors including champion Brazilian footballer Alisson Becker;  Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of the City of New York; Cynthia Germanotta, President of the Born This Way Foundation; and former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

  • WHO Director-General Bestows Posthumous Award on the Late Henrietta Lacks
    on Oct 13 2021 at 14:19

    Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus honoured the late Henrietta Lacks with a WHO Director-General’s award, recognizing the world-changing legacy of this Black American woman who died of cervical cancer, 70 years ago, on 4 October, 1951. While she sought treatment, researchers took biopsies from Mrs Lacks’ body without her knowledge or consent.  Her cells became the first “immortal” cell line, and have allowed for incalculable scientific breakthroughs such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, the polio vaccine, drugs for HIV and cancers, and most recently, critical COVID-19 research.  Shockingly, the global scientific community once hid Henrietta Lacks’ race and her real story, a historic wrong that today’s recognition seeks to heal.“In honouring Henrietta Lacks, WHO acknowledges the importance of reckoning with past scientific injustices, and advancing racial equity in health and science,” said Dr Tedros. “It’s also an opportunity to recognize women - particularly women of colour - who have made incredible but often unseen contributions to medical science.”The award was received at the WHO office in Geneva by Lawrence Lacks, Mrs. Lacks’ 87-year-old son.  He is one of the last living relatives who personally knew her.  Mr. Lacks was accompanied by several of Henrietta Lacks’ grandchildren, great-grand children, and other family members.“We are moved to receive this historic recognition of my mother, Henrietta Lacks – honouring who she was as a remarkable woman and the lasting impact of her HeLa cells. My mother’s contributions, once hidden, are now being rightfully honored for their global impact,” said Lawrence Lacks, Sr., Henrietta Lacks’ eldest son. “My mother was a pioneer in life, giving back to her community, helping others live a better life and caring for others. In death she continues to help the world. Her legacy lives on in us and we thank you for saying her name – Henrietta Lacks.”An Iconic Story of Inequity, Injustice and Disparities in Health with Contemporary RelevanceToday, women of colour continue to be disproportionately affected by cervical cancer, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the many faultlines where health inequities persist among marginalized communities around the world. Studies in various countries consistently document that Black women are dying of cervical cancer at several times the rate of white women, while 19 of the 20 countries with the highest cervical cancer burdens are in Africa.  The family’s discussions with WHO especially focused on the Organization’s ambitious campaign to eliminate cervical cancer. The past year, which marked the 100th anniversary of Henrietta Lacks’ birth, coincides with the inaugural year of WHO’s Global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer.  This historic campaign marks the first time ever that all WHO Member States have collectively resolved to eliminate a cancer.The family also joins WHO in advocating for equity in access to the HPV vaccine, which protects against a range of cancers, including cervical cancer.  Despite having been prequalified by WHO over 12 years ago, supply constraints and high prices still prevent adequate doses from reaching girls in low-and-middle income countries.As of 2020, less than 25% of low-income countries and less than 30% of lower-middle-income countries had access to the HPV vaccine through their national immunization programmes, compared with more than 85% of high-income countries.“It is unacceptable that access to the lifesaving HPV vaccine can be shaped by your race, ethnicity or where you happen to be born,” said Dr Princess Nothemba (Nono) Simelela, Assistant Director-General for Strategic Priorities and Special Advisor to the Director General. “The HPV vaccine was developed using Henrietta Lacks’ cells.  Although the cells were taken without her consent and without her knowledge, she has left behind a legacy that could potentially save millions of lives. We owe it to her and her family to achieve equitable access to this groundbreaking vaccine.”Henrietta Lacks’ Remarkable Contribution to MedicineAs a young mother, Henrietta Lacks and her husband were raising five children near Baltimore when she fell ill.  She went to Johns Hopkins after experiencing extensive vaginal bleeding and was diagnosed with cervical cancer.  Despite treatment, it cut her life short on October 4, 1951.  She was only 31 years old.During treatment, researchers took samples of her tumour.  That “HeLa” cell line became a scientific breakthrough: the first immortal line of human cells to divide indefinitely in a laboratory.  The cells were mass produced, for profit, without recognition to her family. Over 50,000,000 metric tonnes of HeLa cells have been distributed around the world, the subjects of over 75,000 studies.In addition to the HPV vaccine, HeLa cells allowed for development of the polio vaccine; drugs for HIV/AIDS, haemophilia, leukaemia, and Parkinson’s disease; breakthroughs in reproductive health, including in vitro fertilization; research on chromosomal conditions, cancer, gene mapping, and precision medicine; and are used in studies responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.Following the presentation of the award, the family and WHO will proceed to the shores of Lake Geneva, to watch the city’s iconic Jet d’Eau illuminate in the colour teal – the colour for cervical cancer awareness – in honour of Henrietta Lacks’ legacy and in appreciation of the family’s support for the global campaign to eliminate the disease.  It is the first of several world monuments that will illuminate in teal between now and November 17th, marking the first anniversary of the launch of the global elimination campaign.Quotes from other participants“Through HELA100: The Henrietta Lacks Initiative, my family stands in solidarity with WHO and our sisters around the world to ensure that no other wife, mother or sister dies needlessly from cervical cancer,” said Victoria Baptiste, Henrietta Lacks’ great granddaughter. “As a registered nurse, I am proud to also be here today to honour my great grandmother’s legacy by advocating to ensure equitable access to the breakthroughs that her HeLa cells advanced such as the HPV vaccine. It is only fitting that as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of Henrietta Lacks’ HeLa cells and her untimely passing, we build upon her legacy by ensuring equitable access to advances in cancer prevention and treatment for all people.” “Though her life was cut short, Henrietta Lacks’ contributions to medicine have led to remarkable scientific breakthroughs, saving countless lives and bringing us closer to eliminating cervical cancer,” said Dr Senait Fisseha, Co-Chair of the Director-General’s expert advisory group on cervical cancer elimination. “Her story is also a clear example of how Black women have long been overlooked in healthcare and still are today. I applaud the WHO for recognizing her, a vital step in acknowledging the incredible impact she’s had on science and honouring her legacy in advancing health justice for people around the world.”“The fight to eliminate cervical cancer is part of the larger fight for human rights,” said Dr Groesbeck Parham, who participated in the civil rights movement as a teenager in Birmingham, Alabama, and is now Clinical Expert for WHO’s cervical cancer elimination initiative and Co-Chair of the Director-General’s expert advisory group. “Through her immortal cells, Mrs. Henrietta Lacks speaks to us, also calling our attention to the millions of young women and mothers in low-income countries who still continue to die from cervical cancer because they cannot access and afford to purchase the life-saving medicines, technologies and medical procedures that are readily available in high-income countries. The questions being raised by the spirit and legacy of Mrs. Henrietta Lacks are: ‘why does this situation exist’, ‘what are the solutions’, and ‘when are you going to implement them.’” 

  • WHO’s 10 calls for climate action to assure sustained recovery from COVID-19
    on Oct 8 2021 at 16:29

    Countries must set ambitious national climate commitments if they are to sustain a healthy and green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.The WHO COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health, launched today, in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, spells out the global health community’s prescription for climate action based on a growing body of research that establishes the many and inseparable links between climate and health.“The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the intimate and delicate links between humans, animals and our environment,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “The same unsustainable choices that are killing our planet are killing people. WHO calls on all countries to commit to decisive action at COP26 to limit global warming to 1.5°C – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s in our own interests. WHO’s new report highlights 10 priorities for safeguarding the health of people and the planet that sustains us.”The WHO report is launched at the same time as an open letter, signed by over two thirds of the global health workforce - 300 organizations representing at least 45 million doctors and health professionals worldwide, calling for national leaders and COP26 country delegations to step up climate action.“Wherever we deliver care, in our hospitals, clinics and communities around the world, we are already responding to the health harms caused by climate change,” the letter from health professionals reads. “We call on the leaders of every country and their representatives at COP26 to avert the impending health catastrophe by limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and to make human health and equity central to all climate change mitigation and adaptation actions.”The report and open letter come as unprecedented extreme weather events and other climate impacts are taking a rising toll on people’s lives and health. Increasingly frequent extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, storms and floods, kill thousands and disrupt millions of lives, while threatening healthcare systems and facilities when they are needed most. Changes in weather and climate are threatening food security and driving up food-, water- and vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, while climate impacts are also negatively affecting mental health. The WHO report states: “The burning of fossil fuels is killing us. Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. While no one is safe from the health impacts of climate change, they are disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.”Meanwhile, air pollution, primarily the result of burning fossil fuels, which also drives climate change, causes 13 deaths per minute worldwide.The report concludes that protecting people’s health requires transformational action in every sector, including on energy, transport, nature, food systems and finance. And it states clearly that the public health benefits from implementing ambitious climate actions far outweigh the costs.“It has never been clearer that the climate crisis is one of the most urgent health emergencies we all face,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Environment, Climate Change and Health. “Bringing down air pollution to WHO guideline levels, for example, would reduce the total number of global deaths from air pollution by 80% while dramatically reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change. A shift to more nutritious, plant-based diets in line with WHO recommendations, as another example, could reduce global emissions significantly, ensure more resilient food systems, and avoid up to 5.1 million diet-related deaths a year by 2050.”Achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement would save millions of lives every year due to improvements in air quality, diet, and physical activity, among other benefits. However, most climate decision-making processes currently do not account for these health co-benefits and their economic valuation.    Notes to editors:WHO’s COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health, The Health Argument for Climate Action, provides 10 recommendations for governments on how to maximize the health benefits of tackling climate change in a variety of sectors, and avoid the worst health impacts of the climate crisis.The recommendations are the result of extensive consultations with health professionals, organizations and stakeholders worldwide, and represent a broad consensus statement from the global health community on the priority actions governments need to take to tackle the climate crisis, restore biodiversity, and protect health.Climate and Health RecommendationsThe COP26 report includes ten recommendations that highlight the urgent need and numerous opportunities for governments to prioritize health and equity in the international climate regime and sustainable development agenda.Commit to a healthy recovery. Commit to a healthy, green and just recovery from COVID-19.Our health is not negotiable. Place health and social justice at the heart of the UN climate talks.Harness the health benefits of climate action. Prioritize those climate interventions with the largest health-, social- and economic gains.Build health resilience to climate risks. Build climate resilient and environmentally sustainable health systems and facilities, and support health adaptation and resilience across sectors.Create energy systems that protect and improve climate and health. Guide a just and inclusive transition to renewable energy to save lives from air pollution, particularly from coal combustion. End energy poverty in households and health care facilities.Reimagine urban environments, transport and mobility. Promote sustainable, healthy urban design and transport systems, with improved land-use, access to green and blue public space, and priority for walking, cycling and public transport.Protect and restore nature as the foundation of our health. Protect and restore natural systems, the foundations for healthy lives, sustainable food systems and livelihoods.Promote healthy, sustainable and resilient food systems. Promote sustainable and resilient food production and more affordable, nutritious diets that deliver on both climate and health outcomes.Finance a healthier, fairer and greener future to save lives. Transition towards a wellbeing economy.Listen to the health community and prescribe urgent climate action. Mobilize and support the health community on climate action.Open Letter – Healthy Climate PrescriptionThe health community around the world (300 organizations representing at least 45 million doctors and health professionals) signed an open letter to national leaders and COP26 country delegations, calling for real action to address the climate crisis.The letter states the following demands:“We call on all nations to update their national climate commitments under the Paris Agreement to commit to their fair share of limiting warming to 1.5°C; and we call on them to build health into those plans;We call on all nations to deliver a rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels, starting with immediately cutting all related permits, subsidies and financing for fossil fuels, and to completely shift current financing into development of clean energy;We call on high income countries to make larger cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, in line with a 1.5°C temperature goal;We call on high income countries to also provide the promised transfer of funds to low-income countries to help achieve the necessary mitigation and adaptation measures;We call on governments to build climate resilient, low-carbon, sustainable health systems; andWe call on governments to also ensure that pandemic recovery investments support climate action and reduce social and health inequities.”

  • WHO report highlights global shortfall in investment in mental health
    on Oct 8 2021 at 07:42

    The World Health Organization’s new Mental Health Atlas paints a disappointing picture of a worldwide failure to provide people with the mental health services they need, at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting a growing need for mental health support.The latest edition of the Atlas, which includes data from 171 countries, provides a clear indication that the increased attention given to mental health in recent years has yet to result in a scale-up of quality mental services that is aligned with needs. Issued every three years, the Atlas is a compilation of data provided by countries around the world on mental health policies, legislation, financing, human resources, availability and utilization of services and data collection systems. It is also the mechanism for monitoring progress towards meeting the targets in WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan.“It is extremely concerning that, despite the evident and increasing need for mental health services, which has become even more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, good intentions are not being met with investment,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “We must heed and act on this wake-up call and dramatically accelerate the scale-up of investment in mental health, because there is no health without mental health.”Lack of progress in leadership, governance and financingNone of the targets for effective leadership and governance for mental health, provision of mental health services in community-based settings, mental health promotion and prevention, and strengthening of information systems, were close to being achieved.In 2020, just 51% of WHO’s 194 Member States reported that their mental health policy or plan was in line with international and regional human rights instruments, way short of the 80% target. And only 52% of countries met the target relating to mental health promotion and prevention programmes, also well below the 80% target. The only 2020 target met was a reduction in the rate of suicide by 10%, but even then, only 35 countries said they had a stand-alone prevention strategy, policy or plan.Steady progress was evident, however, in the adoption of mental health policies, plans and laws, as well as in improvements in capacity to report on a set of core mental health indicators. However, the percentage of government health budgets spent on mental health has scarcely changed during the last years, still hovering around 2%. Moreover, even when policies and plans included estimates of required human and financial resources, just 39% of responding countries indicated that the necessary human resources had been allocated and 34% that the required financial resources had been provided.Transfer of care to the community is slowWhile the systematic decentralization of mental health care to community settings has long been recommended by WHO, only 25% of responding countries met all the criteria for integration of mental health into primary care. While progress has been made in training and supervision in most countries, the supply of medicines for mental health conditions and psychosocial care in primary health-care services remains limited.This is also reflected in the way that government funds to mental health are allocated, highlighting the urgent need for deinstitutionalization. More than 70% of total government expenditure on mental health was allocated to mental hospitals in middle-income countries, compared with 35% in high-income countries. This indicates that centralized mental hospitals and institutional inpatient care still receive more funds than services provided in general hospitals and primary health-care centres in many countries. There was, however, an increase in the percentage of countries reporting that treatment of people with specific mental health conditions (psychosis, bipolar disorder and depression) is included in national health insurance or reimbursement schemes – from 73% in 2017 to 80% (or 55% of Member States) in 2020.Global estimates of people receiving care for specific mental health conditions (used as a proxy for mental health care as a whole) remained less than 50%, with a global median of 40% of people with depression and just 29% of people with psychosis receiving care.Increase in mental health promotion, but effectiveness questionableMore encouraging was the increase in countries reporting mental health promotion and prevention programmes, from 41% of Member States in 2014 to 52% in 2020. However, 31% of total reported programmes did not have dedicated human and financial resources, 27% did not have a defined plan, and 39% had no documented evidence of progress and/or impact.Slight increase in the mental health workforceThe global median number of mental health workers per 100 000 population has increased slightly from nine workers in 2014 to 13 workers per 100 000 population in 2020. However, there was a very high variation between countries of different income levels, with the number of mental health workers in high-income countries more than 40 times higher than in low-income countries.New targets for 2030The global targets reported on in the Mental Health Atlas are from WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan, which contained targets for 2020 endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2013. This Plan has now been extended to 2030 and includes new targets for the inclusion of mental health and psychosocial support in emergency preparedness plans, the integration of mental health into primary health care, and research on mental health.“The new data from the Mental Health Atlas shows us that we still have a very long way to go in making sure that everyone, everywhere, has access to quality mental health care,” said Dévora Kestel, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use at WHO. “But I am encouraged by the renewed vigour that we saw from governments as the new targets for 2030 were discussed and agreed and am confident that together we can do what is necessary to move from baby steps to giant leaps forward in the next 10 years.” Note for editors:The Atlas is being released in the lead-up to World Mental Health Day on 10 October, for which the focus this year is scaling up access to quality mental health care. 

  • WHO’s 7 policy recommendations on building resilient health systems
    on Sep 15 2021 at 08:32

    COVID-19 has had a wide-ranging impact on all areas of society, leading to setbacks in health gains and efforts to achieve universal health coverage (UHC). The diversion of health system resources to address COVID-19 care led to a protracted disruption of essential health services. New barriers to accessing health care, such as restricted movements, reduced ability to pay and fear of infection, have posed additional and unprecedented challenges in many countries. The world has not learned from previous epidemics. Reacting to events as they occur, without adequately strengthening prevention and preparedness, meant that countries were caught unprepared for a pandemic of this speed and scale. COVID-19 has hit vulnerable populations particularly hard and exacerbated preexisting inequalities even further. This highlights the need for countries to take every opportunity to rebuild their health systems sustainably, more equitably and closer to communities.“The pandemic has been a significant setback in our efforts to support Member States to progress towards universal health coverage,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We cannot build a safer world from the top down; we must build from the ground up. Preparing for, preventing, detecting and responding rapidly to epidemics starts with strong primary health care and public health systems, skilled health workers, and communities empowered and enabled to take charge of their own health. That must be the focus of our attention, and our investment.”WHO has released a position paper on building health systems resilience towards UHC and health security during COVID-19 and beyond to reinforce the urgent need for renewed and heightened national and global commitment to make countries better prepared and health systems resilient against all forms of public health threats for sustained progress towards both UHC and health security. This requires an integrated approach to building and rebuilding health systems that serve the needs of the population, before, during and after public health emergencies. It encompasses capacities foressential public health functions that improve, promote, protect and restore the health of all people;building strong primary health care as a foundation for bringing health services closer to communities;all-hazards emergency risk management that strengthens the ability of countries to prevent and tackle health emergencies, and can surge to meet the additional health security demands imposed by health emergencies;engaging the whole-of-society so that all sectors work together towards a common goal of health for all.These efforts will also help bolster the implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005) and accelerate the achievement of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals.The WHO position paper comes at a crucial time to provide leaders and policymakers with recommendations on positioning health within the wider discussions on socioeconomic recovery and transformation.In brief: WHO’s 7 policy recommendations on building resilient health systems based on primary health careLeverage the current response to strengthen both pandemic preparedness and health systemsInvest in essential public health functions including those needed for all-hazards emergency risk managementBuild a strong primary health care foundationInvest in institutionalized mechanisms for whole-of-society engagementCreate and promote enabling environments for research, innovation and learningIncrease domestic and global investment in health system foundations and all-hazards emergency risk managementAddress pre-existing inequities and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on marginalized and vulnerable populations Go to event page  Launch of the WHO position paper on building health systems resilience  towards UHC and health security during COVID-19 and beyond Download the position paper and the position brief in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish.   

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