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

  • World Malaria Day: WHO launches effort to stamp out malaria in 25 more countries by 2025
    on Apr 20 2021 at 12:14

    Ahead of World Malaria Day, marked annually on 25 April, WHO congratulates the growing number of countries that are approaching, and achieving, zero cases of malaria. A new initiative launched today aims to halt transmission of the disease in 25 more countries by 2025. Of the 87 countries with malaria, 46 reported fewer than 10 000 cases of the disease in 2019 compared to 26 countries in 2000. By the end of 2020, 24 countries had reported interrupting malaria transmission for 3 years or more. Of these, 11 were certified malaria-free by WHO. “Many of the countries we are recognizing today carried, at one time, a very high burden of malaria. Their successes were hard-won and came only after decades of concerted action” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Together, they have shown the world that malaria elimination is a viable goal for all countries.”Key drivers of successThough each country’s elimination journey is unique, common drivers of success have been seen across all regions.  “Success is driven, first and foremost, by political commitment within a malaria-endemic country to end the disease,” said Dr Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme. “This commitment is translated into domestic funding that is often sustained over many decades, even after a country is malaria-free,” he added. Most countries that reach zero malaria have strong primary health care systems that ensure access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment services, without financial hardship, for everyone living within their borders – regardless of nationality or legal status.Robust data systems are also key to success, together with strong community engagement. Many countries that eliminate malaria have relied on dedicated networks of volunteer health workers to detect and treat the disease in remote and hard-to-reach areas.New report: “Zeroing in on malaria elimination”Through the E-2020 initiative, launched in 2017, WHO has supported 21 countries in their efforts to get to zero malaria cases within the 2020 timeline. A new WHO report summarizes progress and lessons learned in these countries over the last 3 years.  According to the report, 8 of the E-2020 member countries reported zero indigenous cases of human malaria by the end of 2020:  Algeria, Belize, Cape Verde, China, El Salvador, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia and Paraguay.  In Malaysia, the P. knowlesi parasite, normally found in monkeys, infected approximately 2600 people in 2020.A number of other countries made excellent progress: Timor-Leste reported only 1 indigenous case, while 3 other countries – Bhutan, Costa Rica and Nepal – reported fewer than 100 cases. Building on the successes of the E-2020, WHO has identified a new group of 25 countries that have the potential to stamp out malaria within a 5-year timeline. Through the E-2025 initiative, launched today, these countries will receive specialized support and technical guidance as they work towards the target of zero malaria.Malaria elimination in the Greater Mekong In the face of the ongoing threat of antimalarial drug resistance, countries of the Greater Mekong subregion have also made major strides towards their shared goal of elimination by 2030. In the 6 countries of the subregion – Cambodia, China (Yunnan Province), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam – the reported number of malaria cases fell by 97% between 2000 and 2020. Malaria deaths were reduced by more than 99% in this same period of time, from 6000 to 15.Tackling malaria during a global pandemicIn 2020, COVID-19 emerged as a serious challenge to malaria responses worldwide. Since the early days of the pandemic, WHO has urged countries to maintain essential health services, including for malaria, while ensuring that communities and health workers are protected from COVID-19 transmission. Heeding the call, many malaria-endemic countries mounted impressive responses to the pandemic, adapting the way they deliver malaria services to the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by governments. As a result of these efforts, the worst-case scenario of a WHO modelling analysis was likely averted. The analysis found that if access to nets and antimalarial medicines was severely curtailed, the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa could double in 2020 compared to 2018.However, more than one year into the pandemic, substantial disruptions to health services persist across the globe. According to the results of a new WHO survey, approximately one third of countries around the world reported disruptions in malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment services during the first quarter of 2021.  In many countries, lockdowns and restrictions on the movement of people and goods have led to delays in the delivery of insecticide-treated mosquito nets or indoor insecticide spraying campaigns. Malaria diagnosis and treatment services were interrupted as many people were unable – or unwilling – to seek care in health facilities. WHO is calling on all people living in malaria affected countries to “beat the fear”: people with a fever should go to the nearest health facility to be tested for malaria and receive the care they need, within the context of national COVID-19 protocols. Note to the editor Malaria by numbers: global and regional burden In 2019, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria and 409 000 malaria-related deaths in 87 countries. Children under the age of 5 years in sub-Saharan Africa continued to account for approximately two thirds of global deaths from malaria.The WHO African Region shouldered 94% of all malaria cases and deaths worldwide in 2019. About 3% per cent of malaria cases in 2019 were reported in the WHO South-East Asia Region and 2% in the WHO Region for the Eastern Mediterranean. The WHO Western Pacific Region and the WHO Region of the Americas each accounted for fewer than 1% of all cases.Target: zero malaria Although progress in the global response to malaria has stalled in recent years, a growing number of countries with a low burden of malaria are approaching, and achieving, the target of zero malaria transmission. Between 2000 and 2020, 24 countries reported zero indigenous cases of malaria for 3 or more years. These countries include: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cape Verde, China, Egypt, El Salvador, Georgia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the United Arab Emirates.WHO malaria-free certificationCertification of malaria elimination is the official recognition by WHO of a country’s malaria-free status. WHO grants the certification when a country has proven that the chain of indigenous malaria transmission has been interrupted nationwide for at least the past three consecutive years. A country must also demonstrate the capacity to prevent the re-establishment of transmission. Globally, 39 countries and territories have achieved this milestone. Eleven countries have been certified malaria over the last 2 decades: United Arab Emirates (2007), Morocco (2010), Turkmenistan (2010), Armenia (2011), Sri Lanka (2016), Kyrgyzstan (2016), Paraguay (2018), Uzbekistan (2018), Algeria (2019), Argentina (2019) and El Salvador (2021).  Countries that have been certified malaria-free must remain vigilant to prevent a return of the disease. Any imported cases of the disease must be identified and treated rapidly. Countries should maintain up-to-date malaria surveillance systems and ensure that health workers at all levels are continuously trained in how to prevent, detect and treat the disease.

  • Driving Global Health: Romain Grosjean announces his support for the WHO Foundation
    on Apr 20 2021 at 11:08

    Romain Grosjean, French-Swiss professional racing driver competing in the NTT INDYCentral African Republic SERIES for 2021 is announcing his support for the WHO Foundation, an independent grant-making Foundation which supports the work of the World Health Organization (WHO). Romain will race with the WHO Foundation logo prominently displayed on his race suit and helmet this year. Grosjean notes, “I am proud to support the important work of the WHO Foundation and WHO. Global health matters now more than ever and I am excited to use my voice to help raise awareness for key health issues of our time.” After recovering from a devastating crash at the Formula 1 World Championship race at the Bahrain International Circuit in November, Grosjean is determined to support critical health priorities including the global response to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Grosjean understands first-hand the importance of safety and resilience and is teaming up with the WHO Foundation to promote preparedness activities that ensure health for all. “Romain is an inspiration to anyone who faces a challenge. We are thrilled to share his incredible reach and unique story with the WHO Foundation community to help engage the world of sports in global health priorities.” says Anil Soni, Chief Executive Officer of the WHO Foundation.On 6 April 2021, International Day of Sports for Peace & Development, Grosjean and Soni partook in an Instagram live hosted by WHO to discuss sports, community, global health, vaccine equity and the path ahead of us. Grosjean will be supporting the WHO Foundation in their upcoming vaccine equity campaign by amplifying key messages and encouraging his community to participate in the global fight to end the pandemic. Editors notes:Images of Romain Grosjean’s race suit showing the WHO Foundation logo can be downloaded from here: https://bit.ly/3na1Oqn Please use credit: NTT Indycar series/R. Grosjean About the WHO Foundation The WHO Foundation is an independent grant-making foundation, based in Geneva, that sets out to protect the health and well-being of everyone in every part of the world, working alongside the World Health Organization and the global health community. It aims to support donors, scientists, experts, implementing partners, and advocates around the world in rapidly finding new and better solutions to the most pressing global health challenges of today and tomorrow. The Foundation targets evidence-based initiatives that support WHO in delivering Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 (To ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all). It is focused on reducing health risks, averting pandemics, better managing diseases, and creating stronger health systems. It tackles these areas by building awareness and supporting its partners, including WHO, so that every life is invested in and the world is ready for any health emergency that may arise. WHO Foundation. Together we have so much to achieve. More information: www.who.foundation  

  • Statement on the seventh meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic
    on Apr 19 2021 at 13:56

    The seventh meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) took place on Thursday, 15 April 2021 from 12:00 to 16:30 Geneva time (CEST). Proceedings of the meetingMembers and Advisors of the Emergency Committee were convened by videoconference. The Director-General welcomed the Committee, expressed concern over the continued rise in cases and deaths, and the need to scale up the global vaccination efforts. He thanked the committee for their continued support and advice. 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 Interest 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 and no conflicts of interest were identified. Two members of the Committee and one advisor who were members of the joint international team participating in the WHO-convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2 agreed not to contribute to potential recommendations made by the Committee regarding the investigations concerning the origin and emergence of the virus. The Secretariat turned the meeting over to the Chair, Professor Didier Houssin. Professor Houssin also expressed concern over the current trends with the COVID-19 pandemic and reviewed the objectives and agenda of the meeting. The Secretariat presented on the following topics and responded to questions from the Committee. Progress made on WHO’s implementation of the 15 January 2021 advice to the Secretariat; Recent global and regional epidemiological trends, the tracking, monitoring and assessment process for SARS-CoV-2 variants, updates on the mission to understand SARS-CoV-2 origins, and the actions that WHO is taking to ensure a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic; Global COVID-19 vaccine rollout and equity, the impact of vaccines on asymptotic infection and transmission, and vaccine performance against variants of concern (VOC); WHO’s assessment of the impact of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern on public health interventions; and An overview of WHO actions related to health measures in relation to international traffic.  The Committee thanked the Secretariat for the quality of the presentations made and unanimously agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic still constitutes an extraordinary event that continues to adversely affect the health of populations around the world, pose a risk of international spread and interference with international traffic, and to require 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 advice to the Director-General.The Committee noted that many of the past recommendations remain relevant to current global response efforts. The Committee requests that the IHR Secretariat review past advice and temporary recommendations and bring to the committee a proposal for the process of new issuance, termination, or modification of advice and temporary recommendations in a consistent manner.The Committee recognized WHO’s and States Parties’ progress in implementing the previous advice and Temporary Recommendations from the 6th meeting of the Emergency Committee. The Committee congratulated the mission team and the report from the WHO-convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2 and encouraged implementation of the recommendations published in the Mission report. The Committee remains concerned that the world will not exit the pandemic unless, and until, all countries have access to appropriate supplies of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines, irrespective of their ability to pay and the capacity and financial resources to rapidly and effectively vaccinate their populations. Inequities within and among all countries is slowing the return to normal social and economic life. The Committee provided the following advice to the Director-General accordingly.   The Director-General determined that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to constitute a PHEIC. He accepted the advice of the Committee to WHO 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.Advice to the WHO SecretariatCOVID-19 Vaccination Promote global solidarity and equitable vaccine access by encouraging States Parties and manufacturers to support the COVAX Facility, including by sharing vaccine doses, and to conduct technology transfer for local production of COVID-19 vaccines and ancillary supplies, including in low- and middle-income countries with scalable capacities. Accelerate evaluation of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, encourage regulatory agencies to use reliance mechanisms, and support States Parties in strengthening their regulatory agencies to facilitate supply of vaccines with assured quality, efficacy, and safety. Mobilize technical assistance and financial support to States Parties with insufficient capacity and financial resources for vaccine introduction and roll out. Encourage States Parties to prioritize vaccination of high-risk groups as identified in the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts in Immunization (SAGE) roadmap. Continue to closely monitor potential vaccine safety signals globally, disseminate timely reports on adverse events following immunization (AEFI), and provide regular SAGE interim recommendations to inform timely national decision-making on the use of COVID-19 vaccines. Continuously collect and share best practices and lessons learned from COVID-19 vaccination, to guide national, regional, and global decision-making. Strengthen WHO and support strengthening of States Parties’ capacities to prevent, detect and respond to the growing threat of substandard and falsified vaccines. Encourage all countries and support low- and middle-income countries to conduct research in line with WHO guidance and best practices. Research topics include COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and effectiveness with regards to infection, transmission, and disease including due to VOC, duration of protection against disease and asymptomatic infection, long-term protection after using different vaccination intervals, protection after one/two/booster dose schedules, and protection following mixed vaccine product schedules.Accelerate research to establish correlates of protection from COVID-19 vaccines against infection and disease, including for VOC, thereby facilitating implementation of vaccines and policy development on the use of vaccines. SARS-CoV-2 Variants Support States Parties to strengthen their epidemiological and virologic surveillance as part of a comprehensive strategy to control COVID-19. Provide clear guidance to States Parties for sequencing to monitor virus evolution and encourage broader geographic representative of genetic testing, rapid sharing of sequences, and meta-data with WHO and publicly available platforms. This will strengthen SARS-CoV-2 evolution monitoring, increase global understanding of variants, and inform decision-making for public health and social measures, diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. Strengthen the WHO SARS-CoV-2 risk monitoring and assessment framework for variants by accelerating collaboration, harmonizing research to answer critical unknowns about mutations and VOC, and prioritizing issues most relevant for vaccine development, regulatory authorization, and policy formulation, through relevant networks and expert groups such as WHO SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution Working Group, WHO Research and Development Blueprint for Epidemics. Work with States Parties to conduct in-depth analyses into the factors contributing to the current surge of cases and deaths, including the potential role of SARS-CoV-2 variants. Health Measures in Relation to International TrafficUpdate the WHO December 2020 risk-based guidance for reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission related to international travel (by air, land, and sea) based on current science and best practices that include clear recommendations for testing approaches and traveler quarantine duration, as appropriate. Incorporate an ethical framework into the updated guidance to guide national decision making. The guidance should take into consideration COVID-19 vaccination roll out, immunity conferred by past infection, risk settings, movements of migrants, temporary workers, and purpose of travel (non-essential versus essential).Continue to coordinate with relevant stakeholders in the fields of international travel and transport, including ICAO, UNWTO, and IATA, for the regular review, updating, and dissemination of evidence-based guidance on travel-related risk reduction measures.Continue to update the WHO interim position on the considerations regarding requirements of proof of vaccination and to produce interim guidance and tools related to standardization of paper and digital documentation of COVID-19 travel-related risk reduction measures (vaccination status, SARS-COV-2 testing and COVID-19 recovery status) in the context of international travel. Continue to work with States Parties and partners to enable essential travel and repatriation and to facilitate the movement of goods to prevent delays in access to aid and essential supplies. Continue to encourage vaccination of seafarers and air crews in line with the Joint statement on prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination for seafarers and aircrew.    Origin of SARS-CoV-2 Proceed with rapid implementation of the recommendations in the WHO-convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2 report as part of the phase two studies. Encourage research into the genetic evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  One Health Promote One Health approaches to better understand and reduce the risk of spill-over of emerging infections from animal to human populations and from humans to animals, including from domestic animals.  Work with partners to develop and disseminate joint risk-based guidance for regulation of wet markets and farms to reduce transmission of novel pathogens from humans to animals and vice-versa. Risk Communications, Community Engagement, and Risk Management Provide communications materials and guidance to explain to communities the continued need for a sustained pandemic response; document and provide messaging to respond to pandemic fatigue.  Provide the public with communication materials that outline the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations and therapeutics, explain the need for the continuation of public health and social measures, and dispel misinformation.Assist States Parties in providing their populations with credible and current information to guide national decision-making by analyzing the latest scientific evidence, sharing evidence-based good practices and experiences, and providing tools and strategies for engaging and understanding community concerns.Temporary Recommendations to States PartiesCOVID-19 VaccinationContribute to global solidarity efforts to increase equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and ancillary supplies by supporting the COVAX Facility and engaging in technology transfer, where feasible. Reduce national and global inequities by ensuring vulnerable populations’ access to COVID-19 vaccines and by prioritizing vaccination of high-risk groups in line with the SAGE Roadmap. In light of currently limited global supply, prioritized vaccination can ensure vaccine supply is available for all countries. Enhance capacity for COVID-19 vaccination by using the guidance, tools, and trainings for national/subnational focal points and health workers available in the COVID-19 vaccine introduction toolkit.  Incorporate, as necessary and appropriate, the private sector into the COVID-19 vaccine planning and introduction to supplement existing service provision and vaccination capacity. Share with WHO data and key insights on COVID-19 vaccine uptake and acceptance, wherever possible, and provide the public with credible information on vaccine safety and the benefits of vaccination to address concerns. Strengthen national vaccine pharmacovigilance systems to identify, report, and respond to vaccine safety signals. SARS-CoV-2 Variants Strengthen epidemiological and virologic surveillance as part of a comprehensive strategy to control COVID-19 and leverage existing systems such as the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and relevant networks for systematic sharing of data and specimens.Share sequences and meta-data with WHO and publicly available platforms to strengthen SARS-CoV-2 evolution monitoring, increase global understanding of variants, and inform decision-making for public health and social measures, diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. Virus sharing, including sharing of VOC, should be undertaken to facilitate evaluation of vaccines against VOC using internationally standardized assays.Health measures in relation to international traffic Do not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, given the limited (although growing) evidence about the performance of vaccines in reducing transmission and the persistent inequity in the global vaccine distribution. States Parties are strongly encouraged to acknowledge the potential for requirements of proof of vaccination to deepen inequities and promote differential freedom of movement. Prioritize vaccination for seafarers and air crews in line with the Joint statement on prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination for seafarers and aircrew. Special attention should be paid to seafarers who are stranded at sea and who are stopped from crossing international borders for crew change due to travel restrictions, including requirements for proof of COVID-19 vaccination, to ensure that their human rights are respected.Implement coordinated, time-limited, risk-based, and evidence-based approaches for health measures in relation to international traffic in line with WHO guidance and IHR provisions. If States Parties implement quarantine measures for international travelers on arrival at their destination, these measures should be based on risk assessments and consider local circumstances.Reduce the financial burden on international travelers for the measures applied to them for the protection of public health (e.g. testing, isolation/quarantine, and vaccination), in accordance with Article 40 of the IHR. Share information with WHO on the effects of health measures in minimizing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during international travel to inform WHO’s development of evidence-based guidance. One Health Strengthen regulation of wet markets and discourage the sale or import of wild animals that pose a high risk of transmission of novel pathogens from animals to humans or vice versa.Conduct risk-based monitoring of animal populations to reduce disease transmission from animals to humans. Monitoring efforts should prioritize potential high-risk animal populations that may become reservoirs or lead to emergence of novel viruses or variants.Origins of SARS-CoV-2 Support global research efforts to better understand critical unknowns about SARS-CoV-2 including the origin of the virus as well as specific mutations, variants, and genetic factors associated with severe disease.Risk Communications, Community Engagement and Risk ManagementCommunicate about COVID-19 vaccinations clearly and consistently, including on the benefit-risk of vaccination and on potential AEFI. It should be clearly communicated that no vaccination is 100% effective and that risk of disease, especially severe disease, is significantly reduced but not eliminated. Consequently, public health and social measures are still critically needed to prevent infections and control transmission of SARS-CoV-2 while vaccination supplies increase and coverage grows. Materials should be provided in an easily understandable format and local languages.Engage and enable communities, the media, and civil society stakeholders in response efforts to reduce pandemic fatigue and enhance vaccine acceptance. Establish mechanisms to prepare and support health workers and public health authorities as the pandemic is likely to continue for many additional months.In addition, the following previous recommendations are extended as advised by the Committee.Extension and Updates of Previous Advice to the WHO Secretariat: Essential Health Services and Strengthening Health Systems: Work with partners to support States Parties in strengthening their essential health services, with a particular focus on mental health, public health prevention and control systems, and other societal impacts, as well as preparing for and responding to concurrent outbreaks, such as seasonal influenza. Special attention should continue to be provided to vulnerable settings.Provide strategic insight on how States Parties can strengthen and sustain their public health infrastructure, capacities, and functions developed for COVID-19 response to support strengthened health systems, emergency preparedness, and universal health coverage in the long-term.Extension and Updates of Previous Temporary Recommendations to States Parties: Essential Health Services and Strengthening Health Services: Maintain essential health services with sufficient funding, supplies, and human resources; strengthen health systems to cope with mental health impacts of the pandemic, concurrent disease outbreaks, and other emergencies.Continue to strengthen public health infrastructure, system capacities, and functions for COVID-19 response, build health systems that can meet health security demands, and to enhance universal health coverage. 

  • Greta Thunberg, climate and environment activist, joins World Health Organization’s call for vaccine equity
    on Apr 19 2021 at 10:12

    The Greta Thunberg Foundation to donate 100 000 Euros to support vaccine equity Ms Thunberg urges countries and manufacturers to boost and share COVID-19 vaccine supplies so everyone everywhere can be vaccinated Greta Thunberg, the climate and environment activist, will donate 100,000 Euros (US$ 120 000) via her foundation, to the WHO Foundation, in support of COVAX to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, as part of the global effort to ensure equitable access of vaccines to the most at-risk in all countries, including health workers, older people and those with underlying conditions. The donation has been made possible thanks to awards that the Greta Thunberg Foundation has received for her advocacy in support of action on climate change.Ms Thunberg, who today will join the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 press conference (details below) said: “The international community must do more to address the tragedy that is vaccine inequity. We have the means at our disposal to correct the great imbalance that exists around the world today in the fight against COVID-19. Just as with the climate crisis, we must help those who are the most vulnerable first. That is why I am supporting WHO, Gavi and all involved in the COVAX initiative, which I believe offers the best path forward to ensure true vaccine equity and a way out of the pandemic.”On average, 1 in 4 people in high-income countries have received a coronavirus vaccine, compared with just 1 in more than 500 in low-income countries.WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked Greta Thunberg for her advocacy in support of vaccine equity and the example she has set, through the Greta Thunberg Foundation, for making this life-saving donation to COVAX.“Greta Thunberg has inspired millions of people worldwide to take action to address the climate crisis, and her strong support of vaccine equity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic yet again demonstrates her commitment to making our world a healthier, safer and fairer place for all people,” said Dr Tedros. “I urge the global community to follow Greta’s example and do what they can, in support of COVAX, to protect the world’s most vulnerable people from this pandemic.” Anil Soni, chief executive officer of the WHO Foundation, applauded the donation by the Greta Thunberg Foundation as an important signal to policymakers that there is widespread support from young people around the world for a global response to this global challenge. “Greta’s gift shows how we, as a global community, must come together to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to COVID-19 vaccines. Each of us can do our part,” said Mr Soni. “The WHO Foundation is committed to working hand in hand with all those who share this vision.” The WHO Foundation is mobilizing resources to support COVAX, in part through a new fundraising campaign being launched at the end of April.-----------------------------Editors notes:Greta Thunberg will join the WHO COVID-19 press conference later today, Monday 19 April, at 5pm Central European Summer Time. She will be joined by WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros, and youth activists from the Global Youth Mobilization initiative.Journalists can follow the press conference on WHO’s social media channels or connect using the following details: By Zoom: https://who-e.zoom.us/j/97576439142   Password: VPCyouth21By phone: Webinar ID  975 7643 9142; Numeric passcode for phone:  4662611775; International numbers https://who-e.zoom.us/u/aczVepLgsXAbout Greta Thunberg: Greta Thunberg (born 2003) is a climate and environmental activist from Sweden. In 2018, she started a global school strike movement to protest against governments’ inaction on the climate crisis. Since then, millions of young people have demonstrated on the streets and online, asking world leaders to listen to the science and take action to protect our future. The Greta Thunberg Foundation was founded in 2019 and supports projects and groups working towards a just and sustainable world by donating award and royalty funds linked to Greta Thunberg’s activism. About the WHO Foundation:The WHO Foundation is an independent grant-making foundation, based in Geneva, that sets out to protect the health and well-being of everyone in every part of the world, working alongside the World Health Organization and the global health community. It aims to support donors, scientists, experts, implementing partners, and advocates around the world in rapidly finding new and better solutions to the most pressing global health challenges of today and tomorrow.The Foundation targets evidence-based initiatives that support WHO in delivering Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 (To ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all). It is focused on reducing health risks, averting pandemics, better managing diseases, and creating stronger health systems. It tackles these areas by building awareness and supporting its partners, including WHO, so that every life is invested in and the world is ready for any health emergency that may arise.WHO Foundation. Together we have so much to achieveMore information: www.who.foundation About WHO:The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus, visit www.who.int and follow WHO on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube  

  • WHO-backed global youth mobilization funds young people's ideas to combat impact of COVID-19 pandemic
    on Apr 19 2021 at 08:24

    Initiative led by the world’s six largest youth organizations and supported by the World Health Organization and United Nations Foundation will fund the work of young people in communities impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemicImpact of the global pandemic on young people to be addressed at Global Youth SummitYoung people will decide where the money goes and how it is spentGlobal Youth Mobilization backed by UNICEF, United StatesID, UNFPA, European Commission, Salesforce, FIFA and Heads of State and Governments from around the worldFrom today, young people around the world will be able to apply for funding to support innovative Local Solutions to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of a new initiative called the Global Youth Mobilization. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, climate change activist Greta Thunberg and youth representatives from the Global Youth Mobilization will launch the call for applications at a press conference on Monday 19 April 2021 at 1700 CEST.Led by the Big 6 Youth Organizations and backed by the WHO and United Nations Foundation, the Global Youth Mobilization is an initiative of young people and voluntary organizations taking action to improve their lives now and in a post-COVID-19 world. Hundreds of millions of young people have had to put their lives on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 90 per cent of young people have reported increased mental anxiety during the pandemic; more than one billion students in almost every country have been impacted by school closures; 80 per cent of young women are worried about their future; and one in six young people worldwide have lost their jobs during the pandemic.[1]The Global Youth Mobilization Local Solutions funding will by-pass traditional funding and support streams to invest in young people and community grassroots organizations anywhere in the world. A world first at this scale and level of ambition, young people and community organizations are able to apply for funding via one centralised platform, available in multiple languages. These local solutions will be judged and decided on by young people, for young people. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “WHO is committed to ensuring the voices, energy and solutions offered by youth are at the centre of the world’s recovery from COVID-19. Our collaboration with the Big 6 and the United Nations Foundation will fuel wide-ranging actions led by young people to address the challenges their own communities face, and will also provide global platforms for their wisdom and ideas to be heard and acted on.”From education disruption and job losses, to a decline in mental health and rising gender-based violence, the Global Youth Mobilization will support young people to overcome the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. An initial $2 million of funding will be available in four tiers, from $500 through to $5,000 and an ‘accelerator’ program will scale and replicate the most promising solutions, with further funding lined up over the coming months. A Global Youth Summit, to be held virtually on 23- 25 April, marks the starting point for young people to get involved in the mobilization. Over the three days, thousands of young people, leaders, policy makers and changemakers will come together in one space to discuss the issues facing young people across the world. The mobilization is being supported by Governments, UN agencies and Royal Families including, the Queen of Malaysia, the President of Kenya, President of Ghana, the Vice President of Nigeria, the Government of Fiji, the Prime Minister of Belgium, the Government of Singapore as well as the European Commission, United StatesID, UNICEF and UN Population Fund. More details, and further Government support, will be announced at the Global Youth Summit.The Global Youth Mobilization and its supporters are calling on governments, businesses, and policy makers to back the initiative and commit to prioritising young people in their policies and investing in their futures. Funded by the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, other supporting global partners include high-profile brands and advocates, including: Salesforce, FIFA, the Special Olympics, UNHCR, Cambridge International, Peace First, Generation Unlimited and Influential. Dr Tedros will open the Global Youth Summit alongside Youth Representatives of the Global Youth Mobilization Board. It will feature youth activists from hundreds of countries, three plenary sessions with high-profile speakers, and over 60 interactive breakout sessions involving a range of partners. The Summit will be available to anyone, via broadcast and in five core languages: English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian. Daisy Moran, Youth Board Representative, Global Youth Mobilization Board, said: “This is a pivotal moment for our generation. The Global Youth Mobilization provides an opportunity for young people to take an active role in the immediate and long-term recovery from the impact of COVID-19. Our experiences, creativity and passions will inform policies and decisions affecting all our lives and I urge people to apply for the funding available. Together, as campaigners, members of youth focused organisations, global health actors, and volunteers from around the world, we are calling for action now.”For more information, please visit: www.globalyouthmobilization.org[1] All sources are included in this paper: Young People Championing Post-Pandemic Futures: Policy Recommendations from the Big 6 Youth Organizations  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------NOTES TO EDITORS The WHO press conference will take place at 1700 CEST on Monday 19 April.You can join the press conference by: Zoom:https://who-e.zoom.us/j/97576439142 Password: VPCyouth21Phone:Webinar ID: 975 7643 9142Numeric passcode for phone: 4662611775International numbers available: https://who-e.zoom.us/u/aczVepLgsX  For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact:WHO Media team - mediainquiries@who.int Global Youth Mobilization - GYMGD@mhpc.comUnited Nations Foundation - press@unfoundation.org About the Global Youth Mobilization The Global Youth Mobilization is led by the Big 6 Youth Organizations, an alliance of leading international youth-serving organizations: World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and a leading programme for youth development, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award (The Award).Together, the Big 6 actively involve and engage more than 250 million young people, contributing to the empowerment of more than one billion young people during the last century.The Global Youth Mobilization is led by a diverse Board made up of youth representatives drawn from across the Big 6, alongside CEOs of the Big 6 and representatives from the World Health Organization and United Nations Foundation.Social HandlesTwitter: @GYMobilizationInstagram: @gymobilization Media interview opportunities The following are available for interview from the 19 April through to the Global Youth Summit from 23 – 25 April.Global Youth Mobilization Board membersDaisy Moran, Global Youth Mobilization Youth Board member Daisy is a youth activist based in Illinois, United States. An active member of the YMCA movement, she is currently Director of Youth Achievement & Community Engagement at Two Rivers YMCA. You can read her full biography here. Tharindra Arumapperuma, Global Youth Mobilization Youth Board member Tharindra is a youth activist based in Sri Lanka. An emerging leader for The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award since 2017. She has achieved all three levels of the Award Programme and volunteers as a trainer for the Award in Sri Lanka and globally. You can read her full biography here. Ahmad Alhendawi, Chair of the Global Youth Mobilization Board Ahmad Alhendawi is the 10th Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), becoming the youngest to helm one of the world’s leading educational youth movements. Prior to his appointment in WOSM, Mr. Alhendawi served as the first-ever United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth and the youngest senior official in the history of the UN. You can read his full biography here. Stories from the pandemicElahi is an IFRC volunteer who has been supporting communities across Bangladesh throughout the pandemic. Initially in hospitals in the immediate response to the crisis and since supporting young people with online skills development. Read about Elahi here. Estrella Gutierrez – 24, Mexico - World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts Estrella is a Girl Guide from Mexico who worked a student doctor volunteer throughout the pandemic. Read her incredible story here. Gregory Kipchirchir - 22, Kenya – The Duke of Edinburgh’s International AwardGregory is a Gold Award participant who during the pandemic become heavily involved in farming and local community tree planting projects as a way to support those around him. Read his story here   

  • Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) review of latest evidence of rare adverse blood coagulation events with AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine (Vaxzevria and Covishield)
    on Apr 16 2021 at 17:33

    A very rare new type of adverse event called Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS), involving unusual and severe blood clotting events associated with low platelet counts, has been reported after vaccination with COVID-19 Vaccines Vaxzevria and Covishield. A specific case definition for TTS is being developed by the Brighton Collaboration1. This will assist in identifying and evaluating reported TTS events and aid in supporting causality assessments.The biological mechanism for this syndrome of TTS is still being investigated. At this stage, a ‘platform specific’ mechanism related to the adenovirus-vectored vaccines is not certain but cannot be excluded. Ongoing review of TTS cases and related research should include all vaccines using adenoviral vector platforms. The GACVS noted that an investigation has been initiated into the occurrence of TTS following the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered in the United States. The TTS syndrome has not been linked to mRNA-based vaccines (such as Comirnaty or the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine).Based on latest available data, the risk of TTS with Vaxzevria and Covishield vaccines appears to be very low. Data from the United Kingdom suggest the risk is approximately four cases per million adults (1 case per 250 000) who receive the vaccine, while the rate is estimated to be approximately 1 per 100 000 in the European Union (EU). Countries assessing the risk of TTS following COVID-19 vaccination should perform a benefit-risk analysis that takes into account local epidemiology (including incidence and mortality from COVID-19 disease), age groups targeted for vaccination and the availability of alternative vaccines. Work is ongoing to understand risk factors for TTS. Some investigators have looked into rates of TTS by age2.  GACVS supports further research to understand age-related risk because while available data suggest an increased risk in younger adults, this requires further analysis. On the issue of sex-related risk, although more cases have been reported in females, it is important to underscore that more women have been vaccinated and that some TTS cases have also been reported in men. Therefore, further analysis is required to determine any sex-related risk. GACVS recommends further epidemiological, clinical and mechanistic studies to fully understand TTS.  Thrombosis in specific sites (such as the brain and abdomen) appears to be a key feature of TTS. Clinicians should be alert to any new, severe, persistent headache or other significant symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain and shortness of breath, with an onset between 4 to 20 days after adenovirus vectored COVID-19 vaccination. At a minimum, countries should encourage clinicians to measure platelet levels and conduct appropriate radiological imaging studies as part of the investigation of thrombosis.  Clinicians should also be aware that although heparin is used to treat blood clots in general, administration of heparin in TTS may be dangerous, and alternative treatments such as immunoglobulins and non-heparin anticoagulants should be considered. There may be a geographic variation in the risk of these rare adverse events. It is therefore important to evaluate potential cases of TTS in all countries. Countries are encouraged to review, report and investigate all cases of TTS following COVID-19 vaccinations. Countries should assess cases according to the presence of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia and the time to onset following vaccination, using the Brighton Case Definition of TTS. Whilst we have some information on Comirnaty, Moderna (mRNA-1273), Vaxzevria and Covishield vaccines, there is limited post-market surveillance data on other COVID-19 vaccines and from low- and middle-income countries. GACVS highly recommends that all countries conduct safety surveillance on all COVID-19 vaccines and provide data to their local authorities and to the WHO global database of individual case safety reports. This is urgently needed to support evidence-based recommendations on these life-saving vaccines.  Open, transparent, and evidence-based communication about the potential benefits and risks to recipients and the community is essential to maintain trust. WHO is carefully monitoring the rollout of all COVID-19 vaccines and will continue to work closely with countries to manage potential risks, and to use science and data to drive response and recommendations. 1 https://brightoncollaboration.us/thrombosis-with-thrombocytopenia-syndrome-case-finding-definition/ 2 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/976877/CovidStats_07-04-21-final.pdf

  • New WHO Global Compact to speed up action to tackle diabetes
    on Apr 14 2021 at 09:23

    The World Health Organization’s  new Global Diabetes Compact aims to bring a much-needed boost to efforts to prevent diabetes and bring treatment to all who need it  ̶  100 years after the discovery of insulin.The Compact is being launched today at the Global Diabetes Summit, which is co-hosted by WHO and the Government of Canada, with the support of the University of Toronto. During the event, the President of Kenya will join the Prime Ministers of Fiji, Norway and Singapore; the WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries, Michael R. Bloomberg; and ministers of health from a number of countries as well as diabetes experts and people living with diabetes, to highlight the ways in which they will support this new collaborative effort. Other UN agencies, civil society partners and representatives of the private sector will also attend.The risk of early death from diabetes is increasing“The need to take urgent action on diabetes is clearer than ever,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “The number of people with diabetes has quadrupled in the last 40 years.  It is the only major noncommunicable disease for which the risk of dying early is going up, rather than down. And a high proportion of people who are severely ill in hospital with COVID-19 have diabetes. The Global Diabetes Compact will help to catalyze political commitment for action to increase the accessibility and affordability of life-saving medicines for diabetes and also for its prevention and diagnosis.”“Canada has a proud history of diabetes research and innovation. From the discovery of insulin in 1921 to one hundred years later, we continue working to support people living with diabetes,” said the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, Canada. “But we cannot take on diabetes alone. We must each share knowledge and foster international collaboration to help people with diabetes live longer, healthier lives — in Canada and around the world.”Urgent action needed on increasing access to affordable insulinOne of the most urgent areas of work is to increase access to diabetes diagnostic tools and medicines, particularly insulin, in low- and middle-income countries.The introduction of a pilot programme for WHO prequalification of insulin in 2019 has been an important step. Currently the insulin market is dominated by three companies. Prequalification of insulin produced by more manufacturers could help increase the availability of quality-assured insulin to countries that are currently not meeting demand. In addition, discussions are already underway with manufacturers of insulin and other diabetes medicines and diagnostic tools about avenues that could help meet demand at prices that countries can afford.Insulin is not the only scarce commodity:  many people struggle to obtain and afford blood glucose metres and test strips as well.   In addition, about half of all adults with type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed and 50% of people with type 2 diabetes don’t get the insulin they need, placing them at avoidable risk of debilitating and irreversible complications such as early death, limb amputations and sight loss.Innovation will be one of the core components of the Compact, with a focus on developing and evaluating low-cost technologies and digital solutions for diabetes care. Global targets to be agreed onThe Compact will also focus on catalyzing progress by setting global coverage targets for diabetes care. A “global price tag” will quantify the costs and benefits of meeting these new targets. The Compact will also advocate for fulfilling the commitment made by governments to include diabetes prevention and treatment into primary health care and as part of universal health coverage packages. “A key aim of the Global Diabetes Compact is to unite key stakeholders from the public and private sectors, and, critically, people who live with diabetes, around a common agenda, to generate new momentum and co-create solutions,” said Dr Bente Mikkelsen, Director of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO. “The “all hands on deck” approach to the COVID-19 response is showing us what can be achieved when different sectors work together to find solutions to an urgent public health problem.”People watching the Summit will hear from people living with diabetes from India, Lebanon, Singapore, the United Republic of Tanzania, the United States and Zimbabwe about the challenges they face in managing their diabetes and how these could be overcome. Part of the Summit has been co-designed with people who live with diabetes and will give them a global platform to explain what they are expecting from the Compact and how they would like to be involved in its further development and implementation. “It is time to create momentum not just for living with diabetes, but thriving with it,” said Dr Apoorva Gomber, a diabetes advocate living with type 1 diabetes who is taking part in the Summit. “We must grab the opportunity of the Compact with both hands and use it to ensure that we can look back in a few years’ time and say that, finally, our countries are equipped to help people with diabetes live healthy and productive lives.”If you have any questions about the Global Diabetes Compact, do not hesitate to contact us on GDC2030@who.intNote for journalists:The Global Diabetes Summit has three segments:a first segment primarily for governments, donors, non-state actors and people living with diabetes;a second segment on operationalizing meaningful engagement of people living with diabetes; anda third segment for people living with diabetes entitled ‘100 Years of Insulin  ̶  Celebrating Its Impact on Our Lives’ organized by the University of TorontoSegment 1Join the WHO Director-General and world leaders for the launch of the Global Diabetes Compact, a collective effort to prevent diabetes and bring the right care to all who need it. Moderated by awarding-winning journalist Femi Oke 11:00-13:00 - New York, 17:00-19:00 - Geneva, 20.30-22.30 - New Delhi Segment 2Organized in collaboration with a consultative group of people living with diabetes, this segment will discuss how people with lived experience of diabetes will meaningfully engage in all phases of the Global Diabetes Compact. 13:00-15:00 - New York, 19:00-21:00 - Geneva time, 22:30-00:30 - New Delhi Join us for both segments at www.youtube.com/who Segment 3100 Years of Insulin  ̶  Celebrating Its Impact on Our Lives This segment, organized by the University of Toronto, will focus on the latest approaches to using insulin, the experiences of people living with diabetes, and how research on insulin is changing. Starting at 16:30 Toronto time, 22:30 Geneva timeThe programme Registration

  • WHO and the International Organisation of the Francophonie (IOF) sign Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen access to health in Francophone countries
    on Apr 13 2021 at 16:59

    The World Health Organization and the International Organisation of the Francophonie (IOF) today signed a memorandum of understanding to scale up collaboration and boost access to health services in Francophone countries. The agreement, finalized at a ceremony held at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva, focuses on advancing universal health coverage, fighting malaria and collaborating on the development of the WHO Academy, which aims to train millions of health workers worldwide. It will also support COVID-19 response efforts, including on promoting equitable access to vaccines."Our actions, supported by this memorandum of understanding, must contribute to the development of social protection and universal access to public health services in the French-speaking countries,” said Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo, IOF Secretary General. “This is a fundamental right for individuals and an essential condition for the socio-economic progress of our countries.”Ms Mushikiwabo added: “This memorandum of understanding aims to bring IOF political and diplomatic support to some of WHO’s priorities.”WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the MoU signing further bolstered an already strong partnership with IOF, and would play a vital role in promoting and protecting people’s health, including in the response to COVID-19.“Strengthening the relationship between WHO and the IOF comes at a crucial time, when the world needs even closer collaboration to fight COVID-19 and address existing health challenges, from malaria to inequitable access to health services,” said Dr Tedros. “Expanding universal health coverage and equipping current and future health systems with highly trained health workers are essential steps that WHO and IOF will continue working on together.”Under the MoU, the IOF will work through advocacy actions, to promote and protect people’s access to the fundamental human right to health, in doing so supporting WHO’s work with national, regional and global authorities to advance access to universal health coverage. The MoU will, in particular, promote multilingualism, including use of the French language, in health promotion and training materials. Another key focus is promoting health education for young women and girls, including on sexual and reproductive health.With 88 Member States and governments, the International Organization of the Francophonie (IOF) counts among its missions the promotion and protection of fundamental rights, among which the right to Health. Several Resolutions on this subject were adopted at the Francophonie by its governing bodies, the latest of which was approved by the Francophonie Ministerial Conference in November 2020, on "Living together during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the post-COVID world.” 

  • US$ 1.4 trillion lost every year to tobacco use - New tobacco tax manual shows ways to save lives, money and build back better after COVID-19
    on Apr 9 2021 at 13:34

    WHO’s new technical manual on tobacco tax policy and administration shows countries ways to cut down on over US$1.4 trillion in health expenditures and lost productivity due to tobacco use worldwide. Improved tobacco taxation policies can also be a key component of building back better after COVID-19, where countries need additional resources to respond and to finance health system recovery. “We launched this new manual to provide updated, clear, and practical guidance for policymakers, finance officials, tax authorities, customs officials and others involved in tobacco tax policy to create and implement the strongest tobacco taxation policies for their specific countries,” said Jeremias N. Paul Jr, Unit Head for the Fiscal Policies for Health team in the Health Promotion Department at WHO. “We hope this document sheds light on the significant advantages to raising tobacco taxation. The data and insights provided here should be an eye opener for policymakers worldwide,” he said. The ‘best buy’ highlighted in the manual not only saves money, but saves lives. The human and economic costs of tobacco are on the rise - 8 million people died because of tobacco last year.Only 14% of the world has enough tax on tobaccoIn 2018 only 38 countries, covering 14% of the global population had sufficiently high tobacco taxes - which means taxing at least 75% of the price of these health-harming products. By implementing proven policies like tobacco taxes, the costs created by the tobacco industry to local communities and nations can be avoidable.  It is a win for population health, revenue and for development and equity. Raising tobacco taxes is SMARTTobacco taxes Save lives, Mobilize resources, Address health inequities, Reduce health system burdens and costs, and Target noncommunicable risk factors for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

  • COVAX reaches over 100 economies, 42 days after first international delivery
    on Apr 8 2021 at 11:35

    The COVAX Facility has now delivered life-saving vaccines to over 100 economies since making its first international delivery to Ghana on 24 February 2021.So far, more than 38 million doses of vaccines from manufacturers AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Serum Institute of India (SII) have now been delivered, including 61 economies eligible for vaccines through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment.COVAX aims to supply vaccines to all participating economies that have requested vaccines, in the first half of 2021, despite some delays in planned deliveries for March and April.More than one hundred economies have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. The milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on 24 February 2021.COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers, AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII). Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).Despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimizing their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.“In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached one hundred countries,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”“COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “If we are going to realize this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritize vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”"This is a significant milestone in the fight against COVID-19. Faced with the rapid spread of COVID-19 variants, global access to vaccines is fundamentally important to reduce the prevalence of the disease, slow down viral mutation, and hasten the end of the pandemic,” said Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). “The extraordinary scientific achievements of the last year must now be matched by an unprecedented effort to protect the most vulnerable, so the global community must remain firmly focused on reducing the equity gap in COVID-19 vaccine distribution." “In just a month and a half, the ambition of granting countries access to COVID vaccines is becoming a reality, thanks to the outstanding work of our partners in the COVAX Facility,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “However, this is no time to celebrate; it is time to accelerate. With variants emerging all over the world, we need to speed up global rollout. To do this, we need governments, along with other partners, to take necessary steps to increase supply, including by simplifying barriers to intellectual property rights, eliminating direct and indirect measures that restrict exports of COVID-19 vaccines, and donating excess vaccine doses as quickly as possible.”According to its latest supply forecast, COVAX expects to deliver at least 2 billion doses of vaccines in 2021. In order to reach this goal, the COVAX Facility will continue to diversify its portfolio further, and will announce new agreements with vaccine manufacturers in due course. Furthermore, in March it was announced that the United States government will host the launch event for the 2021 Gavi COVAX AMC Invest Opportunity to catalyze further commitment and support for accelerated access to vaccines for AMC-supported economies. An additional US$ 2 billion is required in 2021 to finance and secure up to a total of 1.8 billion donor-funded doses of vaccines. COVAX is also working to secure additional sourcing of vaccines in the form of dose-sharing from higher income countries.Quotes from donors and partnersPresident of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said: “As we continue our common race to speed up safe and effective vaccination everywhere, I want to commend COVAX for having delivered first vaccines to 100 countries in every corner of the world, including some of the most vulnerable warn torn countries like Afghanistan and Yemen. This is a real milestone. Team Europe has strongly invested in COVAX and I urge all partners to support COVAX to make sure no one is left behind”.  Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Australia said: “Australia welcomes the progress made by COVAX in COVID-19 vaccine distribution across the world. One hundred countries now have access to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX. We are proud to work with global partners to achieve equitable global access to safe and effective vaccines.”Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, Canada and co-chair, COVAX AMC Engagement Group said: “Despite the many challenges it faced, the COVAX Facility has continued to deliver. In just a matter of weeks, it’s been supplying vaccines to 100 countries. This is a milestone we can all be proud of. Now, more than ever, we must continue to work together and support multilateral mechanisms like the COVAX Facility and the ACT-Accelerator.”  Jean-Yves le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, France said: “One hundred countries have now received safe, WHO-approved vaccines against COVID-19 through the COVAX Facility. France welcomes this crucial step forward, which demonstrates that multilateralism in global health, as well as the spirit of solidarity and responsibility on which it is based, constitutes the most effective response to this pandemic. But the fight against the virus is far from over: we must continue to support COVAX and accelerate equitable access to vaccines in fragile countries, in particular through sharing of vaccine doses. This is what France wants to do, together with its EU and G7 partners.”Dr Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany said: “We either beat the pandemic worldwide or we will not beat it at all. The only way out of the crisis is a global immunization campaign. In order to now be able to vaccinate people quickly, we are using the tried and tested structures of the global vaccine alliance Gavi. Thanks to the vaccination platform COVAX, the structures are in place to provide vaccines for at least 20 per cent of people in developing countries and emerging economies over the course of this year.”Heiko Maas, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Germany said: “The fact that St.Lucia yesterday became the 100th country to be supplied with vaccines via the COVAX platform supported by Germany and the EU, is a milestone on the way out of the pandemic. This progress gives us hope, for we too will only be safe when everyone around the world is safe. Access to vaccines, medicines and tests must not become a geopolitical pawn. Rather, they must be available to all countries in a fair and transparent manner. That’s why we’re committed to COVAX, to a multilateral approach.”Colm Brophy TD, Minister of State for Overseas Development and the Diaspora, Ireland said: “Through our funding to COVAX, Ireland is supporting developing countries, who most need vaccines and can least afford them, secure their share of global supply.”Dag-Inge Ulstein, Minister of International Development, Norway, and Co-chair of the ACT-Accelerator Facilitation Council said: “In less than a year, the world has come together to develop and secure equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines. That is a huge victory. But the risk of vaccine nationalism is still looming large. Countries and manufactures must prioritize global solutions. It is also crucial that all manufacturers continue to make their vaccines available and affordable to COVAX, so that the global rollout can continue. Countries that have more vaccines than they need should share vaccines through COVAX. I also expect all relevant stakeholders to take action to ensure that the world can produce enough vaccines, at a price that even the poorest countries can afford.”H.E. Dr Tawfig AlRabiah, Minister of Health in Saudi Arabia said: “‘People’s health first’ has been the guiding principle, driving all efforts in the fight against the pandemic - both nationally and globally - to ensure that “No one is left behind”. We in the kingdom are proud contributors to GAVI and the COVAX facility, which has now shipped over 37 million vaccines. This show of solidarity is the cure to fighting COVID-19, and our collective resilience will enable us to overcome any future pandemic we may face.”  Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Minister Wendy Morton, United Kingdom said: “From Nigeria to Nepal, COVAX has now delivered life-saving vaccine doses to 100 countries and territories which is a huge achievement and another step towards making us all safe. The United Kingdom has played a leading role in achieving equitable access to vaccines by providing £548 million for COVAX early on, which will help to deliver more than one billion doses around the world, as well as lobbying international partners to increase their funding.”United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said: “The United States welcomes the news that COVAX has delivered safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to 100 countries.  The United States signaled our strong support for COVAX through an initial $2 billion contribution to Gavi.  Through unprecedented partnerships among donors, manufacturers, and participating countries, COVAX has achieved extraordinary milestones in equitably distributing doses to the global community in record time.” Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank said: “As part of Team Europe the European Investment Bank is pleased to provide EUR 400 million for COVAX, representing the EIB’s largest ever support for global public health. COVAX has already provided vaccines to vulnerable groups and front line workers and brought hope to millions more. COVAX demonstrates the benefit of global cooperation to tackle the shared challenge of COVID. Congratulations to the COVAX team and global partners in 100 countries around the world. Together we are ensuring equitable access to vaccines and together we are directing our efforts towards a global recovery.”Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca CEO, said: “Today marks a significant milestone in the global fight against the pandemic as 100 countries have received vaccine through COVAX. I am proud that the supply of our vaccine accounts for the vast majority of doses being delivered through COVAX in the first half of this year. Over 37 million doses of our vaccine have been delivered to date which are protecting the most vulnerable populations around the world.  Together with our COVAX partners, we continue to work 24/7 to deliver on our unwavering commitment to broad, equitable and affordable access.”Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said: “Congratulations to everyone who has worked tirelessly to reach this impressive milestone. At Pfizer we are driven every day by the belief that science will win. Through collaboration and commitment, COVAX has brought forth a global solution that helps to bring breakthrough science to everyone, everywhere. We are proud to work together with the facility and all of its partners and remain firmly committed to working toward the shared vision of equitable access for all to end this pandemic.” Sai D. Prasad, President, Developing Countries Vaccines Manufacturing Network (DCVMN) said: “COVAX has made history by ensuring equitable access for COVID-19 vaccines to all countries irrespective of their economic status. The 100th delivery marks a great milestone for COVAX, leading to enhanced deliveries during 2021. We commend the efforts by all partners in COVAX for this achievement. Developed and developing country manufacturers have played a crucial role in product development and large scale manufacturing. In order to meet the requirements of all countries, more partnerships between innovators and manufacturers are required. COVAX’s leadership in COVID-19 vaccines will ensure that we leave no one behind.”Thomas Cueni, Director General, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) & founding partner of ACT-A said: “The timeline is truly impressive. It's an innovation success story with the first WHO vaccine approval on 31 December 2020, less than a year after the virus was first shared.  It’s a manufacturing success story with the scaling up from zero to one billion doses being produced by April 2021.  It is a logistics and country preparedness success story, with 100 countries receiving the vaccines and last but by no means least, it's a collaboration and solidarity success story, thanks to the commitment from donors and the tireless efforts of the partners of COVAX including the developing and the developed world manufacturers. COVAX’s partnerships together with political leadership to equitably share surplus vaccines are the best guarantees we have that people who need the vaccine will get it whenever they live, fast enough to outpace the virus’ mutations.”Notes to editorsThe list of 102 Facility participants (as of 14h CET, 8 April) that have received a combined total of 38,392,540 doses of COVAX-delivered vaccines so far is as follows (in alphabetical order):Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cape Verde, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Congo (Dem. Rep. of Congo), Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritius, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Oman, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, St. Lucia*, Sudan, Suriname, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen. *100th Facility participant to receive a COVAX delivery About COVAX COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-convened by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner, developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.CEPI’s role in COVAXCEPI is leading on the COVAX vaccine research and development portfolio, investing in R&D across a variety of promising candidates, with the goal to support development of three safe and effective vaccines which can be made available to countries participating in the COVAX Facility. As part of this work, CEPI has secured first right of refusal to potentially over one billion doses for the COVAX Facility to a number of candidates, and made strategic investments in vaccine manufacturing, which includes reserving capacity to manufacture doses of COVAX vaccines at a network of facilities, and securing glass vials to hold 2 billion doses of vaccine. CEPI is also investing in the ‘next generation’ of vaccine candidates, which will give the world additional options to control COVID-19 in the future.  Gavi’s role in COVAXGavi is leading on procurement and delivery at scale for COVAX: coordinating the design, implementation and administration of the COVAX Facility and the COVAX AMC and working with its Alliance partners UNICEF and WHO, along with governments, on country readiness and delivery. As part of this role, Gavi hosts the Office of the COVAX Facility to coordinate the operation and governance of the mechanism as a whole, manages relationships with Facility participants, and negotiates advance purchase agreements with manufacturers of promising vaccine candidates on behalf of the 190 economies participating in the COVAX Facility. It also coordinates design, operation and fundraising for the COVAX AMC that supports 92 lower-income economies, including a no-fault compensation mechanism that will be administered by WHO. As part of this work, Gavi supports governments and partners on ensuring country readiness, providing funding and oversight of UNICEF procurement of vaccines as well as partners’ and governments work on readiness and delivery. This includes support for cold chain equipment, technical assistance, syringes, vehicles, and other aspects of the vastly complex logistical operation for delivery.WHO’s role in COVAXWHO has multiple roles within COVAX: It provides normative guidance on vaccine policy, regulation, safety, R&D, allocation, and country readiness and delivery. Its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization develops evidence-based immunization policy recommendations. Its Emergency Use Listing (EUL)/prequalification programmes ensure harmonized review and authorization across member states. It provides global coordination and member state support on vaccine safety monitoring. It developed the target product profiles for COVID-19 vaccines and provides R&D technical coordination. WHO leads, together with UNICEF, the Country Readiness and Delivery workstream, which provides support to countries as they prepare to receive and administer vaccines. Along with Gavi and numerous other partners working at the global, regional, and country-level, the CRD workstream provides tools, guidance, monitoring, and on the ground technical assistance for the planning and roll-out of the vaccines. Along with COVAX partners, WHO has developed a no-fault compensation scheme as part of the time-limited indemnification and liability commitments.UNICEF’s role in COVAXUNICEF is leveraging its experience as the largest single vaccine buyer in the world and working with manufacturers and partners on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine doses, as well as freight, logistics and storage. UNICEF already procures more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunization and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries. In collaboration with the PAHO Revolving Fund, UNICEF is leading efforts to procure and supply doses of COVID-19 vaccines for COVAX. In addition, UNICEF, Gavi and WHO are working with governments around the clock to ensure that countries are ready to receive the vaccines, with appropriate cold chain equipment in place and health workers trained to dispense them. UNICEF is also playing a lead role in efforts to foster trust in vaccines, delivering vaccine confidence communications and tracking and addressing misinformation around the world.About ACT-AcceleratorThe Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator, is a new, ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March 2020 and launched by the WHO, European Commission, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020. The ACT-Accelerator is not a decision-making body or a new organization, but works to speed up collaborative efforts among existing organizations to end the pandemic. It is a framework for collaboration that has been designed to bring key players around the table with the goal of ending the pandemic as quickly as possible through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines, thereby protecting health systems and restoring societies and economies in the near term. It draws on the experience of leading global health organizations which are tackling the world’s toughest health challenges, and who, by working together, are able to unlock new and more ambitious results against COVID-19. Its members share a commitment to ensure all people have access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19 and to work with unprecedented levels of partnership to achieve it.The ACT-Accelerator has four areas of work: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and the health system connector. Cross-cutting all of these is the workstream on Access & Allocation. 

  • Interim statement of the COVID-19 subcommittee of the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety on AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
    on Apr 7 2021 at 15:17

    The COVID-19 subcommittee of the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) has reviewed reports of rare cases of blood clots with low platelets following vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (including Covishield) since their onset a few weeks ago.At its most recent meeting on 7 April, 2021, the subcommittee reviewed latest information from the European Medicines Agency along with information from the United Kingdom’s Medicines and other Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and other Member States and noted the following:Based on current information, a causal relationship between the vaccine and the occurrence of blood clots with low platelets is considered plausible but is not confirmed. Specialised studies are needed to fully understand the potential relationship between vaccination and possible risk factors. The GACVS subcommittee will continue to gather and review further data, as it has done since the beginning of the COVID vaccine programme. It is important to note that whilst concerning, the events under assessment are very rare, with low numbers reported among the almost 200 million individuals who have received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine around the world. Rare adverse events following immunizations should be assessed against the risk of deaths from COVID-19 disease and the potential of the vaccines to prevent infections and reduce deaths due to diseases. In this context, it should be noted that as of today, at least 2.86 million people have died of COVID-19 disease worldwide. Side effects within two- or three-days following vaccination, the majority of which are mild and local in nature, are expected and common. However, individuals who experience any severe symptoms – such as shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain, neurological symptoms, such as severe and persistent headaches or blurred vision, tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of the injection - from around four to 20 days following vaccination, should seek urgent medical attention. Clinicians should be aware of relevant case definitions and clinical guidance for patients presenting thrombosis and thrombocytopaenia following COVID-19 vaccination. To this end, the GACVS subcommittee also suggested that a committee of clinical experts including haematologists and other specialists is convened, for advice on clinical diagnosis and case management.  Active surveillance, including sentinel site / hospital case-based investigations should be considered, to further characterise these rare events. WHO has developed template protocols that countries could adapt for such studies. The GACVS will meet again next week to review additional data and will be issuing further recommendations as relevantWHO is carefully monitoring the rollout of all COVID-19 vaccines and will continue to work closely with countries to manage potential risks, and to use science and data to drive response and recommendations.In extensive vaccination campaigns, it is normal for countries to identify potential adverse events following immunization. This does not necessarily mean that the events are linked to vaccination itself, but they must be investigated to ensure that any safety concerns are addressed quickly. Vaccines, like all medicines, can have side effects. The administration of vaccines is based on a risk versus benefit analysis.

  • Alisson Becker and WHO Foundation launch campaign to raise resources and support treatment for COVID-19 patients starting in the Americas
    on Apr 7 2021 at 15:05

    “Give a Breath for Health” campaign launched on World Health Day to kickstart global effort for purchasing oxygen and other life-saving supplies and therapeuticsChampion goalkeeper Alisson Becker, World Health Organization (WHO) Goodwill ambassador for health promotion, is kickstarting a new global fundraising campaign, titled “Give a Breath for Health,” driven by the WHO Foundation and WHO. The initiative aims to support the delivery of oxygen and other life-saving supplies to health facilities treating patients with COVID-19 around the world.The first donation to the “Give a Breath for Health” campaign, made by Alisson, will contribute with supplies to locations in the Amazon and collaborate with the efforts of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), WHO regional office for the Americas, in support of the Ministry of Health of Brazil and the State Health Department of Amazonas.“I am a proud Brazilian and wish my people the best health possible. Working together we can overcome this difficult moment and I will do what I can to help my country, my Region, and the world, during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Alisson, goalkeeper for the Brazilian national football team and Liverpool Football Club. “While vaccines offer great hope to many countries around the world, there remains a desperate need in many areas for supplies of essential medicines and equipment, including oxygen, to help keep people alive in our hospitals and clinics.” Part of Alisson’s contribution will be used to purchase non-invasive ventilation masks for people hospitalized in remote parts of Brazil due to COVID-19. The supplies will be delivered to eight municipalities in the state of Amazonas: Coari, Humaitá, Itacoatiara, Lábrea Parintins, São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Tabatinga and Tefé.The rest of the donation will be used to purchase equipment to fill oxygen cylinders in the municipality of Tabatinga, located on the border with Colombia and Peru. These supplies will help solve a logistical problem regarding the need to send the cylinders to other locations for refilling.“We are concerned about the situation in the Americas, where a surge in COVID-19 cases is causing some areas to experience very high occupancy rates at intensive care units and putting health systems at risk of collapsing,” said PAHO Director, Carissa F. Etienne. “As more and more patients require hospitalization, solidarity response efforts like the one led by Alisson Becker can help provide health care workers in the Region with much-needed supplies and equipment, including oxygen, to save lives.”Oxygen delivery is among the priorities identified in WHO’s recently released Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for 2021, for which the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund is seeking to raise funds from individuals, philanthropies, and corporates.Anil Soni, Chief Executive Officer of the WHO Foundation, thanked Alisson Becker for his generous support to health facilities in the Americas and for being the driving force behind the “Give a Breath for Health” campaign.“The response to COVID-19 is bigger than any one country or government can manage alone.  The ‘Give a Breath for Health’ campaign is an exciting example of how the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund can enable anyone, anywhere to support the urgently needed pandemic response efforts of WHO and its partners.” About the WHO FoundationThe WHO Foundation is an independent grant-making foundation, based in Geneva, that sets out to protect the health and well-being of everyone in every part of the world, working alongside the World Health Organization and the global health community. It aims to support donors, scientists, experts, implementing partners, and advocates around the world in rapidly finding new and better solutions to the most pressing global health challenges of today and tomorrow.The Foundation targets evidence-based initiatives that support WHO in delivering Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 (To ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all). It is focused on reducing health risks, averting pandemics, better managing diseases, and creating stronger health systems. It tackles these areas by building awareness and supporting its partners, including WHO, so that every life is invested in and the world is ready for any health emergency that may arise.WHO Foundation. Together we have so much to achieve.www.who.foundationCampaign website About PAHOPAHO works with the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of the population. Founded in 1902, it is the oldest international public health organization in the world. It serves as the WHO regional office for the Americas and is the specialized health agency of the inter-American system. More information at www.paho.org 

  • WHO urges countries to build a fairer, healthier world post-COVID-19
    on Apr 6 2021 at 09:34

    For World Health Day, 7 April 2021, WHO is issuing five calls for urgent action to improve health for all people.

  • Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister of Sweden, appointed WHO Special Envoy for the ACT-Accelerator
    on Mar 31 2021 at 14:04

    Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, has appointed Mr Carl Bildt as WHO Special Envoy for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator). In his role as WHO Special Envoy for the ACT-Accelerator, Carl Bildt will help lead the collective advocacy for the ACT-Accelerator, mobilizing support and resources so it can deliver against its strategy for 2021. He will also support the leaders of the ACT-Accelerator co-convening agencies, particularly in aligning work that cuts across the diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines pillars and health-system connector; consult widely on the work of the ACT-Accelerator; advise the Director-General, ACT-Accelerator principals and stakeholders on emerging issues; and represent the ACT-Accelerator in key national and international fora. Carl Bildt joins the ACT-Accelerator at a pivotal time when the world rolls out vaccines against COVID-19, introduces new diagnostics and scales up life-saving oxygen and corticosteroids for severe disease, while addressing the uneven distribution of vaccines globally and the emergence of new variants of concern. The past year has highlighted the need for a globally coordinated response to the pandemic that prioritizes equitable access to COVID-19 tools and is fueled by sufficient financial investment. The ACT-Accelerator partnership, of leading public health organizations, is the only global initiative offering an integrated, end-to-end solution to expedite the end of the pandemic through the equitable distribution of vaccines, tests and treatments. Carl Bildt has had an extensive career dedicated to working for the global common good. He served as both Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, and is a renowned international diplomat, having been EU Special Envoy to the Former Yugoslavia; High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina; UN Special Envoy to the Balkan;, and Co-Chair of the Dayton Peace Conference. Dr Tedros said, “Former Prime Minister Bildt’s appointment as Special Envoy for the ACT -Accelerator comes at a time when global solidarity and equitable access to life-saving tools are more important than ever. We are fortunate to have him in this important leadership role, helping us to get therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines to health workers and vulnerable populations around the world.”Carl Bildt, said: “I am honoured to have been appointed as WHO Special Envoy for the ACT-Accelerator. As a unique instrument of coordination for the global effort to fight the pandemic, the ACT-Accelerator has proved its worth during the past year. But with infections rising in all regions of the world, and with the danger of vaccine nationalism growing, work must be intensified across the entire range of efforts to fight the pandemic. It’s a question of saving lives, protecting health systems and getting the global economy going again.”  Carl Bildt succeeds Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Sir Andrew Witty in this special envoy role. Notes to EditorsThe Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator, is the proven, up-and-running global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March and launched by the WHO, European Commission, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.The ACT-Accelerator is not a decision-making body or a new organization but works to speed up collaborative efforts among existing organizations to end the pandemic. It is a framework for collaboration that has been designed to bring key players around the table with the goal of ending the pandemic as quickly as possible through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines, thereby protecting health systems and restoring societies and economies in the near term. It draws on the experience of leading global health organizations which are tackling the world’s toughest health challenges, and who, by working together, are able to unlock new and more ambitious results against COVID-19. Its members share a commitment to ensure all people have access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19 and to work with unprecedented levels of partnership to achieve it.The ACT-Accelerator comprises four pillars: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and health system strengthening. The diagnostics pillar co-convened by the Global Fund and FIND is focused on ensuring equitable access to new and existing tests, supporting country uptake and deployment and strengthening the diagnostic portfolio with R&D investments in low-cost, easy-to-use and quality tests. In 2021, it is focused on procuring and distributing at least 900 million molecular and AG-RDTs to LMICs.The therapeutics pillar is led by Unitaid and Wellcome. Therapeutics can play a role in all stages of COVID-19 disease: to prevent infection; suppress symptoms and spread of infection to others; treat or prevent symptoms; as a life-saving treatment for severe symptoms; and as a treatment that can speed up recovery. The aim in the next 12 months is to develop, manufacture and distribute millions of treatment doses, helping COVID-19 sufferers to recover from the disease.The vaccines pillar, convened by CEPI, Gavi and WHO, is speeding up the search for an effective vaccine for all countries. At the same time, it is supporting the building of manufacturing capabilities, and buying supply, ahead of time so that at least 2 billion doses can be fairly distributed to the most high risk and highly exposed populations globally by the end of 2021.The health systems connector pillar, led by the World Bank, the Global Fund and WHO, is working to ensure that these tools can reach the people who need them.Cross-cutting all of these is the workstream on Access & Allocation, led by the World Health Organisation (WHO).Since April 2020, the ACT-Accelerator has supported the fastest, most coordinated, and successful global effort in history to develop tools to fight a disease. With significant advances in research and development by academia, private sector and government initiatives, the ACT-Accelerator has advanced our understanding of what works to fight the disease. It has transformed our ability to tackle COVID-19 on a global scale: vaccines are poised to roll-out worldwide, low-cost high-performing antigen rapid diagnostic tests can now detect transmission anywhere, affordable therapy for severe disease can save lives in any setting, and health systems are being prepared for the roll out of tools.Find out more: https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator

  • WHO calls for further studies, data on origin of SARS-CoV-2 virus, reiterates that all hypotheses remain open
    on Mar 30 2021 at 14:12

    The report of the international team on their Wuhan field visit, from 14 January -10 February 2021, was published today as WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for further studies.The report stems from a Member State resolution adopted by consensus at the World Health Assembly in May 2020 and calling on WHO “to identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population, including the possible role of intermediate hosts, including through efforts such as scientific and collaborative field missions.”In remarks to Member States today, Dr Tedros, who received the full report on the weekend, thanked the team for their tireless work. He said it advances our understanding in important ways, while raising questions that will need to be addressed by further studies, as noted in the report. “As far as WHO is concerned, all hypotheses remain on the table. This report is a very important beginning, but it is not the end. We have not yet found the source of the virus, and we must continue to follow the science and leave no stone unturned as we do,” said Dr Tedros. “Finding the origin of a virus takes time and we owe it to the world to find the source so we can collectively take steps to reduce the risk of this happening again. No single research trip can provide all the answers.”The report is available on this webpage:https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus/origins-of-the-virusBelow is the full text of the Director-General’s remarks that can be found here: https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-remarks-at-the-member-state-briefing-on-the-report-of-the-international-team-studying-the-origins-of-sars-cov-2Background informationFrom the very beginning of the pandemic WHO has stressed the need to understand the origin of the virus in order to better understand the emergence of new pathogens and possible exposures.Only a few weeks into the outbreak, the IHR Emergency Committee of independent experts recommended that WHO and China pursue efforts to identify the animal source of the virus. Throughout 2020, WHO continued to discuss with China and other Member States the need to study and share information around the virus origins. The World Health Assembly resolution of May 2020, which was adopted by all Member States, cited a need “to identify the zoonotic source”:WHA73.1 from 19 May 2020: 9. (6) to continue to work closely with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and countries, as part of the One-Health Approach to identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population, including the possible role of intermediate hosts, including through efforts such as scientific and collaborative field missions, which will enable targeted interventions and a research agenda to reduce the risk of similar events occurring, as well as to provide guidance on how to prevent infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV2) in animals and humans and prevent the establishment of new zoonotic reservoirs, as well as to reduce further risks of emergence and transmission of zoonotic diseases;In July 2020 WHO sent a small team to China to plan a joint study comprising Chinese and independent international scientists.It was agreed that WHO would select the international scientists. The Terms of Reference for the Virus Origins Study were completed by fall 2020.Terms of reference of the Global Study of the Origins of SARS-COV2The team of scientists came from around the world: Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Qatar, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Viet Nam.The joint international team comprised 17 Chinese and 17 international experts from 10 other countries as well as the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE); and WHO.  Find the list of the members of the international team here.From the outset, this study was designed as one step on the path of understanding the origins of COVID-19 reflecting the specific scope and mandate as outlined by Member States in the World Health Assembly resolution and negotiated Terms of Reference. 

  • Global leaders unite in urgent call for international pandemic treaty
    on Mar 30 2021 at 07:20

    The main goal of a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response would be to foster a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach to strengthen national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics.

  • Joint Statement on prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination for seafarers and aircrew
    on Mar 26 2021 at 09:40

    The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has triggered devastating consequences for human life and the global economy. Maritime and air transport are two essential activities that underpin global trade and mobility and are key to a sustainable socio-economic recovery. More than 80% of global trade by volume is moved by maritime transport. The global economy depends on the world’s 2 million seafarers who operate the global fleet of merchant ships. Seafarers have been severely impacted by the travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic. As of January 2021, it is estimated that some 400,000 seafarers are stranded on board commercial vessels, long past the expiry of their contracts and unable to be repatriated. A similar number of seafarers urgently need to join ships to replace them. Passenger air transport carried about 5.7 billion passengers in 2019 while airfreight represents 35% of the value of goods shipped in all modes combined. The total number of licensed aviation professionals, which include pilots, air traffic controllers and licensed maintenance technicians, was 887,000 in 2019, according to ICAO personnel statistics.  Application of stringent public health rules to air crew, including quarantine, has resulted in hindered connectivity, operational complexity and significant cost.Maritime and air transport rely on seafarers and aircrew. They are key workers required to travel across borders at all times, which may result in the need for them to present proof of a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition for entry in some countries. This is despite WHO recommendation that, at the present time, countries should not introduce requirements of proof of vaccination for international travel as a condition of entry, as there are still critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission and limited availability of vaccines1. For shipping and air transport to continue to operate safely, the safe cross border movement of seafarers and aircrew must be facilitated. We reiterate our call upon countries that have not done so to designate seafarers and aircrew as key workers.With this statement, our organizations also call on governments to prioritize seafarers and aircrew in their national COVID-19 vaccination programmes, together with other essential workers, in accordance with the advice from the WHO SAGE Roadmap for prioritizing the use of COVID-19 vaccines in the context of limited supply published in November 20202. Seafarers and aircrew need to be protected through vaccination as soon as possible, to facilitate their safe movement across borders. We also call on governments to identify and prepare for the challenges of COVID-19 vaccination of seafarers and aircrew, particularly for seafarers spending long periods of time away from their home country. Our organizations fully support the timely development of an international harmonized framework for vaccination certificates, to facilitate international travel for seafarers and aircrew. In December 2020, WHO established a Smart Vaccination Certificate working group to ensure that digitalized versions of vaccine certificates are interoperable3, and the UN Crisis Management Team for COVID-19, under the leadership of WHO, recognized that all countries should consider seafarers and aircrew, who are required to travel across borders during the pandemic, for essential allocation of vaccines. We invite governments and other stakeholders to bring the contents of this joint statement to the attention of the competent authorities and all parties concerned.1 Statement on the sixth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic: https://www.who.int/news/item/15-01-2021-statement-on-the-sixth-meeting-of-the-international-health-regulations-(2005)-emergency-committee-regarding-the-coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)-pandemic2 WHO SAGE Roadmap For Prioritizing Uses Of COVID-19 Vaccines In The Context Of Limited Supply: https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/who-sage-roadmap-for-prioritizing-uses-of-covid-19-vaccines-in-the-context-of-limited-supply  3 WHO Smart Vaccination Certificate Working Group: https://www.who.int/groups/smart-vaccination-certificate-working-group

  • COVAX updates participants on delivery delays for vaccines from Serum Institute of India (SII) and AstraZeneca
    on Mar 25 2021 at 16:39

    The COVAX Facility has notified participating economies that deliveries of doses from the Serum Institute of India (SII) will be delayed in March and April  Delays in securing supplies of SII-produced COVID-19 vaccine doses are due to the increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in IndiaSeparately, participating economies in the COVAX Facility that have been allocated doses from the AstraZeneca manufacturing network have been notified that some first deliveries anticipated in March will now take place in April Deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to lower-income economies participating in the COVAX Facility will face delays during March and April as the Government of India battles a new wave of COVID-19 infections. COVAX and the Government of India remain in discussions to ensure some supplies are completed during March and April.According to the agreement between Gavi and the Serum Institute of India (SII), which included funding to support an increase in manufacturing capacity, SII is contracted to provide COVAX with the SII-licensed and manufactured AstraZeneca (AZ)-Oxford vaccine (known as COVISHIELD) to 64 lower-income economies participating in the Gavi COVAX AMC (including India), alongside its commitments to the Government of India.To date, COVAX has been supplied with 28 million COVISHIELD doses and was expecting an additional 40 million doses to be available in March, and up to 50 million doses in April.COVAX has notified all affected economies of potential delays. SII has pledged that, alongside supplying India, it will prioritize the COVAX multilateral solution for equitable distribution.Participating economies have also received WHO guidance on optimizing the national deployment doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in a constrained supply environment.Separately, the COVAX Facility has informed participants allocated AstraZeneca-manufactured doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine that some of the first deliveries due in March are now set to take place in April.In this early phase of COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, vaccine manufacturers require time to scale and optimize their production processes. AstraZeneca, which uses a novel supply chain network with sites across multiple continents, is working to enable initial supply to 82 countries through COVAX in the coming weeks.COVAX retains its objective of supplying initial doses of vaccines to all participating economies in the first half of the year before ramping up significantly in the second half of 2021. To date, COVAX has shipped vaccines to over 50 countries and economies.Notes to editors About COVAXCOVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-convened by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner, developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.CEPI’s role in COVAXCEPI is leading on the COVAX vaccine research and development portfolio, investing in R&D across a variety of promising candidates, with the goal to support development of three safe and effective vaccines which can be made available to countries participating in the COVAX Facility. As part of this work, CEPI has secured first right of refusal to potentially over one billion doses for the COVAX Facility to a number of candidates, and made strategic investments in vaccine manufacturing, which includes reserving capacity to manufacture doses of COVAX vaccines at a network of facilities, and securing glass vials to hold 2 billion doses of vaccine. CEPI is also investing in the ‘next generation’ of vaccine candidates, which will give the world additional options to control COVID-19 in the future.  Gavi’s role in COVAXGavi is leading on procurement and delivery at scale for COVAX: coordinating the design, implementation and administration of the COVAX Facility and the COVAX AMC and working with its Alliance partners UNICEF and WHO, along with governments, on country readiness and delivery. As part of this role, Gavi hosts the Office of the COVAX Facility to coordinate the operation and governance of the mechanism as a whole, manages relationships with Facility participants, and negotiates advance purchase agreements with manufacturers of promising vaccine candidates on behalf of the 190 economies participating in the COVAX Facility. It also coordinates design, operation and fundraising for the COVAX AMC that supports 92 lower-income economies, including a no-fault compensation mechanism that will be administered by WHO. As part of this work, Gavi supports governments and partners on ensuring country readiness, providing funding and oversight of UNICEF procurement of vaccines as well as partners’ and governments work on readiness and delivery. This includes support for cold chain equipment, technical assistance, syringes, vehicles, and other aspects of the vastly complex logistical operation for delivery.WHO’s role in COVAXWHO has multiple roles within COVAX: It provides normative guidance on vaccine policy, regulation, safety, R&D, allocation, and country readiness and delivery. Its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization develops evidence-based immunization policy recommendations. Its Emergency Use Listing (EUL) / prequalification programmes ensure harmonized review and authorization across member states. It provides global coordination and member state support on vaccine safety monitoring. It developed the target product profiles for COVID-19 vaccines and provides R&D technical coordination. WHO leads, together with UNICEF, the Country Readiness and Delivery workstream, which provides support to countries as they prepare to receive and administer vaccines. Along with Gavi and numerous other partners working at the global, regional, and country-level, the CRD workstream provides tools, guidance, monitoring, and on the ground technical assistance for the planning and roll-out of the vaccines. Along with COVAX partners, WHO has developed a no-fault compensation scheme as part of the time-limited indemnification and liability commitments.UNICEF’s role in COVAXUNICEF is leveraging its experience as the largest single vaccine buyer in the world and working with manufacturers and partners on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine doses, as well as freight, logistics and storage. UNICEF already procures more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunisation and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries. In collaboration with the PAHO Revolving Fund, UNICEF is leading efforts to procure and supply doses of COVID-19 vaccines for COVAX. In addition, UNICEF, Gavi and WHO are working with governments around the clock to ensure that countries are ready to receive the vaccines, with appropriate cold chain equipment in place and health workers trained to dispense them. UNICEF is also playing a lead role in efforts to foster trust in vaccines, delivering vaccine confidence communications and tracking and addressing misinformation around the world.About ACT-AcceleratorThe Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator, is a new, ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March 2020 and launched by the WHO, European Commission, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.The ACT-Accelerator is not a decision-making body or a new organisation, but works to speed up collaborative efforts among existing organisations to end the pandemic. It is a framework for collaboration that has been designed to bring key players around the table with the goal of ending the pandemic as quickly as possible through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines, thereby protecting health systems and restoring societies and economies in the near term. It draws on the experience of leading global health organisations which are tackling the world’s toughest health challenges, and who, by working together, are able to unlock new and more ambitious results against COVID-19. Its members share a commitment to ensure all people have access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19 and to work with unprecedented levels of partnership to achieve it. The ACT-Accelerator has four areas of work: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and the health system connector. Cross-cutting all of these is the workstream on Access & Allocation. 

  • Statement on Gender-Based Violence in Tigray region of Ethiopia
    on Mar 23 2021 at 23:35

    Amid a worsening humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, reports of indiscriminate and targeted attacks against civilians, including rape and other horrific forms of sexual violence, continue to surface. This must stop.We call on all State and non-State parties to the conflict to fulfil their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law; ensure their forces respect and protect civilian populations, particularly women and children, from all human rights abuses; explicitly condemn all sexual violence; and take action to bring perpetrators to justice where abuses do occur.Women and children in affected areas are reporting significant challenges in accessing health, social welfare and justice services. Facility assessments undertaken in some health facilities in the region, including Mekelle, Adigrat and Shire, show gaps in premises’ security, as well as in staffing, services and supplies. Initial assessments of 106 facilities in Tigray between December 2020 and March 2021 show that nearly 70 per cent of facilities were looted, 30 per cent damaged, and only 13 per cent in Tigray were functional. Health services have also been rendered less functional by the displacement of many health-care workers, in addition to non-payment of salaries. Further health service availability assessments of over two thirds of the total 264 facilities in the region report large and widespread disruptions of services. Childhood vaccination services were observed in only 28 per cent of facilities and comprehensive nutrition services available in approximately 29 per cent of functioning facilities.Only one facility provides the full range of services for clinical management of rape survivors, and emergency contraception is fully available in less than half of the facilities assessed. The lack of direct access to health care also creates an environment of fear accessing health care, especially for women and children, who are already facing frequent and severe security threats and displacement. Moreover, many displaced civilians are sheltering in unfinished or damaged buildings, and most collective centres do not include separate spaces or latrines for women and men, girls and boys, thus increasing risks of gender-based violence (GBV) and the spread of certain infectious diseases.Preventing and responding to the grave human suffering resulting from this conflict will require a concerted effort at all levels.First, it is essential that an independent investigation into conflict-related sexual violence in Tigray be initiated, with the involvement of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.Humanitarian access is essential. Humanitarian staff need to be able to reach all regions of Ethiopia affected by conflict and violence. This includes major towns and rural areas in Tigray, as well as Benishangul Gumuz, Oromia, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP) and Amhara, and in the regions hosting thousands of internally displaced people.When it comes to getting aid staff and supplies into Tigray, notwithstanding recent developments, much more remains to be done. If they are given the access and resources they need, aid agencies will be able to make the desperately needed prevention and response interventions that will save and transform lives, including health services and supplies, GBV case management, dignity kits, post-rape treatment, and safe spaces for women and children. Given the deep trauma many have experienced, support for mental health and psychosocial needs is also required.It is only with a concerted and comprehensive effort, fully grounded in respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, that the humanitarian response in Tigray will match the scale of humanitarian need, especially for women and children. SignatoriesMr. Mark Lowcock, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)Mr. Ignacio Packer, Executive Director, International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA)Mr. Samuel Worthington, Chief Executive Officer, InterActionMr. António Vitorino, Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM)Ms. Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)Mr. Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)Ms. Maimunah Mohammed Sharif, Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)Ms. Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs)Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO)

  • COVID-19 highlights urgent need to reboot global effort to end tuberculosis
    on Mar 22 2021 at 16:48

    An estimated 1.4 million fewer people received care for tuberculosis (TB) in 2020 than in 2019, according to preliminary data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) from over 80 countries- a reduction of 21% from 2019. The countries with the biggest relative gaps were Indonesia (42%), South Africa (41%), Philippines (37%) and India (25%).

  • WHO announces 2nd edition Health for All Film Festival shortlist and jury composition
    on Mar 22 2021 at 11:43

    In an extraordinary demonstration of creative energy and enthusiasm for telling public health stories, the second edition of the Health for All Film Festival has attracted nearly 1200 short film submissions - both amateur and professional - from 110 countries. These have now been shortlisted to 15 to 16 titles in each of the three competition categories: Universal Health Coverage, Health emergencies, and Better health and well-being.“Telling stories is as old as human civilisation », said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “It helps to inspire, motivate, build empathy and share problems so we can find and share solutions together. Everything WHO does is about stories, because everything we do is about people. We’re excited about the quantity and quality of entries in this year’s Health for All Film Festival. Ultimately, we hope the festival is not just a way to tell stories, but to change the arc of people’s stories around the world, towards better health.”The shortlisted films can be viewed by the public as of today through Youtube playlists available on the Festival’s website as well as WHO’s Youtube channel. The public is invited to post comments and questions on the short films and a selection of these questions will be featured during online award ceremonies in May.The following distinguished professionals, artists and activists have agreed to join four WHO senior experts to form the Festival jury: Eugenio Derbez (Actor from Mexico); Dr Leyla Hussein (Psychotherapist from Somalia and activist on gender rights); Martin Fernando Jakobsen (Director of NGO Turning Tables from Denmark, and activist for youth empowerment); Sonia Lowman (Documentary Film Director from United States), Milica Momcilovic (President of World Federation of Science Journalists, from Serbia); and Vithika Yadav (Human rights activist from India). In the coming weeks, jurors will review the shortlisted films and recommend winners to WHO’s Director-General, who will make the final decision.Three “GRAND PRIX” will be announced on 13 May during a press conference followed by a series of online ceremonies with winners and jurors. WHO also plans to award three special prizes: a student-produced film, a health educational film aimed at youth, and a Health Equity Film to pay tribute to the theme of the World Health Day campaign in 2021.For more details on the official selection, the jury composition and further information, visit https://www.who.int/film-festival

  • Statement of the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) COVID-19 subcommittee on safety signals related to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
    on Mar 19 2021 at 15:45

    As of 17 March 2021, more than 120 million cases of COVID-19 infections, with more than 2 million deaths, had been reported globally.  Vaccination remains a critical tool to help prevent further illness and death and to control the pandemic.So far, more than 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in Europe and more than 27 million doses of the Covishield vaccine (AstraZeneca vaccine by Serum Institute of India) have been administered in India. The GACVS COVID-19 subcommittee met virtually on 16 and 19 March 2021 to review available information and data on thromboembolic events (blood clots) and thrombocytopenia (low platelets) after vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.The subcommittee reviewed clinical trial data and reports based on safety data from Europe, the United Kingdom, India, and Vigibase, the WHO global database of individual case safety reports.Based on a careful scientific review of the available information, the subcommittee came to the following conclusions and recommendations: The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (including Covishield) continues to have a positive benefit-risk profile, with tremendous potential to prevent infections and reduce deaths across the world.The available data do not suggest any overall increase in clotting conditions such as deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism following administration of COVID-19 vaccines. Reported rates of thromboembolic events after COVID-19 vaccines are in line with the expected number of diagnoses of these conditions. Both conditions occur naturally and are not uncommon. They also occur as a result of COVID-19.  The observed rates have been fewer than expected for such events.While very rare and unique thromboembolic events in combination with thrombocytopenia, such as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), have also been reported following vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Europe, it is not certain that they have been caused by vaccination. The European Medicines Agency’s Pharmacovigilance and Risk Assessment Committee has reviewed 18 cases of CVST out of a total of more than 20 million vaccinations with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Europe. A causal relationship between these rare events has not been established at this time (1). Adequate education should be provided to health-care professionals and persons being vaccinated to recognize the signs and symptoms of all serious adverse events after vaccinations with all COVID-19 vaccines, so that people may seek and receive prompt and relevant medical care and treatment. The GACVS subcommittee recommends that countries continue to monitor the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines and promote reporting of suspected adverse events.The GACVS subcommittee also agrees with the European Medicines Agency’s plans to further investigate and monitor for these events. The GACVS COVID-19 subcommittee will continue to review the safety data from all COVID-19 vaccines and update any advice as necessary. The WHO COVID-19 vaccine safety surveillance manual provides guidance to countries on the safety monitoring and adverse events data sharing for the new COVID-19 vaccines, and can be accessed here.(1) EMA Statement: https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/news/covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca-benefits-still-outweigh-risks-despite-possible-link-rare-blood-clotsUnited Kingdom MHRA statement: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-regulator-confirms-that-people-should-continue-to-receive-the-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca

  • WHO statement on AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safety signals
    on Mar 17 2021 at 13:05

    Some countries in the European Union have temporarily suspended use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as a precautionary measure based on reports of rare blood coagulation disorders in persons who had received the vaccine. Other countries in the EU – having considered the same information - have decided to continue using the vaccine in their immunization programmes.  Vaccination against COVID-19 will not reduce illness or deaths from other causes. Thromboembolic events are known to occur frequently. Venous thromboembolism is the third most common cardiovascular disease globally.  In extensive vaccination campaigns, it is routine for countries to signal potential adverse events following immunization. This does not necessarily mean that the events are linked to vaccination itself, but it is good practice to investigate them. It also shows that the surveillance system works and that effective controls are in place.  WHO is in regular contact with the European Medicines Agency and regulators around the world for the latest information on COVID-19 vaccine safety. The WHO COVID-19 Subcommittee of the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety is carefully assessing the latest available safety data for the AstraZeneca vaccine. Once that review is completed, WHO will immediately communicate the findings to the public. At this time, WHO considers that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommends that vaccinations continue.   

  • Ageism is a global challenge: UN
    on Mar 16 2021 at 10:18

    Every second person in the world is believed to hold ageist attitudes – leading to poorer physical and mental health and reduced quality of life for older persons, costing societies billions of dollars each year, according to a new United Nations report on ageism. The report released today by WHO, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), calls for urgent action to combat ageism and better measurement and reporting to expose ageism for what it is – an insidious scourge on society. The response to control the COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled just how widespread ageism is – older and younger people have been stereotyped in public discourse and on social media. In some contexts, age has been used as the sole criterion for access to medical care, lifesaving therapies and for physical isolation. “As countries seek to recover and rebuild from the pandemic, we cannot let age-based stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination limit opportunities to secure the health, well-being and dignity of people everywhere,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This report outlines the nature and scale of the problem but also offers solutions in the form of evidence-based interventions to end ageism at all stages.” Findings from the reportAgeism seeps into many institutions and sectors of society including those providing health and social care, in the workplace, media and the legal system. Healthcare rationing based solely on age is widespread.  A systematic review in 2020 showed that in 85 per cent of 149 studies, age determined who received certain medical procedures or treatments. Both older and younger adults are often disadvantaged in the workplace and access to specialized training and education decline significantly with age. Ageism against younger people manifests across many areas such as employment, health, housing and politics where younger people’s voices are often denied or dismissed.  “Ageism towards younger and older people is prevalent, unrecognized, unchallenged and has far-reaching consequences for our economies and societies,” said Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. “Together, we can prevent this. Join the movement and combat ageism.”  Ageism has serious and wide-ranging consequences for people’s health and well-being. Among older people, ageism is associated with poorer physical and mental health, increased social isolation and loneliness, greater financial insecurity, decreased quality of life and premature death. An estimated 6.3 million cases of depression globally are estimated to be attributable to ageism.  It intersects and exacerbates other forms of bias and disadvantage including those related to sex, race and disability leading to a negative impact on people’s health and well-being.“The pandemic has put into stark relief the vulnerabilities of older people, especially those most marginalized, who often face overlapping discrimination and barriers – because they are poor, live with disabilities, are women living alone, or belong to minority groups,” said Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund. “Let’s make this crisis a turning point in the way we see, treat and respond to older people, so that together we can build the world of health, well-being and dignity for all ages that we all want."Ageism costs our societies billions of dollars. In the United States of America (United States), a 2020 study showed ageism in the form of negative age stereotypes and self-perceptions led to excess annual costs of US$63 billion for the eight most expensive health conditions. This amounts to US$1 in every US$7 spent on these conditions for all Americans over the age of 60 for one year (see note to editors). Estimates in Australia suggest that if 5 per cent more people aged 55 or older were employed, there would be a positive impact of AUD$48 billion on the national economy annually. There are currently limited data and information on the economic costs of ageism and more research is needed to better understand its economic impact, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.“Ageism harms everyone – old and young. But often, it is so widespread and accepted – in our attitudes and in policies, laws and institutions – that we do not even recognize its detrimental effect on our dignity and rights said Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. “We need to fight ageism head-on, as a deep-rooted human rights violation.”Combatting ageismThe report notes that policies and laws that address ageism, educational activities that enhance empathy and dispel misconceptions, and intergenerational activities that reduce prejudice all help decrease ageism. All countries and stakeholders are encouraged to use evidence-based strategies, improve data collection and research and work together to build a movement to change how we think, feel and act towards age and ageing, and to advance progress on the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing.Note to EditorsThe Global report on ageism compiles the best evidence on the scale, the impact and the determinants of ageism, effective strategies to tackle the problem and recommendations for action to create a world fit for all ages. The report is directed at policymakers, practitioners, researchers, development agencies and members of the private sector and civil society.  Ageism arises when age is used to categorize and divide people in ways that lead to harm, disadvantage, and injustice. It can take many forms including prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory acts, and institutional policies and practices that perpetuate stereotypical beliefs. Prevalence figures based on a survey of 83 034 people in 57 countries found one in every two people held moderately or highly ageist attitudes (i.e. stereotypes and prejudice). More information: https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/9/3159.Excess costs of health care: Ageism influences health through three pathways: psychological, behavioural and physiological. Psychologically, negative age stereotypes can exacerbate stress; behaviourally, negative self-perceptions of ageing predict worse health behaviour, such as noncompliance with prescribed medications; physiologically, negative age stereotypes predict detrimental brain changes decades later, including the accumulation of plaques and tangles and reduction in the size of the hippocampus.In the United States, ageism led to excess costs of US$63 billion for a broad range of health conditions during one year. This amounts to US$1 of every US$7 spent on the eight most expensive health conditions for all Americans over the age of 60 during one year. The excess health care spending due to ageism was derived from the following: (a) number of Americans aged 60 years or older in 2013; (b) prevalence of interpersonal and self-directed ageism based on percentage of people that agree to the following statements: “You are treated with less courtesy or respect than other people”, “Forgetfulness is a natural occurrence just from growing old” and “The older I get the more useless I feel.” (c) evidence of the impact of such ageist statements on the eight health conditions; (d) prevalence of the eight health conditions in 2013, the most recent year for which health care spending was available; and (e) Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) costs per person of the eight health conditions in 2013.  More information: https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/60/1/174/5166947.Related linksThe Global report on ageism.To watch the launch event on Thursday, 18 March from 13.00 – 14.00 CET, please register here.---------------The World Health Organization (WHO) provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing. For more information about WHO, visit www.who.int. Follow WHO on Twitter and Facebook.The Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights is the leading UN entity on human rights. We represent the world's commitment to the promotion and protection of the full range of human rights and freedoms set out in the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To fulfil its mission, UN Human Rights follows a robust framework of results known as the OHCHR Management Plan (OMP). This roadmap is based on the outcomes of consultations with Member States, the UN system, civil society, the donor community and the private sector. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), rooted in the United Nations Charter and guided by the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, upholds the development pillar of the United Nations. UN DESA brings the global community together to work towards common solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. The Department helps countries translate their global commitments into national action in the economic, social and environmental spheres. It is a leading analytical voice for promoting inclusion, reducing inequalities and eradicating poverty, and a champion for tearing down the barriers that keep people in poverty.United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. Our mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. UNFPA calls for the realization of reproductive rights for all and supports access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services – including voluntary family planning, maternal health care and comprehensive sexuality education.

  • New brief outlines devastating harms from tobacco use and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke during pregnancy and throughout childhood - Report calls for protective policies
    on Mar 9 2021 at 11:25

    A new WHO report, Tobacco control to improve child health and development, calls for raising awareness among practitioners and policymakers about the importance of strong tobacco control measures for protecting the health and development of children, including banning tobacco advertising, implementing 100% smoke-free environments and raising taxes on tobacco.



Article SubmissionShare your articles with Worldwide Outbreak News

  • Please Enter: Country code + Area Code + Tel Number
    If you check this option your details will be kept secret.
  • Please tell us about your source and upload supporting documents.
  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpg, jpeg, png, gif, pdf, doc, docx, txt.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.