With an aim to support countries and territories to build professional competence and capacity to adequately address refugee and migrant health issues, the World Health Organization (WHO) is organising the third edition of its annual Global School on Refugee and Migrant Health in Dhaka with a focus on capacity-building. Over five days, from November 28 to December 2, policymakers, UN partner agencies, academia, members of civil society, and stakeholders at the Global School will exchange knowledge and experiences to address key elements of capacity-building. The e-learning hybrid event hosted by the Ministry of Health, Bangladesh will be streamed globally. Read more: COP27: How will UN climate deal on loss and damage work? Globally, one in eight or over one billion people today are migrants with 281 million international migrants and many million individuals who are stateless, WHO said. Climate change, rising inequality, conflicts, trade, and population growth are accelerating these trends. The health workforce has a vital role in providing for the health rights and needs of refugees and migrants. Read more: Climate Change: UN, Bangladesh to strengthen cooperation “Migration and displacement can have deep and long-lasting impacts on physical and mental health and well-being, and cultural and linguistic differences, financial barriers, stigma and discrimination can all hamper access to health services for refugees and migrants,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General on Monday. “Health workers have a crucial role in helping to overcome these barriers. The WHO Global School on Refugee and Migrant Health is a valuable resource for building the capacity of health workers to better serve refugees and migrants.” While not all refugees and migrants are vulnerable, often they are, due to an array of determinants, from xenophobia and discrimination to poor living, housing, and working conditions, and inadequate access to health services that are people-centered and which are sensitive to refugee and migrant health needs. Read More: Time running out for climate negotiators over loss and damage “Human right to health is a right that extends to all people everywhere, especially refugees and migrants. Because to be truly respected, protected and fulfilled, a right must be fully enjoyed by the most marginalized and vulnerable – those at risk of or who are already being left behind, which often includes people on the move,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia addressing the participants. Held in a different location each year, the Global School aims to leverage the learnings and experiences of countries in close collaboration with WHO and governments. This year, over 7.1 million Bangladeshis were displaced by climate change, a number that could reach 13.3 million by 2050, according to WHO. Read More: UN climate talks drag into extra time with scant progress Since 1978, the country has also witnessed three major influxes of forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals totalling more than one million people each with unique medical needs and housed in one of the world’s largest and most densely populated camps in Cox’s Bazar. “Not only has Bangladesh provided them access to free health care – including, most recently, COVID-19 vaccines – but it has also made concerted efforts to address key social, economic, environmental, and legal vulnerabilities,” said the Regional Director. “The yearly Global School on Refugee and Migrant Health is a flagship of the WHO Health and Migration Programme and an opportunity to strengthen the strategic and operational collaboration with Regional and country offices on refugee and migrant health towards the implementation of the Global Action Plan on promoting the health of refugees and migrants 2019-2023 (GAP),” said Dr Santino Severoni, Director of the Health and Migration Programme. Read More: UNICEF wants investment in world's first child-focused climate risk financing solution Open to all audiences, the Global School aims to reach a diverse audience of policy makers, health sector managers, and officers working at different levels within Ministries of Health. Researchers, University students, nongovernmental agencies, youth representatives and journalists also participate. “From each context to the next, no challenge is the same, nor will there be the solution. But of critical need to all countries and health systems is a health workforce that is well-trained, culturally sensitive and competent, and which is sensitive to the needs of refugees and migrants, their languages and unique health problems,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh. Read More: EU shakes up climate talks with surprise disaster fund offer
The climate crisis continues to make people sick and jeopardizes lives and health must be at the core of these critical negotiations, the World Health Organization issued the grim reminder on the eve of the pivotal climate talks at COP27. WHO believes the conference must conclude with progress on the four key goals of mitigation, adaptation, financing and collaboration to tackle the climate crisis. COP27 will be a crucial opportunity for the world to come together and re-commit to keeping the 1.5 °C Paris Agreement goal alive. Read more: COP27: UN experts for complete integration of human rights standards, principles into negotiations The WHO welcomed journalists and COP27 participants to join WHO at a series of high-level events and spend time in an innovative health pavilion space. Focus will be placing the health threat from the climate crisis and the huge health gains that would come from stronger climate action at the centre of discussions. Climate change is already affecting people’s health and will continue to do so at an accelerating rate unless urgent action is taken, WHO said in a message from Geneva. “Climate change is making millions of people sick or more vulnerable to disease all over the world and the increasing destructiveness of extreme weather events disproportionately affects poor and marginalized communities,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “It is crucial that leaders and decision makers come together at COP27 to put health at the heart of the negotiations,” he added. Read more: COP27: Bangladesh to reiterate call to materialize $100bn pledged for developing countries Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress, according to WHO. The direct damage costs to health (i.e., excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), is estimated to be between US$ 2–4 billion per year by 2030. The rise in global temperature that has already occurred is leading to extreme weather events that bring intense heat waves and droughts, devastating floods and increasingly powerful hurricanes and tropical storms. The combination of these factors means the impact on human health is increasing and is likely to accelerate. But there is room for hope, particularly if governments take action now to honour the pledges made at Glasgow in November 2021 and to go further in resolving the climate crisis. WHO is calling on governments to lead a just, equitable and fast phase out of fossil fuels and transition to a clean energy future. There has also been encouraging progress on commitments to decarbonization and WHO is calling for the creation of a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty that would see coal and other fossil fuels harmful to the atmosphere phased out in a just and equitable way. This would represent one of the most significant contributions to climate change mitigation. Investment in clean energy will yield health gains that repay those investments twice over. There are proven interventions able to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, for instance applying higher standards for vehicle emissions, which have been calculated to save approximately 2.4 million lives per year, through improved air quality and reduce global warming by about 0.5 °C by 2050. The cost of renewable sources of energy has decreased significantly in the last few years, and solar energy is now cheaper than coal or gas in most major economies. WHO is custodian to 32 Sustainable Development Goal indicators, 17 of which are impacted by climate change or its drivers, and 16 of which specifically impact the health of children.
The number of people infected with tuberculosis, including the kind resistant to drugs, rose globally for the first time in years, according to a report issued Thursday by the World Health Organization. The U.N. health agency said more than 10 million people worldwide were sickened by tuberculosis in 2021, a 4.5% rise from the year before. About 1.6 million people died, it said. WHO said about 450,000 cases involved people infected with drug-resistant TB, 3% more than in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted services for people with TB along with many other health programs. WHO said many people went undiagnosed, noting that the number of people newly identified with TB fell from 7 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020. Dr. Mel Spigelman, president of the non-profit TB Alliance, said more than a decade of progress was lost in 2020. “Despite gains in areas like preventative therapy, we are still behind in just about every pledge and goal regarding TB,” Spigelman said. After COVID-19, TB is the world’s deadliest infectious disease. It is caused by bacteria that typically affects the lungs. The germs are mostly spread from person to person in the air, such as when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. Read: Reporting on tuberculosis: icddr,b-led USAID ACTB announces media fellowship for journalists TB mostly affects adults, particularly those who are malnourished or have other conditions like HIV; more than 95% of cases are in developing countries. According to the WHO report, only one in three people with drug-resistant TB are receiving treatment. “Drug-resistant TB is curable, but alarmingly, cases are on the rise for the first time in years,” Dr. Hannah Spencer, who is with Doctors Without Borders in South Africa, said. “It’s urgent that shorter, safer and more effective treatments are scaled up now.” Spencer called for lowering the prices of TB treatment so a complete treatment course costs no more than $500. WHO said ongoing conflicts in eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East have worsened the options for patients seeking TB diagnosis and treatment. Ukraine had one of the world’s worst TB epidemics even before Russia invaded the country in late February. Health experts fear the inability of patients to get treated could fuel the rise of more drug-resistant TB across the region. While TB patients displaced by the war can seek care anywhere in Ukraine, the country has seen a shortage of key medicines and authorities face challenges in keeping track of patients.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised an alert over four fever, cold and cough syrups made by an Indian company, urging people not to use them after death of 66 children in the west African nation of The Gambia. All the four syrups-- Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup – are made by India’s Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd. “Laboratory analysis of samples of each of the four products confirms that they contain unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol as contaminants. To date, these four products have been identified in Gambia, but may have been distributed, through informal markets, to other countries or regions,” the WHO said in its alert. All batches of the products “should be considered unsafe” till they are analysed by the respective national regulatory authorities, it said. The Hindustan Times daily reported that WHO in its medical product alert over the syrups warned that they could be linked to acute kidney injuries and deaths of 66 children. The Indian Express newspaper reported on Wednesday that India’s apex drug regulatory authority – the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) – has also launched an investigation after it was reported that the death of children in Gambia could be related to the syrups. The report said state the regulatory authority of Haryana confirmed that the company did manufacture and export the syrups to Gambia. The company has so far sold the product only to Gambia Other Indian newspapers and TV stations also reported that four of the 23 samples tested by the WHO were found to be contaminated with diethylene glycol or ethylene glycol. However, the intra-government agency has not provided details to India on causal relation with the death – or documents to show that the syrups led to the deaths, they said. Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol can cause toxic effects, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, inability to pass urine, headache, altered mental state, and acute kidney injury that may lead to death. “The substandard products referenced in this alert are unsafe and their use, especially in children, may result in serious injury or death,” the WHO alert said. It also said that countries should increase surveillance of the supply chains to detect and remove the substandard products. Importantly, it also called for the surveillance of informal or unregulated markets.
With populations ageing, 78 million people worldwide could live with dementia, a neurological disorder that robs them of their memory, by the end of 2030 the UN health agency has said. The progressive condition can be caused by stroke, brain injury or Alzheimer's disease. More than 55 million people now live with dementia worldwide, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year. So, it is a global public health concern and not just in high-income countries. The disease affects memory, orientation, learning capacity, language, judgement, and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Although the disease, one of the greatest generational health challenges, is the seventh leading cause of mortality in the world, dementia research makes up less than 1.5 percent of all health research output, World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said. "We are falling behind in implementing the Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-25," she said, adding that addressing dementia comprehensively requires "research and innovation to be an integral part of the response." The WHO Tuesday launched the first research blueprint for tackling the disease as strategies are needed to better understand, prevent, and treat the underlying diseases that cause it and to provide care and support to people who suffer from it, as well as those who care for them. The blueprint for dementia research, the first WHO initiative of its kind for non-communicable diseases, is designed to guide policymakers, funders, and the research community on dementia research, making it more efficient, equitable, and impactful. "We can achieve progress in dementia research by strengthening and monitoring the drivers of research highlighted in the blueprint so that they become the norm for good research practice," Ren Minghui, WHO's assistant director-general UHC/communicable and noncommunicable diseases, said. Read:Bangladesh participates in WHO’s Health for All Film Festival 2021 Developing dementia is not inevitable and some risk factors can be reduced, by controlling hypertension, diabetes, diet, depression, and the use of alcohol and tobacco, the WHO said. With the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life and support provided to those living with dementia, those who provide care for them, and their families, the UN health agency said it would work with all to ensure that the actions outlined in the blueprint are implemented, milestones are met, and strategic goals are realised.
A new report by the Qatar Foundation, World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) finds that at least a quarter of health and care workers surveyed reported anxiety, depression and burnout symptoms. Our duty of care: A global call to action to protect the mental health of health and care workers examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the health and care workforce and offers 10 policy actions as a framework for immediate follow-up by employers, organizations and policy-makers. The report found that 23 to 46 percent of health and care workers reported symptoms of anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic and 20 to 37 percent experienced depressive symptoms. Burnout among health and care workers during the pandemic ranged from 41 to 52 percent in pooled estimates. Women, young people and parents of dependent children were found to be at greater risk of psychological distress -- significant considering that women make up 67 percent of the global health workforce and are subject to inequalities in the sector, such as unequal pay. The higher risk of negative mental health outcomes among younger health workers is also a concern. Read: Non-communicable diseases kill a person under 70 every two seconds: WHO “Well into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, this report confirms that the levels of anxiety, stress and depression among health and care workers has become a ‘pandemic within a pandemic,’” said Jim Campbell, WHO Director of Health Workforce. This report follows landmark decisions at the World Health Assembly and International Labour Conference in 2022 that reaffirmed the obligations of governments and employers to protect the workforce, ensure their rights and provide them with decent work in a safe and enabling practice environment that upholds their mental health and wellbeing. Protecting and safeguarding this workforce is also an investment in the continuity of essential public health services to make progress towards universal health coverage and global health security. "The increased pressure experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly had a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of health and care workers," said Sultana Afdhal, Chief Executive Officer of WISH. “The pressure isn’t new, but COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the need for better care for those who care for us. This new report sets out policy actions that promote strengthening health systems and calls for global collaboration across governments and healthcare employers to invest in safeguarding the most valuable asset that our health systems possess, which is the people working within them.” The report highlights 10 policy actions as a framework for immediate uptake, such as investing in workplace environments and culture that prevent burnout, promote staff wellbeing, and support quality care. This includes the obligations and roles of governments and employers for occupational safety and health. Read: Covid deaths lowest since pandemic began: WHO WHO recently published recommendations for the effective interventions and approaches to support mental health at work, including those specifically for the health and care workforce, which call for organizational level changes that address working conditions and ensure confidential mental health care and support as a priority. Relevant to this framework, the WHO Global health and care worker compact provides technical guidance on how to protect health and care workers and safeguard their rights; it highlights that duty of care is a shared responsibility in every country.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has laid emphasis on sustained and significant funds injected for capacity-building of the health sector, especially in lower income countries. He welcomed the formation of the financial intermediary fund at the World Bank to complement investments in prevention, preparedness and response (PPR). Dr Momen stressed on devising a global health strategy that will prepare the world better for any future pandemic. Read US announces over $170 million in humanitarian assistance for Rohingyas He underscored the need to create a playbook where the countries will be ready to respond immediately to future health threats. Dr Momen was speaking at the opening session of the COVID-19 Global Action Plan (GAP) Ministerial held in New York on Friday, September 23. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares Bueno and Botswana Foreign Minister Dr. Lemogang Kwape jointly convened the Ministerial, aiming at bringing together partners to maintain and strengthen political will to address COVID-19 challenges. Read First dose of Covid-19 vaccine won’t be administered after Oct 3: Health Minister The Foreign Ministers from several countries, including from Japan, Saudi Arabia and Thailand, and the Director General of WHO participated in the meeting. High level delegates from a number of countries, including France, Indonesia, Germany, UK, India, Norway, Italy, and South Korea also joined. Dr Momen highlighted that under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh was a standout success in COVID-19 response. He said that Bangladesh was open to sharing its COVID-19 management experience, which had been centered around saving lives, supporting livelihoods — especially of the most vulnerable, and posting quick economic recovery. Also read: FM attends dinner hosted by Jaishankar in New York Stressing further on the global partnership and concerted efforts, Foreign Minister lauded the multilateral processes, including initiatives like ACT-A and COVAX under WHO that played an important role in making vaccines and other COVID materials available. However, he reminded that the pandemic was not over yet, and vaccination needed to continue. To this effect, the Foreign Minister reiterated that vaccines should be declared global public goods and distributed without discrimination. Read Covid-19: NTAC places 5 recommendations A joint statement was issued at the end of the Ministerial with concrete recommendations and ways forward, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It highlighted the state of the global response to COVID-19 in line with six core lines of efforts and the role of foreign ministries to enhance political will and coordination. The joint statement underscored the importance of enhanced coordination among GAP partners to fill remaining gaps in the pandemic response, and build better health security to prevent, prepare for, and respond to future health threats. Read 1971 genocide by Pakistani military most heinous crimes in human history: Momen
Every two seconds one person under 70 dies of a non-communicable disease (NCD), the majority of them in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), according to a new report by the UN health agency. The World Health Organization (WHO) study released Wednesday said LMICs account for 86 percent of these premature deaths, most of which could be avoided or delayed if people had access to prevention, treatment and care. The diseases pose one of the greatest health and development challenges of the century but they are overlooked and underfunded, according to the WHO report "Invisible numbers: the true extent of noncommunicable diseases and what to do about them." Read: Animal-to-human diseases rise in Africa: WHO
The head of the World Health Organization said Wednesday that the number of coronavirus deaths worldwide last week was the lowest reported in the pandemic since March 2020, marking what could be a turning point in the years-long global outbreak. At a press briefing in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world has never been in a better position to stop COVID-19. “We are not there yet, but the end is in sight,” he said, comparing the effort to that made by a marathon runner nearing the finish line. “Now is the worst time to stop running,” he said. “Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap all the rewards of our hard work.” In its weekly report on the pandemic, the U.N. health agency said deaths fell by 22% in the past week, at just over 11,000 reported worldwide. There were 3.1 million new cases, a drop of 28%, continuing a weeks-long decline in the disease in every part of the world. Still, the WHO warned that relaxed COVID testing and surveillance in many countries means that many cases are going unnoticed. The agency issued a set of policy briefs for governments to strengthen their efforts against the coronavirus ahead of the expected winter surge of COVID-19, warning that new variants could yet undo the progress made to date. “If we don’t take this opportunity now, we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption, and more uncertainty,” Tedros said. The WHO reported that the omicron subvariant BA.5 continues to dominate globally and comprised nearly 90% of virus samples shared with the world’s biggest public database. In recent weeks, regulatory authorities in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere have cleared tweaked vaccines that target both the original coronavirus and later variants including BA.5. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said the organization expected future waves of the disease, but was hopeful those would not cause many deaths. Meanwhile in China, residents of a city in the country’s far western Xinjiang region have said they are experiencing hunger, forced quarantines and dwindling supplies of medicine and daily necessities after more than 40 days in a lockdown prompted by COVID-19. Hundreds of posts from Ghulja riveted users of Chinese social media last week, with residents sharing videos of empty refrigerators, feverish children and people shouting from their windows. On Monday, local police announced the arrests of six people for “spreading rumors” about the lockdown, including posts about a dead child and an alleged suicide, which they said “incited opposition” and “disrupted social order.” Leaked directives from government offices show that workers are being ordered to avoid negative information and spread “positive energy” instead. One directed state media to film “smiling seniors” and “children having fun” in neighborhoods emerging from the lockdown. The government has ordered mass testing and district lockdowns in cities across China in recent weeks, from Sanya on tropical Hainan island to southwest Chengdu, to the northern port city of Dalian. Also read: Global Covid cases near 615 million
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued the global guidance framework for the responsible use of life sciences. Recognising that awareness and resources will be limited in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the framework calls for providing these countries with technical and financial support, and empowering their scientists through opportunities to pursue and govern life sciences. It also calls on leaders and other stakeholders to mitigate biorisks and safely govern dual-use research, which has a clear benefit but can be misused to harm humans, other animals, agriculture and the environment, according to the media release issued by WHO on Tuesday. This is the first global, technical and normative framework for mitigating bio-risks and governing dual-use research. It aims to safely unlock the great promise for new ways to improve global health offered by life sciences and related technologies. The framework addresses the decades-long challenges of preventing the accidental and deliberate misuse of biology and other life sciences, as well as how to manage governance and oversight to both accelerate and spread innovation, while mitigating negative impacts. The life sciences are increasingly crossing over with other fields, such as chemistry, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, which changes the landscape of risks, with those that span multiple sectors and disciplines more likely to be missed. "Life sciences and technologies offer many opportunities to improve our health, our societies and our environment,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist. “However, developments and advances in life sciences and associated technologies could pose risks caused by accidents during experiments, inadvertent and deliberate misuse.” Looking at how to manage the increasing pace of advances in the life sciences, the framework outlines the need for anticipatory and responsive governance mechanisms, including foresight approaches, which are participatory and multi-disciplinary ways of exploring trends, emerging changes, systemic impacts and alternative futures. To help manage risks, it covers issues such as preventing misinformation and disinformation, as well as managing large health data sets. Read: 75th World Health Assembly to focus on “Health for Peace, Peace for Health” for recovery, renewal Other topics include: increasing awareness and capacities for biorisk management, navigating the particular challenges around research on infectious diseases and preventing the misuse of research and technologies through collaboration among different actors and sectors. Accounting for different contexts, resources and priorities, the framework is designed to be adapted by member states and other stakeholders, depending on their needs and perspectives. Ministries of health are called upon to work with other ministries, including of science and technology, education, agriculture, environment and defense, along with other key stakeholders, to assess the risks posed by life sciences locally and nationally, and identify appropriate risk mitigation measures to strengthen governance for biorisks and dual-use research. The life sciences include all sciences that deal with living organisms, including humans, nonhuman animals, plants and agriculture, and the environment, or products of living organisms or that incorporate components derived directly or synthetically from living organisms; the life sciences include but are not limited to biology, biotechnology, genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, pharmaceutical and biomedical research and technologies. WHO activities to support the framework’s worldwide implementation include: Leveraging existing efforts and initiatives, including those on laboratory biosafety, biosecurity and ethics. Maintaining different stakeholders and local champions to monitor and evaluate the measures developed and implemented at local, national, regional and global levels. Conducting awareness-raising activities, including regional and global dialogues, to support the sharing of experiences, lessons learned and best practices. Developing training and tools to evaluate progress. While governance of bio-risks cannot be under the sole responsibility of one international body, WHO, through its leadership, aims to harness the developments of the life sciences to improve global health while anticipating and mitigating risks posed by such developments. Implementing the framework will be done at country and local levels, with efforts supported by WHO regional offices and other partners.