WHO Foundation Established to Support Critical Global Health Needs

1 month 2 weeks ago

The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes the creation of the WHO Foundation, an independent grant-making entity, that will support the Organization’s efforts to address the most pressing global health challenges.

Headquartered in Geneva, the Foundation will support global public health needs by providing funds to WHO and trusted implementing partners to deliver on the Organization’s “triple billion” goals. Featured in WHO’s five-year strategic plan, these goals aim to: protect 1 billion people from health emergencies; extend universal health coverage to 1 billion people; and assure healthy lives and wellbeing to 1 billion people by 2023.

The Foundation which is legally separate from WHO, will facilitate contributions from the general public, individual major donors and corporate partners to WHO and trusted partners to deliver on high-impact programmes. Its goal is to help broaden WHO’s donor base and work towards more sustainable and predictable funding.  The WHO Foundation will simplify the processing of philanthropic contributions in support of WHO and make such contributions possible on all aspects of health and WHO’s mission.

“An important part of WHO's future success is broadening its donor base and increasing both the quantity and quality of funds at its disposal," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "The creation of the WHO Foundation, as part of WHO's transformation, is an important step towards this goal, and towards achieving our mission to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.”

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of more than two years of preparation and hard work by countless individuals and partner organizations. I would like to thank Professor Thomas Zeltner for spearheading this incredible adventure and founding the organization.”

“The work of the WHO is vital for both safeguarding and promoting global health – a role that has become all the more crucial in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO’s achievements and contributions to global health and the wellbeing of humanity are tremendous, but we cannot take those accomplishments for granted. The WHO deserves a strong, independent, external advocate who can support and strengthen its impact. I am proud to lead these efforts and to create this missing piece in global health by establishing the WHO Foundation,” said Professor Thomas Zeltner, Founder of the WHO Foundation and former Secretary of Health of Switzerland and Director-General of the Swiss National Health Authority.

Established under the laws of Switzerland, the Foundation has benefitted from the guidance of an Advisory Group that has included experts in global health, philanthropy, ethics, and finance.  The Foundation’s Board will now assume all governance responsibilities and will review all strategic decisions and serve as the highest decision-making body of the Foundation. Founding Board Members are: Mr. Bob Carter, Ms. Clare Akamanzi and Professor Thomas Zeltner.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO Foundation will initially focus on emergencies and pandemic response, and it will also raise and disburse funds for all WHO global public health priorities in full alignment with the WHO Member State adopted General Programme of Work.

A Call to Action: Get Involved with the WHO Foundation

Global health matters for everyone, everywhere. The WHO Foundation is an exceptional opportunity to shape the future of global health together. Be part of this journey, donate now or engage in a long-term strategic partnership and contact the team at [email protected].  Online giving is active at www.whofoundationproject.org, and tailored donations can be received by contacting [email protected]whofoundationproject.org. All donations made to the WHO Foundation are tax-deductible to the extent feasible by relevant national laws.

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. 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.

About WHO Foundation

The WHO Foundation is an independent grant-making foundation focused on addressing the most pressing global health challenges of today and tomorrow. By funding high-impact initiatives and advancing strategies of innovation, effectiveness, and rapid response, it will support the global health ecosystem. Headquartered in Geneva and legally independent from the WHO, the Foundation will work responsibly with individual donors, the general public and corporate partners to strengthen health systems globally. Specifically, the WHO Foundation will support global public health needs, from prevention, mental health, and non-communicable diseases to emergency preparedness, outbreak response and health system strengthening.

FIFA, European Commission and World Health Organization launch #SafeHome campaign to support those at risk from domestic violence

1 month 2 weeks ago
FIFA, WHO, and the European Commission have joined forces, to launch the #SafeHome campaign to support women and children at risk of domestic violence. The campaign is a joint response from the three institutions to the recent spikes in reports of domestic violence as stay-at-home measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have put women and children experiencing abuse at greater risk.

At least 80 million children under one at risk of diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio as COVID-19 disrupts routine vaccination efforts, warn Gavi, WHO and UNICEF

1 month 3 weeks ago

 

 

 

COVID 19 is disrupting life-saving immunization services around the world, putting millions of children – in rich and poor countries alike – at risk of diseases like diphtheria, measles and polio. This stark warning comes from the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance ahead of the Global Vaccine Summit on 4 June, at which world leaders will come together to help maintain immunization programmes and mitigate the impact of the pandemic in lower-income countries.

According to data collected by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Gavi and the Sabin Vaccine Institute, provision of routine immunization services is substantially hindered in at least 68 countries and is likely to affect approximately 80 million children under the age of 1 living in these countries.

Since March 2020, routine childhood immunization services have been disrupted on a global scale that may be unprecedented since the inception of expanded programs on immunization (EPI) in the 1970s. More than half (53%) of the 129 countries where data were available reported moderate-to-severe disruptions, or a total suspension of vaccination services during March-April 2020. 

“Immunization is one of the most powerful and fundamental disease prevention tools in the history of public health,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Disruption to immunization programmes from the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to unwind decades of progress against vaccine-preventable diseases like measles.”

“At the 4 June Global Vaccine Summit in London, donors will pledge their support to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to sustain and accelerate this lifesaving work in some of the most vulnerable countries. From the bottom of my heart, I urge donors to fully fund the Alliance. These countries, these children especially, need vaccines, and they need Gavi.”

The reasons for disrupted services vary. Some parents are reluctant to leave home because of restrictions on movement, lack of information or because they fear infection with the COVID-19 virus. And many health workers are unavailable because of restrictions on travel, or redeployment to COVID response duties, as well as a lack of protective equipment.

“More children in more countries are now protected against more vaccine-preventable diseases than at any point in history,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, Gavi CEO. “Due to COVID-19 this immense progress is now under threat, risking the resurgence of diseases like measles and polio. Not only will maintaining immunization programmes prevent more outbreaks, it will also ensure we have the infrastructure we need to roll out an eventual COVID-19 vaccine on a global scale.”

Transport delays of vaccines are exacerbating the situation. UNICEF has reported a substantial delay in planned vaccine deliveries due to the lockdown measures and the ensuing decline in commercial flights and limited availability of charters. To help mitigate this, UNICEF is appealing to governments, the private sector, the airline industry, and others, to free up freight space at an affordable cost for these life-saving vaccines. Gavi recently signed an agreement with UNICEF to provide advance funding to cover increased freight costs for delivery of vaccines, in light of the reduced number of commercial flights available for transport. 

“We cannot let our fight against one disease come at the expense of long-term progress in our fight against other diseases,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “We have effective vaccines against measles, polio and cholera. While circumstances may require us to temporarily pause some immunization efforts, these immunizations must restart as soon as possible, or we risk exchanging one deadly outbreak for another.”

Next week, WHO will issue new advice to countries on maintaining essential services during the pandemic, including recommendations on how to provide immunizations safely.

Mass immunization campaigns temporarily disrupted

Many countries have temporarily and justifiably suspended preventive mass vaccination campaigns against diseases like cholera, measles, meningitis, polio, tetanus, typhoid and yellow fever, due to risk of transmission and the need to maintain physical distancing during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Measles and polio vaccination campaigns, in particular, have been badly hit, with measles campaigns suspended in 27 countries and polio campaigns put on hold in 38 countries. At least 24 million people in 21 Gavi-supported lower-income countries are at risk of missing out on vaccines against polio, measles, typhoid, yellow fever, cholera, rotavirus, HPV, meningitis A and rubella due to postponed campaigns and introductions of new vaccines.

In late March, concerned that mass gatherings for vaccination campaigns would enflame transmission of COVID-19 WHO recommended countries to temporarily suspend preventive campaigns while assessments of risk, and effective measures for reducing COVID virus transmission were established.

WHO has since monitored the situation and has now issued advice to help countries determine how and when to resume mass vaccination campaigns. The guidance notes that countries will need to make specific risk assessments based on the local dynamics of COVID-19 transmission, the health system capacities, and the public health benefit of conducting preventive and outbreak response vaccination campaigns.

Based on this guidance, and following growing concerns about increasing transmission of polio, the  Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), is advising countries to start planning for the safe resumption of polio vaccination campaigns, especially in polio high-risk countries.

Despite the challenges, several countries are making special efforts to continue immunization. Uganda is ensuring that immunization services continue along with other essential health services, even funding transportation to ensure outreach activities. And in Lao PDR, despite a national lockdown imposed in March, routine immunization in fixed sites continued with physical distancing measures in place.

Notes to editors

Download photos and broll from UNICEF  and WHO. New polio guidance available here.

About the Analysis Vaccination campaigns  Total # of  countries with postponed campaigns as of 15 May* Measles/ Measles Rubella/ Measles Mumps Rubella (M/MR/MMR) 27 Polio (IPV) 7 Bivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (bOPV) 26 Monovalent Oral Poliovirus Type 2 (mOPV2) 13 Meningitis A (MenA) 2 Yellow Fever (YF) 4 Typhoid (TCV) 2 Cholera (OCV) 5 Tetanus (Td) 7

The online immunization pulse survey was conducted with over 800 immunization experts, including representatives of Ministries of Health and global health organizations across 107 countries. 53 of these were lower-income countries supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The data on campaigns is based on data reported to WHO by member states as of 15 May 2020. Data on reasons for the disrupted services also came from regions and a survey on the training platform Scholar with 1600 respondents. 

On 4 June the UK government will host the Global Vaccine Summit, which will aim to raise at least US$ 7.4 billion for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to protect 300 million children in 68 lower-income countries against deadly diseases from 2021-25. This funding will help support the mass vaccination campaigns and rebuilding of health systems needed over the coming years to help address the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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. 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.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership led by national governments with six partners – the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the vaccine alliance. Its goal is to eradicate polio worldwide.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 760 million children – and prevented more than 13 million deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 developing countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines

The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. View the full list of donor governments and other leading organizations that fund Gavi’s work here

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.unicef.org/coronavirus. Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

Exciting new results from long-acting PrEP study show it to be effective in preventing HIV acquisition in men who have sex with men and transgender women

1 month 3 weeks ago
The HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN 083) study on the safety and efficacy of the long-acting injectable antiretroviral drug cabotegravir (CAB LA), for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in HIV-uninfected cisgender men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men, was stopped early by the trial Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) as results showed CAB LA to be highly effective in preventing HIV acquisition.

Smithsonian Science Education Center With Support of the World Health Organization Launches New COVID-19 Guide for Youth

1 month 3 weeks ago

The Smithsonian Science Education Center, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP)—a partnership of 140 national academies of science, engineering and medicine—has developed “COVID-19! How can I protect myself and others?,” a new rapid-response guide for youth ages 8–17. The guide, which is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, aims to help young people understand the science and social science of COVID-19 as well as help them take actions to keep themselves, their families and communities safe.

Through a set of seven cohesive student-led tasks, participants engage in the activities to answer questions previously defined by their peers. The questions explore the impact of COVID-19 on the world, how to practice hand and respiratory hygiene and physical distancing, and how to research more information about COVID-19. The final task teaches youth how they can take action on the new scientific knowledge they learn to improve their health and the health of others. Each task is designed to be completed at home.

The guide includes updated research, activities, quotes from scientists and frontline public health officials, and physical and emotional safety tips on COVID-19. It also integrates inquiry-based science education with social and emotional learning and civic engagement.

“We are immensely grateful to WHO, the IAP, our colleagues at the Smithsonian and other senior project advisors and translators for their perspectives and technical support in ensuring the science is accurate,” said Carol O’Donnell, director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center. “We are also grateful to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for their support during the development of this module. This work represents the power of collaboration and working closely with others across the globe, even during a time of physical distancing.”

 “Through this project, the Smithsonian Science Education Center makes science exciting and approachable for children and youth all over the world and encourages them to learn by doing” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at WHO. “With all the myths and misconceptions out there, it is important for children and youth to understand the nature of this pandemic and what can be done to prevent future pandemics from happening,”

 “It is so important for children—wherever they are in the world—to develop their scientific understanding and rational thinking,” said Professor Volker ter Meulen, president of IAP. “Only by being able to make rational decisions based on the best science and evidence can any of us adjust our behavior to keep ourselves and our families safe from infections such as COVID-19.”

The Smithsonian Science Education Center will disseminate the information to youth worldwide in collaboration with WHO, IAP, educators, and museum and research center networks. The guide is free, will be available to youth in more than 15 languages, particularly African and Asian languages, and can be found at https://ssec.si.edu/covid-19.

About the Smithsonian Science Education Center

The Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) is transforming K–12 Education Through Science in collaboration with communities across the globe. The SSEC is nationally and internationally recognized for the quality of its programs and its impact on K–12 science education.

About the World Health Organization

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. Our goal for 2019–2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies and provide a further billion people with better health and well-being. For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus, visit www.who.int and follow WHO on TwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedInTikTokPinterestSnapchatYouTube.

About the InterAcademy Partnership

Under the umbrella of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), more than 140 national, regional and global member academies work together to support the vital role of science in seeking evidence-based solutions to the world’s most challenging problems. In particular, IAP harnesses the expertise of the world’s scientific, medical and engineering leaders to advance sound policies, improve public health, promote excellence in science education and achieve other critical development goals. See www.interacademies.org and follow IAP on Twitter https://twitter.com/IAPartnership and YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZl-b7akbFF81bKBZsc8YbQ.

 

Historic health assembly ends with global commitment to COVID-19 response

1 month 3 weeks ago

At today’s meeting of the 73rd World Health Assembly —its first-ever to be held virtually—delegates adopted a landmark resolution to bring the world together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resolution, co-sponsored by more than 130 countries, was adopted by consensus.

It calls for the intensification of efforts to control the pandemic, and for equitable access to and fair distribution of all essential health technologies and products to combat the virus. It also calls for an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the global response, including, but not limited to, WHO’s performance.

As WHO convened ministers of health from almost every country in the world, the consistent message throughout the two-day meeting—including from the 14 heads of state participating in the opening and closing sessions —was that global unity is the most powerful tool to combat the outbreak. The resolution is a concrete manifestation of this call, and a roadmap for controlling the outbreak.

In his closing remarks, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “COVID-19 has robbed us of people we love. It’s robbed us of lives and livelihoods; it’s shaken the foundations of our world; it threatens to tear at the fabric of international cooperation. But it’s also reminded us that for all our differences, we are one human race, and we are stronger together.”

The World Health Assembly will reconvene later in the year.

Commemorating Smallpox Eradication – a legacy of hope, for COVID-19 and other diseases

1 month 3 weeks ago

On 8 May 1980, the 33rd World Health Assembly officially declared: ‘The world and all its peoples have won freedom from smallpox.’ 

The declaration marked the end of a disease that had plagued humanity for at least 3 000 years, killing 300 million people in the 20th century alone. 

It was ended, thanks to a 10-year global effort, spearheaded by the World Health Organization, that involved thousands of health workers around the world to administer half a billion vaccinations to stamp out smallpox.

The US$ 300m price-tag to eradicate smallpox saves the world well over US$ 1 billion every year since 1980.

Speaking at a virtual event hosted at WHO-HQ, involving key players in the eradication effort, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity’s victory over smallpox is a reminder of what is possible when nations come together to fight a common health threat.”

The world got rid of smallpox thanks to an incredible demonstration of global solidarity, and because it had a safe and effective vaccine. Solidarity plus science equalled solution! 

Dr Tedros highlighted that smallpox eradication also offers hope for efforts to eliminate other infectious diseases, including polio, which is now endemic in just two countries. To date, 187 countries, territories and areas have been certified free of Guinea worm disease, with seven more to go. And the fight against malaria has so far resulted in 38 countries and territories certified as malaria-free. In the case of Tuberculosis (TB), 57 countries and territories with low TB incidence are on track to reach TB elimination.

At the event, Dr Tedros unveiled a commemorative postal stamp to recognize the global solidarity that drove the initiative and honour the efforts of health workers who ensured its success.

The stamp, developed by the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA), in collaboration with WHO, signifies what national unity and global solidary can achieve. Numerous countries, such as Guinea, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Togo and others issued smallpox stamps to show support for, and raise awareness about WHO’s Intensified Smallpox Eradication Programme launched in 1967.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti’s earliest memories of smallpox is of her father. “I was visiting WHO headquarters, and I saw a photo of my Dad, standing with the other experts on the Global Commission. I remember him going out, doing follow-up visits with patients.  He often would go with a driver and disappear into the bush for days. I felt in awe of his tireless work. The strategies used to eradicate smallpox still apply today.” 

“Lessons learned from smallpox are used today to respond to disease outbreaks. For example, house-to-house active case-finding underpins the polio eradication programme, and ring vaccination of contacts is helping to combat the spread of the Ebola virus disease. Similarly, surveillance, case-finding, testing, contact-tracing, quarantine, and communication campaigns to dispel misinformation are central to controlling COVID-19, “ explained David Heymann, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and  Distinguished Fellow, Global Health Security at Chatham House, London.

Following smallpox eradication, WHO and UNICEF launched the Expanded Programme on Immunization, under which 85% of the world’s children are vaccinated and protected from debilitating diseases.

With the potential of a COVID-19 vaccine ahead, ensuring sufficient supplies and reaching people in hard to reach places is a high priority. Addressing vaccine hesitancy poses a significant challenge to stop the virus. Access to accurate public health information and education is critical to ensure that the public has the facts to keep themselves and others safe.

To permanently commemorate the eradication of smallpox and the lessons learned on a global scale, rather than every 10-years, WHO is calling museums, exhibition companies, designers, curators and associations to develop an immersive, interactive and educational exhibition on smallpox and its relevance for COVID-19 and global health security.  The exhibition, which will be unveiled later this year, will promote a better understanding of public health and empower people to keep informed and safe during a pandemic.

Notes to the media

Smallpox stamp

The smallpox stamp is in the denomination of CHF 1,70. It was designed by Sergio Baradat (United Nations) in collaboration with the World Health Organization and is available for purchase at unstamps.org. The stamp can be used to mail postcards and letters around the world, provided that they are sent from the UN headquarters in New York, Geneva or Vienna respectively. 

Smallpox Eradication dates

On 9 December 1979, a global commission certified that smallpox had been eradicated, and this certification was officially accepted by the 33rd World Health Assembly in 1980.

Museum Exhibition

Exhibition design companies, museums, curators and other companies/organizations in this field are invited to express their interest to develop an immersive, educational exhibition on smallpox and its relevance for COVID-19 and global health security by writing to [email protected]

WHO: People living longer and healthier lives but COVID-19 threatens to throw progress off track

1 month 3 weeks ago

All over the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing significant loss of life, disrupting livelihoods, and threatening the recent advances in health and progress towards global development goals highlighted in the 2020 World Health Statistics published by the World Health Organization (WHO) today.

“The good news is that people around the world are living longer and healthier lives. The bad news is the rate of progress is too slow to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and will be further thrown off track by COVID-19,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“The pandemic highlights the urgent need for all countries to invest in strong health systems and primary health care, as the best defense against outbreaks like COVID-19, and against the many other health threats that people around the world face every day. Health systems and health security are two sides of the same coin.”

WHO’s World Health Statistics — an annual check-up on the world’s health — reports progress against a series of key health and health service indicators, revealing some important lessons in terms of progress made towards the Sustainable Development Goals and gaps to fill.

Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy have increased, but unequally.

The biggest gains were reported in low-income countries, which saw life expectancy rise 21% or 11 years between 2000 and 2016 (compared with an increase of 4% or 3 years in higher income countries).

One driver of progress in lower-income countries was improved access to services to prevent and treat HIV, malaria and tuberculosis, as well as a

number of neglected tropical diseases such as guinea worm. Another was better maternal and child healthcare, which led to a halving of child mortality between 2000 and 2018.

But in a number of areas, progress has been stalling. Immunization coverage has barely increased in recent years, and there are fears that malaria gains may be reversed. And there is an overall shortage of services within and outside the health system to prevent and treat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, heart and lung disease, and stroke. In 2016, 71 per cent of all deaths worldwide were attributable to NCDs, with the majority of the 15 million premature deaths (85%) occurring in low and middle-income countries.

This uneven progress broadly mirrors inequalities in access to quality health services. Only between one third and one half the world’s population was able to obtain essential health services in 2017. Service coverage in low- and middle-income countries remains well below coverage in wealthier ones; as do health workforce densities. In more than 40% of all countries, there are fewer than 10 medical doctors per 10 000 people. Over 55% of countries have fewer than 40 nursing and midwifery personnel per 10 000 people. 

The inability to pay for healthcare is another major challenge for many. On current trends, WHO estimates that this year, 2020, approximately 1 billion people (almost 13 per cent of the global population) will be spending at least 10% of their household budgets on health care. The majority of these people live in lower middle-income countries.

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need to protect people from health emergencies, as well as to promote universal health coverage and healthier populations to keep people from needing health services through multisecotral interventions like improving basic hygiene and sanitation,” said Dr Samira Asma, Assistant Director General at WHO.

In 2017, more than half (55%) of the global population was estimated to lack access to safely-managed sanitation services, and more than one quarter (29%) lacked safely-managed drinking water. In the same year, two in five households globally (40%) lacked basic handwashing facilities with soap and water in their home. 

The World Health Statistics also highlight the need for stronger data and health information systems. Uneven capacities to collect and use accurate, timely, and comparable health statistics, undermining countries’ ability to understand population health trends, develop appropriate policies, allocate resources and prioritize interventions. 

For almost a fifth of countries, over half of the key indicators have no recent primary or direct underlying data, another major challenge in enabling countries to prepare for, prevent and respond to health emergencies such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. WHO is therefore supporting countries in strengthening surveillance and data and health information systems so they can measure their status and manage improvements.  

“The message from this report is clear: as the world battles the most serious pandemic in 100 years, just a decade away from the SDG deadline, we must act together to strengthen primary health care and focus on the most vulnerable among us in order to eliminate the gross inequalities that dictate who lives a long, healthy life and who doesn’t,” added Asma. “We will only succeed in doing this by helping countries to improve their data and health information systems.” 


Note for editors

The World Health Statistics have been compiled primarily from publications and databases produced and maintained by WHO or by United Nations (UN) groups of which WHO is a member, such as the UN Interagency Group for Child Mortality Estimation. In addition, some statistics have been derived from data produced and maintained by other international organizations, such as the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and its Population Division. The Global Health Observatory database contains additional details about the health-related SDG indicators, as well as interactive visualizations.

 

UNODC, WHO, UNAIDS and OHCHR joint statement on COVID-19 in prisons and other closed settings

1 month 3 weeks ago
We, the leaders of global health, human rights and development institutions, come together to urgently draw the attention of political leaders to the heightened vulnerability of prisoners and other people deprived of liberty to the COVID-19 pandemic, and urge them to take all appropriate public health measures in respect of this vulnerable population that is part of our communities.

WHO and International Olympic Committee team up to improve health through sport

1 month 3 weeks ago

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today signed an agreement to work together to promote health through sport and physical activity.

"I am pleased to formalize this longstanding partnership with the International Olympic Committee," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "WHO works not only to respond to disease but also to help people realize their healthiest lives and this partnership will do exactly that. Physical activity is one of the keys to good health and well-being."

This collaboration is timely. The current COVID-19 pandemic is particularly affecting people with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). The agreement has a special focus on preventing NCDs through sport. Physical activity helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and various types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer).

Other areas of collaboration include working with host countries to ensure the health of athletes, supporters and workers at the games as well as addressing NCD risk factors, including water quality and air pollution. The two institutions will also work to ensure that the games leave a healthy legacy in host countries through enhanced awareness of the value of sport and physical activity.

The two organizations also intend to work together to promote grassroots and community sports programmes that have a further reach within the general public, particularly among girls, older people and people living with disability who may find it harder to keep active and healthy.

“Over the last few months in the current crisis, we have all seen how important sport and physical activity are for physical and mental health. Sport can save lives,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. "The IOC calls on the governments of the world to include sport in their post-crisis support programmes because of the important role of sport in the prevention of NCDs, but also of communicable diseases.”

Globally, WHO estimates that 1 in 4 adults is not active enough and more than 80% of the world's adolescent population is insufficiently physically active. The new partnership will bring together the sports and health sectors at international, regional and national levels to reach the global goal of increasing physical activity by 15%, as set out in the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity.

 

WHO and Costa Rica preview technology pooling initiative to ensure access to COVID-19 health products for all

1 month 4 weeks ago

Geneva, 15 May 2020 – Presidents Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica and Sebastián Piñera of Chile joined WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today to announce progress on a technology platform that aims to lift access barriers to effective vaccines, medicines and other health products against COVID-19. Costa Rica proposed the idea at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak and several countries are now backing the proposal.

“Our proposal relies on solidarity,” said President Alvarado of Costa Rica. “It’s a Solidarity call to action to Member States, to academia, to companies, research institutions and cooperation agencies, based on global social responsibility, on a voluntary basis, promoting more global nonexclusive voluntary licensing.”

“We need to unleash the full power of science, without caveats or restrictions, to deliver innovations that are scalable, usable, and benefit everyone, everywhere, at the same time,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Traditional market models will not deliver at the scale needed to cover the entire globe. Solidarity within and between countries and the private sector is essential if we are to overcome these difficult times.”

“Chile, like most countries in the international community, considers that only through international cooperation is it possible to emerge victorious from the crisis caused by COVID-19,” said Ambassador Cristian Streeter, Director of Multilateral Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, speaking on behalf of President Piñera of Chile.

The platform will pool data, knowledge and intellectual property for existing or new COVID-19 health products to deliver ‘global public goods’ for all people and all countries. Through the open sharing of science and data, numerous companies will be able to access the information they need to produce the technologies, thereby scaling up availability worldwide, lowering costs and increasing access. 

WHO and Costa Rica will officially launch the platform on 29 May. On that date, a Solidarity Call to Action will be published on WHO’s web site where governments, research and development funders, institutions and companies can express their support.

The solidarity of all of WHO’s Member States will be critical to ensuring the technology platform can be a meaningful tool for equitable access to COVID-19 health products.

Joint statement on Libya

1 month 4 weeks ago

Conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic present a significant threat to life in Libya. The health and safety of the country’s entire population are at risk. 

Close to 400,000 Libyans have been displaced since the start of the conflict nine years ago – around half of them within the past year, since the attack on the capital, Tripoli, started. 

Despite repeated calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, including by the United Nations Secretary-General, hostilities continue unabated, hindering access and the delivery of critical humanitarian supplies. Humanitarian workers face significant challenges every day to carry on with their mission. In March 2020, humanitarian partners reported a total of 851 access constraints on movement of humanitarian personnel and humanitarian items within and into Libya. 

The situation for many migrants and refugees is especially alarming. Since the start of this year, more than 3,200 people have been intercepted at sea and returned to Libya. Many end up in one of the eleven official detention centers. Others are taken to facilities or unofficial detention centers to which the humanitarian community does not have access. The United Nations has repeatedly reiterated that Libya is not a safe port and that persons rescued at sea should not be returned to arbitrary detention. 

Women and children continue to bear the brunt of the ongoing armed conflict in Libya: over the past year, the United Nations verified 113 cases of grave violations, including killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools, and health facilities. Hospitals and health facilities have been targeted by shelling, further disrupting Libya’s fragile health system. Since the beginning of the year, at least 15 attacks have damaged health facilities and ambulances and injured health care workers. These attacks are a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and even more egregious during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The onset of the coronavirus in Libya poses yet another strain on the already overstretched health system, and further threatens the most vulnerable people in the country. As of May 13, there were 64 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including three deaths, in different parts of the country. This shows that local/community transmission is taking place. The risk of further escalation of the outbreak is very high. 

Food security, already a challenge, is being compromised by the spread of COVID-19 and its socioeconomic impact on Libyan families. Latest market assessments show that most cities are facing shortages of basic food items coupled with an increase in prices. Limited market availability of goods and higher prices are impacting plans, as are supply chain disruptions. Continued support to food security inside the country is essential so that this health crisis does not worsen by becoming a food crisis. 

We urge all parties to the conflict to protect vital water supply facilities. We are acutely alarmed that water facilities have been deliberately targeted or indiscriminately attacked. This affects thousands of women and children and impedes efforts to implement basic virus prevention measures, such as hand-washing. 

We support the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire and a humanitarian pause to save lives and enable the Libyan authorities and their partners to devote their energies to stopping the spread of COVID-19. The international community must not turn a blind eye to the conflict in Libya and its catastrophic effect on civilians, including migrants and refugees, across the country. 

Despite enormous challenges, the UN and our humanitarian partners have continued to reach the most vulnerable people in Libya. Funds are urgently required, including for vital enabling services such as the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service, if we are to continue meeting emergency needs. We look forward with anticipation to the pledged financial support to the Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya, as announced by the Government of National Accord. Donors have been supportive. We ask that they continue to show their generosity and stand by the people of Libya in their quest for peace and in this moment of great need. 

Signatories: 

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock 

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi 

Executive Director of UNICEF Henrietta Fore 

Executive Director of UN Population Fund Dr. Natalia Kanem 

Executive Director of the World Food Programme David Beasley 

Director-General of World Health Organization Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus 

Director General of International Organization for Migration António Vitorino 

Research leads to actions improving childbirth in Guinea

1 month 4 weeks ago

When Ms. Fatoumata Binta Toure learned the results of a WHO/HRP-led study in four countries  showing that more than one-third of women experienced mistreatment during childbirth in health facilities, she was not entirely surprised.  

“We often heard that women were experiencing these issues, but this research gave us the truth,” the President of the National Association of Nurses of Guinea explained.

“It is not the objective of childbirth, for women to be treated with violence. We saw this study as a chance to move forward – to put a plan of action in place and improve respectful care for women.” 

positive childbirth experience is about more than the birth of a healthy baby. It meets a woman’s personal and cultural expectations. It gives her a sense of control and involvement in decision-making in her own care, supported by competent clinical staff and her own choice of birth companion.   

This is not the experience or the expectation for many women preparing to give birth. The WHO/HRP study, carried out in Ghana, Guinea, Myanmar and Nigeria, recorded a range of negative experiences in health facilities. These included physical and verbal abuse, stigma and discrimination, and medical procedures performed without consent.  

For scientists at CERREGUI (Center for Research in Reproductive Health in Guinea), the coordinating research institute in Guinea, publishing the evidence in The Lancet was not the end of the story. 

“If a woman expects mistreatment, why will she go to a hospital to deliver? We know that improving respectful care will encourage more women to deliver at a facility with skilled birth attendance, reducing maternal mortality in the long-term. It is also crucial from a women’s rights perspective,” explained Dr Mamadou Dioulde Balde, Coordinator of CERREGUI, which has also been a grantee of the HRP Alliance’s research capacity strengthening activities. 

“When we understood the scale of the problem, our team was motivated to move beyond the published literature to practical recommendations.” 

Less than two months after publication in December 2019, with support from WHO/HRP, CERREGUI brought ministry officials with maternity hospital directors, nongovernmental organizations, professional associations and international agencies to present the research findings together in Conakry, Guinea. Together they developed a set of recommendations which could be implemented at the national level to reduce mistreatment of women during childbirth. 

These include practical steps such as allowing chosen birth companions and accepting the birth position desired by the woman, as well as health system changes such as scaling up training in respectful maternity care and strengthening governance and oversight.  

Accepted by the Ministry of Health, these recommendations are incorporated into the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Infant, Adolescent Health and Nutrition (SRMNIA-N 2020-2024) Strategic Plan and the  MUSKOKA Action Plan of 2021.  

“All women have the right to dignified, respectful health care across pregnancy and childbirth, free from violence and discrimination,” said Dr Bernadette Dramou, WHO National Professional Officer for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child & Adolescent Health /Nutrition. “From the Ministry of Health to the maternity ward, we are committed and enthusiastic about turning this research into action, putting into practice these recommendations for respectful care which can improve the experience of childbirth for every woman in Guinea.” 

Some health facilities are already taking steps which make a significant difference to the well-being of women. 

At the maternity ward of the National Teaching Hospital, Ignace Deen, in Conakry, birth companions of choice are being accommodated.  

“We shared the recommendations widely with a lot of midwives, and immediately took actions to improve respectful maternity care in our hospital,” explained Mrs. Hawa Keita, Head Midwife of Maternity Ward at Ignace Dean. 

“We now have a chair by the side of each bed in the labour ward, so that every woman can have their companion of choice by their side through childbirth.”  

Nurses and midwives make up nearly half of the global health workforce. They were critical stakeholders at the meeting to develop national recommendations.  

“When we know the numbers, we can make informed decisions, improving our own work practices and conditions in ways that lead to improvement for women,” said Mrs. Marie Conde, President of the Order of Midwives in Guinea.  

“All midwives should be aware of the different types of mistreatment women can experience. We also need to be proactive and make sure that women in our care during labour and childbirth understand what kind of treatment they should receive.”  

For Dr Balde, the experience of coordinating this study, as well as ongoing research capacity strengthening support from the HRP Alliance has made a difference on several levels. 

“As a teacher, I see how important this has been for my students and my colleagues. First, we now have viable data which we know can make a difference to policy. Second, being part of a multi-country study has led to very interesting exchanges of experiences between teams. Third, I see members of our team going on to further research training with the help of the HRP Alliance, taking on new projects that can improve sexual and reproductive health for women across Guinea.” 

“It is encouraging to see countries take on board the importance of ensuring a positive experience for women during childbirth.” said Dr Ӧzge Tunçalp, scientist at WHO and senior author of the study. “We hope that women in Guinea will reap the benefits of this new approach, which puts women’s wishes and preferences more at the centre of their care. It should not be forgotten either that evidence also suggests a positive experience at childbirth may lead on to improved outcomes for each woman and her child - in the immediate post-pregnancy period and far beyond.” 

Photo: Research and recommendations stakeholder workshop, Conakry, Guinea (2019)

Guinea-December-19

Substantial investment needed to avert mental health crisis

1 month 4 weeks ago

The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the need to urgently increase investment in services for mental health or risk a massive increase in mental health conditions in the coming months, according to a policy brief on COVID-19 and mental health issued by the United Nations today. 

“The impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health is already extremely concerning,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “Social isolation, fear of contagion, and loss of family members is compounded by the distress caused by loss of income and often employment.”

Depression and anxiety are increasing

Reports already indicate an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety in a number of countries. A study in Ethiopia, in April 2020, reported a 3-fold increase in the prevalence of symptoms of depression compared to estimates from Ethiopia before the epidemic. 

Specific population groups are at particular risk of COVID-related psychological distress. Frontline health-care workers, faced with heavy workloads, life-or-death decisions, and risk of infection, are particularly affected. During the pandemic, in China, health-care workers have reported high rates of depression (50%), anxiety (45%), and insomnia (34%) and in Canada, 47% of health-care workers have reported a need for psychological support. 

Children and adolescents are also at risk. Parents in Italy and Spain have reported that their children have had difficulties concentrating, as well as irritability, restlessness and nervousness. Stay-at-home measures have come with a heightened risk of children witnessing or suffering violence and abuse. Children with disabilities, children in crowded settings and those who live and work on the streets are particularly vulnerable. 

Other groups that are at particular risk are women, particularly those who are juggling home-schooling, working from home and household tasks, older persons and people with pre-existing mental health conditions. A study carried out with young people with a history of mental health needs living in the UK reports that 32% of them agreed that the pandemic had made their mental health much worse.

An increase in alcohol consumption is another area of concern for mental health experts. Statistics from Canada report that 20% of 15-49 year-olds have increased their alcohol consumption during the pandemic.

Mental health services interrupted

The increase in people in need of mental health or psychosocial support has been compounded by the interruption to physical and mental health services in many countries. In addition to the conversion of mental health facilities into care facilities for people with COVID-19, care systems have been affected by mental health staff being infected with the virus and the closing of face-to-face services. Community services, such as self-help groups for alcohol and drug dependence, have, in many countries, been unable to meet for several months. 

“It is now crystal clear that mental health needs must be treated as a core element of our response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “This is a collective responsibility of governments and civil society, with the support of the whole United Nations System. A failure to take people’s emotional well-being seriously will lead to long-term social and economic costs to society.”

Finding ways to provide services

In concrete terms, it is critical that people living with mental health conditions have continued access to treatment. Changes in approaches to provision of mental health care and  psychosocial support are showing signs of success in some countries. In Madrid, when more than 60% of mental health beds were converted to care for people with COVID-19, where possible, people with severe conditions were moved to private clinics to ensure continuity of care. Local policy-makers identified emergency psychiatry as an essential service to enable mental health-care workers to continue outpatient services over the phone. Home visits were organized for the most serious cases. Teams from Egypt, Kenya, Nepal, Malaysia and New Zealand, among others, have reported creating increased capacity of emergency telephone lines for mental health to reach people in need. 

Support for community actions that strengthen social cohesion and reduce loneliness, particularly for the most vulnerable, such as older people, must continue. Such support is required from government, local authorities, the private sector and members of the general public, with initiatives such as provision of food parcels, regular phone check-ins with people living alone, and organization of online activities for intellectual and cognitive stimulation. 

An opportunity to build back better

The scaling-up and reorganization of mental health services that is now needed on a global scale is an opportunity to build a mental health system that is fit for the future,” said Dévora Kestel, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use at WHO. “This means developing and funding national plans that shift care away from institutions to community services, ensuring coverage for mental health conditions in health insurance packages and building the human resource capacity to deliver quality mental health and social care in the community.” 

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