Recent news from WHO



  • Bill Gates, Co-Founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was guest speaker at the opening of the 58th World Health Assembly (WHA) on 16 May. For full coverage of the WHA see next issue of the Bulletin on 1 July.
  • Six million doses of polio vaccine arrived in Yemen during the week beginning 16 May in an emergency effort to stop a polio outbreak there. Ten WHO experts were working with national authorities to finalize plans for the immunization campaign and to train vaccinators and supervisors. For more information see: www.polioeradication.org
  • A conference on disaster response in the wake of the 26 December 2004 earthquake and tsunami concluded that the international community needs to define clear responsibilities and operating procedures for military and civilian organizations so that they can provide a more effective response to disasters. The conference in the Thai resort of Phuket on 4–6 May called for clear procedures to respond to psychological trauma and mass fatalities caused by disasters. http://www.who.int/hac/events/tsunamiconf/en/
  • The Stop TB Partnership unveiled a new plan to halt Africa's spiralling tuberculosis epidemic, at a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 4 May. At the launch, African and international health and development officials called for more political commitment to fight the scourge and to make tuberculosis control an integral part of the regional health and development agenda. http://www.stoptb.org/
  • WHO, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and other agencies participated in a high-profile preparedness exercise by simulating an accident at a nuclear power plant in Romania on 11–12 May. It was the second exercise of this kind since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
  • Professor Lincoln Chen, founder of the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard University, was appointed as WHO's Special Envoy on Human Resources for Health on 11 May. Professor Chen co-chaired the Joint Learning Initiative on Human Resources for Health. Its landmark report, Human resources for health: overcoming the crisis, highlights the dire shortage of health workers in sub-Saharan Africa as a major obstacle to development. Human resources for health will be the subject of World Health Day and the World health report in 2006.
  • WHO published a new report on 6 May that estimates that 10 key risk factors account for more than 40% of the 57 million deaths that occur worldwide annually and one-third of global loss of healthy life years. The report, entitled Comparative quantification of health risks, lists these as: childhood and maternal underweight; unsafe sex; high blood pressure; tobacco; alcohol; unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene; high cholesterol; indoor smoke from solid fuels; iron deficiency and overweight/obesity. www.who.int/publications/cra
  • International experts gathered at a meeting 27–29 April at WHO in Geneva, to review all the available scientific and other evidence on hand hygiene and were invited to contribute to the preparation of the draft WHO guidelines on hand hygiene in health care.
  • The World malaria report 2005 was launched on 25 April with a call for better cooperation between agencies, donors, governments and nongovernmental organizations to tackle the scourge that affects mainly Africa. The report found that malaria became more prevalent in Africa in the 1980s and 1990s due to increasing parasite resistance to common antimalarial drugs. Over the last decade, the disease also reemerged in south-east Asia, as well as parts of Central Asian and Transcaucasian countries. It is the Rollback Malaria Partnership's first comprehensive report on progress in malaria control in 107 countries and territories. http://rbm.who.int/wmr2005/


For more about these and other WHO news items please see: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/en/

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