Recent news from WHO



• WHO warned of potential shortages of influenza vaccine, should a pandemic occur, if production capacity is not increased soon. In the best case scenario, WHO said on 23 October that an estimated 2 billion doses per year could be produced by 2009 or 2010 relying on market-driven forces alone, far short of two doses needed per person for the world's population of more than six billion.

• The world's success in eradicating polio now depends on four countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan, the Advisory Committee on Polio Eradication (ACPE), the independent oversight body of the eradication effort, said on 12 October.

• An estimated 153 million people have uncorrected near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism, according to new global estimates released by WHO on 11 October.

• sanofi-aventis has renewed its agreement with WHO to expand a programme to fight neglected tropical diseases. Under the new agreement, announced by WHO on 10 October, sanofi-aventis will donate US$ 5 million of drugs to treat sleeping sickness and a further US$ 20 million for leishmaniasis, Buruli ulcer and Chagas disease.

• A WHO Global Task Force on extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) said the emergence of the disease posed a serious threat to public health, particularly when associated with HIV. At its first meeting on 9-10 October, the Task Force also outlined a series of measures that countries must put in place to effectively combat XDR-TB.

• WHO has called on all governments to improve the quality of the air in their cities to protect people's health. According to a new set of Air Quality Guidelines, released by WHO on 5 October, a reduction in levels of a pollutant known as PM10 could reduce deaths in polluted cities by up to 15% every year.

For more about these and other WHO news items please see: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/2006/en/index.html

World Health Organization Genebra - Genebra - Switzerland