Recent news from WHO



• Governments, donors and international agencies, at a meeting in Geneva on 28 February, agreed that implementation of innovative, tailored approaches can eradicate the polio virus in Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan, the only countries where polio remains endemic. Personal envoys of heads of the four governments presented these new plans for the final assault on these last remaining strongholds of the virus. WHO warned that if additional funds of US$ 575 million are not found for 2007–2008, the global polio eradication programme will be forced to cancel key activities as early as May 2007.



• A new WHO report shows that neurological disorders, ranging from epilepsy to Alzheimer disease, from stroke to headache, affect up to one billion people worldwide. Neurological disorders: public health challenges, which was released on 27 February, reveals that of the one billion people affected 50 million suffer from epilepsy and 24 million from Alzheimer and other dementias. Read the report at: http://www.who.int/ mental_health/en

• Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, named her senior team to lead the clusters of departments at WHO headquarters on 22 February. Chan announced a revised structure including three new clusters to re-align WHO’s structure with the six core areas: health development, health security, health systems capacity, evidence and information, partnership, and performance. Dr Ala Alwan was named assistant director-general of a new cluster for Health Action in Crises, which was formerly a WHO programme. Dr Tim Evans was named assistant director-general of a new cluster for Information, Evidence and Research. Dr Anders Nordström was named assistant director-general of a new Health Systems and Services cluster. Chan made two additional assistant director-general appointments: Dr Hiroki Nakatani to head the HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria cluster, and Ms Namita Pradhan to head the General Management cluster. Chan also appointed Mr Denis Aitken as representative of the Director-General for a new programme on Partnerships and UN Reform.



• A meeting of experts held 14 to 16 February at WHO to discuss advances in pandemic influenza vaccine development, reported encouraging progress. More than 40 clinical trials have been completed or are ongoing. Sixteen manufacturers from 10 countries are developing prototype pandemic influenza vaccines to protect humans against H5N1 avian influenza virus. Five of them are also involved in the development of vaccines against other avian viruses (H9N2, H5N2, and H5N3).



For more about these and other WHO news items please see: http://www.who.int/ mediacentre/events/2007/en/index.html

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