The first meeting of the Emergency Committee (EC) convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR 2005) regarding clusters of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders in some areas affected by Zika virus was held by teleconference on 1 February 2016, from 13:10 to 16:55 Central European Time. The WHO Secretariat briefed the Committee on the clusters of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) that have been temporally associated with Zika virus transmission in some settings. The Committee was provided with additional data on the current understanding of the history of Zika virus, its spread, clinical presentation and epidemiology.
Author Archives: WHO News
I convened an Emergency Committee, under the International Health Regulations, to gather advice on the severity of the health threat associated with the continuing spread of Zika virus disease in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Committee met today by teleconference. In assessing the level of threat, the 18 experts and advisers looked in particular at the strong association, in time and place, between infection with the Zika virus and a rise in detected cases of congenital malformations and neurological complications.
WHO is calling on governments to rate movies that portray tobacco use in a bid to prevent children and adolescents from starting to smoke cigarettes and use other forms of tobacco. Movies showing use of tobacco products have enticed millions of young people worldwide to start smoking, according to the new WHO “Smoke-free movies: from evidence to action”, the third edition since its launch in 2009.
WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, will convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations. The Committee will meet on Monday 1 February in Geneva to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
A new case of Ebola has been confirmed in Sierra Leone, reflecting the ongoing risk of new flare-ups of the virus in affected countries. The Sierra Leone government acted rapidly to respond to this new case. Through the country’s new emergency operations centre, a joint team of local authorities, WHO and partners are investigating the origin of the case, identifying contacts and initiating control measures to prevent further transmission.
Today, WHO declares the end of the most recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia and says all known chains of transmission have been stopped in West Africa. But the Organization says the job is not over, more flare-ups are expected and that strong surveillance and response systems will be critical in the months to come. Liberia was first declared free of Ebola transmission in May 2015, but the virus was re-introduced twice since then, with the latest flare-up in November. Today’s announcement comes 42 days (two 21-day incubation cycles of the virus) after the last confirmed patient in Liberia tested negative for the disease 2 times.
Today WHO declares the end of Ebola virus transmission in the Republic of Guinea. Forty-two days have passed since the last person confirmed to have Ebola virus disease tested negative for the second time. Guinea now enters a 90-day period of heightened surveillance to ensure that any new cases are identified quickly before they can spread to other people.
The 8th meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa took place by teleconference on Tuesday, 15 December 2015, and by electronic correspondence from 15-21 December 2015. The Committee’s role was to provide the Director-General with views and perspectives as to whether the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), whether the current Temporary Recommendations should be extended, rescinded or revised, and whether additional recommendations should be considered.
A new framework to eliminate human rabies and save tens of thousands of lives each year has been launched today by WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Global Alliance for the Control of Rabies (GARC). The framework calls for 3 key actions – making human vaccines and antibodies affordable, ensuring people who get bitten receive prompt treatment, and mass dog vaccinations to tackle the disease at its source.
New estimates from WHO show a significant increase in the number of countries moving towards malaria elimination, with prevention efforts saving millions of dollars in healthcare costs over the past 14 years in many African countries. According to the “World Malaria Report 2015″, released today, more than half (57) of the 106 countries with malaria in 2000 had achieved reductions in new malaria cases of at least 75% by 2015. In that same time frame, 18 countries reduced their malaria cases by 50-75%.
WHO today launched a new comprehensive analysis of global health trends since 2000 and an assessment of the challenges for the next 15 years. “Health in 2015: from MDGs to SDGs” identifies the key drivers of progress in health under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It lays out actions that countries and the international community should prioritize to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which come into effect on 1 January 2016.
Worldwide, the majority of maternal and newborn deaths occur around the time of birth, typically within the first 24 hours after childbirth. Most of these deaths are preventable. WHO’s new “Safe Childbirth Checklist and Implementation Guide” targets the major causes of maternal and newborn complications and deaths, including post-partum haemorrhage, infection, obstructed labour, preeclampsia and birth asphyxia.
Almost one third (30%) of all deaths from foodborne diseases are in children under the age of 5 years, despite the fact that they make up only 9% of the global population. This is among the findings of WHO’s Estimates of the global burden of foodborne diseases – the most comprehensive report to date on the impact of contaminated food on health and wellbeing. The report, which estimates the burden of foodborne diseases caused by 31 agents – bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals – states that each year as many as 600 million, or almost 1 in 10 people in the world, fall ill after consuming contaminated food. Of these, 420 000 people die, including 125 000 children under the age of 5 years.
On World AIDS Day WHO emphasizes that expanding antiretroviral therapy to all people living with HIV is key to ending the AIDS epidemic within a generation. “The Millennium Development Goal of reversing the HIV epidemic was reached ahead of the 2015 deadline – an incredible achievement that testifies to the power of national action and international solidarity,” declared WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan.