World Health Organisation
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised an alert over four fever, cold and cough syrups made by an Indian company, urging people not to use them after death of 66 children in the west African nation of The Gambia. All the four syrups-- Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup – are made by India’s Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd. “Laboratory analysis of samples of each of the four products confirms that they contain unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol as contaminants. To date, these four products have been identified in Gambia, but may have been distributed, through informal markets, to other countries or regions,” the WHO said in its alert. All batches of the products “should be considered unsafe” till they are analysed by the respective national regulatory authorities, it said. The Hindustan Times daily reported that WHO in its medical product alert over the syrups warned that they could be linked to acute kidney injuries and deaths of 66 children. The Indian Express newspaper reported on Wednesday that India’s apex drug regulatory authority – the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) – has also launched an investigation after it was reported that the death of children in Gambia could be related to the syrups. The report said state the regulatory authority of Haryana confirmed that the company did manufacture and export the syrups to Gambia. The company has so far sold the product only to Gambia Other Indian newspapers and TV stations also reported that four of the 23 samples tested by the WHO were found to be contaminated with diethylene glycol or ethylene glycol. However, the intra-government agency has not provided details to India on causal relation with the death – or documents to show that the syrups led to the deaths, they said. Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol can cause toxic effects, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, inability to pass urine, headache, altered mental state, and acute kidney injury that may lead to death. “The substandard products referenced in this alert are unsafe and their use, especially in children, may result in serious injury or death,” the WHO alert said. It also said that countries should increase surveillance of the supply chains to detect and remove the substandard products. Importantly, it also called for the surveillance of informal or unregulated markets.
The UN health agency's new Mental Health Atlas paints a disappointing picture of a worldwide failure to provide people with the mental health services they need, at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is highlighting a growing need for mental health support. The latest edition of the Atlas, which includes data from 171 countries, provides a clear indication that the increased attention given to mental health in recent years has yet to result in a scale-up of quality mental services that are aligned with needs, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Friday. Issued every three years, the Atlas is a compilation of data provided by countries around the world on mental health policies, legislation, financing, human resources, availability and use of services and data collection systems. It is also the mechanism for monitoring progress towards meeting the targets in WHO's Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan. "It is extremely concerning that, despite the evident and increasing need for mental health services, which has become even more acute during the Covid-19 pandemic, good intentions are not being met with investment," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. "We must heed and act on this wake-up call and dramatically accelerate the scale-up of investment in mental health because there is no health without mental health." Read: UNICEF: Battered by pandemic, kids need mental health help Lack of progress in leadership, governance and financing None of the targets for effective leadership and governance for mental health, provision of mental health services in community-based settings, mental health promotion and prevention, and strengthening of information systems, was close to being achieved. In 2020, just 51 per cent of the WHO's 194 member states reported that their mental health policy or plan was in line with international and regional human rights instruments, way short of the 80 per cent target. And only 52 per cent of countries met the target relating to mental health promotion and prevention programmes, also well below the 80 per cent target. The only 2020 target met was a reduction in the rate of suicide by 10 per cent, but even then, only 35 countries said they had a stand-alone prevention strategy, policy or plan. Steady progress was evident, however, in the adoption of mental health policies, plans and laws, as well as in improvements in the capacity to report on a set of core mental health indicators. Read: COVID-19 disrupts mental health services in most countries However, the percentage of government health budgets spent on mental health has scarcely changed during the last years, still hovering around 2 per cent. Moreover, even when policies and plans included estimates of required human and financial resources, just 39 per cent of responding countries indicated that the necessary human resources had been allocated and 34 per cent that the required financial resources had been provided. Transfer of care to community slow While the systematic decentralisation of mental health care to community settings has long been recommended by the WHO, only 25 per cent of responding countries met all the criteria for integration of mental health into primary care. While progress has been made in training and supervision in most countries, the supply of medicines for mental health conditions and psychosocial care in primary healthcare services remains limited. This is also reflected in the way that government funds for mental health are allocated, highlighting the urgent need for deinstitutionalisation. More than 70 per cent of total government expenditure on mental health was allocated to mental hospitals in middle-income countries, compared with 35 per cent in high-income countries. This indicates that centralised mental hospitals and institutional inpatient care still receive more funds than services provided in general hospitals and primary healthcare centres in many countries. There was, however, an increase in the percentage of countries reporting that treatment of people with specific mental health conditions (psychosis, bipolar disorder and depression) is included in national health insurance or reimbursement schemes – from 73 per cent in 2017 to 80 per cent (or 55 per cent of member states) in 2020. Global estimates of people receiving care for specific mental health conditions (used as a proxy for mental health care as a whole) remained less than 50 per cent, with a global median of 40 per cent of people with depression and just 29 per cent of people with psychosis receiving care. More encouraging was the increase in countries reporting mental health promotion and prevention programmes, from 41 per cent of member states in 2014 to 52p er cent in 2020. However, 31 per cent of total reported programmes did not have dedicated human and financial resources, 27 per cent did not have a defined plan, and 39 per cent had no documented evidence of progress and or impact. The global median number of mental health workers per 100,000 people has increased slightly from nine workers in 2014 to 13 workers per 100,000 people in 2020. However, there was a very high variation between countries of different income levels, with the number of mental health workers in high-income countries more than 40 times higher than in low-income ones. New targets for 2030 The global targets reported on in the Mental Health Atlas are from the WHO's Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan, which contained targets for 2020 endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2013. This Plan has now been extended to 2030 and includes new targets for the inclusion of mental health and psychosocial support in emergency preparedness plans, the integration of mental health into primary health care, and research on mental health. "The new data from the Mental Health Atlas shows us that we still have a very long way to go in making sure that everyone, everywhere, has access to quality mental health care," said Dévora Kestel, director of the department of mental health and substance use at the WHO. "But I am encouraged by the renewed vigour that we saw from governments as the new targets for 2030 were discussed and agreed and am confident that together we can do what is necessary to move from baby steps to giant leaps forward in the next 10 years."
Several national laws, such as the Pesticide Act 2018 and the City Corporation Act 2009, need to be revised to tackle the dengue menace, Manjur Ahmed Chowdhury, chairman of the Center of Governance Studies (CGS) and entomologist, said Saturday. International guidelines such as those provided by the international health regulations (IHR) and the World Health Organisation recommendations can be ratified in Bangladesh to expedite the fight against yearly dengue outbreaks, he said. Read: Dengue: 2 more die, 232 new patients hospitalized Also, he stressed the importance of a properly integrated vector management system in Bangladesh and the need for a proper institution to handle this. Manjur was addressing the seminar "Problems in Mosquito Control in the City: An Outline of Sustainable Solutions," hosted by the Center of Governance Studies (CGS) in the capital. This year's rise in dengue infections compared to 2020 happened due to the delay of taking proper preventive measures as soon as the rainy season started in Bangladesh, said Touhid Uddin Ahmed, a former principal scientific officer at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR). As no work was done to identify hotspots of dengue infections, and to target adult Aedes mosquitoes, it contributed to the rapid spread of the dengue outbreak, he said. Read: Keep the dengue mementoes in city museum, demand Jurain residents in unique protest "Data shows alarming rates of increase in dengue infections in both the cities and rural areas of Bangladesh. The reason for this unchecked yearly rise in the dengue epidemic is due to the lack of a national goal set by the government; lack of policies related to mosquito control, guidance among the citizens to handle the epidemic, and a viable plan to deal with the vectors of transmission, namely adult Aedes mosquitoes," he added. Dr GM Saifur Rahman, a medical entomologist and a faculty member of the National University, said: "The life cycle of Aedes mosquitoes is around six to eight days. So a routine weekly cleaning regiment needs to be implemented nationwide to clear out water from places that gather water during rain." He also said dengue fever incubates inside the body for four to seven days before symptoms show, so one does not get sick immediately when mosquitoes bite them.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged the global leaders, attending the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), to guarantee equitable access to Covid vaccines and other life-saving tools. It also called for ensuring that the world is better prepared to respond to future pandemics; renewing efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Covid-19 pandemic has already claimed nearly 5 million lives, and the virus continues to circulate actively across the globe. Vaccines are the most critical tool to end the pandemic and save lives and livelihoods. More than 5.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, but 73% of all doses have been administered in just 10 countries. High-income countries have administered 61 times more doses per inhabitant than low-income ones. The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more the virus will keep circulating and evolving, and the longer the social and economic disruption will continue. So, the UN health agency targets to vaccinate at least 40% of the population of every country by the end of this year, and 70% by the middle of next year. Read: Vaccine inequity undermining global economic recovery These targets are achievable if countries and manufacturers make a genuine commitment to vaccine equity. The WHO is calling on countries to fulfil their dose-sharing pledges immediately and to swap their near-term vaccine deliveries with COVAX and AVAT (African Covid-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team). The UN agency is also calling on manufacturers to prioritise supplies to COVAX and partners, and for countries and manufacturers to facilitate the sharing of technology, know-how and intellectual property to support regional vaccine manufacturing. COVAX, the global initiative for equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, is led by the WHO; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Unicef and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure Covid-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries. So far, COVAX has shipped more than 260 million doses to 141 countries. However, the WHO urged all countries to break the cycle of "panic and neglect" seen after previous health emergencies, and commit adequate financial resources, as well as political will, to strengthening health emergency preparedness across the globe. Read:'Only Together' campaign to support global vaccine equity call Universal health coverage (UHC) is a keystone of global health security. Despite progress in UHC in recent years, 90% of countries have reported disruptions in essential health services due to the pandemic, with the consequences reverberating beyond the health sector. Serious investment in UHC and pandemic preparedness is critical not only to bolster global health security but also to getting the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda back on track. The pandemic has reversed progress towards the SDGs, including gains that had been made on eradicating poverty, eliminating gender inequality, vaccinating children against communicable diseases and girls' and boys' education. However, it is also providing the world with new opportunities to do things differently and to truly collaborate on building back better – towards a healthier, fairer, more inclusive and sustainable world.
A top World Health Organisation official says the agency only has "a few days left of supplies" for Afghanistan and wants help to ferry in 10 or 12 planeloads of equipment and medicine for its beleaguered people. Dr Rick Brennan heads the WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Region that includes Afghanistan. He said from Cairo that the UN health agency is negotiating with the US and other countries to help efforts to replenish strained stockpiles. "We estimate we've only got a few days left of supplies," Brennan said, alluding to a distribution centre in Dubai that has what is needed. "We have 500 metric tonnes ready to go, but we haven't got any way of getting them into the country right now." READ: When the music stops: Afghan ‘happy place’ falls silent The US and other authorities have encouraged the WHO and partners to look to other Afghan airports than Kabul's, which is facing a crush of thousands of people trying to get out of Afghanistan after a Taliban takeover, Rick said. He said those authorities "have suggested that it'll be too difficult a logistics exercise and security exercise to bring supplies into Kabul," where teams would be required to unload planes and allow trucks to carry out the supplies – which could complicate the evacuations. Needed supplies include emergency kits and essential medicines for the treatment of chronic diseases, like diabetes, the WHO said. READ: Afghan woman gives birth on US evacuation flight "We're cautiously optimistic that we might need to get something done in the coming days," Rick said, before adding: "We need a consistent humanitarian air bridge into the country ASAP."
Global Covid-19 cases are on the rise, with 3.8 million new infections confirmed in the week between July 19 and July 25, and a "sharp" rise has been reported in the number of fatalities, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). For the past week, the global cases rose by 8% compared to the previous week, which was largely attributed to substantial increases in the Americas and the Western Pacific Regions, the UN health agency said in its weekly update report. With over 69,000, the number of Covid-19 deaths reported during the period increased by 21% week-on-week. Read: Countries have responsibility to help scientists find Covid origin: WHO Most of the new deaths were reported from the Americas and South-East Asia Regions, said the report. While previous months saw decreasing Covid-19 cases worldwide, the trend has changed this month and last week saw a 12% increase in the number of cases, while deaths and spread of variants are also on the rise, the WHO said on July 21. The UN health agency also reported that if the virus continues to spread at this rate, the global number of Covid-19 cases could reach 200 million soon. Read: Vaccine inequity biggest barrier to ending pandemic: WHO chief Variants are continuing their progression, as the Alpha variant was seen in 180 countries, territories or areas, and 13 new countries, territories or areas reported cases of the Delta variant. While the Alpha variant is still detected more often than its counterpart, the Delta variant is believed by the WHO to be 50% more transmissible and might become the dominant form of the virus in the next few months.
Drowning is now a leading cause of death for children aged under five in many countries, the UN health agency said Friday. Around 2.5 million people died by drowning in the decade to 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, as it set out a series of simple measures to help reduce the "entirely preventable cause of death." Around 60% of all drowning deaths were among those under the age of 30, with the highest rates among children aged under five, the WHO said ahead of the first-ever World Drowning Prevention Day, which falls on Sunday. "The shocking numbers included an estimated 236,000 people in 2019 alone who lost their lives due to drowning," Dr David Meddings, from the WHO's Social Determinants of Health department, told the media. READ: Four children drown on Eid day Flooding-related fatalities and deaths due to water transport accidents and intentional drownings are not included in the overall statistics, the UN agency said. "The exact rate of mortality might be much higher." The decline in the death rates of children aged under five from all causes over the past 40 years had masked the residual problem of deaths due to drowning, David said. "Drowning is now a leading cause of death for children under the age of five, in many, many countries." Drowning was the leading cause of death for under-fives in China and the second-biggest in the US and France, he added. "In Bangladesh, an estimated 40 children died from drowning every day in 2016 alone." However, drowning rates in low- and middle-income countries are more than three times higher than in high-income nations. The WHO said drowning disproportionately affected poor and marginalised communities which have the fewest resources to adapt to the risks around them. READ: 2 children drown in Gaibandha pond However, simple steps could prevent many deaths, such as installing barriers around wells, providing safe places for children to play away from water, and teaching youngsters basic swimming and water safety skills, David said. Greater training in safe rescue and resuscitation techniques would also help people to assist anyone who is drowning. Enforcing safe shipping loading and ferry regulations, and improving flood risk management, are two other interventions recommended by the WHO.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organisation, as co-leads of the COVAX initiative for equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, alongside key delivery partner UNICEF, on Wednesday published COVAX’s first interim distribution forecast.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday urge all countries to strengthen testing services and use the essential diagnostics list to drive better care and better health.
Bangladesh has urged the World Health Organisation (WHO), GAVI-the Vaccine Alliance, CEPI and the UNICEF to play a visible and effective role to ensure the supply of the Coronavirus vaccines under the COVAX facility to the developing countries, particularly the low and the middle-income countries, urgently.