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Congo’s Ebola outbreak to last at least six more months, WHO says

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Health workers treating Ebola patient in treatment unit | REUTERS

The Ebola outbreak in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which has already killed more than 200 people, is expected to last until mid-2019, a senior World Health Organization official said on Tuesday (November 13).

WHO emergency response chief Peter Salama said the WHO is “planning on at least another six months before we can declare this outbreak over.”

The outbreak in Congo’s North Kivu province has caused 333 confirmed and probable cases of the deadly virus and is now the worst in Congo’s history.

The location of the disease is perhaps the most difficult the WHO has ever encountered, due to a dense and mobile local population, insecurity caused by two armed groups, and its spread by transmission in health centers, Salama said.

One of the major drivers of the spread of the disease was due to people visiting the several hundred “tradi-modern” health centers in the town of Beni, he said. — Reuters

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3 in 10 health facilities in PH lack clean toilets – WHO

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A joint report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) noted that three in 10 health care facilities in the Philippines have no access to clean toilets.

The WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) report released on April 4, 2019, noted that 23 percent of the country’s health facilities have unclean toilets while four percent have no toilets at all.

According to WHO, these services are very important “in preventing infections, reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance and providing quality care, particularly for safe childbirth” and not having such will imperil the safety of the public.

“Healthcare facilities won’t be able to provide quality care to people if there is no safe water, toilet or hand washing facility,” said WHO representative in the Philippines Dr. Gundo Weiler.

The report cited the recent water shortage in Metro Manila which highlighted the need for long-term solutions to water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities in the country.

Five major hospitals in Metro Manila were adversely affected by water shortage in March this year.

These hospitals were Rizal Medical Center in Pasig City; National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong City; and National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Children’s Medical Center and Quirino Memorial Medical Center, all in Quezon City.

“The Philippines must ensure that safe WASH facilities are available and accessible to ensure health for all Filipinos,” Wieler added.

On the program Get It Straight with Daniel Razon on Wednesday (April 24), Health Secretary Francisco Duque III agreed that the lack of water supply must be prioritized especially as it is a crucial element to sanitation and hygiene.

He also noted that local government units should be mandated to ensure that public facilities in their areas are fully equipped with clean and proper hygiene facilities.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III

“Kinakailangan tugunan muna ang kakulangan sa tubig, iyong sufficient, adequate supply of water. Iyan po ang mahalaga, siguraduhin muna higit sa lahat,” he said.

(The lack of sufficient and adequate water supply should be addressed first. It’s the most important thing that should be secured first.)

“Saka natin pag-usapan, dapat siguro i-penalize natin iyong mga local government units na sila ang dapat maniguro na may sapat na palikuran at sapat na tubig at para makamit natin ang kagustuhan nating ito ay maging bahagi ng Universal Health Care (program),” he added.

(Then we can discuss next, maybe [recommend] the penalizing of local government units as they are the ones responsible in ensuring sufficient toilet facilities and water supply to achieve our goals and make it part of the Universal Health Care (program).) – Marje Pelayo

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WHO promotes ‘Salt Awareness Week’: 5g of salt a day is OK

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

A cook sprinkles salt on fries at a cafe in the Frietmuseum in Bruges September 27, 2011. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016 agreed to reduce by 30% the global population’s intake of salt (sodium) by 2025.

In observance of the ‘Salt Awareness Week’ from March 4 to 10, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) joins the international community in efforts to campaign salt-intake reduction in view of the risks that high salt intake may cause to human health.

WHO recommends just under a teaspoon or less than 5 grams of salt intake a day for adults while children are recommended to have less or adjusted amount based on their energy requirements.

The WHO recommends iodized or “fortified” with iodine, “essential for healthy brain development in the fetus and young child and optimizing people’s mental function in general”.

However, in many countries, salt comes in different, ‘unrecognizable’ forms.

According to a UK-based expert group World Action on Salt and Health (WASH), “salty sauces such as soy sauce are big contributors of salt to diets worldwide”.

Packaged food or ready meals and food served in restaurants, food chains and cafeterias are actually loaded with salt.

Health and wellness experts say that though salt is an essential part of our diet, it should come in small amounts as eating too much salt can have huge health impacts.

High sodium intake raises blood pressure that leads to stroke and heart diseases, the two biggest causes of death and disability worldwide, according to WHO.

In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that more than 170,000 individuals die each year from heart diseases, specifically hypertension.

A study from the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health added that too much salt intake may develop urinary tract infection (UTI); kidney stones; bone mineral loss in women; and hypercalciuria or increased calcium in the urine which may lead renal failure; and other disabilities.

PH’s Internet-based ‘Salt Calculator’

In 2015, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute – Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) together with Unilever Philippines launched an Internet-based tool that measures one’s salt intake.

The web-based tool presents main food sources of salt in Filipino diets and reveals an individual’s salt intake based on the result of the Sodium Intake Level Test provided.

The ‘salt calculator’ can be accessed through FNRI-DOST’s website www.i.fnri.dost.gov.ph.

Read product labels for salt content: Green is healthy

In Northern Ireland, the country’s Public Health Agency (PHA) issued high salt intake warning to remind the public of the dangers of eating too much salt.

Caroline Bloomfield, health and social well being improvement senior manager at PHA noted the importance of tasting the food first to know if adding salt is necessary than automatically adding salt to the food.

The agency also advises consumers to read product labels before buying any ready-to-eat food items.

These labels have indicators of the nutritional value a portion of food accounts for and will guide consumers if the product has high, medium or low amount of salt.

Red means high; amber means medium; and green means low which imply that the more greens you buy, the healthier are your choices.

Meanwhile, there are products that do not use the color codes but the amount of salt is indicated by grams.

A product is high in salt if it contains more than 1.5g of salt per 100g.

The product has medium amount if the salt content is between 0.3g and 1.5g while 0.3g of salt or less per 100g is considered low.

The WHO recommends discipline in eating and watch the salt content in food that we eat.

To date, WHO-member states are bound to adhere with the “Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health” which calls on governments to take action to support healthy diets and physical activity at local, regional and global level. – Marje Pelayo

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WHO says migrants risk illness in host countries, lack access to health care

by admin   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Female migrants standing in line to get their temperatures checked by a Red Cross worker in Malaga, Spain on January 15, 2018 | Reuters

Migrants and refugees arriving in Europe are likely to be healthy but risk falling sick due to poor living conditions in their host countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a first-ever report on migrants’ health.

WHO regional director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab, said on Monday (January 21) that refugees and migrants in Europe do not bring “exotic” diseases but are in higher risk to of getting sick because they lack access to health care.

Poor living conditions also increase their risk for cardiovascular diseases, stroke and cancer, though they are less affected than their host populations on arrival, WHO said.

The report said that a significant proportion of migrants and refugees who are HIV positive acquired the infection after they arrived in Europe. Despite a widespread assumption to the contrary, there is only a very low risk of refugees and migrants transmitting communicable diseases to their host population.

Jakab said that in some European countries “citizens estimate that there are three or four times more migrants than they are in reality”. — Reuters

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