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

Marje Pelayo   •   March 6, 2019   •   5231

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

WHO pauses hydroxychloroquine trial over safety concerns

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

The World Health Organization has suspended testing the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients due to safety concerns, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by U.S. President Donald Trump and others as a possible treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Earlier this month, Trump said he was taking the drug to ward off the virus.

The WHO has previously recommended against using hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent coronavirus infections, except as part of clinical trials.

The decision to pause the trial was done out of an abundance of caution while safety data is reviewed.

The WHO said that other arms of the so-called ‘Solidarity trial’ – a major international initiative to hold clinical tests of potential treatments for the virus – were continuing. (Reuters)

Countries around globe plan further easing of restrictions as cases pass 5.2 million

UNTV News   •   May 25, 2020

Countries around the world are considering to further ease restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) despite that the global confirmed infections surpassed 5.2 million.

According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), the global confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 5,206,614, including 337,736 deaths, as of 19:07 CEST Sunday.

The United States continues to be the country with the most confirmed cases and deaths caused by COVID-19 in the world, followed by Brazil and Russia.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. topped 1.64 million as of 23:32 EST on Sunday, reaching 1,641,585, and the death toll of COVID-19 rose to 97,686, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil has emerged as world’s second-worst hit country for coronavirus cases, with 363,211 confirmed cases registered.

Brazil registered 653 deaths from the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 22,666, the Ministry of Health reported Sunday evening local time.

The largest country in Latin America also registered 15,813 new cases in the last 24 hours.

Russia confirmed 8,599 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, raising its total number of infections to 344,481, its coronavirus response center said in a statement Sunday.

The death toll climbed by 153 to 3,541, while 113,299 people recovered, including 5,363 over the last 24 hours, according to the center.

As of Sunday, more than 8.6 million COVID-19 tests had been conducted in Russia.

Russian Health Ministry’s chief epidemiologist Nikolai Briko said on Sunday that Russia currently is not ready to lift all restrictions.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed an order to subsidize regional budgets in the amount of 100 billion rubles to compensate for the reduction in regional fiscal revenue, according to a report from TASS on Sunday.

The funds will be distributed among 56 entities of the Russian Federation, whose tax and non-tax receipts as of May 1, 2020 were below those in the previous two years.

In the United Kingdom, another 118 COVID-19 patients died as of Saturday afternoon, bringing the total coronavirus-related death toll in the country to 36,793, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday.

The figures include deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community.

Chairing Sunday’s Downing Street daily press briefing, Johnson confirmed that primary schools in England will partially reopen for pupils from June 1, including the Reception, Year One, and Year Six in primary schools.

He added that he intends for secondary schools to provide some contact for Year 10 and Year 12 students to help them to prepare for exams next year from June 15.

Italy’s Civil Protection Department said on Sunday that another 50 COVID-19 patients died in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s death toll to 32,785, out of total infection cases of 229,858.

The number of recoveries rose to 140,479, an increase of 1,639 compared to Saturday. Nationwide, the number of active infections fell by 1,158 to 56,594, according to the department.

Of those active infections, 553 are being treated in intensive care, a decrease of 19 compared to Saturday, and 8,613 people are hospitalized with symptoms, down by 82 over the past 24 hours.

The remaining 47,428 people, or 84 percent, are in isolation at home without or with only mild symptoms.

Italy has about 60 million population, and about 21.98 million of them have conducted COVID-19 test.

Italy entered the second phase of its coronavirus lockdown on May 4. Stores, restaurants, barber shops and museums reopened last Monday. Staring from this Monday, gyms will reopen as well.

The Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare said on Sunday that the coronavirus death toll rose by 70 to 28,752 in the country.

According to the ministry, 70 people lost their lives in the 24 hours until midnight on Saturday, 22 more than the number reported a day earlier.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in the country rose to 235,772 from 235,290, it said.

Starting Monday, Spain will further ease some COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, allowing some shops and stores at commercial centers, as well as schools in some areas to reopen. It will also reduce restrictions on travel.

The Community of Madrid and the city of Barcelona – areas that did not move from Zero to Phase One before – will also start to reopen parks, museums, religious sites, and outdoor dining places under strict prevention measures.

The number of patients hospitalized for the COVID-19 infection in France rose by seven to 17,185 in the last 24 hours, the first such increase since mid-April, according to data released on Sunday by the Health Ministry.

The number of patients in intensive care continued the downward trend, falling by 10 to 1,655.

The number of confirmed cases, meanwhile, rose to 144,921, an increase of 115 – the lowest daily increase since mid-March.

The overall death toll in hospitals increased by 36, while the death toll in social and medico-social establishments will be updated on Monday.

The French government this week will announce plans on loosening restrictions, especially plans for the summer vocation, French Transport and Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne said in an interview on Sunday.

People can travel within the country, but may still face restrictions on traveling abroad.

The Japanese government plans to fully lift the state of emergency in the Tokyo metropolitan area and Hokkaido on Monday, economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said Sunday.

The decision came as the number of new COVID-19 cases is on a declining trend and the medical system also improved.

Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama and Hokkaido were the last remaining areas under the state of emergency among the country’s 47 prefectures.

The confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country increased by 26 to reach 16,569, according to the latest figures from the health ministry and local authorities on Sunday.

The number excludes the 712 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama near Tokyo.

In Tokyo, 14 new infections were reported on Sunday, raising the total number in the prefecture to 5,152 so far, while nine deaths were confirmed on the same day. (Reuters)

WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day, cases near five million

UNTV News   •   May 21, 2020

The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday (May 20) for the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations emerge from lockdown.

The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began, as the total number of cases world-wide approached five million.

Speaking at a news conference, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that two thirds of those cases had come from just four countries.

The WHO has come under fire from U.S. President Donald Trump, who accuses it of having mishandled the outbreak and favouring China. This week Trump threatened to withdraw from the WHO and permanently withhold funding.

Tedros acknowledged having received a letter from Trump, but declined to comment further.

In comments that could annoy Trump further, the head of the WHO’s emergency programme, Dr. Mike Ryan, told the press conference that people should avoid using the malaria medicine hydroxychloroquine, except for conditions it is proven to treat. Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus infection.

Tedros said he was committed to accountability. The WHO has announced a review into the response to the pandemic, which emerged in China late last year.

“WHO calls for accountability more than anyone. It has to be done and when it’s done it has to be a comprehensive one,” he said of the review, while declining to give a timeline for it starting. (Reuters)

(Production: Louisa Naks)

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