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

admin   •   January 22, 2019   •   20986

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

Adults should have at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 5, 2019

Much as we enjoy being a couch potato, our bodies need the right amount of exercise to stay healthy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults ages 18–64, to have at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week or 75 minutes of rigorous physical activity a week.

Studies have shown that physically adults have lower rates of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

Other benefits include:

  • less risk of a hip or vertebral fracture;
  • exhibit a higher level of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness; and
  • more likely to achieve weight maintenance, have a healthier body mass and composition.

The WHO said the recommendation is applicable to all healthy adults. However, there will be adjustments depending on the exercise capacity of an individual and the specific health risks or limitations.

“There are multiple ways of accumulating the total of 150 minutes per week. The concept of accumulation refers to meeting the goal of 150 minutes per week by performing activities in multiple shorter bouts, of at least 10 minutes each, spread throughout the week then adding together the time spent during each of these bouts: e.g. 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 times per week,” according to their statement.—AAC

WHO declares eradication of second strain of wild poliovirus strain

Robie de Guzman   •   October 25, 2019

A child receives an oral polio vaccine from Red Cross volunteers during a vaccination program by the UNICEF at a public school building turned into a temporary evacuation center in the super typhoon devastated city of Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines, 26 November 2013. EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) has been eradicated worldwide, hailing the development as a “historic achievement for humanity.”

The WHO made the announcement on World Polio day on Oct. 24.

There are three strains of wild poliovirus. All three types can cause irreversible paralysis or even death but the WHO said these three have genetic and virologic differences that must be eradicated individually.

The WPV3 is the second poliovoirus strain to be wiped out following the eradication of wild poliovirus 2 in 2015. The last confirmed case of WPV3 was reported in northern Nigeria in 2012, according to the WHO.

An independent panel of experts concluded that WPV3 strain has been eradicated after meeting the required criteria for verification.

“The achievement of polio eradication will be a milestone for global health. Commitment from partners and countries, coupled with innovation, means of the three wild polio serotypes, only type one remains,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization and Chair of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Polio Oversight Board said in a statement.

“We remain fully committed to ensuring that all necessary resources are made available to eradicate all poliovirus strains. We urge all our other stakeholders and partners to also stay the course until final success is achieved,” he added.

According to Professor David Salisbury, chair of the independent Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication, the type 1 of wild poliovirus still continues to circulate in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We cannot stop our efforts now: we must eradicate all remaining strains of all polioviruses,” Salisbury said in a statement.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease which spreads rapidly. It can cause paralysis and, on rare occasions, can be fatal.

Health authorities said there is no cure for polio and it can only be prevented with multiple doses of polio vaccines that have long been proven safe and effective.

The WHO said eradicating WPV3 proves that a polio-free world is achievable. Key to success will be the ongoing commitment of the international development community. 

“To this effect, as part of a Global Health Week in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in November 2019, the Reaching the Last Mile Forum will focus international attention on eradication of the world’s deadliest diseases,” the WHO said.

The agency believes the event will provide an opportunity for world leaders and civil society organizations to contribute to the last mile of polio eradication.

DOH, WHO warn public anew of e-cigarettes harmful effects

Robie de Guzman   •   October 18, 2019

FILE PHOTO: An exhibitor staff member uses an electronic cigarette at Beijing International Vapor Distribution Alliance Expo (VAPE CHINA EXPO) in Beijing, July 24, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) once again called on the public, especially pregnant women and young adults, to refrain from vaping and using electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and other heated tobacco products.

The DOH made the call after the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced new International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 10 code U07.0, an international tool for classifying and monitoring diseases, following its warning on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes and other similar devices.

The tool, according to WHO, will be used for immediate reporting of acutely ill patients who have used e-cigarettes in the last 90 days, with no other plausible causes for illness.

“Electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products are sold in the market as alternatives for smokers trying to wean themselves off tobacco. Some studies claim that they contain fewer toxic chemicals and are less harmful alternatives to cigarettes,” DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.

“We do not support their claim of reduced harm. These products endanger the health of both users and non-users, and are clearly not meant for children,” he added.

The WHO introduced new ICD codes in response to the epidemic in the United States involving healthy young people who were reported to have developed vaping-related illness in recent months.

With 1,299 cases and 26 deaths reported, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration are currently investigating the reports.

In support of WHO’s efforts, the DOH urged all government and private hospitals, clinics and other health facilities to use proper codes for designating vaping-related disorders to allow existing health information systems to capture data on vaping-related disorders.

Information on the potential harm of novel and emerging nicotine products can guide future policy directions for electronic cigarettes.

All health and allied health professionals are urged to be vigilant in identifying risks during routine clinical evaluations by taking the history of tobacco use and use of e-cigarettes or vapes in all patients.

DOH also called on the medical community, parents and teachers to help address the widespread use of electronic cigarettes, particularly among the youth and young adults.

“People who have recently used e-cigarettes or other vaping products should immediately seek medical attention if they develop respiratory symptoms,” Duque said.

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