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WHO sees Congo’s Ebola outbreak lasting 3-4 months at least

by admin   |   Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2018

Congolese officials and the World Health Organization officials wear protective suits as they participate in a training against the Ebola virus near the town of Beni in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, August 11, 2018. REUTERS/Samuel Mambo

Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola outbreak is expected to last several months and could spread at any time to Uganda or Rwanda, which are well prepared but have not approved the use of a vaccine, the World Health Organization said on Thursday (October 11).

But the most concerning area is the city of Beni in Congo’s North Kivu province, where dozens of people who may have been exposed to the deadly disease are hiding from health workers, emergency response chief Peter Salama told Reuters.

The outbreak has now caused 194 cases and 122 deaths, and two-thirds of cases in the past month have been in and around Beni, where the Ebola response was disrupted last month by a spate of attacks by armed groups and a period of official mourning.

The next few days will tell if the recent wave of infections in Beni is over, he said, depending on the security situation and the local community’s willingness to support the response.

Many of the new cases are already known to health workers as people who have had contact with recorded Ebola patients. On average, 80-90 percent of people with potential Ebola exposure is being monitored on a daily basis.

But a smaller number, around 40 or more, are “actively avoiding follow-up” and have not been found for days on end, increasing the risk of the disease spreading, Salama said. More than 90 percent of those people were in Beni, he added.

Some Ebola victims are suspicious of health workers, fearing that hospitalization is a death sentence – despite the obvious risks of missing out on treatment – while families believe that bodies may not be returned for traditional burials.

Local authorities in Beni have threatened people who harbor suspected patients with three-month jail sentences. — Reuters

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WHO warns against the spread of antimicrobial resistance

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, June 20th, 2019

A person holds pharmaceutical tablets and capsules in this picture illustration taken in Ljubljana September 18, 2013. REUTERS/SRDJAN ZIVULOVIC.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns against the spread of antimicrobial resistance around the world.

A recent UN report showed that 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases. Among the 700,000 there are around 230,000 people who die from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

“Drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050 and damage to the economy as catastrophic as the 2008-2009 global financial crisis,” the report reads.

On June 18, the WHO launched a campaign which aims to reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance, adverse events and costs. 

The AWaRe tool or Access, Watch, Reserve tool aims to make antibiotic use safer and more effective. The tool specifies which antibiotics to use for the most common and serious infections.

Dr. Hanan Balkhy, WHO Assistant-Director General for antimicrobial resistance said tackling antimicrobial resistance requires a careful balance between access and preservation

“The AWaRe tool can guide policy to ensure patients keep being treated, while also limiting use of the antibiotics most at risk of resistance,” she said.—AAC

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#WorldBloodDonorDay: WHO urges people to give blood, save lives

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the public to donate blood ahead of the celebration of the World Blood Donor Day on June 14 (Friday).

In a Twitter post, the WHO Philippines called on the public to participate in a blood donation drive they will organize with the Philippine Blood Center on June 13 (Thursday).

The bloodletting activity will be held in Sta. Cruz town, Manila from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“In early celebration of #WorldBloodDonorDay, WHO Philippines will be organizing a blood donation drive on 13 June, with the Philippine Blood Center,” the WHO Philippines announced.

“Join us at our office inside the @DOHgov compound from 9am to 4pm. Donate blood, save lives!” the agency added.   

According to the WHO website, the theme for this year’s campaign is blood donation and universal access to safe blood transfusion, as a component of achieving universal health coverage.   

The slogan “Safe blood for all” was also developed to raise awareness on the universal need for safe blood in the delivery of health care and the crucial roles that voluntary donations play in achieving the goal of universal health coverage.

The WHO said the theme aims to strongly encourage more people all over the world to donate blood regularly, and to urge all governments and health authorities to provide adequate resources and implement systems to increase blood collection, promote/implement appropriate clinical use of blood, and to set up policies for the oversight and surveillance on the whole chain of blood transfusion.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III emphasized the need for blood especially during rainy season when mosquito-borne disease called dengue is more prevalent in the Philippines.

“That’s the time when you will have to consider ensuring availability of blood. In areas of identified hotspots, you have to ensure that delivery units have adequate stock of blood,” Duque said.

Aside from raising awareness, according to the WHO, the event also “serves to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.”The host country for World Blood Donor Day 2019 is Rwanda and the global event will be held in Kigali on June 14.

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Country in a ‘win-win-win’ situation with increased cigarette tax—WHO

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that raising taxes on cigarette will be a “win-win-win” situation and can save around 460,000 lives.

According to WHO representative to the Philippines, Gundo Weiler, on Monday (June 3) excise taxes on cigarette is a win for the economy.

“We know that individually, especially for the poorest segment of the society, increasing [the price of] tobacco will actually help them save money. They spend less on cigarettes. They will spend less on unnecessary health care,” he said.

Weiler adds that the collected tax can be used to fund the government’s Universal Health Care (UHC).

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