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

by admin   |   Posted on Friday, 12 October 2018 10:44 AM

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

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, 6 March 2019 12:59 PM

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, 22 January 2019 10:32 AM

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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Curbing climate change could save millions of lives – WHO

by admin   |   Posted on Thursday, 6 December 2018 10:08 AM

FILE PHOTO: The World Health Organization (WHO) logo is pictured at the entrance of its headquarters in Geneva, January 25, 2015. REUTERS/PIERRE ALBOUY

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday (December 5) that mitigating climate change would save millions of lives at a global level.

According to WHO, exposure to pollution results in seven million deaths every year. The organization says climate change affects a number of diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, lung cancer, stroke or ischemic heart diseases.

Speaking during COP24, United Nations talks on climate change in Katowice, Poland, WHO’s head of environmental determinants of health, Maria Neira said a number of pulmonary and heart diseases caused by pollution were not included in decision-making processes and documents related to climate change.

Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, a team leader for climate change and health with WHO, added that health benefits of meeting the 2 Degree C Goal, which aims to cap a rise in average surface temperatures at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), are approximately twice the value of what it would cost to implement that mitigation at the global level.

COP24 talks are billed as the most important U.N. conference since the landmark Paris 2015 deal on climate change. Over the next two weeks, the aim is to make an end-of-year deadline for agreeing on a rule book on how to enforce global action to limit further warming of the planet. — Reuters

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