WHO: Tobacco kills 8 million each year; e-cigarettes, not a proven alternative

Robie de Guzman   •   May 30, 2019   •   3311

FILE PHOTO – A cigarette burns in an ashtray at a pub in Prague, Czech Republic, May 8, 2017. REUTERS/David W Cerny

Tobacco kills eight million people each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday (May 29), ahead of World No Tobacco Day on Friday (May 31).

The WHO said 40 percent of tobacco victims die from lung diseases and about one million from second-hand smoke.

More than 60,000 children under 5 years old die of lower respiratory infections caused by second-hand smoke, WHO director for non-communicable diseases, Vinayak Prasad, said in a briefing.

“Out of these 8 million, we have about 3.3 million — about 40% — of these deaths, due to lung diseases. What are these lung diseases: cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and even tuberculosis,” said WHO Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases Director, Dr. Vinayak Prasad.

Globally, there are around 1.1 billion smokers.

Anti-tobacco campaigns and measures are bearing fruit, but mostly in high-income countries, Prasad said, while the smoking population remained constant or even increased in low-income countries, where the tobacco industry is now focusing sales efforts.

Prasad issued a caveat on e-cigarettes, saying there is no evidence proving they are a safer alternative to cigarettes, warning that it normalizes smoking and hooks young people.

“There is a perception that these are safe products and it is actually hitting the market and the group which is most vulnerable — children, teenage children…So it is a problem we are seeing in a number of countries now,” he said.

The WHO recommends that e-cigarettes be subjected to the same guidelines as for tobacco products, meaning non-smokers should be protected from second-hand smoke, pregnant women should be prohibited from using them, and advertising content must be regulated.

“These products (e-cigarettes) are not smokeless, these products are tobacco products, so there are two big things: one is these are tobacco products, and our recommendations as WHO (World Health Organization) is ‘please regulate them as tobacco products’. The claims that these are less harmful… We don’t know,” he said.

“There is no evidence to demonstrate that and therefore we follow the precautionary principle: take precautions, treat them as tobacco products, and regulate them, the way you regulate for other products,” he added.

Earlier this week, more than 100 public health and anti-tobacco organizations called on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to take swift action to curb advertising of tobacco products on their platforms.

This is after a Reuters report documented how cigarette maker Philip Morris International has used young personalities on Instagram to sell a new “heated tobacco” product called IQOS. (REUTERS)

READ: Rules on use of e-cigarettes, vapes out next week – DOH

WHO discontinues hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir trial for COVID-19 treatment

UNTV News   •   July 6, 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Saturday that it was discontinuing hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir arms for its Solidarity Trial, citing little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

The WHO said the decision was in light of the evidence from the Solidarity Trial interim results.

“These interim trial results show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care. Solidarity trial investigators will interrupt the trials with immediate effect,” the WHO said in a press release.

But the organization said this decision applies only to hospitalized patients and does not affect the possible evaluation in other studies of hydroxychloroquine or lopinavir/ritonavir in non-hospitalized patients or as pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19.

The Solidarity Trial was established by the WHO in March to find an effective COVID-19 treatment for hospitalized patients. It was originally designed to have five trial arms, including standard or usual care provided to COVID-19 patients, remdesivir, lopinavir/ritonavir combined, lopinavir/ritonavir combined with interferon beta, and hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine.

By enrolling patients in multiple countries, the Solidarity Trial aims to rapidly discover whether any of the drugs slow disease progression or improve survival. (Reuters)

Global COVID-19 infections surpass 10.9 million

UNTV News   •   July 6, 2020

The global number of confirmed infections of COVID-19 reached 10,922,324 and the disease claimed 523,011 lives as of 14:31 CEST Saturday, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO data showed the Americas reported the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world with the number reaching 5,575,482, followed by Europe and Eastern Mediterranean which confirmed 2,757,556 and 1,135,604 cases, respectively.

The United States topped all countries with 2,724,433 cases. The numbers of the confirmed cases in Brazil, Russia and India are also prominent, reaching 1.49 million, 674,515 and 648,315, respectively.

In Russia, the COVID-19 death toll surpassed 10,000 to reach 10,027 on Saturday. Moscow, the country’s worst-hit region, reported 680 new cases on the day, taking its tally of infections to 224,210.

Germany has launched fast-track COVID-19 testing in some airports for international travelers as it gradually recovers flights and tourism industry.

The test at an onsite laboratory costs 190 Euros per person. The results will come out in three to four hours.

In the United Kingdom, people welcomed “Super Saturday” as the country reopened barber shops, bars and restaurants.

Early in the morning on Saturday, long queues formed at the door of almost every barber shop as patrons lined up to finally have a haircut after being confined to their homes for more than three months.

Japan confirmed 114 new cases from 00:00 to 15:00 on Sunday, seeing the fourth consecutive day reporting more than 100 new cases in a single day.

The Iranian government has made wearing face mask in public places mandatory from Sunday amid increasing infections and fatalities brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It requires all people to wear face masks at public gathering places, indoor public places and in government offices providing public services.

In Turkey, shopping malls are grappling with the slowdown in business as the country faces an economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Bank recently estimated Turkey’s economic growth to be 0.5 percent this year,0.3 percentage point lower than the bank’s prospect before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Egypt is seeing rising unemployment rate due to the pandemic. The rate has increased from 7.7 percent in this year’s first quarter to 9.2 percent in April, recording 2.6 million jobless people.

The bleak employment situation is also happening in South Africa. The country’s youth unemployment rate was close to 60 percent before the COVID-19 hit. The rate now is likely higher as the pandemic affects the country’s economy and creates fewer job opportunities. (Reuters)

Pilipinas, nangangailangan pa ng higit 70K contact tracers – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Aminado ang Department of Health (DOH) na malaki pa ang pangangailangan ng bansa pagdating sa bilang ng contact tracers sa gitna ng nagpapatuloy na banta ng novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Sa televised press briefing ngayong Mierkules, Hulyo 1, sinabi ni DOH spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire na mahigit sa 70-libong contact tracers pa ang kailangan sa bansa upang maabot ang lagpas 130,000 benchmark ng contact tracers batay sa panuntunan ng World Health Organization (WHO).

Ani Vergeire, nasa 54-libo lang ang contact tracers sa ngayon kaya masasabing mababa ang contact tracing efforts sa bansa.

“Ang naging sistema kasi nilagyan natin ng standard at dapat sa 800 persons in a community dapat may isa kang contact tracer,” paliwanag ng opisyal.

Una nang sinabi ni WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe na kailangan pang palakasin ng pamahalaan ang contact tracing efforts dahil isa ito sa mga mahahalagang hakbang upang masugpo ang pagkalat ng coronavirus disease.

“What we are advocating is that–the DOH and the government—invest in- as they invest in expanding testing capacity —to invest in actually contact tracing, identifying contacts, and quarantining and isolating them so that we prevent further transmission from those cases. Unfortunately, this aspect of the Philippine response needs a little more strengthening,” ani Abeyasinghe.

Sinabi naman ng DOH na batid nila ang pangangailangang ito ngunit hindi ito ganap na masolusyonan dahil sa kakulangan na rin ng pondo para sa hiring ng dagdag na contact tracers.

“Actually those are valid observations. Meron naman talaga tayong observations na ganyan that some LGUs (local government units), meron talaga tayong kakakulangan for contact tracing,” ani Vergeire.

Aabot sa P11.7 bilyon ang pondong kailangan para makapag-hire ng mas maraming contact tracer.

Una nang tinutulan ng ilang senador ang planong ito ng DOH, at ipinanukalang gamitin na lamang ng ahensiya ang mga health worker sa bawat barangay gayundin ang contact tracing solutions na ginagamit na rin ng ilang lokal na pamahalaan.

Ngunit giit na Vergeire, dapat pumasa sa qualifications na inirekomenda ng Department of the Interior and Local Government ang mga magsisilbing contact tracers.

“Maipaliwanag nila sa pamilya kung ano ba talaga ang COVID, kung bakit tayo nagte-trace ng contacts, ano ba ang consequences kapagka kumalat and so on and so forth,” sabi ng opisyal.

“So, kasali rin sila doon sa monitoring team sa grounds. So, maraming task na in-identify,” dagdag pa niya.

Patuloy na nananawagan ang DOH sa mga lokal na pamahalaan na palakasin at dagdagan pa ang kanilang contact tracing teams upang mapabilis ang isolation ng mga nagkaroon ng direct contact sa mga taong nag-positibo sa COVID-19. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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