Category: World Health Organization (Page 1 of 2)

World Health Organization: The end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight.

As the number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 plunged to its lowest since March 2020, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that the end of the pandemic is now in sight.

“We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic”, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists during his regular weekly press conference.

The UN health agency’s Director-General explained however, that the world is “not there yet”.

Finish line in sight

“A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line comes into view. She runs harder, with all the energy she has left. So must we.

We can see the finish line.

We’re in a winning position.

But now is the worst time to stop running”, he underscored.

He also warned that if the world does not take the opportunity now, there is still a risk of more variants, deaths, disruption, and uncertainty.

“So, let’s seize this opportunity”, he urged, announcing that WHO is releasing six short policy briefs that outline the key actions that all governments must take now to “finish the race”.

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United Nations: “Artificial Intelligence can help halve road deaths by 2030”.

Countries and investors need to step up the development and use of Artificial Intelligence to keep roads safe for everyone, three UN Special Envoys said on Thursday, leading a new AI for Road Safety initiative. 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a call for action to halve the annual rate of road deaths globally and ensure access to safe, affordable and sustainable transport for everyone by 2030

According to the newly launched initiative, faster progress on Artificial Intelligence is vital to make this happen, especially in low and middle-income countries, where the most lives are lost on the roads each year. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1.3 million people die annually as a result of road traffic crashes. 

Between 20 and 50 million more suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability. 

Artificial Intelligence can help in different ways:

  • including better collection and analysis of crash data
  • enhancing road infrastructure
  • increasing the efficiency of post-crash response
  • and inspiring innovation in the regulatory frameworks.  

This approach requires equitable access to data and the ethical use of algorithms, which many countries currently lack, leaving them unable to identify road safety solutions, according UN News.

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United Nations: “COVID-19 deals and delays unacceptable”.

While 80 per cent of citizens in high and upper-middle income nations have had a dose of COVID-19 vaccine, that figure stands at just 20 per cent for those living below the top tiers, according to a joint statement issued by the United Nations and partner agencies, responsible for the multilateral COVAX initiative to provide equal access for all

It’s a year since the innovative scheme was born, in a bid to guarantee timely access to everyone, regardless of their income, status or location, to life-saving jabs, as the pandemic gripped the world. 

“Yet, the global picture of access to COVID-19 vaccines is unacceptable”, said the statement released on Wednesday. 

“In the critical months during which COVAX was created, signed on participants, pooled demand, and raised enough money to make advance purchases of vaccines, much of the early global supply had already been bought by wealthy nations.” 

In a news briefing in Geneva, World Health Organization chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reminded journalists of his call, a month ago, for a global moratorium on booster doses, at least until the end of September, in order to prioritise the vaccination of the most at-risk people around the world who are yet to receive their first dose. 

“There has been little change in the global situation since then, so today I am calling for an extension of the moratorium until at least the end of the year, to enable every country to vaccinate at least 40 percent of its population,” he explained.   

For Tedros, the world’s largest producers, consumers and donors of vaccines in the world’s 20 leading economies hold the key to vaccine equity and ending the pandemic

Now is the time for true leadership, not empty promises,” he said.   

The WHO wants to support every country’s efforts to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of their populations by the end of this month, at least 40 per cent by the end of this year and 70 per cent of the global population by the middle of next year, according UN News

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World Health Organization to G20 Health Ministers: “meet COVID-19 pledges”.

The head of the World Health Organization told the G20 Health Ministers in Rome on Sunday “that despite hopes that by now the pandemic would be under control the opposite is true”.

Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed out that “many countries continue to face steep increases in cases and deaths”, despite that more than five billion vaccines have been administered globally.

“But almost 75 per cent of those doses have been administered in just 10 countries”, he explained.

He added that at 2 per centAfrica has the lowest vaccination coverage, this is unacceptable”.

The World Health Organizations global targets are to support every country to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of its population by the end of the month, at least 40 per cent by the end of the year, and 70 per cent by the middle of next year

We can still reach these targets, but only with the commitment and support of G20 countries”, Tedros stated

As the largest producers, consumers and donors of COVID-19 vaccines, he upheld that they hold the key to achieving vaccine equity and ending the pandemic.

“We can never allow a pandemic on this scale to happen again.

 And we can never allow an injustice like this to happen again”, spelled out the WHO chief, according UN News.

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World Health Organization: “rich countries should donate at least 1 billion vaccine doses”.

Rich countries must share their supplies of COVID-19 vaccines quickly, in line with recommendations made earlier this year by an independent panel appointed by the World Health Organization, the former co-chairs said on Tuesday.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, and Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, expressed deep concern over the slow pace of vaccine redistribution from high-income to low-income countries.

The two former leaders served as co-chairs of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), launched by WHO in July 2020.

A critical step

The Independent Panel report recommended that high-income countries ensure that at least one billion doses of vaccines available to them were redistributed to 92 low and middle-income countries by 1 September, and a further one billion doses by mid-2022”, they declared.  

“Ensuring that all those around the world most vulnerable to the impact of the virus, including healthcare workers, older people and those with significant comorbidities, can be vaccinated quickly is a critical step towards curbing the pandemic“, according UN News.

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WHO chief: ‘coming months critical for future pandemic preparedness’.

The next three months will be a critical period for stepping up global collective action against future pandemics, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, pointing to three major meetings on the international agenda

Although the COVID-19 caseload stabilized last week, after nearly two months of increases, the level remains high, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, speaking during his regular press briefing from Geneva. 

Cases have surpassed 4.5 million globally, with 68,000 deaths

“Some regions and countries continue to see steep increases in cases and deaths, while others are declining,” he reported.

As long as this virus is circulating anywhere, it’s a threat everywhere”. 

Preparing for future pandemics 

WHO is progressing on plans to strengthen global defense against future epidemics and pandemics, Tedros said. 

He pointed out that with the UN General Assembly in September, followed by the G20 Summit in October, and a special session of WHO’s governing body set for November, the next three months represent “a critical period for shaping the future of pandemic preparedness and response”, according UN News.

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United Nations: COVID-19 vaccine shipments boost for Africa.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) nearly four million doses of coronavirus vaccines from the UN-partnered COVAX initiative arrived in Africa last week, compared with just 245,000 for all of June. 

Reminding that the continent is still “in the throes of the pandemic’s third wave”, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, told a virtual press conference with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, “we are not out of the woods yet”. 

WHO said that it hoped COVAX would ship 520 million doses to Africa by the end of 2021, in addition to more shots from other sources, including deliveries from the African Union, which is expected to supply around 45 million jabs by the end of the year. 

In total, almost 79 million vaccine doses have reached Africa but only 21 million people, or just 1.6 per cent of Africa’s population, are fully vaccinated.  

“We are beginning to see positive signs as vaccine deliveries to Africa are picking up pace after nearly coming to a halt”, said Dr. Moeti. 

Around 30 countries have used more than three-quarters of the vaccines they received, according to WHO. 

Despite the vaccine supply crunch, seven countries, including Equatorial GuineaMauritius, Morocco and Seychelles, have reached vaccination rates significantly above the continental average. 

“Considering a two-dose schedule, as is the case with most COVID-19 vaccines, 820 million vaccine doses are needed to reach the target of fully vaccinating 30 per cent of Africa’s population by the end of this year”, explained the UN official.

Africa still needs more than 700 million doses to reach this target. 

To this end, COVAX has sealed deals with Sinopharm and Sinovac to immediately supply 110 million doses to low-income countries, of which 32.5 million are destined for Africa.  

“These doses have been allocated to countries this week and will be delivered as soon as countries are ready to receive them”, said Dr. Moetim, according UN News.

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United Nations: ‘Lack of global solidarity’, slow vaccination rates put Indonesia in COVID glare.

A “lack of global solidarity” including the hoarding of vaccines by richer nations as well as slow vaccination rate has contributed to Indonesia becoming the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in Asia, according to the UN’s top official in the country.

Indonesia, like many of countries in South East Asia, had until recently been successful in mitigating the worst health impacts of COVID-19; some form of physical distancing measures have long been in place.

Since taking up my post here in Indonesia in October 2020, I’ve only met most of my colleagues on screen and have almost entirely avoided Jakarta’s notorious traffic jams.

Still, the non-health impacts of the pandemic are stark.

Indonesia has made remarkable progress in alleviating poverty over the past decade, but COVID-19 has set back some of those vital gains.

As elsewhere, COVID-19’s economic burden has fallen disproportionately on women, and other marginalized groups.

Since May, however, the health crisis has become increasingly urgent. New COVID-19 cases have risen five-fold over the past month.

On July 17, Indonesia reported more new daily infections than both India and Brazil, causing multiple news outlets to dub it Asia’s new COVID-epicentre.

And on July 21, the UN’s World Health Organization there had been more than 77,500 deaths in the country.

Indonesia’s total of some 3 million confirmed cases is still far below the more than 31 million India has recorded since the start of the pandemic.

But comparisons have inevitably been made with India’s tragic spring surge. In some areas, overflowing hospitals have been forced to turn away patients and volunteer groups have mobilized to locate oxygen tanks and build coffins.

How did things get so bad so quickly?

It’s down to several factors. The surge is being driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant and we’re also seeing rising case numbers across the region and in many other countries. But on a deeper level, there just hasn’t been a sense of collective wisdom during the pandemic.

The same oversights that occurred in one country were repeated in another. Global experience has demonstrated that strict enforcement of public health measures is critical to containing outbreaks, and that these measures must be guided by accurate surveillance of the transmission of the virus. That didn’t happen in India. What we are seeing here in Indonesia is also in part a result of mass gatherings and travel when the rate of infection was still high.

On top of that, vaccinations haven’t been rolled out quickly enough. As of July 17, six out of every hundred people among Indonesia’s population of 270 million had received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with low coverage among the elderly and other vulnerable groups.

Indonesia has secured a relatively good supply of vaccinations, including from the COVAX facility—which is supported by organizations such as WHO and UNICEF—and is ahead of other countries in the region.

But there has been a global lack of solidarity despite the UN Secretary-General’s calls for equitable vaccine access.

Rich countries hoarded vaccines.

As sad as it is, Indonesia is certainly not the worst off; only 1.1 per cent of people in low-income countries have received at least one vaccination dose according UN News.

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Africa: COVID-19 ‘third wave’ not yet over, while vaccine inequity threatens all.

Although new COVID-19 cases in Africa have slowed following an eight-week surge, this “small step forward” could be short-lived, the Regional Office of the World Health Organization said on Thursday. 

Cases on the continent fell by 1.7 per cent this week to nearly 282,000, largely due to a sharp decline in South Africa, home to the bulk of reported infections.

However, removing the country from the data would show an 18 per cent increase, or more than 182,000 cases: what the UN agency called a uniquely steep and unbroken nine-week surge. 

“Be under no illusions, Africa’s third wave is absolutely not over.

This small step forward offers hope and inspiration but must not mask the big picture for Africa,” said Dr Matshidiso MoetiWHO Regional Director for Africa.   

“Many countries are still at peak risk and Africa’s third wave surged up faster and higher than ever before.

The Eid celebrations which we marked this week may also result in a rise in cases. We must all double down on prevention measures to build on these fragile gains.”  

WHO said 21 African countries have seen cases rise by over 20 per cent for at least two consecutive weeks, which is three more than in the previous week. 

The highly transmissible Delta variant has been found in 26 countries, while the Alpha and Beta variants have been reported in 38 and 35 nations, respectively.  

The WHO has been urging Governments to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations as the squeeze on vaccine shipments eases.   

Some 60 million doses should be arriving on the continent in the coming weeks, including from the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom and through the COVAX global solidarity initiative.  

COVAX is also expected to deliver over half a billion doses alone this year. 

“A massive influx of doses means that Africa must go all out and speed up the vaccine rollout by five to six times if we are to get all these doses into arms and fully vaccinate the most vulnerable 10 per cent of all Africans by the end of September,” said Dr. Moeti.  

Around 3.5 million to four million vaccines are administered weekly in Africa, but numbers will have to rise to 21 million weekly at minimum to reach the September goal. 

So far, the continent has received just 1.7 per cent of the world’s 3.7 billion doses, and 20 million people there, only 1.5 per cent of the population, have been fully inoculated according UN News.

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Tedros, the WHO Director-General: “Tokyo Olympic Games has the power to inspire”.

The head of the United Nations World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has welcomed the start of the Olympic and Paralympic Games as a chance to spread “hope to the world”.

Speaking in the Japanese capital Tokyo, he said the world must unite with “determination, dedication and discipline” to triumph over the COVID-19 pandemic.

“More than any other event (the Games) have the power to bring the world together; to inspire; to show what is possible,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization told the International Olympic Committee, with the Olympic flame in his hand. 

He warned that the world was now in the early stages of another wave of infections and deaths, urging all countries to embark on a “massive global push” to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of their populations by September. 

Today, 75 per cent of vaccines have been administered in just 10 countries, Tedros said, while in low income countries, “only one per cent of people have received at least one dose”. 

The WHO chief said that the world’s failure to share vaccines, tests, and treatments, including oxygen, is fuelling “a two-track pandemic” between the haves who are opening up, and the have-nots who are locking down. 

“This is not just a moral outrage; it’s also epidemiologically and economically self-defeating”, he said, warning that the longer the inequity persists, the slower the recovery will be.  

More transmissions will lead to more potentially dangerous mutations, even greater than the devastating Delta variant, he cautioned. 
 
“And the more variants, the higher the likelihood that one of them will evade vaccines and take us all back to square one”, signalled the WHO official, reiterating that “none of us is safe until all of us are”. 

According UN News Tedros called the pandemic a test in which “the world is failing” and reminded that we are not in a race against each other, but against the virus. 

“In the time it takes me to make these remarks, more than 100 people will lose their lives to COVID-19”, he said. “And by the time the Olympic flame is extinguished on the 8th of August, more than 100,000 more people will perish”. 

COVID has already taken more than four million lives, and the toll continues to rise as the number of deaths this year, has already more than double last year’s total, according to the WHO chief. 

“The people of the world are sick and tired”, he said, “sick of the virus…the lives and livelihoods it has taken…the suffering it has caused… the restrictions and disruptions to their lives…the turmoil it has caused to economies and societies…[and] the dark clouds it has cast over our futures”. 

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