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Billionaire Philanthropist Bill Gates warns that World is ‘Vulnerable’ to Deadly Epidemic of diseases like Ebola and Zika

Bill Gates also raised concerns over growing antimicrobial resistance to drugs, saying the success of antibiotics had created complacency

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Businessman Bill Gates exits through the lobby at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, Dec. 13, 2016. (VOA)
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Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates warned on Friday that the world was vulnerable to a deadly epidemic of an illness like flu, with the recent Ebola and Zika outbreaks underlining weaknesses in global efforts to tackle health crises swiftly.

Gates, whose foundation invests in improving healthcare in developing countries, said the global emergency response system was not strong enough and the ability to create new drugs and vaccines quickly was lacking.

He added that there needed to be more focus on developing treatments for likely epidemics.

“I cross my fingers all the time that some epidemic like a big flu doesn’t come along in the next 10 years,” Microsoft Corp founder Gates told Britain’s BBC radio.

“I do think we will have much better medical tools, much better response, but we are a bit vulnerable right now if something spread very quickly, like a flu, that was quite fatal.”

But Gates defended the World Health Organization (WHO) over widespread criticism of its handling of the 2014 Ebola crisis that killed thousands in west Africa, saying the agency was neither funded, nor staffed, to meet all the expectations.

He also raised concerns over growing antimicrobial resistance to drugs, saying the success of antibiotics had created complacency.

The misuse and overuse of antibiotics is accelerating antimicrobial resistance which is already complicating efforts to treat tuberculosis, HIV and malaria.

Gates said richer countries must help developing nations tackle disease, both for humanitarian reasons and for their own self-interest.

He said international co-operation had almost succeeded in wiping out polio which remains endemic only in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

If there are no new cases in the next three years polio will become the second human disease to be eradicated after smallpox in 1980.

“We’re very close. Hopefully, the last case will be some time next year,” Gates said.(VOA)

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  • Ranger

    How does a philanthropist keep getting richer and richer? Bill Gates 73 Billion in 2015 @ 100 Billion in 2016

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WHO Vows For Broader Action Against Tobacco

To prevent further interference by tobacco industry in public health policies, the strategy requires parties to the treaty to protect national public health policies "from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry."

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WHO
WHO vows tighter, broader action against tobacco, industry interference.

The World Health Organization (WHO) unveiled a global strategy on Saturday to scale up the tobacco control agenda over the next few years and to prevent further interference by tobacco industry in public health policies.

The strategy, titled the Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), aims to strengthen implementation of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC), with a roadmap to guide the work of the convention parties, the secretariat and other stakeholders with regards to tobacco control from 2019 to 2025, Xinhua reported.

“The adoption of this strategy marks a key milestone in strengthening the FCTC,” said Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, head of the WHO FCTC Secretariat. “This strategy provides a very clear path forward, with priorities and objectives to reinforce government policies and accelerate global action for more effective implementation of the tobacco control treaty.”

The strategy was concluded during the eighth session (COP8) of the FCTC, which brought together over 1,200 participants, including delegations from 148 parties to the global tobacco control treaty and representatives of UN agencies, other intergovernmental organisations and civil society.

They also agreed to maximize transparency to protect FCTC related sessions and proceedings from the intrusion of tobacco industry representatives and interests.

WHO
Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gives a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, VOA

“More than ever, we need to stay the course and strengthen our commitment to ensure that FCTC efforts to protect and promote public health and sustainable development are not hijacked by the tobacco industry,” Costa e Silva said. “We must yield no ground to the tobacco industry.”

To prevent further interference by tobacco industry in public health policies, the strategy requires parties to the treaty to protect national public health policies “from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.”

In addition to tighter control actions, the parties also addressed the need for tobacco control efforts to integrate strategies to combat the destructive impacts of tobacco on the environment and sustainable development.

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Since it came into force in 2005, the FCTC has resulted in national strategies and legislation that have introduced health warning on packages of tobacco and comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

As the only existing global intergovernmental meeting exclusively devoted to tobacco control, the FCTC COP has served as a platform for policy formulation and the adoption of implementation mechanisms by the parties to the convention. (IANS)