Tuesday December 11, 2018

Tuberculosis To Stay on Top in The List of World’s Most Infectious Diseases: WHO

Treatment coverage, at 64 percent, also lags behind and must increase to at least 90 percent by 2025 to meet the targets of ending TB by 2030

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WHO vows tighter, broader action against tobacco, industry interference.
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Tuberculosis (TB) remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease although global efforts have averted an estimated 54 million tuberculosis (TB) deaths since 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday.

WHO, in its latest 2018 Global TB Report, says countries are still not doing enough to end TB by 2030 and calls for an unprecedented mobilization of national and international commitments. It urges for decisive action from nearly 50 heads of state and government who are expected to gather next week for the first-ever UN High-level Meeting on TB, Xinhua news agency reported.

The report finds that overall, TB deaths have decreased over the past year, with an estimated 10 million people having developed TB and 1.6 million deaths, including among 300,000 HIV-positive people, in 2017. The number of new cases is falling by two percent per year.

However, underreporting and under-diagnosis of TB cases remains a major challenge. Of the 10 million people who fell ill with TB in 2017, only 6.4 million were officially recorded by national reporting systems, leaving 3.6 million people undiagnosed, or detected but not reported.

Ten countries accounted for 80 percent of this gap, according to the report, with India, Indonesia and Nigeria topping the list. Less than half of the estimated one million children with TB were reported in 2017, making it a much higher gap in detection than that in adults.

Treatment coverage, at 64 percent, also lags behind and must increase to at least 90 percent by 2025 to meet the targets of ending TB by 2030.

To urgently improve detection, diagnosis and treatment rates, the WHO and partners launched a new initiative in 2018 to set the target of providing quality care to 40 million people with TB from 2018 to 2022, while predicting that at least 30 million people should be able to access TB preventive treatment during the period.

The WHO strongly recommends preventive treatment for people living with HIV, and children under five years living in households with TB, and has issued related new guidance this year to facilitate greater access to preventive services for those who need it.

Also Read- Somalia Calls To Outlaw Female Genital Mutilation

Next week’s UN High-Level Meeting on TB is critical and the WHO, while calling for the health sector to address the risk factors and determinants of the disease, is particularly pushing for commitments at the level of heads of state to galvanize multi-sectoral action.

“We have never seen such high-level political attention and understanding of what the world needs to do to end TB and drug-resistant TB,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“We must ensure that we hold our leaders accountable for the actions they promise to take. And we must hold ourselves accountable for keeping the pressure on.” (IANS)

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WHO Warns A Rise In The Number Of Measles Cases

They also warn the spread of falsehoods and misinformation.

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A health worker vaccinates a toddler against measles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns a spike in the number of measles cases globally is putting hard won progress toward the elimination of this highly contagious, deadly disease at risk.

Measles immunizations have saved more than 21 million lives globally since 2000. But, unveiling a new report, the World Health Organization says multiple outbreaks of this killer disease since 2016 have caused an estimated 110,000 deaths in all regions of the globe.

In addition, WHO’s director of immunization, vaccines and biologicals, Martin Friede, says there has been a very worrying jump of more than 30 percent in reported measles cases worldwide.

Measles, WHO
Two sick children wait for treatment after being admitTed to a hospital in Agats, Asmat District, after the government dispatched military and medical personnel to the remote region of Papua to combat malnutrition and measles, Indonesia. VOA

“We are seeing sustained measles transmission in countries that had previously not seen measles transmission for many years. So, the countries had eliminated measles, but it has now been re-established in the country. This is very worrying. This suggests that we are actually regressing in certain cases,” Friede said.

The report finds the Americas, the eastern Mediterranean region, and Europe have experienced the greatest surges in cases, with the western Pacific the only region where the number of cases has fallen.

But, it notes the biggest increases continue to be in areas with low immunization coverage where measles is endemic. For instance, the report finds a two-fold rise in cases of the disease in Africa.

Measles, WHO
A vial of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and an information sheet is seen at Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, Feb.26, 2015. VOA

Health officials attribute the growth of measles cases to a sense of complacency, especially in industrialized countries where the disease has not been seen for many years.

Also Read: Europe Suffers From A Severe Measles Outbreak

They also warn the spread of falsehoods and misinformation, such as the debunked link between measles vaccinations and autism, discourages many parents from immunizing their children against the disease. (VOA)