Thursday April 2, 2020

WHO calls for commitment, focused efforts to eradicate tropical diseases

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Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the regional director of WHO South-East Asia. Photo Credit: www.searo.who.int

By NewsGram Staff-Writer

New Delhi: The World Health Organization has given call on Thursday to work towards eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTD) like kala-azar, leprosy, yaws, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis that affects the people of South-East Asia.

who.siWhile speaking at a meeting of health ministers and health ministry officials from the 11 member countries in Dili in Timor-Leste, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the regional director of WHO South-East Asia, said: “Though called neglected diseases, these are diseases of the people who are neglected, the poorest of the poor. Strong political commitments and renewed and focused efforts centered on the affected population are needed to control, eliminate, and eradicate these diseases.”

Regarding the elimination of these NTDs, Singh added: “Stronger surveillance for early detection, appropriate treatment for prevention and cure of all the affected and at-risk population is the mainstay of the NTD elimination strategies.”

NTDs are serious diseases that may disable, disfigure, or even cause deaths of the affected people. Though considerable progress has been made with respect to diseases like leprosy, they are still endemic in South-East Asian countries.

Around 155,000 cases of leprosy were reported in the region in 2013 which was around 73% of the global cases. India alone reported 126,000 cases of leprosy in 2013. Similarly, the South-East Asia region reports 10,000 new cases of kala-azar every year. The disease is endemic in parts of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

The situation is similar in the case of lymphatic filariasis as well. Around 60 million people in the region are affected by the disease, which accounts for around 50% of the global cases.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Don’t Wear Masks to Fend Off Coronavirus: WHO

There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit

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Wearing a mask can not help prevent coronavirus. Pixabay

Don’t wear face masks to fend off the coronavirus, the World Health Organization says. This is the latest health news by WHO.

“There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit. In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly,” WHO executive director of health emergencies Mike Ryan said Monday.

The WHO says the only people who need masks are those who are already sick and those who are caring for the sick.

Ryan also cited the global shortage of medical supplies and the risk frontline workers are facing every day.

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President Donald Trump speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House. VOA

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“The thought of them not having masks is horrific,” Ryan said.

Although some medical researchers endorse face masks and say effective ones can be homemade, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says they are ineffective in filtering small particles from the air and may not help if an infected person sneezes or coughs nearby.

UN resolutions 

The U.N. Security Council voted remotely for the first time Monday and approved four resolutions, including one that continues a sanctions monitoring mission for North Korea and another extending the U.N. mission in Somalia.

Council members and staffers have been teleworking for almost three weeks. But some are decrying the new procedures as restrictive and cumbersome and no substitute for meetings and debates.

US death toll 

The U.S. coronavirus death toll reached a grim record Monday with 486 deaths reported – the biggest one-day number so far with the total number approaching 3,000.

President Donald Trump says the number of tests for the virus across the country hit the 1 million mark, which he says is the most of any country. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says U.S. labs are carrying out 100,000 tests a day, which he also says is a global record.

The Pentagon announced Monday that a U.S. National Guardsman, Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, died Saturday, becoming the first U.S. military member to succumb to the coronavirus.

“This is a stinging loss for our military community, and our condolences go out to his family, friends, civilian co-workers and the entire National Guard community,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said. “The news of this loss strengthens our resolve to work ever more closely with our interagency partners to stop the spread of COVID-19,” he added.

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A woman wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus, passes in front of graffiti painted on the shutter of a closed restaurant during a lockdown order by the Greek government to control the spread of the virus, in Athens. VOA

California prepares 

California Governor Gavin Newsom is calling on retired doctors to hang out their shingles again and is also recruiting medical and nursing students to help with an expected surge of coronavirus cases in that state, the nation’s most populous.

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“California’s health care workers are the heroes of this moment, serving on the front lines in the fight against this disease. To treat the rising number of patients with COVID-19, our state needs more workers in the health care field to join the fight. If you have a background in health care, we need your help,” Newsom said Monday.

The state’s health agency is preparing stadiums and convention centers to serve as makeshift hospitals.

Pastor arrested 

Also Monday, a sheriff outside Tampa, Florida arrested a pastor who held services Sunday despite the governor’s orders against gatherings of more than 10 people.

Also Read- New Strain of Plastic-Eating Bacteria Found

“Shame on this pastor, their legal staff and the leaders of this staff for forcing us to do our job. That’s not what we wanted to do during a declared state of emergency,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “We are hopeful that this will be a wakeup call.”

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne said he sanitized his church before the service, calling it an “essential business” like police and firefighters. He also attacked the media for alleged “religious bigotry and hate.”  (VOA)