Wednesday May 23, 2018

WHO’s newly Elected Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stresses on Health as Human Right

Tedros promised to strengthen the frontlines of health, transform the World Health Organization into a world class force and lastly “place accountability, transparency and continuous improvement at the heart of WHOs culture.”

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WHO Director General Tedros stresses the need for bolder action to fight non-communicable diseases,VOA
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Geneva, May 25, 2017: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s newly elected director-general, says health as a human right is at the core of his vision for the organization he soon will lead.

The former Ethiopian health and foreign minister is the first African chosen to head the organization, which was created 69 years ago.

After a long, bruising campaign that began in 2015, Tedros beat out two other contenders, David Nabarro of Britain and Pakistani physician Sania Nishtar, for the post by winning 133 of the votes cast by 185 WHO member states.

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“The outcome of the voting was very, very clear,” said Tedros. “Having confidence from the majority of member states gives me legitimacy to really implement the vision that I have already outlined.”

Tedros’ goals

That vision included five promises, which Tedros made to the World Health Assembly during a final campaign pitch preceding Tuesday’s secret ballot vote.

He said that he would “work tirelessly” to fulfill the WHO promise of universal coverage and would ensure “a robust response for emergencies to come.”

He promised to strengthen the frontlines of health, transform the World Health Organization into a world-class force and lastly “place accountability, transparency and continuous improvement at the heart of WHOs culture.”

At a news conference in Geneva, he said the concept of health as a human right would be at the heart of whatever he did.

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FILE - A health official administers a polio vaccine to children at a camp for people displaced by Islamist Extremist in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Aug. 28, 2016. New WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says universal health coverage "should be the center of gravity of our movement."
FILE – A health official administers a polio vaccine to children at a camp for people displaced by Islamist Extremist in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Aug. 28, 2016. New WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says universal health coverage “should be the center of gravity of our movement.” VOA

“Half of our population does not have access to health care,” he said. That, he said, could and should be remedied through universal health care coverage, which would address the issue of health as a human right and act as a spur to development.

“All roads should lead to universal health coverage and it should be the center of gravity of our movement,” he said.

Tedros begins his five-year term as director-general on July 1, succeeding Margaret Chan, who has headed the WHO for the past 10 years.

The newly elected director general said he wants to reform and transform the World Health Organization into a better, more responsive agency.

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As Ethiopia’s minister of health, Tedros led a comprehensive reform of the country’s health system, including the expansion of the country’s health infrastructure and health insurance coverage.

Resources a constant priority

As WHO leader, Tedros said one of his first orders of business would be to strengthen the organization’s ability to respond swiftly and effectively to emergencies because “epidemics can strike at any time” and the WHO must be prepared.

“The campaign has ended, as you know, officially, but I think the work begins actually now. I know it is very difficult. It is going to be tough,” he said.

One of the major difficulties is that of money. Reform, tackling emerging and ancient diseases take a lot of money, something the World Health Organization, which reportedly is struggling to close a $2.2 billion gap, does not have.

FILE - A woman stands near a poster explaining the Zika virus at the Ministry of Health office in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sept. 2, 2016. New WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that among his priorities will be to strengthen the WHO's ability to respond swiftly and effectively to health emergencies.
FILE – A woman stands near a poster explaining the Zika virus at the Ministry of Health office in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sept. 2, 2016. New WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that among his priorities will be to strengthen the WHO’s ability to respond swiftly and effectively to health emergencies. VOA

 

The problem is likely to be made even worse given the Trump administration announced budget cuts to global health programs, including a 32 percent cut to USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) and between 20 percent and 30 percent cuts for scientific research institutes.

The United States is the biggest WHO donor. U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested funding cuts to the organization might be in the offing.

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Tedros observed that it is the poor that are the most affected by big financial cuts.

“I hope this will be understood before finalizing the proposal. I believe this will be taken into consideration,” he said.

He can take heart in that a congratulatory statement on his election from Tim Price, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary did not threaten any funding cuts. Instead, he told Tedros the United States looked forward to working with him on changing the World Health Organization for the better.

“The United States is committed to helping advance reforms and cultivating greater global health security,” he said. (VOA)

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Eat Less Saturated, Trans Fats to Curb Heart Disease: WHO

An active adult needs about 2,500 calories per day, Branca said

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The World Health Organization said Friday that adults and children should limit their intake of saturated fat — found in foods such a meat — and trans fat — found in foods such as french fries.
The World Health Organization said Friday that adults and children should limit their intake of saturated fat — found in foods such a meat — and trans fat — found in foods such as french fries. The World Health Organization said Friday that adults and children should limit their intake of saturated fat — found in foods such a meat — and trans fat — found in foods such as french fries. VOA

Adults and children should consume a maximum of 10 percent of their daily calories in the form of saturated fat such as meat and butter and one percent from trans fats to reduce the risk of heart disease, the World Health Organization said Friday.

The draft recommendations, the first since 2002, are aimed at reducing non-communicable diseases, led by cardiovascular diseases, blamed for 72 percent of the 54.7 million estimated deaths worldwide every year, many before the age of 70.

“Dietary saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids are of particular concern because high levels of intake are correlated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases,” Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, told reporters.

The dietary recommendations are based on scientific evidence developed in the last 15 years, he added.

The United Nations agency has invited public comments until June 1 on the recommendations, which it expects to finalize by year-end.

Junk food.
Junk food. Pixabay

Saturated fat is found in foods from animal sources such as butter, cow’s milk, meat, salmon and egg yolks, and in some plant-derived products such as chocolate, cocoa butter, coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.

An active adult needs about 2,500 calories per day, Branca said.

“So we are talking about 250 calories coming from saturated fat and that is approximately a bit less than 30 grams of saturated fat,” he said.

That amount of fat could be found in 50 grams (1.76 oz) of butter, 130-150 grams of cheese with 30 percent fat, a liter of full fat milk, or 50 grams of palm oil, he said.

Trans fats

Trans fats occur naturally in meat and dairy products. But the predominant source is industrially-produced and contained in baked and fried foods such as fries and doughnuts, snacks, and partially hydrogenated cooking oils and fats often used by restaurants and street vendors.

In explicit new advice, WHO said that excessive amounts of saturated fat and trans fat should be replaced by polyunsaturated fats, such as fish, canola and olive oils.

Also Read: Lipid Accumulation in The Brain May Be an Early Sign of Parkinson’s Disease

“Reduced intake of saturated fatty acids have been associated with a significant reduction in risk of coronary heart disease when replaced with polyunsaturated fatty acids or carbohydrates from whole grains,” it said.

Total fat consumption should not exceed 30 percent of total energy intake to avoid unhealthy weight gain, it added.

The recommendations complement other WHO guidelines including limiting intake of free sugars and sodium. (VOA)