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World Health Organization Preparing For Some Significant Modifications

The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, passed a number of resolutions aimed at improving global health.

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WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus paid homage to his predecessor, Margaret Chan, saying the reforms begun under her leadership to make the World Health Organization more responsive and better able to tackle emergencies were now paying off.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization. VOA

The World Health Organization’s annual conference ended on a high note Saturday, with the organization’s director general praising delegates for giving him a strong mandate to implement an ambitious program of reforms and initiatives that will improve global health.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus paid homage to his predecessor, Margaret Chan, saying the reforms begun under her leadership to make the World Health Organization more responsive and better able to tackle emergencies were now paying off.

“The current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has demonstrated exactly that. … Let me assure you that I am personally committed to ensuring that we do everything we can to stop this outbreak as soon as possible,” Tedros said. “And the commitment of the government, of course, and the leadership is at the center, which we really admire.”

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus paid homage to his predecessor, Margaret Chan, saying the reforms begun under her leadership to make the World Health Organization more responsive and better able to tackle emergencies were now paying off.
The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, passed a number of resolutions aimed at improving global health. Wikimedia Common

The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, passed a number of resolutions aimed at improving global health. Some deal with diseases that have plagued humanity for centuries, while others are newly emerging.

But all these decisions, Tedros said, involve commitments to make the world a healthier, safer place. For example, he noted the assembly had approved a road map to reduce deaths from cholera by 90 percent by 2030.

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“You endorsed our five-year strategic plan on polio transition, to strengthen country health systems that could be affected by the scaling down of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative,” he said. “You passed resolutions on tuberculosis and noncommunicable diseases. … And you have agreed to increase the development and use of digital technologies to improve health and keep the world safe.”

Tedros urged the delegates to go back to their countries with renewed determination to work every day for the health of their people. How well they succeed in this endeavor, he said, will be measured by the outcomes, by whether they result in real change on the ground. (VOA)

 

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World Health Organization Says First Local Case of Polio Found in Zambia Since 1995

The U.N. health agency said there is no established link between the Zambia case and the ongoing Congo outbreak

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World, Health, Polio
FILE - A Congolese child is given a polio vaccination at a relief camp near Gisenyi, Rwanda, Jan. 25 , 2002. The WHO says Zambia has reported its first local case of polio since 1995 in a 2-year-old boy paralysed by a virus derived from the vaccine. VOA

The World Health Organization says Zambia has reported its first local case of polio since 1995, in a 2-year-old boy paralyzed by a virus derived from the vaccine.

In a report this week, WHO said the case was detected on the border with Congo, which has reported 37 cases of polio traced to the vaccine this year. The U.N. health agency said there is no established link between the Zambia case and the ongoing Congo outbreak but said increased surveillance and vaccination efforts are needed, warning that “there is a potential for international spread.”

In rare cases, the live virus in oral polio vaccine can mutate into a form capable of sparking new outbreaks.

Nine African countries are currently battling polio epidemics linked to the vaccine as WHO and partners struggle to keep their efforts to eradicate polio on track. Elsewhere, cases have been reported in China, Myanmar and the Philippines.

World, Health, Polio
In a report this week, WHO said the case was detected on the border with Congo, which has reported 37 cases of polio traced to the vaccine this year. Pixabay

On Thursday, WHO and partners are expected to announce they have rid the world of type 3 polio virus.

There are three types of polio viruses. Type 2 was eliminated years ago. That now leaves only type 1. But that refers only to polio viruses in the wild. Type 2 viruses continue to cause problems since they are still contained in the oral polio vaccine and occasionally evolve into new strains responsible for some vaccine-derived outbreaks.

The global effort to eradicate polio was launched in 1988 and originally aimed to wipe out the potentially fatal disease by 2000. While cases have dropped dramatically, the virus remains stubbornly entrenched in parts of Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. This year there have been 72 cases of polio in Pakistan after only eight in 2018.

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In meeting notes from an expert polio oversight board in September, WHO’s Michel Zaffran said the status of eradication was “of great concern,” noting the Taliban’s ban on house-to-house vaccination in Afghanistan. Officials described the program in Pakistan as a “failing trajectory.” (VOA)