Tag: WHO

WHO welcomes crucial new funding for vaccines

WHO welcomes funding commitments made at today’s Global Vaccine Summit, hosted virtually by the UK government. The Summit is Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s third pledging conference and follows the successful Berlin summit in January 2015.

The new pledges will enable Gavi to protect the next generation and reduce disease inequality by reaching an additional 300 million children with vaccines by 2025. 

“Thanks to vaccines, hundreds of millions of deaths have been prevented. Polio has been pushed to the brink of eradication, and just in the past few years new vaccines have become available for Ebola and malaria,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. 

“But vaccines only realize their true power when they are deployed to protect the poorest and most vulnerable. The COVID-19 pandemic is unravelling many of the gains we have made, with vaccination campaigns for polio, cholera, measles, diphtheria, and meningitis.”

The bold funding commitments mean that the Gavi Alliance will be better able to maintain immunization in lower-income countries, mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They will also help strengthen health systems.

The backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic is a sobering reminder of how much individual health depends on collective health and the critical role that vaccines play in keeping the global population safe and healthy. The Summit also highlighted how important a safe, effective and equitably accessible vaccine will be in controlling COVID-19.

The Global Vaccine Summit marks 20 years since Gavi was founded. Dr Tedros added: “We join Gavi in celebrating the collective success of this great Alliance. These pledges are not just an investment in the Alliance of which we are a very proud partner; they are an advance on our shared vision of a healthier, safer and fairer world.”

sourcelink:https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/04-06-2020-who-welcomes-crucial-new-funding-for-vaccines

The Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On Older Adults

As part of a new series of features, MNT has looked into how the pandemic affects women’s reproductive rights, people that may find themselves in an abusive relationship, as well as the mental health of people of color and those belonging to an ethnic minority group.

In this Special Feature, we examine the impact that the pandemic has had on another group that gets frequently overlooked: older adults.

From the likelihood of developing a more severe form of COVID-19 to the risks of isolation and mental health problems, this feature looks at ways in which older adults have taken the brunt of the pandemic.

Old age and preexisting health conditions
The COVID-19 disease, in itself, has hit older adults harder than other age groups.

Older adults are more likely to already have underlying conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or respiratory illness — comorbidities that we now know raise the risk of severe COVID-19 and COVID-19-related death. In addition, a likely weaker immune system makes it harder for older adults to fight off infection.

As a result, the impact on older adults is notable. According to World Health Organization (WHO) data from April 2020, more than 95% of COVID-19 deaths were among people over 60 years of age, and more than half of all deaths occurred in people of 80 years-plus.

In Sweden, for example, 90% of the deaths from COVID-19 were among people more than 70 years of age.

The Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered data in March showing an average COVID-19 case fatality rate of 3.6% for adults in their 60s, 8% for those in their 70s, and 14.8% for people 80 years and above.

“Older adults are at a significantly increased risk of severe disease following infection from COVID-19,” said Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe in a WHO press briefing, who added:

“Supporting and protecting older people living alone in the community is everyone’s business.”

COVID-19 deaths in care homes
While the wider community should indeed be preoccupied with the health and well-being of older adults, there are epicenters to the current crisis, and nursing homes, alongside hospitals, are one such place.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn that “nursing home populations are at the highest risk of being affected by COVID-19,” compounding not only the risk for older people but also placing care workers at risk.

The New York Times (NYT) gathered recent data showing that in the U.S., at least 28,100 residents and workers have died from a SARS-CoV-2 infection in a nursing home or in another long-term care facility for older people.

Overall, more than a third — that is, 35% — of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. occur in long-term care facilities, comprising residents and workers.

“While just 11 percent of the country’s cases have occurred in long-term care facilities,” say the authors of the NYT report, “deaths related to COVID-19 in these facilities account for more than a third of the country’s pandemic fatalities.”

In other parts of the world, the situation looks dire, too. Data collected by researchers at the London School of Economics (LSE), in the United Kingdom, suggest that the majority of COVID-19-related deaths occurred in nursing homes.

In Belgium, for example, 53% of the country’s entire number of COVID-19 deaths occurred in care homes.

In Canada, this proportion was 62%.
In France, the figure ranges from 39.2–51%.
In Spain, 67% of all COVID19 deaths occurred in care homes.
In the U.S., nearly 60% of all care home-related COVID-19 deaths occurred in the state of New York.
The danger of the new coronavirus spreading in care homes, and affecting workers as well as residents, is amplified by the fact that most of the cases doctors confirmed in these environments were asymptomatic.

In Belgium, for example, 72% of staff diagnosed with COVID-19 showed no symptoms at the time; neither did 74% of the residents who had tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Despite these alarming figures, the U.S. federal government are not keeping track of this data. Withholding key nuanced information about whom the pandemic is affecting hardest is in the way of directing resources where people need them the most.

“It’s impossible to fight and contain this virus if we don’t know where it’s located,” David Grabowski, a professor of healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School, told NBC News.

Prof. Grabowski added that knowing this information could help predict where the next outbreak will be; other NGO advocates agree that knowing which nursing homes have the highest number of cases can help states direct resources where the need is the greatest.

Living with dementia during COVID-19
According to the CDC, at least half of the older adults living in these care facilities have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, which makes it more difficult to contain possible infections with the new coronavirus.

One of the specific challenges for people living with dementia and similar forms of cognitive impairment is that they may have difficulty understanding the dangers of infection. Also, they may forget to follow safety precautions, such as washing their hands or practicing physical distancing.

Those who care for people with dementia and have contracted the virus may also avoid seeking treatment or being hospitalized because they cannot afford to leave their elders alone.

On the other hand, people with dementia themselves who have COVID-19 and need hospitalization may avoid it because they fear that, due to hospital triaging protocols, they may fall at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to receiving medical resources and attention.

Furthermore, people may be discouraged from seeking medical attention for dementia itself if they start to display symptoms; memory clinics are shutting, as seeing new patients is perceived to be riskier than for some people not to receive a dementia diagnosis.

While this cost-benefit reasoning made sense in the short term, doctors are becoming increasingly worried that as the pandemic extends, more people may develop dementia and not receive the care they need.

Pandemic exposes ageism, gaps in care
Some have suggested that ageism — that is, a discriminatory attitude towards people of more advanced age — may have significantly contributed to the detrimental effects on the health and longevity of older adults with COVID-19.

For instance, Joan Costa-Font, an associate professor at LSE’s department of health policy, suggests that countries that tend to view their elders with more respect have implemented physical distancing measures more promptly, even if such measures primarily impacted the social lives of younger people.

“Differences in social perceptions underpin the social environment in European countries where we have observed delays in policy interventions, such as lockdown, (which are detrimental to the social lives of younger cohorts), and why countries like China implemented more stringent measures.”

– Joan Costa-Font

However, it is worth noting that other countries, for example, Japan, where there is a tradition of respecting the elders, did not choose to have a lockdown.

According to the same author, “a delayed introduction of a lockdown is not the only way we reveal the low social value of older individuals.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown how poorly funded, and disorganized long-term care facilities are in several European countries. In the U.K., for example, a government study that used genome tracking to investigate the spread of outbreaks has only recently discovered that temporary staff had unwittingly spread SARS-CoV-2 between care homes as the pandemic grew.

As a result of this revelation, some politicians have said the pandemic “brutally exposed how insecure, undervalued, and underpaid care work is,” with “the prevalence of zero-hours contracts, high vacancy rates, and high staff turnover” having all contributed to the pandemic.

Furthermore, “In the absence of affordable formal care, older individuals are informally cared for by family members (or go with unmet needs). Reliance on informal care explains the early expansion of the pandemic in countries with stronger family ties such as Italy, Spain, China, and Korea,” notes Costa-Font.

The author goes on to highlight the particularly severe impact that quarantines have on older people who tend to live alone and need more care.

“In many countries, caregivers have been forced to reside with older people in need to reduce the chance of contagion. But when older people are less disabled, they are more likely to be left on their own, with unmet needs.”

Furthermore, other authors have analyzed the ageist portrayal of older adults in social media, which reflects a similar attitude of indifference through disparaging twitter hashtags (such as referring to COVID-19 as the #boomerremover) and other memes.

An ageist attitude, combined with policy responses, has a range of negative effects on older adults, including leading to social isolation, loneliness, and a rise in elder abuse.

Mental health and elder abuse
Loneliness is a known factor that negatively affects a person’s mental health and well-being, and some older adults were already at a higher risk of experiencing it. Deteriorating health or the death of partners and friends may get in the way of maintaining a healthy social circle.

However, the pandemic and the quarantine heighten this risk of loneliness.

“Loneliness is a complex, subjective emotion, experienced as a feeling of anxiety and dissatisfaction associated with a lack of connectedness or communality with others,” explain Joanne Brooke and Debra Jackson in a paper appearing in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

The authors go on to highlight the importance of loneliness and social isolation for mental and physical health.

“The acknowledgment of social isolation and loneliness of older people is essential and paramount due to the detrimental impact on their physical and mental health, which has been recognized for over two decades. Social isolation and loneliness increases older people’s risk of anxiety, depression, cognitive dysfunction, heart disease, and mortality.”

— Joanne Brooke and Debra Jackson

What is more, emerging reports have shown that lockdowns raise the risk of abuse among older people.

During the pandemic, older adults have become even more dependent on their caregivers, and, in a pattern similar to the one that has raised the rates of domestic violence, some caregivers have used the pandemic to exercise their control and abuse further.

Elder abuse tends to occur more frequently in communities that lack mental health or social care resources. The perpetrators of the abuse also tend to have mental health problems, as well as reporting feelings of resentment with their informal caregiving duties.

According to a recent paper appearing in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior, people who experience “elder abuse” are more likely to develop mental health problems such as depression, high stress, and self-neglect — conditions that can only be made worse by lockdowns.

Overall, lockdowns mean that more elders are trapped with their abusers, that some perpetrators of abuse reluctantly find themselves in a caregiving role, and that, as a result, there is a higher need for mental health and community support services.

Paradoxically, however, the funds and staff for these services have been slashed — now, when they are needed the most.

While some countries have acknowledged the fact that they have “failed to protect [their] elderly,” and in doing so, failed “society as a whole,” others, like the U.S. or the U.K., have yet to make the necessary amends.

As can be seen from the consequences of the pandemic on both the mental and physical health of older adults, governments in several countries have yet to pay heed to the WHO’s advice — that we do not forget that protecting our elders is “everyone’s business.”

sourcelink:https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/the-impact-of-the-covid-19-pandemic-on-older-adults

Strong health systems best defence against pandemics: WHO chief

Strong and resilient health systems are the best defense against pandemics and the multiple health threats of the world, said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of strong national and sub-national health systems as the foundation of global health security,” Tedros said at a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to Tedros, on current trends, more than five billion people will lack access to essential health services by 2030 — including the ability to see a health worker, access to essential medicines, and running water in hospitals.

“Gaps like these don’t just undermine the health of individuals, families and communities, they also put global security and economic development at risk,” he said.

Saying that the world spends around US $7.5 trillion on health each year, almost 10 per cent of global GDP, the WHO chief emphasized that the best investments are in promoting health and preventing disease at the primary health care level.

“Prevention is not only better than cure, it’s cheaper, and the smartest thing to do,” he said.

sourcelink:https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/strong-health-systems-best-defence-against-pandemics-who-chief/75598974

WHO warns about coronavirus antibody tests as some nations consider issuing ‘immunity passports’ to recovered patients

Scientists still don’t know whether coronavirus antibodies give a person immunity or reduce the risk of reinfection, even as some nations consider issuing passports or certificates that indicate whether someone has had the virus, World Health Organization officials said Monday.

Some countries are considering issuing so-called immunity passports or risk-free certificates to people who have antibodies against Covid-19, enabling them to travel or return to work assuming that they are protected against reinfection, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, told reporters during a news conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva.

But right now, scientists are unsure whether an antibody response means someone is immune from the virus, she said, adding researchers do know a person typically develops an antibody response about one to two weeks after becoming infected with Covid-19.

WHO officials are studying the so-called serological, or antibody, tests, which can indicate whether a person has had Covid-19 in the past and was either asymptomatic or recovered from the illness. U.S. officials and corporations across America are pouring money into antibody testing, hoping it will give people confidence to return to work and reopen parts of the economy.

The WHO has previously said many countries are suggesting these tests would be able to “capture what they think will be a measure of immunity.”

“The serologic tests are the blood tests that test whether you’ve had the infection, to a greater or lesser extent of accuracy can say you’ve had the infection,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies program. “It’s a very different question to say, are you protected from another infection.”

Scientists still don’t know how much protection the antibodies from Covid-19 give someone from getting another infection, WHO officials said.

“Four months into this pandemic, we’re not able to say an antibody response means someone is immune,” Van Kerkhove said, adding that this topic is a “very active area of research” and that there are a number of ongoing studies. It doesn’t mean a person doesn’t have immunity, she added.

More than 876,000 of the 2.9 million coronavirus cases across the world have recovered, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. However, infectious disease experts say the case total is likely much higher as people go undetected and countries struggle with testing.

In the U.S., antibody tests have just begun to roll out. President Donald Trump has recommended states use the tests as they start relaxing some of the strict social distancing measures imposed to combat the pandemic, which has infected nearly 1 million people in the United States.

The WHO also said Monday that children across the world will die as the coronavirus pandemic forces some countries to temporarily halt vaccinations for other deadly diseases such as polio.

sourcelink:https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/27/who-warns-about-coronavirus-antibody-tests-as-some-nations-consider-immunity-passports-or-risk-free-certificates.html

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) training: Online training

COVID-19: Operational Planning Guidelines and COVID-19 Partners Platform to support country preparedness and response

In order to assist UN country teams in scaling up country preparedness and response to COVID-19, WHO has developed these learning modules as a companion to the Operational Planning Guidelines to Support Country Preparedness and Response.

The training is intended:

  • For UN country teams (UNCTs)
  • For other relevant stakeholders, including partners, donors and civil society
  • To support national readiness and preparedness for COVID-19
  • To help countries increase their capacity to respond to COVID-19
  • To increase international coordination for response and preparedness
  • To streamline the process of coordinating resources and assessing country preparedness level

This learning package consists of 3 modules with videos and downloadable presentations.

Access the training

Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) for novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

This course provides information on what facilities should be doing to be prepared to respond to a case of an emerging respiratory virus such as the novel coronavirus, how to identify a case once it occurs, and how to properly implement IPC measures to ensure there is no further transmission to HCW or to other patients and others in the healthcare facility.

This training is intended for healthcare workers and public health professionals, as it is focused on infection prevention and control

.Access the training

Introduction to emerging respiratory viruses, including novel coronavirus

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

A novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified in 2019 in Wuhan, China. This is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.

This course provides a general introduction to COVID-19 and emerging respiratory viruses and is intended for public health professionals, incident managers and personnel working for the United Nations, international organizations and NGOs

.Access the training

Clinical Care Severe Acute Respiratory Infection

This course includes content on clinical management of patients with a severe acute respiratory infection.

It is intended for clinicians who are working in intensive care units (ICUs) in low and middle-income countries and managing adult and pediatric patients with severe forms of acute respiratory infection (SARI), including severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis and septic shock. It is a hands-on practical guide to be used by health care professionals involved in clinical care management during outbreaks of influenza virus (seasonal) human infection due avian influenza virus (H5N1, H7N9), MERS-CoV, COVID-19 or other emerging respiratory viral epidemics.

Access the training

Health and safety briefing for respiratory diseases – ePROTECT

This course provides a general introduction to Acute Respiratory Infections (ARIs) and basic hygiene measures to protect against infection. By the end of the course, you should be able to describe basic information about ARIs including what they are, how they are transmitted, how to assess the risk of infection and list basic hygiene measures to protect against infection.

Access the training

sourcelink:https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/training/online-training