Tag Archives: WHO

ART: A Hope for HIV/AIDS Patients

HIV AIDS ribbonThe World Health Organization (WHO) says that early treatment of the HIV can save many lives in the future.


During a major international AIDS Conference, WHO issued new treatment guidelines for AIDS. The treatment called ART or Antiretroviral Therapy can save millions of lives by preventing others from getting infected with the virus. The ART lowers the amount of virus in the blood.

Gundo Weiler, coordinator of WHO’s HIV-AIDS Department, reported that at the end of 2012, about 9.7 million people have already taken ART medications. This figure is significantly larger than the 300,000 cases ten years ago. Weiler added that this increase has averted more than 4.2 million deaths and more than 800,000 infections from mother to child.

Despite this progress, only one in three children is receiving ART. Moreover, the people who are more susceptible to the virus, like drug users, sex workers, and homosexuals, are not getting any access to the drugs. WHO stepped up its recommendations for ART to HIV-infected children under the age of five, women with HIV who are lactating or are pregnant, and to HIV- positive people whose partners are not infected with HIV. The improved regimen involves taking one tablet per day at an earlier stage to avoid taking more tablets because of late treatment. The U.N. Health agency said the treatment of HIV should be a more integrated system, with HIV services being readily available just like services for tuberculosis, maternal care, reproductive health, and treatment for drug dependence. This system may then help people stay healthier and prevent the transmission of infections.

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New SARS-like virus can probably pass person-to-person

corona virusWorld Health Organisation (WHO) officials said on Sunday it seemed likely a new coronavirus that has killed at least 18 people in the Middle East and Europe could be passed between humans, but only after prolonged contact.

A virus from the same family triggered the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that swept the world after emerging in Asia and killed 775 people in 2003.

On Sunday French authorities announced that a second man had been diagnosed with the disease after sharing a hospital room with France’s only other sufferer.

who asst director fukudaWHO Assistant Director-General Keiji Fukuda told reporters in Saudi Arabia, the site of the largest cluster of infections, there was no evidence so far the virus was able to sustain “generalised transmission in communities” – a scenario that would raise the spectre of a pandemic.

But he added: “Of most concern … is the fact that the different clusters seen in multiple countries … increasingly support the hypothesis that when there is close contact, this novel coronavirus can transmit from person to person.

“There is a need for countries to … increase levels of awareness,” he said.

A public health expert who declined to be identified, said “close contact” meant being in the same small, enclosed space with an infected person for a prolonged period.

The virus first emerged in the Gulf last year, but cases have also been recorded in Britain and France among people who had recently been in the Middle East. A total of 34 cases worldwide have been confirmed by blood tests so far.


Ziad MemishSaudi Deputy Health Minister for Public Health Ziad Memish told reporters that, of 15 confirmed cases in the most recent outbreak, in al-Ahsa district of Eastern Province, nine had died, two more than previously reported.

Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry said in a statement the country had had 24 confirmed cases since last summer, of whom 15 had died. Fukuda said he was not sure if the two newly reported Saudi deaths were included in the numbers confirmed by the WHO.

Memish added that three suspected cases in Saudi Arabia were still under investigation, including previous negative results that were being re-examined.

The first French patient was confirmed as suffering from the disease on Wednesday after travelling in the Gulf. The second patient was transferred to intensive care on Sunday after the two men shared a room in a hospital in Lille.

Professor Benoit Guery, head of the Lille hospital’s infectious diseases unit, said the first patient had not been immediately isolated because he presented “quite atypical” symptoms.

He added in comments broadcast by BFMTV channel the case suggested that airborne transmission of the virus was possible, though still unusual, and that the public “should not be concerned” as there had been only 34 cases globally in a year.

Fukuda, part of a WHO team visiting Saudi Arabia to investigate the spread of the disease, said although no specific vaccine or medication was yet available for novel coronavirus, patients were responding to treatment.

“The care that is taken in the hospitals, in terms of using respirators well, in terms of treating pneumonia, in terms of treating complications, in terms of providing support, these steps can get patients through this very severe illness,” he said.

Fukuda said that as far as he knew all cases in the latest outbreak in al-Ahsa district were directly or indirectly linked to one hospital.

He added that Saudi Arabian authorities had taken novel coronavirus very seriously and had initiated necessary health measures such as increased surveillance systems.

(Additional reporting by Nicolas Delame in Paris; Editing by William Maclean and Andrew Roche)
Original post by Angus McDowall here


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Many nations on course to eliminate malaria – WHO

SEATTLE – Nearly a third of all countries affected by malaria are on course to eliminate the mosquito-borne disease over the next 10 years, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

In a progress report published by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership at the start of an international Malaria Forum conference in Seattle, the United Nations health body said “remarkable progress” had been made.

Up to a third of the 108 countries and territories across the world where malaria is endemic are moving towards being able to wipe out the disease within their borders, it said.

“Better diagnostic testing and surveillance has provided a clearer picture of where we are on the ground — and has shown that there are countries eliminating malaria in all endemic regions of the world,” Robert Newman, director of the WHO’s Global Malaria Programme, told the conference.

“We know that we can save lives with today’s tools.”

He said the WHO continually monitors progress to ensure countries are supported in their efforts to be malaria-free.

Almost half the world’s population — or 3.3 billion people — are at risk of malaria and the parasitic disease killed 781,000 people in 2009, according to the latest data. Most of its victims are in Africa.

Malaria elimination — halting the disease’s transmission and reducing infections to zero within a defined area — was first attempted on a large scale during the Global Malaria Eradication Programme from 1955 to 1972.

During that time, 20 countries were certified by WHO as malaria-free. But that number dropped to just four countries during the following 30 years when efforts to control the spread of the disease lapsed. “The world sort of gave up on malaria, and we lost ground,” said Newman.

Monday’s report said seven countries had recently eliminated malaria and were working to prevent re-introduction, another 10 countries were monitoring transmission to get down to zero malaria cases, and a further nine were “preparing to move towards nationwide elimination of malaria”.

“The extraordinary commitment, the… financing, and the coordination of efforts to realise malaria targets over the last ten years have resulted in a situation today where we could see 10 more countries reaching a malaria-free status in a relatively short time,” said Awa Marie Coll-Seck, RBM’s executive director.

“This will save many many more lives.”

Progress made

RBM said in a report in September that a rapid scale-up of a range of malaria control measures — such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor spraying, faster and more accurate diagnosis and access to anti-malaria drugs — has saved an estimated 1.1 million lives in Africa over the past 10 years.

International funding for the fight against malaria has also risen substantially in recent years, reaching about $1.5 billion in 2010, up from $100 million in 2003.

David Brandling-Bennett, deputy director for malaria at the Gates Foundation, which was hosting the Seattle conference, said it was vital for global health authorities, donors and national governments not to take their eye off the ball.

“The reality is that malaria does fight back … and we don’t want to lose the momentum from these gains,” he said.

Newman said that with all the highly effective tools currently available, “no one should die of malaria”. He urged international donors and national governments to push harder to ensure all those who needed them had access to them.

Only then, he said, would the “global goal of eradicating this ancient scourge” become a reality.

The Malaria Forum is hosted and funded by the Gates Foundation, a $34 billion fund run by the billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The foundation is devoted largely to health projects in poor countries.

In 2007, Gates and his wife Melinda urged the international community to fight for the global eradication of malaria, saying that to aspire to anything less would be “timid.” — Reuters


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