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Nigeria, others approve declaration on ending TB by 2030



Nigeria, others approve declaration on ending TB by 2030

Nigeria, some UN Member States, civil society representatives and other stakeholders have approved a declaration to advance efforts to end Tuberculosis (TB) by 2030.


The document lays out ambitious new targets for the next five years that include reaching 90 per cent of people with TB prevention and care services, providing social benefit packages to those who have the disease, and licensing at least one new vaccine.


TB is the second leading infectious killer disease worldwide after COVID-19, with some 1.6 million deaths in 2021 alone, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).


Also, the only available vaccine for TB is more than a century old.


All the 193 Member States and stakeholders made the political commitment at a High-level meeting on the fight against Tuberculosis at the ongoing 78th of the UN General Assembly.


“Why, after all the progress we have made – from sending man to the moon to bringing the world to our fingertips – have we been unable to defeat a preventable and curable disease that kills over 4,400 people a day?” the President of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, said.


TB had afflicted humanity for millennia, going by several names including the white plague and consumption.


It is caused by bacteria and mainly affects the lungs, and treatment is with antibiotics.


A WHO council established to facilitate the development and equitable use of new vaccines met for the first time this week.


Stamping out the TB epidemic is among the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the roadmap for a more just and green global future by the end of the decade.


Five years ago, countries set the target of delivering TB treatment to 40 million people, reaching 34 million. They also aimed to provide 30 million with preventive treatment but fell short by half.


UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed called for action to tackle the main drivers of TB – poverty, undernutrition, lack of access to healthcare, the prevalence of HIV infections, diabetes, mental health, and smoking.


“Stigma surrounding the disease also needs to be reduced so that people can get help without fear of discrimination,” she added while urging governments to ensure universal health coverage that includes TB screening, prevention and treatment.


Mohammed also shared her reason for supporting the global fight.


“When society says things like ‘she’s too skinny because she has TB, she’s unworthy of marriage because she has or had TB, or she continues to have TB because she’s irresponsible.


“We as a society are bullying TB patients one step closer to death – a death that is fully preventable. And this has to stop.”


WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus commended the “amazing” energy in the room, where participants frequently chanted “End TB, yes we can!”


He welcomed the political declaration, which was agreed by consensus ahead of the meeting. It will be presented to the General Assembly, the UN’s most representative organ, comprising all 193 Member States.


The UN scribe said: “For millennia, our ancestors have suffered and died with tuberculosis, without knowing what it was, what caused it, or how to stop it,” he said.


“Today, we have knowledge and tools they could only have dreamed of. We have political commitment. And we have an opportunity that no generation in the history of humanity has had: the opportunity to write the final chapter in the story of TB.”

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Over 40 million health professionals from across the world demand bold health and climate action at COP28



Geneva/Dubai, 02 December 2023 — On the first-ever Health Day at a COP, more than 40 million health professionals from around the globe joined the call to action by the World Health Organization (WHO) and civil society organizations, to prioritize health in climate negotiations at COP28.


Climate inaction is costing lives and impacting health every single day. Health workers demand an immediate and bold action to phase out fossil fuels, transition to clean energy, build resilience and to support people and communities most vulnerable to impacts of the changing climate. They press for no more delays, no more excuses; urging action and justice now, for a healthy future for all.


“In the face of the urgent challenges posed by health and climate change, health professionals stand united in every effort to improve health outcomes and address the climate crises,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization. “This inspires us all to contribute to a healthier, more resilient world for generations to come.”


The year 2023 has witnessed an alarming surge in climate-related disasters, including wildfires, heatwaves and droughts, leading to the displacement of populations, agricultural losses and heightened air pollution. The ongoing climate crisis has significantly increased the risk of life-threatening diseases such as cholera, malaria and dengue.


Unprecedented global health mobilization at COP28


WHO and the over 40 million health professionals call on governments to meet the commitments they have already made, deliver on the Paris Agreement, accelerate the phasing out of fossil fuels and to raise their ambition for a healthier, fairer and greener future for humanity.


Strong and resilient health systems are indispensable to protecting the population from the negative impacts of climate change on their health. Building climate-resilient, low-carbon health systems as protection for current and future lives must be seen as one of the priorities in local, national and global climate action and financing.


Health Ministers from around the world endorsed the COP28 Declaration on Climate and Health, supported by 120 countries. This highlights the severe health implications of climate change, emphasizes the critical role of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement, and underscores the urgent need to work collaboratively to confront the connections between climate change and health. It reflects a shared understanding of the urgency of climate action for health and raises hope of a greater global commitment to a healthier and more resilient future for all.


The urgency of financing climate-resilient health systems


The commitment to a healthier planet requires a commitment to financing mechanisms that support climate-resilient health systems and sustainable initiatives. It is critical to discuss the urgency of action but also ensure that financial commitments match the scale of the challenge.


Currently receiving a mere 0.5% of global climate financing, the health sector demands a substantial increase in resources. Boosting financial support is not just warranted but essential to effectively tackle ongoing health crises and an evolving global health landscape.


With the health sector facing unprecedented challenges, urgent action is needed to bridge the stark financial gap. By multiplying funding, we strengthen the sector’s capacity to innovate, adapt and deliver optimal care, ensuring a resilient healthcare infrastructure for today’s challenges and the uncertainties of tomorrow.


WHO’s commitment on climate and health


WHO welcomes the efforts of the COP28 Presidency to highlight the health emergency and provide a high-level platform for climate and health at this conference, including though the inaugural Health Day, and the climate and health ministerial. WHO is dedicated to working alongside partners and donors to ensure effective implementation of priorities outlined in the declaration.


The WHO-led Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health (ATACH) is a global platform that brings together the more than 75 countries that have committed to initiatives on climate resilient and low carbon sustainable health systems (promoted by the United Kingdom as President of COP26), along with partners, bilateral donors and researchers. WHO will ensure that ATACH embraces the priorities included in the declaration and supports its effective implementation.


Furthermore, WHO commits to strengthening its climate change and health portfolio by integrating climate change as a priority for all WHO programmes through its core functions of leadership, evidence and, most importantly, country implementation.


WHO affirms its commitment to global health and climate action, pledging its support to ministries of health worldwide.


Note to editors


The International Council of Nurses (representing 30 million members) and the World Medical Association (with a membership of 10 million physicians) pledged their support, along with thousands of health professionals worldwide who have actively signed WHO’s call to action on health and climate change.

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North Korean leader calls for action on falling birth rates



North Korean leader calls for action on falling birth rates

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for efforts to tackle the country’s falling birth rates, describing the challenge as “everyone’s housekeeping duty,” state media KCNA reported on Monday (December 4).

At an event held for mothers in Pyongyang on Sunday (December 3), Kim said the nation should “work with the mothers” to prevent the birth rate from declining and focus on providing good childcare services.

Video from the state media showed a hall packed with women dressed in traditional dresses cheering enuthusiastically for Kim at the meeting.

The United Nations Population Fund estimated that 1.8 children per woman are being born in North Korea as of 2023, higher than some of its neighbours grappling with a similar downward trend.

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WHO urgently seeks information on respiratory illness clusters in Chinese children



WHO urgently seeks information on respiratory illness clusters in Chinese children

In a recent development, the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially requested detailed information from China regarding the surge in respiratory illnesses and clusters of pneumonia in children. Chinese authorities had earlier attributed the rise to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and the circulation of pathogens like influenza, mycoplasma pneumoniae, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and SARS-CoV-2.


Reported on November 21, media and ProMED highlighted undiagnosed pneumonia clusters in northern China, raising concerns about their connection to the previously reported respiratory infections. On November 22, WHO called for additional epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory data through the International Health Regulations mechanism to assess the situation.


As northern China reports an upswing in influenza-like illnesses since mid-October, WHO emphasizes preventive measures, including vaccination, maintaining distance from the ill, staying home when sick, testing when necessary, mask-wearing, ensuring good ventilation, and regular hand hygiene. Updates will follow as WHO continues to monitor the situation closely.

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