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June Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

The June issue of the WHO Bulletin includes an editorial on the management of non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries; a public health round-up; an article on anti-smoking measures and tobacco consumption in Turkey; and a research paper on mortality in women in Burkina Faso in the years following obstetric complications (June 2012).

IRIN Examines Next Steps In Global Fight Against NCDs

IRIN examines the next steps in fighting non-communicable diseases (NCDs), “the leading cause of death worldwide,” noting, “The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO), aims to reduce preventable deaths from [NCDs] like diabetes, heart attacks and strokes, chronic respiratory diseases and cancers, by 25 percent by 2025.” According to IRIN, “WHO is coordinating negotiations on the surveillance, indicators and voluntary targets that will form an eventual global plan to fight NCDs, and is drafting recommendations to be considered by member governments in October 2012.” IRIN provides a link to a WHO summary of “recent discussions [.pdf] with civil society and government representatives on the best ways to rein in NCDs, and how to measure progress.”

Blogs Recognize 'World No Tobacco Day'

“By the end of the 21st century, more than one billion people are expected to die from illnesses related to tobacco use primarily in low to middle income countries,” Amie Newman, communications officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and editor of the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, writes in this blog post in recognition of World No Tobacco Day. “We’ll continue to support efforts which reduce the number of deaths and diseases due to tobacco use — especially in developing countries,” she adds (5/31). An AIDS.gov blog post addresses tobacco use by people living with HIV, writing, “Smoking rates of people living with HIV are estimated to be two to three times higher than the national average, and smoking weakens the immune system, making it harder to fight off HIV-related infections” (5/31).

Global Cancer Rates Could Go Up 75% By 2030, Study Suggests

“The number of people with cancer is set to surge by more than 75 percent across the world by 2030, with particularly sharp rises in poor countries as they adopt unhealthy ‘Westernized’ lifestyles,” according to a study published Friday in the Lancet, Reuters reports (Kelland, 5/31). “If current population trends continue, the number of people with cancer worldwide will go up to 22.2 million by 2030, up from 12.7 million in 2008,” CNN’s “The Chart” notes, adding, “Cases are expected to surge in poorer parts of the world, which are ill-equipped to handle the burden” (5/31).

Better Urban Planning Needed To Reduce Negative Health Impacts Of Urbanization, Report Says

“As the world’s cities become home to a greater percentage of the population, better urban planning will be needed to reduce … negative health impacts [such as air pollution and obesity], according to a new report from the University College London/Lancet Commission on Healthy Cities,” the Atlantic Cities reports (Berg, 5/30). With…

On World No Tobacco Day, WHO Calls On National Leaders To Stand Together Against Tobacco Industry 'Attacks'

“On World No Tobacco Day (31 May), WHO is calling on national leaders to be extra vigilant against the increasingly aggressive attacks by the industry which undermine policies that protect people from the harms of tobacco,” a WHO press release reports, noting that nearly six million people die of tobacco-related illnesses each year and tobacco is a leading preventable cause of illness and death worldwide. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said, “In recent years, multinational tobacco companies have been shamelessly fuelling a series of legal actions against governments that have been at the forefront of the war against tobacco. … We must now stand together with these governments that have had the courage to do the right thing to protect their citizens,” according to the press release. “More countries are moving to fully meet their obligations under the 2003 WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC),” the press release adds (5/30). PANA/Afrique en ligne reports that WHO has released a technical resource paper based on 2008 guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 of the FCTC “to help guide countries on ways to combat tobacco industry interference” (5/30).

Target Of 25% Reduction In Premature Mortality From NCDs By 2025 A 'Rallying Call' For Global Health Community

Member states at the 65th session of the World Health Assembly, which concluded last week, “agreed to adopt a global target of a 25 percent reduction in premature mortality from non-communicable diseases [NCDs] such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases by 2025,” Devi Sridhar, a lecturer in Global Health Politics at Oxford University; Lawrence Gostin, professor of law at Georgetown University, faculty director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, and director of the WHO’s Collaborating Center on Public Health Law and Human Rights; and Derek Yach, senior vice president of global health and agricultural policy at PepsiCo and former executive of the WHO, write in the journal Global Health Governance. The authors discuss the basis on which the target was set and examine what will need to be done, and by whom, in order to achieve the goal.

Officials At 65th World Health Assembly Adopt Resolutions On Broad Range Of Health Issues

“The 65th World Health Assembly concluded Saturday after adopting 21 resolutions and three decisions on a broad range of health issues,” a WHO press release reports (5/26). “Several resolutions were adopted, … including on non-communicable diseases, counterfeit health supplies, and the World Health Organization’s role during emergencies,” Devex writes (Ravelo, 5/28). “It is the first time that countries will set a concrete global goal for reducing premature deaths from cardiovascular and lung diseases, diabetes, and cancer,” the Associated Press/Washington Post notes, adding that the member states agreed to cut deaths from the four diseases by one-quarter by 2025 (5/25). “In the WHO text, its 194 member states voice ‘strong support for additional work aimed at reaching consensus on targets relating to the four main risk factors, namely tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity,’” Reuters writes (Nebehay, 5/25).

WHO DG Chan Addresses World Health Assembly; HHS Secretary Sebelius Speaks At Plenary Session

“Opening the 65th annual World Health Assembly (WHA) [on Monday in Geneva], World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan said she sees a bright future for health development, despite financial crises that many countries are facing, which has shrunk support for many initiatives,” CIDRAP News reports. According to the news service, “Chan said the WHO can leverage its leadership role to make the most of small and wise investments” and that “[u]niversal health coverage is the best way to maintain health gains that have been made over the past decade” (Schnirring, 5/21). Focusing on innovations that bring social benefit rather than profit, as well as research and development into new treatments, also are important, Chan noted, Devex reports (Ravelo, 5/22).

WHO Faces Challenges In Setting Priorities

In this BMJ Groups Blog post, Amanda Glassman, director of Global Health Policy at the Center for Global Development, writes about the challenges the WHO faces in “[s]etting priorities and fully funding those priorities.” She defines the criteria by which the WHO could outline its priorities, including by identifying “global” and “shared” concerns and adequately funding and staffing priority areas. Glassman concludes, “There is tentative movement towards limiting the number of new resolutions based on ‘an assessment of their strategic value, financial and administrative implications, and reporting requirements and timelines.’ That sounds very good, and would inspire more confidence if the assessment were rigorous and transparent to member states and the public. Still, the reform seems to have punted on the WHO’s priority-setting problem” (5/17).