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WHO Warns Of Drug-Resistant Strains Of Gonorrhea

“Drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea have spread to countries across the world, the U.N. health agency said on Wednesday, and millions of patients may run out of treatment options unless doctors catch and treat cases earlier,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 6/6). “Already several countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom are reporting cases of resistance to cephalosporin antibiotics — the last treatment option against gonorrhea,” a WHO press release states (6/6).

Blog Examines WHO Funding

In this globalhealthpolicy.net blog post, Andrew Harmer, a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, examines funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), highlighting two documents circulated as background reading for the just-concluded World Health Assembly. The documents, titled A65/29 Add.1 (.pdf) and A65/30 (.pdf), “tell you how much…

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).

Joint UNAIDS/UNDP Brief Highlights Potential Impacts Of Free Trade Agreements On Public Health

“A new UNAIDS/UNDP joint issues brief [.pdf] highlights the potential impacts of free trade agreements on public health,” UNAIDS reports in a feature story on its website. “The brief concludes that ‘to retain the benefits of [flexibilities in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)], countries at a minimum should avoid entering into free trade agreements that contain obligations that can impact on pharmaceutical price or availability,'” the article states. It adds that “the potential impact of a number of current or planned free trade agreement negotiations taking place across the world — particularly affecting countries in the Asia and the Pacific region — can hinder countries’ rights to implement such flexibilities” (6/1).

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.”

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.

Seriously Ill Children Administered Zinc In Addition To Antibiotics Respond Better, More Quickly To Treatment, Study Shows

“In a newly released clinical study, conducted in India” and published in the Lancet on Thursday, “hundreds of seriously ill infants who received zinc — an essential micronutrient for the immune system and human growth — as well as antibiotics, responded better and more quickly to treatment than those who did not,” IRIN reports, adding, “This finding is the first proof that zinc supplements may boost infant survival from infections.” According to the news service, “More than 300 infants no older than 120 days (four months), hospitalized in New Delhi, the capital, for suspected meningitis (an infection of the brain or spinal cord lining), pneumonia (a lung infection) or sepsis (blood poisoning), were given zinc in addition to antibiotics” and “were found to be 40 percent less likely to experience ‘treatment failure’ — needing a second antibiotic within one week of the first treatment, or intensive care or death within 21 days — than those given a placebo.”

WHO Hopes To Host Second Meeting On Issues Related To 'Dual-Use' Research

“The World Health Organization (WHO) hopes to hold a meeting late this fall to discuss ‘dual-use’ research issues raised in the controversy over publication of two studies involving lab-modified H5N1 viruses with increased transmissibility, a WHO official said,” CIDRAP News reports. “The WHO hosted a closed meeting of disease experts and government officials Feb 16 and 17 to discuss the two H5N1 studies,” CIDRAP notes, adding that “the WHO [on Wednesday] released a brief statement about its activities related to the H5N1 research controversy since the February meeting in Geneva.” Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for health security and environment, said, “We hope to hold a second meeting to discuss the broader concerns related to potential dual [use] research in the late fall, if resources are available,” the news service notes.

U.N. Officials Warn 18M People Will Be Affected By Hunger In African Sahel This Year

“U.N. officials say they expect 18 million people in West Africa will go hungry this year, including three million young children whose lives or health will be at risk,” the Associated Press reports. David Gressly, the U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for nine countries in Africa’s Sahel region, told reporters on Tuesday that at least one million children’s lives will be threatened by malnutrition in 2012, and malnutrition will cause health problems for another two million children under age five, according to the news agency. Gressly said drought, failed harvests, and political instability were making this the worst hunger crisis to hit the region since 2005, the AP notes (5/29).