Tag: WHO

Travel by air is safe, says Ashwani Sonthalia, Gaura Travel; “Risk-benefit analysis” & “its priorities” to determine world travel:WHO

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Gaura Travels 4th Charter Flight to DELHI passengers on 31 July 2020 morning at Melbourne Airport. Photo- Gaura Travel

By SAT Newsdesk

MELBOURNE, 31 July 2020: Most countries have halted some or all international travel since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic but now there is talk to re-open travel. The pandemic is not yet over and cases continue to surge in many countries. The urge to revive the almost collapsed travel business is strong but doubts remain about it. In a report (May 2020) published by the IATA, the organization anticipates that the recovery of the travel industry will be led by domestic endeavors to begin with, with passenger numbers not climbing back to their normal state until at least 2023. But travel companies are taking initiatives from Australia and the response has been positive.

Mr. Ashwani Sonthalia, CEO Gaura Travels, Melbourne feels “travel by air is much more safe compared to other modes”. Gaura Travels has recently organized special charted flights from Australia to India.

“All health and other precautions are taken for the welfare of those traveling and now people should also muster the courage to go ahead for international travel by air”, he says.

The Gaura Travel is now gearing up for its special Melbourne-Amritsar charter flight through the Sri Lankan Airlines on 7 August 2020.

A report reveals last year (2019) about 1.4 billion people traveled globally and out of this 60 percent was by air.

So, if at all, travel revival should take what shape? The World Health Organisation (WHO) in its ‘COVID-19 Travel Advice’ (30 July 2020) document* outlines key considerations for national health authorities when considering or implementing the gradual return to international travel operations.

The document says, ” The gradual lifting of travel measures (or temporary restrictions) should be based on a thorough risk assessment, taking into account country context, the local epidemiology and transmission patterns, the national health and social measures to control the outbreak, and the capacities of health systems in both departure and destination countries, including at points of entry. Any subsequent measure must be proportionate to public health risks and should be adjusted based on a risk assessment, conducted regularly and systematically as the COVID-19 situation evolves and communicated regularly to the public.”

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Photo- Gaura Travel

* Public health considerations while resuming international travel.

UN report: 690 million people went hungry in 2019 ; achieving zero hunger by 2030 in doubt

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Photo- FAO

By SAT News Desk/WHO Media

Rome, 13 July 2020 – More people are going hungry, an annual study by the United Nations has found. Tens of millions have joined the ranks of the chronically undernourished over the past five years, and countries around the world continue to struggle with multiple forms of malnutrition.

The latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, published today, estimates that almost 690 million people went hungry in 2019 – up by 10 million from 2018, and by nearly 60 million in five years. High costs and low affordability also mean billions cannot eat healthily or nutritiously. The hungry are most numerous in Asia but expanding fastest in Africa. Across the planet, the report forecasts, the COVID-19 pandemic could tip over 130 million more people into chronic hunger by the end of 2020. (Flare-ups of acute hunger in the pandemic context may see this number escalate further at times.)

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World is the most authoritative global study tracking progress towards ending hunger and malnutrition. It is produced jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Writing in the Foreword, the heads of the five agencies warn that “five years after the world committed to ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition, we are still off-track to achieve this objective by 2030.”

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The hunger numbers explained

In this edition, critical data updates for China and other populous countries have led to a substantial cut in estimates of the global number of hungry people, to the current 690 million. Nevertheless, there has been no change in the trend. Revising the entire hunger series back to the year 2000 yields the same conclusion: after steadily diminishing for decades, chronic hunger slowly began to rise in 2014 and continues to do so.

Asia remains home to the greatest number of undernourished (381 million). Africa is second (250 million), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (48 million). The global prevalence of undernourishment – or overall percentage of hungry people – has changed little at 8.9 percent, but the absolute numbers have been rising since 2014. This means that over the last five years, hunger has grown in step with the global population.

This, in turn, hides great regional disparities: in percentage terms, Africa is the hardest hit region and becoming more so, with 19.1 percent of its people undernourished. This is more than double the rate in Asia (8.3 percent) and in Latin America and the Caribbean (7.4 percent). On current trends, by 2030, Africa will be home to more than half of the world’s chronically hungry.

The pandemic’s toll

As progress in fighting hunger stalls, the COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems – understood as all the activities and processes affecting the production, distribution, and consumption of food. While it is too soon to assess the full impact of the lockdowns and other containment measures, the report estimates that at a minimum, another 83 million people, and possibly as many as 132 million, may go hungry in 2020 as a result of the economic recession triggered by COVID-19. iii The setback throws into further doubt the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero Hunger).

Unhealthy diets, food insecurity, and malnutrition

Overcoming hunger and malnutrition in all its forms (including undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity) is about more than securing enough food to survive: what people eat – and especially what children eat – must also be nutritious. Yet a key obstacle is the high cost of nutritious foods and the low affordability of healthy diets for vast numbers of families.

The report presents evidence that a healthy diet costs far more than US$ 1.90/day, the international poverty threshold. It puts the price of even the least expensive healthy diet at five times the price of filling stomachs with starch only. Nutrient-rich dairy, fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich foods (plant and animal-sourced) are the most expensive food groups globally.

The latest estimates are that a staggering 3 billion people or more cannot afford a healthy diet. In sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, this is the case for 57 percent of the population – though no region, including North America and Europe, is spared. Partly as a result, the race to end malnutrition appears compromised. According to the report, in 2019, between a quarter and a third of children under five (191 million) were stunted or wasted – too short or too thin. Another 38 million under-fives were overweight. Among adults, meanwhile, obesity has become a global pandemic in its own right.

A call to action

The report argues that once sustainability considerations are factored in, a global switch to healthy diets would help check the backslide into hunger while delivering enormous savings. It calculates that such a shift would allow the health costs associated with unhealthy diets, estimated to reach US$ 1.3 trillion a year in 2030, to be almost entirely offset; while the diet-related social cost of greenhouse gas emissions, estimated at US$ 1.7 trillion, could be cut by up to three-quarters.iv

The report urges the transformation of food systems to reduce the cost of nutritious foods and increase the affordability of healthy diets. While the specific solutions will differ from country to country, and even within them, the overall answers lie with interventions along the entire food supply chain, in the food environment, and in the political economy that shapes trade, public expenditure, and investment policies. The study calls on governments to mainstream nutrition in their approaches to agriculture; work to cut cost-escalating factors in the production, storage, transport, distribution and marketing of food – including by reducing inefficiencies and food loss and waste; support local small-scale producers to grow and sell more nutritious foods, and secure their access to markets; prioritize children’s nutrition as the category in greatest need; foster behavior change through education and communication; and embed nutrition in national social protection systems and investment strategies.

The heads of the five UN agencies behind the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World have declared their commitment to support this momentous shift, ensuring that it unfolds “in a sustainable way, for people and the planet.”

READ FULL REPORT HERE

WHO releases “interim guidance” for stakeholders for the “ethical and appropriate use of digital proximity tracking technologies for COVID-19”

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From SAT News Desk, Melbourne

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released an ‘Interim guidance’ (28 May 2020), ‘Ethical considerations to guide the use of digital proximity tracking technologies for COVID-19 contact tracing’ dealing with tracking technologies used in tracing Apps to identify COVID-19 infected patients in many countries including Australia (COVIDSafe) and India (Aarogya Setu). Like many others in the world, the WHO feels, “… these technologies raise ethical and privacy concerns.” This document is exhaustive and deals with issues of technology, human rights, commercial usage of data, effectiveness, proximity, and the need for the legislation among others.
We reproduce below the whole ‘interim guidance’ as it is under the Creative Commons Licence. CLICK on the following link and access/download the original WHO document:

https://www.who.int/publications-detail/WHO-2019-nCoV-Ethics_Contact_tracing_apps-2020.1

WHO halts Hydroxychloroquine trials amid safety concerns

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By SAT News Desk/WHO

MELBOURNE, 27 MAY 2020: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has temporarily stopped the trial of Hydroxychloroquine after safety concerns as a treatment for Coronavirus patients as a precaution while the safety data is being reviewed. The WHO released the following Q-A in this regard to the media on 26 May 2020:

Q&A : Hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19

Why was the use of hydroxychloroquine temporarily suspended in the Solidarity Trial?

In light of recent publications of evidence on the safety and efficacy of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 patients, the Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial decided to implement a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the trial as a precaution while the safety data is being reviewed.
As an example, an observational study published in the Lancet on 22 May found that, among 100 000 patients from multiple countries randomized to receive hydroxychloroquine, when used alone or with a macrolide, there was a higher mortality rate and an increased frequency of irregular heartbeats.
A final decision on the harm, benefit or lack of benefit of hydroxychloroquine will be made once the evidence has been reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board. This review will include data from the Solidarity Trial and other ongoing trials, as well as any evidence published so far. It is expected by mid-June.

What will happen to the people who are currently enrolled in the hydroxychloroquine arm of the trial?

Those patients previously randomized to hydroxychloroquine treatment should continue to receive hydroxychloroquine until they finish their course of treatment. The use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.

What is WHO’s view of ongoing prophylaxis treatments followed in some countries, which include the use of hydroxychloroquine?

WHO is currently assessing the use of hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients within the Solidarity Trial. The hydroxychloroquine arm has been paused as a precaution while the safety data is being reviewed.

Every country, particularly those with regulatory authorities, is in a position to advise its citizens regarding the use of any drug. Although hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are already licensed products for treating other diseases, at this stage, these drugs have not been found to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19. In fact, warnings have been issued by many national authorities on the side effects of the drugs and their use has been limited in many countries to clinical trials under strict supervision in hospital settings.

WHO has cautioned physicians against recommending or administering unproven treatments to COVID-19 patients, and cautioned people against self-medicating with them. The consensus among world experts is that the potential exists but that far more studies are urgently needed to determine if existing antiviral drugs can be effective to treat COVID-19. If these treatments prove to be effective, they could reduce the burden of COVID-19.

What is the Solidarity Trial?

The Solidarity Trial is an international clinical trial to help find an effective treatment for COVID-19, launched by WHO and partners. It is hoped that one or more of the treatments under trial will result in improving clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients and save lives. Other trials are on-going around the world in addition to the Solidarity Trial.

Based on data from laboratory and clinical studies, Remdesivir, Lopinavir/Ritonavir, Lopinavir/Ritonavir with Interferon beta-1a, and hydroxychloroquine had been initially selected as treatment options. Following new evidence on the safety and efficacy of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, enrollment for this drug was temporarily suspended on 24 May 2020.

Over 100 countries have expressed an interest in participating in the trial and WHO is actively supporting more than 60 of them, including with the following:

- ethical and regulatory approvals of the WHO core protocol;
- identification of hospitals participating in the trial;
- training of hospital clinicians on the web-based randomization and data system;
- shipping the trial drugs as requested by each participating country.

To date, over 400 hospitals in 35 countries are actively recruiting patients and nearly 3500 patients have been enrolled from 17 countries.

An interim trial analysis will be produced and will be monitored by an independent group of experts as the global Data and Safety Monitoring Committee.

FIFA-EC-WHO #SafeHome campaign to support those risking domestic violence

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Photo: WHO Video

By SAT News Desk/WHO

MELBOURNE, 26 MAY 2020: The COVID-19 global crisis has resulted in a big loss of life and the disruption of the economic and social fabric of society. One consequence has been the spike in domestic violence. To plug this and help victims the FIFA, WHO, and the European Commission have joined forces, to launch the #SafeHome campaign to support women and children at risk of domestic violence. The campaign is a joint response from the three institutions to the recent spikes in reports of domestic violence as stay-at-home measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have put women and children experiencing abuse at greater risk.

Almost one in three women worldwide experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence by someone else in their lifetime. In a majority of cases, that violence is committed by a partner in their home – indeed, up to 38% of all murders of women are committed by an intimate partner. It is also estimated that one billion children aged between two and seventeen years (or half the world’s children) have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in the past year.

There are many reasons why people perpetrate domestic violence, including gender inequality and social norms that condone violence, childhood experiences of abuse or exposure to violence and coercive control growing up. Harmful use of alcohol can also trigger violence. Stressful situations, such as those being experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic instability, exacerbate the risk. Moreover, the current distancing measures in place in many countries make it harder for women and children to reach out to family, friends and health workers who could otherwise provide support and protection.

“Just as physical, sexual or psychological violence has no place in football, it has no place in the home,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “We are so pleased that our partners today are joining us to draw attention to this critical issue. As people are isolated at home because of COVID-19, the risks of domestic violence have tragically been exacerbated.”.

“Together with the World Health Organization and the European Commission, we are asking the football community to raise awareness of this intolerable situation that threatens particularly women and children in their own home, a place where they should feel happy, safe and secure,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “We cannot stay silent on this issue that negatively affects so many people. Violence has no place in homes, just as it has no place in sports. Football has the power to relay important social messages, and through the #SafeHome campaign, we want to ensure that those people experiencing violence have access to the necessary support services they need.”

“Violence has no place in our societies,” said Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth. “Women’s rights are human rights and should be protected. Often abused women and children are afraid to talk because of fear or shame. This ‘window’ to speak up and seek help is, during confinement, even more, restricted. As a matter of fact, in some countries, we have seen an increase in reports of domestic violence since the outbreak of COVID-19. It is our responsibility as a society, as institutions to speak up for these women. To give them trust and support them. This is the purpose of this joint campaign which I am honored to be part of.”

“We call upon our member associations to actively publish details of national or local helplines and support services that can help victims and anyone feeling threatened by violence in their locality,” added the FIFA President. “We also call upon our members to review their own safeguarding measures using the FIFA Guardians toolkit to ensure that football is fun and safe for everyone in our game, especially the youngest members of the football family.”

The five-part video awareness campaign features 15 past and present footballers – Álvaro Arbeloa, Rosana Augusto, Vítor Baía, Khalilou Fadiga, Matthias Ginter, David James, Annike Krahn, Marco Materazzi, Milagros Menéndez, Noemi Pascotto, Graham Potter, Mikaël Silvestre, Kelly Smith, Óliver Torres and Clementine Touré – who have stressed their support to address this critical issue. The campaign is being published on various FIFA digital channels, with #SafeHome also being supported with multimedia toolkits for the 211 FIFA member associations and for various media agencies to help facilitate additional localization and to further amplify the message worldwide.

Video 1: Survivor advice 1

Video 2: Survivor advice 2

Video 3: Survivor support

Video 4: Perpetrator advice

Video 5: Government advice

WHO, the United Nations’ specialized health agency, and FIFA, football’s world governing body, collaborate closely to promote healthy lifestyles, which includes being free of violence, through football globally. The two organizations jointly launched the “Pass the message to kick out coronavirus” campaign in March 2020 to share advice on effective measures to protect people from COVID-19. This was followed by the #BeActive campaign in April 2020 to encourage people to stay healthy at home during the pandemic.