News and top stories

Zika virus: Current situation and future research and development

8 February 2016 -- WHO releases its first situation report for the public health emergency announced after a spike in cases of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome in the Americas. These cases are strongly suspected to be linked to Zika virus. WHO is currently mapping existing research and development for Zika virus in order to prioritize actions that need to be taken in order to fast-track medical products and approaches.

Putting household water treatment products to the test

5 February 2016 -- Globally, an estimated 1.9 billion people rely on water supplies that are contaminated with faeces. In order to help prevent disease and make water safe for drinking, household water treatment technologies are marketed and distributed in countries around the world. WHO’s new International Scheme to Evaluate Household Water Treatment Technologies ensures that products used to treat water in homes are effective in protecting health.

Essential medicines give lifeline to people with cancer

4 February 2016 -- Cancers figure among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next 2 decades. On World Cancer Day, WHO looks at the importance of essential medicines for building stronger health systems, and saving lives. This feature story looks at how Mexico has taken major steps to give sustainable access to treatment for people diagnosed cancer and how this is saving lives.

Ensuring funding for guinea-worm eradication

3 February 2016 -- With only 22 cases of dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease) reported in 2015, the world is inching closer to eradicating the first parasitic disease of humans. WHO and the Carter Center are launching a case statement today to highlight the need to secure the funding needed to step up surveillance and maintain active case search until eradication is achieved.

Films showing smoking scenes should be rated

1 February 2016 -- Movies showing tobacco products have enticed millions of young people worldwide to start smoking, according to the new WHO "Smoke-free movies: from evidence to action".

WHO calls on governments to take concrete steps to rate movies that portray tobacco use to help stop adolescents from becoming addicted to tobacco. In 2014, smoking was found in 44% of all Hollywood films, and 36% of films rated for young people.

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WHO fact sheets


  • Risk Assessment - Seasonal Influenza
    February 2016 -- Compared to previous years, northern hemisphere seasonal influenza activity started late in some countries in western Europe, North America and eastern Asia.
  • Zika: Research in emergencies
    February 2016 -- To improve timely access to data in the context of a public health emergency, the WHO Bulletin is implementing a new data-sharing and reporting protocol. All research manuscripts relevant to the Zika epidemic will be posted online in the “Zika Open” collection within 24 hours.
  • Treating and defeating epilepsy
    February 2016 -- Approximately 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases. Nearly 80% of people with epilepsy live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • 10 facts about schistosomiasis
    February 2016 -- Schistosomiasis is an acute and chronic, parasitic disease caused by blood flukes (trematode worms). Treatment, which should be repeated over a number of years, will reduce and prevent morbidity.

Emergency reform

WHO is reforming its work in outbreaks and emergencies with health and humanitarian consequences to ensure the Organization can respond rapidly to future crises.

Zika virus


To lower the risk of being infected with Zika virus: use insect repellent; cover as much of the body as possible with long, light-coloured clothing; empty, clean or cover containers that can hold water to remove places mosquitoes can breed; and sleep under mosquito nets.

Tweets from WHO


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