News and top stories

Warning signals from the volatile world of influenza viruses

26 February 2015 -- The current global influenza situation is characterized by a number of trends that must be closely monitored. These include: an increase in the variety of animal influenza viruses co-circulating and exchanging genetic material, giving rise to novel strains; continuing cases of human H7N9 infections in China; and a recent spurt of human H5N1 cases in Egypt. Changes in the H3N2 seasonal influenza viruses, which have affected the protection conferred by the current vaccine, are also of particular concern

1.1 billion people at risk of hearing loss

27 February 2015 -- Some 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events, according to WHO. Hearing loss has potentially devastating consequences for physical and mental health, education and employment.

Finland curbs childhood obesity by integrating health in all policies

25 February 2015 -- Most of the factors that influence child and adolescent health lie outside the health sector. So Finland is taking a Health in All Policies approach in its Health Care Act by directing cities to incorporate health into all of their decision-making. This feature describes how Finland is using this approach to curb childhood obesity.

WHO calls for worldwide use of "smart" syringes

23 February 2015 -- Use of the same syringe or needle to give injections to more than one person is driving the spread of a number of deadly infectious diseases worldwide. A 2014 study sponsored by WHO, estimated that in 2010, up to 1.7 million people were infected with hepatitis B virus and up to 315 000 with hepatitis C virus through an unsafe injection. Millions of people could be protected from infections acquired through unsafe injections if all health-care programmes switched to syringes that can only be used once.

Investing to overcome the impact of neglected tropical diseases

19 February 2015 -- A new WHO report urges affected countries to increase investment in tackling 17 neglected tropical diseases to improve the health and well-being of more than 1.5 billion people. This investment represents as little as 0.1% of current domestic expenditure on health in affected low- and middle-income countries for the period 2015-2030. An annual investment of US$ 2.9 billion until 2020 (including vector control), is required to reach the targets. But in following years annual investments will decrease as diseases are reduced or eliminated.

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Ebola outbreak


Highlights

  • WHO Framework Convention celebrates 10 years action against tobacco
    February 2015 – Tomorrow marks 10 years since the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control came into being. Since then it has been endorsed by 180 Parties, covering 90% of the world’s population and “stands out as the single most powerful preventive instrument available to public health,” according to Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “We know it works. It averts addiction to a deadly product.”
  • WHO calls for scaled-up vaccination against measles
    February 2015 -- The WHO Regional Office for Europe calls on policy-makers, health-care workers and parents to immediately step up vaccination against measles across age groups at risk. This will help to put an end to outbreaks occurring in countries in the WHO European Region and to prevent similar outbreaks in the future.

Fact sheets

Commentary

Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, Head of the Convention Secretariat, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

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