Transcript of WHO podcast - 27 June 2008
Call for action to reduce TB deaths among people living with HIV; impact of safe water on global health; ensuring baby-friendly hospitals
Ravini Thenabadu: You’re listening to the WHO podcast. My name is Ravini Thenabadu and this is episode 37.
In this episode,
- World leaders call for action to reduce tuberculosis deaths among people living with HIV;
- A new report highlights how much disease can be prevented by improving access to safe water and better sanitation and hygiene;
- and, a look at the achievements of the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative since its launch in 1991.
Nearly a quarter of a million people living with HIV die from tuberculosis every year. This is despite the fact that TB can be treated. Heads of governments and UN agencies, public health and business leaders as well as activists came together recently in New York to discuss this emerging threat to global health.
The conference, called the HIV/TB Global Leaders Forum, was convened to focus on the actions required to drastically reduce the number of deaths from HIV-related TB. At the conference, we asked two delegates to share their thoughts on the next steps.
Nicola Brennan, a senior adviser with the Irish government, said her country will support the call for action issued at the meeting.
Nicola Brennan: I think this meeting has brought a lot of heads together and there is emerging consensus on what is actually required. So I think the thinking is advanced and practice is advancing at a country level. But that needs a lot more support and intervention. And there are a lot of issues yet to be dealt with, that have been raised. And I think a few of the gaps were around the call for action which is coming out of this meeting which our government will support and those need to be more explicit in addressing TB and HIV in children and women.
Ravini Thenabadu: For Nigerian health journalist Olayide Akanni, there was a clear message on the role of activists.
Olayide Akanni: We as a civil society are doing is able to get more civil society groups on board on TB. Because one of the challenges is that there are lots of NGOs working on HIV/AIDS, but very few speaking on TB issues. And I think that we need to also mobilize, at country level, to get more civil society groups talking the same issues, who are already working on HIV, also integrating TB and advocating that the government can do a lot more.
Ravini Thenabadu: Lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene remains one of the world’s most urgent health issues. WHO this week published its first report on this subject. The report, with the title "Safer water, better health", provides country-by-country estimates of the burden of disease due to polluted water and lack of sanitation and hygiene. And it highlights how much disease can be prevented by increasing access to safe water and better hygiene.
Dr Annette Prüss-Ustün from WHO's Department of Public Health and Environment is the lead author of the report. She came into the studio to tell us of the importance of investment in this critical area.
Dr Annette Prüss-Ustün: During the last years we synthesized evidence of the economic benefits and in there we provide additional arguments to policy makers to tackle this problem. Now one dollar invested in improved water, sanitation and hygiene actually provides 8 dollars in return. And the return is in the areas of education, economic productivity and reduced healthcare costs. And this affects development as a whole.
Ravini Thenabadu: For more information about the report, visit www.who.int/topics/water.
Ravini Thenabadu: Providing newborns a healthy start is essential for ensuring good health later in their lives. WHO and UNICEF launched the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative in 1991 to improve breastfeeding rates and infant health. In the last 17 years, the initiative has set up more than 20 000 designated facilities in 152 countries. Ms Randa Saadeh from the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at WHO tells us more about the initiative.
Randa Saadeh: WHO has baby-friendly as one of its operational targets in the global strategy for infant and child feeding: from the ideal food they need to the first immunization against infections. We will ensure that babies born in health facilities are getting the best start in life. We have seen in the last five years a great increase within countries in the number of hospitals designed baby-friendly. And this is just a reflection of the countries and policy-makers' commitment and understanding of all the health impact baby-friendly can contribute to in terms of reduced infant morbidity, shorter hospital stays for sick babies, less cost, and of course more mother satisfaction.
Ravini Thenabadu: The Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative is a joint effort of national governments, WHO and UNICEF. These agencies work hand in hand with volunteers and health workers on the ground. Dr Liubov Abolyan from the Ministry of Health in the Russian Federation tells us what it means to her country.
Dr Liubov Abolyan: Russia has been one of the countries in this Network of BFHI coordinators since it was first established in 1997. The level of exclusive breastfeeding in the baby-friendly polyclinic for children are nearly 60%. We have a long way to go but we are steadily progressing, and the areas served by BFHI hospitals have shown wonderful success not only in breastfeeding rates but in health outcome.
Ravini Thenabadu: That's all for this episode of the WHO podcast. Thanks for listening.
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For the World Health Organization, this is Ravini Thenabadu in Geneva.