23/10/2006 Diagnostics for tuberculosis: An untapped market
October 2006 -- A significant untapped global market exists for more effective and affordable tests to diagnose tuberculosis in low and middle income countries – where most TB cases today occur. 1.7 million people a year die from TB, many because the infection goes undiagnosed, or is diagnosed too late to be cured.A new report, Diagnostics for Tuberculosis: global demand and market potential shows how investment in improved tests could bolster TB control efforts.http://www.who.int/en/index.html
23/10/2006 Election of WHO Director-General
GENEVA -- The election of the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General will take place in Geneva from 6-9 November 2006. There will be two separate meetings in two separate venues. Below journalists can find practical information relating to accreditation, access to meetings, and news conference, photo and broadcast opportunities.
The WHO Executive Board (EB) will meet from 6 to 8 November at WHO Headquarters and will nominate a person for the post of Director-General. Journalists will be able to listen to proceedings during the public sessions, which include the short opening session on the morning of 6 November, the late-afternoon session on 6 November when the short-list is announced, and the closing session on 8 November when the name of the person nominated for the post will be made public. Otherwise, the EB will conduct proceedings related to the nomination in a session which is open only to Members of the Board and one representative for each Member State. Journalists will not be allowed in the Executive Board room during these sessions.
On 9 November 2006, the World Health Assembly will meet at the United Nations Palais des Nations Assembly Hall for a special session. The Health Assembly will consider the nomination of the Director-General at a private meeting and shall come to a decision through a secret ballot. Journalists will be able to follow the public sessions from the media gallery (on the 2nd balcony). These include the opening of the session in the morning and the closing of the meeting when the successful candidate will be publicly announced and will make a speech.
23/10/2006 WHO Global Task Force outlines measures to combat XDR-TB worldwide
GENEVA -- Health experts have confirmed that the emergence of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) poses a serious threat to public health, particularly when associated with HIV. At its first meeting, the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Task Force on XDR-TB also outlined a series of measures that countries must put in place to effectively combat XDR-TB. In addition, the Task Force will help mobilize teams that can respond to requests for technical assistance from countries, and be deployed at short notice to XDR-TB risk areas.
:: Stop TB Department
Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis
These were among a series of outcomes issued by the Global Task Force meeting held on 9 and 10 October in Geneva. The meeting was urgently convened to review the latest available evidence on the impact of highly resistant tuberculosis, including when associated with HIV.
Addressing the Task Force, Acting Director-General of WHO, Dr Anders Nordström, said the Organization was \\\\\"absolutely committed\\\\\" to supporting country efforts to fight TB in all forms.
\\\\\"It is critical that urgent steps are taken to address XDR-TB, especially in areas of high HIV prevalence,\\\\\" said Dr Nordström. \\\\\"At the same time we should not lose sight of the need to make long-standing improvements to strengthen TB control, and build the necessary capacity in health services to respond to drug-resistant tuberculosis.\\\\\"
Along with a call for countries to strengthen TB control - the key to preventing TB drug resistance - consensus was reached on an XDR-TB case definition (see below). In high HIV prevalence settings, there was also agreement that control of XDR-TB will not be possible without close coordination of TB and HIV programmes and interventions.
The Task Force also made specific recommendations on drug-resistant TB surveillance methods and laboratory capacity measures; implementing infection control measures to protect patients, health care workers and visitors (particularly those who are HIV infected); access to second-line anti-TB and antiretroviral drugs for countries; communication and information-sharing strategies related to XDR-TB prevention, control, and treatment including co-management with antiretroviral therapy; and research and development of new TB drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tests.
WHO and Task Force members will now coordinate with national and international partners involved in TB as well as HIV prevention, care and treatment to take the recommendations forward. They will also develop a plan that identifies the resources required to implement these outcomes and the overall emergency response.
Drug-resistant TB has emerged as an increasing threat to TB control but a WHO / US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, published earlier this year, documented for the first time cases of tuberculosis that were extensively resistant to current drug treatments. XDR-TB was identified in all regions of the world, though it is still thought to be relatively uncommon.
Last month, concerns about the emergence of XDR-TB were heightened by reports and studies from KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa of high mortality rates in HIV-positive people with XDR-TB. This led to warnings that XDR-TB could seriously threaten the considerable progress being made in countries on TB control and the scaling up of universal access to HIV treatment and prevention.
Among the first countries to request assistance to strengthen its national emergency XDR-TB response, and the extra challenges posed by HIV, is South Africa. The South African Department of Health is to host an XDR-TB meeting on 17 and 18 October, with participation from WHO and representatives from other affected southern African countries.
WHO Global Task Force on XDR-TB, October 2006 - Outcomes and Recommendations
Preventing XDR-TB through strengthening TB and HIV control
To prevent the appearance and spread of drug-resistant TB, the Task Force underlined as a priority the need for the immediate strengthening of TB control in countries, as detailed in the new Stop TB Strategy and Global Plan to Stop TB 2006-2015. This should be done in coordination with scaling up universal access to HIV treatment and care. WHO and Task Force members will help mobilize teams of experts that can be deployed in the field, at the request of countries, to assist in strengthening TB control, and where relevant HIV control.
There were also specific recommendations on:
Management of XDR-TB suspects in high and low HIV prevalence settings:
Accelerate access to rapid tests for rifampicin resistance, to improve case detection of all patients suspected of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) so that they can be given treatment that is as effective as possible. Rapid diagnosis is potentially life saving to those who are HIV positive.
Programme management of XDR-TB and treatment design in HIV negative and positive people:
Adhere to WHO Guidelines for the Programmatic Management of Drug Resistant TB;
Improve MDR-TB management conditions;
Enable access to all MDR-TB second-line drugs, under proper conditions;
Ensure all patients with HIV are adequately treated for TB and started on appropriate antiretroviral therapy.
Laboratory XDR-TB definition:
XDR-TB is defined as resistance to at least rifampicin and isoniazid from among the first line anti-TB drugs (which is the definition of MDR-TB) in addition to resistance to any fluoroquinolone, and to at least one of three injectable second-line anti-TB drugs used in TB treatment (capreomycin, kanamicin, and amikacin).
Infection control and protection of health care workers with emphasis on high HIV prevalence settings:
Accelerate wide implementation of recommended infection control measures in health care settings and other risk areas in order to reduce the ongoing transmission of drug-resistant TB, especially among those who are HIV positive.
Immediate XDR-TB surveillance activities and needs:
Strengthen laboratory capacity to diagnose, manage and survey drug resistance; Commence rapid surveys of drug-resistant TB so that the extent and size of the XDR-TB epidemic, and its association with HIV, can be determined.
Advocacy, communication and social mobilization:
Initiate information-sharing strategies that promote effective prevention, treatment, control of XDR-TB at global and national levels and also in high HIV prevalence settings;
Strengthen communication with affected communities and individuals;
Develop a fully-budgeted plan with the resources and funding required to address XDR-TB, including through necessary improvements in overall TB control and HIV care in the immediate and medium term;
Initiate resource mobilization.
Planning is also underway for a focused meeting in the near future on research and development issues relating to TB, including promoting the development of the new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines that are urgently needed. A meeting on antiretroviral therapy and XDR-TB is also planned. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2006/np29/en/index.html
16/10/2006 Violence against children: chilling health consequences
Violence against children: chilling health consequences
Violence against children is a widespread and global phenomenon. This is revealed in the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children, published today. In many places such as at home, school, the workplace, in institutions or in communities, children experience several forms of violence. These children will suffer short as well as long-term health consequences. WHO contributed to the study and provided recommendations for prevention and care.
16/10/2006 UN Secretary-General’s study reveals full range and scale of violence against children
NEW YORK -- Much violence against children remains hidden and is often socially approved, according to the United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children presented yesterday to the UN General Assembly. For the first time, a single document provides a comprehensive global view of the range and scale of violence against children.
Violence against children includes physical violence, psychological violence, discrimination, neglect and maltreatment. It ranges from sexual abuse in the home to corporal and humiliating punishment at school; from the use of physical restraints in children’s homes to brutality at the hands of law enforcement officers; from abuse and neglect in institutions to gang warfare on the streets where children play or work; from infanticide to so-called ‘honour’ killing.
“The best way to deal with violence against children is to stop it before it happens,” says Professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, the Independent Expert appointed by the Secretary-General to lead the Study. “Everyone has a role to play in this, but States must take the primary responsibility. That means prohibiting all kinds of violence against children, wherever it occurs and whoever is the perpetrator, and investing in prevention programmes to address the underlying causes. People must be held accountable for their actions but a strong legal framework is not only about sanctions, it is about sending a robust, unequivocal signal that society just will not accept violence against children.”
The Study, which combines human rights, public health and child protection perspectives, focuses on five ‘settings’ where violence occurs: the home and family, schools and educational settings, institutions (care and judicial), the workplace, and the community.
Extreme violence against children may hit the headlines but the Study concludes that for many children violence is routine, a part of their daily reality.
Although much violence remains hidden or unreported, and figures therefore often underestimate the scope of the problem, the statistics in the report reveal a startling picture. For example:
• In 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that some 53,000 children aged 0-17 died as a result of homicide;
• According to the International Labour Office’s (ILO) latest estimates, 5.7 million children were in forced or bonded labour, 1.8 million in prostitution and pornography, and 1.2 million were victims of trafficking in 2000.
• In 16 developing countries reviewed by a Global School-Based Health Survey, the percentage of school-aged children that reported having been verbally or physically bullied at school in the previous 30 days ranged from 20 per cent in some countries to as much as 65 per cent in others;
• According to the Study, children in detention are frequently subjected to violence by staff, including as a form of control or punishment, often for minor infractions. In 77 countries, corporal and other violent punishments are accepted as legal disciplinary measures in penal institutions.
Although the consequences may vary according to the nature and severity of the violence inflicted, the short- and long-term repercussions for children are very often grave and damaging. The physical, emotional and psychological scars of violence can have severe implications for a child’s development, health and ability to learn. Studies have shown that experiencing violence in childhood is strongly associated with health risk behaviours later in life such as smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, physical inactivity and obesity. In turn, these behaviours contribute to some of the leading causes of disease and death, including cancers, depression, suicide and cardiovascular disorders.
“No matter whether it occurs in the family, school, community, institution or workplace, health workers are the front line for responding to violence against children,” says Dr Anders Nordström, WHO Acting Director-General. “We must make our contribution to ensuring that such violence is prevented from occurring in the first place, and that where it does occur children receive the best possible services to reduce its harmful effects. States should pursue evidence-based policies and programmes which address factors that give rise to such violence, and ensure that resources are allocated to address its underlying causes and monitor the response to these efforts.”
"Violence against children is a violation of their human rights, a disturbing reality of our societies,” says Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. “It can never be justified whether for disciplinary reasons or cultural tradition. No such thing as a ‘reasonable’ level of violence is acceptable. Legalized violence against children in one context risks tolerance of violence against children generally.”
“Violence has a lasting affect not just on children and their families, but also on communities and nations,” says UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “We welcome this comprehensive study on the impact of violence against children.”
The report to the General Assembly calls for a wide range of actions to be taken to prevent and respond to violence against children across all the settings where it occurs. Twelve overarching recommendations address areas such as national strategies and systems, data collection and ensuring accountability.
At a global level, the report calls for the appointment of a Special Representative on Violence against Children, with an initial mandate of four years, to act as a high-profile global advocate to promote prevention and elimination of all violence against children and to encourage cooperation and follow-up.