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COVID-19: WHO Lists Achievements, Says Vaccination No Guarantee

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed some of its achievements in combating COVID-19 in 2020, noting that vaccination is no guarantee of virus eradication.
WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said this at the last COVID-19 press conference of the year at WHO headquarters in Geneva.
In a speech posted on the agency’s website, the director general said WHO had worked tirelessly since the virus was reported in Wuhan, China in December, 2019.
“If we rewind to the start of 2020, it was on 10 January that WHO published its first comprehensive package of guidance documents for countries, covering topics related to the management of an outbreak of a new disease.
“The next day, WHO received the full genetic sequences for the novel coronavirus from China and by 13 January, WHO published its first protocol for a diagnostic test by a WHO partner lab in Germany to detect the virus.
“By mid-January, our international technical expert networks were engaged and meeting by teleconference to share first hand knowledge with the new novel coronavirus and similar respiratory viruses, such as MERS and SARS.
“And WHO convened the Strategic Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards and the Global Alert and Response Network.
“By the end of the month, 30 January, I declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, WHO’s highest level of alert under global health law,’’ he said.
And by the start of February, he said WHO was shipping diagnostic tests around the world so that countries could detect and respond effectively.
“On 4 February, WHO released the first global preparedness and response plan for COVID-19 based on the latest scientific evidence.
“At the same time, WHO was connecting scientists, funders and manufacturers from across the globe together to accelerate research on tests, therapeutics and vaccines.
“In mid-February, WHO’s longstanding research and development blueprint group brought hundreds of experts from more than 40 countries together to plot out a COVID-19 research roadmap.
“This was based on years of work on other infectious diseases including SARS, MERS and Ebola.’’
And by March, the director-general said WHO was planning the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, which was launched with partners in April.
The director-general said the ACT-Accelerator was a historic collaboration to further hasten the development, production and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics.
“Good news came in June as initial clinical trial results from the UK showed dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, could be lifesaving for patients severely ill with COVID-19.
“By September, new antigen based rapid tests had been validated and the diagnostic pillar of the ACT-Accelerator had secured millions of them for low- and middle-income countries.
“And then the shot that rang out around the world was the release of positive vaccine news from multiple candidates, which are now being rolled out to vulnerable groups,’’ he said.
According to him, new ground has been broken not least with the extraordinary cooperation between the private and public sector in this pandemic.
“ In recent weeks, safe and effective vaccine rollout has started in a number countries which is an incredible scientific achievement.’’
Meanwhile, some senior officials of WHO had warned that vaccination do not guarantee that infectious diseases would be eradicated.
Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO Emergencies Programme warned that there might be a chance of another pandemic, more serious pandemic spreading across the world.
“The next pandemic may be more severe; we need “get our act together”, because we live on a fragile planet, and in an increasingly complex society.
“Let’s honour those we’ve lost by getting better at what we do,’’ he said
Also, the WHO Technical Lead on COVID-19, Dr. Maria van Kerkhove, noted that some of the countries that had coped better with COVID-19 had history of managing outbreaks.
“Those countries that have cope better are not necessarily been those with the highest incomes, but those that have lived through other infectious disease outbreaks.
“Those countries have used the “muscle memory” of traumatic events to kick their systems into gear, and act to comprehensively tackle the virus,’’ she said.
Kerkhove , however, called for the world to be better prepared for the next health crisis, with well-trained health workers able to take full advantage of innovative technology, and informed, engaged citizens capable of keeping themselves safe.
Also, Guest speaker Prof. David Heymann, a disease expert and member of a WHO “surge team”, said that we now have the tools at our disposal to save lives, allowing us to learn to live with the virus.
Heymann, deployed to strengthen the COVID-19 response in South Africa earlier this year said COVID-19 was likely to become endemic in the global population.
Vaccinations, he explained, do not guarantee that infectious diseases will be eradicated.
“Societies would do better to focus on getting back to full strength, rather than on the “moonshot of eradication”, said the official.

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Who Unveils Plans To Check HIV/AIDS Discrimination

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) at the 2024 International AIDS Conference, has released a technical brief titled, “Ensuring Quality Health care by reducing HIV-related Stigma and Discrimination.”
This technical brief is designed to assist health facility managers in providing quality, stigma-free services, and reinforcing the principle that every individual has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
The world health apex body observed that stigma and discrimination still remain significant barriers to accessing HIV-related care.
It noted that these barriers particularly affect key populations, hindering the uptake of and access to health services along the HIV services continuum.
There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that effective interventions in the health sector can mitigate these issues by focusing on actionable drivers and facilitators of health-related stigma and its manifestations..
To ensure that people living with or affected by HIV can access and stay engaged in care, it is critical that health care workers have the skills to deliver quality stigma-free health services,” said Dr Meg Doherty, Director of WHO Global HIV, Hepatitis and STIs Programmes.
WHO’s technical brief emphasizes the necessity of integrating measures to improve the quality of health care and reduce stigma, ensuring everyone can access the services they need without fear of discrimination.”
The technical brief consolidates existing knowledge, outlines priority areas, describes key actions, and provides country examples to achieve quality, stigma-free health services. While the brief is primarily focused on the health facility level, it is also applicable to community service delivery models.

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Natural Recipe For Longer Life

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Natural Herbs
By Kelvin Nengia

Costa Rica is home to one of the world’s Blue Zones, where people live longer and healthier lives than average. The region of Cartago, called Llano Grande is known for its rich agriculture.
According to a cookbook author and cooking teacher a diet of “pura vida”, lifestyle is our secret to longevity.
Beans
Beans are a great source of protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, prebiotics, vitamins and minerals. They have been linked to reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Black and red beans are the most popular, usually served as part of a casado (our traditional dish of rice, beans, veggies and protein) or as a soup consisting of beans and vegetables.
Chickpeas and lentils are popular there and can be used as a substitute for the traditional black beans.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables in Costa Rica are generally eaten fresh, not out of a can or a freezer. We typically get our fruits and veggies from local markets called verdulerias.
Some of the most common ones in their diet are papaya, mango, banana, watermelon, pineapple and passion fruit, and they are either eaten on their own or made into drinks and juices.
They use a variety of vegetables in Costa Rican cooking, including potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, onion, beets, yucca and zucchini. Veggies are either eaten raw, in simple salads dressed with lime, or prepared as picadillo, chopped and boiled, occasionally with some animal protein mixed in for flavor.
Picadillo de chayote is probably another favorite. Chayote is a type of squash that is native to Central and South America, and not very common in the United States. It is green and crisp, and it tastes similar to a jicama.
Rice and Corn
Grains like rice and corn are present in diet Costa ricans but mainly as a complement to the beans and vegetables that we eat.
For instance, the tortillas are used to eat the picadillo popularly called “gallos.” Arroz con pollo is a traditional Costa Rican dish consisting of rice, a lot of chopped vegetables and different pieces of chicken.
This meal is a very popular at celebrations like birthdays, but it is also very commonly enjoyed day to day.
Coffee
In Costa Rican coffee is known for being high in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation. Sugary drinks are generally not a big part of the coffee-drinking culture.
Coffee here is enjoyed black or with a bit of milk. And as much as any other meal, a cup is best enjoyed slowly — we do take our time to drink.
It’s a favorite Costa Rican longevity recipe.
They eat rice and beans, either black or red, two to three times a day. For lunch this meal is called casado. For breakfast, it is called gallo pinto and consists of rice and beans mixed with onions, peppers, and cilantro, accompanied with corn tortillas and coffee.
Thanks to its combination of whole grains, protein, amino acids and antioxidants, longevity researcher and Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner considers gallo pinto to be the healthiest breakfast in the world. It is amazing how such a simple dish can be packed with so many health benefits.

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55 Million Battle Dementia as WHO PLANS To Check Disease

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The World Health Organisation(WHO) says currently, more than 55 million people have dementia worldwide with over 60%  living in low- and middle income countries.

It also revealed that every year, there are nearly 10 million new cases.

The revelation came as WHO Assembly endorsed a global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-2025.

The goal of the action plan is to improve the lives of people with dementia, their carers and families, while decreasing the impact of dementia on them as well as on communities and countries.

The action plan includes seven strategic action areas, including one on dementia risk reduction,as  there is no cure for dementia currently.

The body stressed that risk reduction for dementia remains critically important with potentially modifiable risk factors means that prevention of dementia is potentially possible by implementing a set of key interventions. This would, in turn, offer opportunities to influence future dementia incidence.

To this end, WHO released guidelines for risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia in 2019. The guidelines provide health care providers as well as governments, policy-makers and other stakeholders with evidence-based recommendations on health  behaviours and interventions to delay or prevent cognitive decline and dementia.

Since the initial release of the guidelines, the field has evolved significantly, with more evidence now being available. In line with WHO standard procedure, the Department of Mental Health, Brain Health and Substance Use has started the process of updating the guidelines for risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia with the advice of a Guideline Development Group (GDG).

Meanwhile, experts are proposing to join the GDG for updating the guidelines for risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia based on their technical expertise, diverse perspectives, demographic background, lived experience and geographic representation

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