From Our Bureau
1st JUNE 2020
The Corona Virus (CPVID-19) pandemic situation remained grim globally, with the confirmed cases across the world soaring to 60,57,853 and the death toll reaching 3,71,166 in the 216 affected countries and territories, according to the latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Globally, European region continued to be the worst-hit in terms of fatalities with 21,59,791 confirmed cases and 1,80,594 deaths. American region came next with 28,17,232 confirmed cases and 1,60,514 deaths. Eastern Mediterranean region reported 5,20,137 confirmed cases and 12,627 deaths.
Western Pacific region’s tally stood at 1,83,198 confirmed cases and 7,037 deaths. South-East Asia region recorded 2,72,512 confirmed cases and 7,743 deaths and African region witnessed 1,04,242 confirmed cases and 2,638 deaths. WHO Risk Assessment at global level remained very high.
WHO has published a case report form for suspected cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) in children and adolescents temporally related to COVID-19.
During the last two weeks, WHO has delivered over 55 tons of health supplies by road to northeast Syria. These shipments contained equipment and medical supplies to treat many diseases, including COVID-19.
“Clean hands save lives” and “Applaud healthcare workers” campaigns celebrated in North Macedonia. Midwives and nurses were honored with applause, as over 500 healthcare professionals were awarded the “Clean hands” certificate of recognition by WHO.
Since the start of the pandemic, there has been an urgent need to accelerate the research and development of COVID-19 candidate vaccines. WHO has been supporting this effort. Currently over 120 candidate vaccines have been mapped and sites in 40 countries have expressed an interest to join the Vaccine Solidarity Trial.
In his media briefing, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus observed ”we now have more than six million cases of COVID-19 across the world and have lost more than 370,000 people to the virus. As we work with governments across the world to suppress the virus and accelerate science around diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, we also continue to respond to other health emergencies and new disease outbreaks.”
The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced today that a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease has been detected near the city of Mbandaka in Équateur province. The announcement follows a complex Ebola outbreak in eastern DRC, which seems to be in its final phase. The new one is on the other side of the DRC in the northwest.
“WHO will continue supporting DRC in tackling Ebola, as well as responding to COVID-19 and the world’s largest measles outbreak,” he added.
“Every week, WHO continues to provide the world with new and updated technical guidance, based on the best evidence. During this pandemic, we have seen that mass gatherings have the potential to act as super spreading events. To assist groups planning such gatherings, WHO released updated guidance to help organisations determine how and when mass gatherings can safely resume.
“For example, WHO has worked closely with several sporting organizations including FIFA, UEFA, Formula 1 and religious groups including Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which oversees the Hajj, as they conduct risk assessments around mass gatherings. WHO has updated its risks assessment tool so that organisations can score each risk factor and control measure, which results in an overall risk score. Ultimately WHO advises on the risk assessment and then organizations make the decision on how best to proceed. While we all want sporting events to restart, we want to make sure that it is done as safely as possible.
“We all know that the impacts of COVID-19 extend well beyond the death and disease caused by the virus itself. The pandemic has forced countries to make difficult choices about suspending some health services. Building on previous guidance on maintaining essential health services through the COVID-19 pandemic, today we are providing operational guidance on how best to put that into practice.
“Ensuring coordination and development of new ways to deliver care while limiting visits to health facilities is key to keeping people safe and ensuring health systems are not overburdened. This means using digital technologies to deliver some routine services remotely, and expanding the amount of medications delivered to the home.
“One of the areas in which health services have been particularly affected is in care for people with non-communicable diseases including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease or a chronic respiratory disease. We already know that people living with NCDs are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill or dying from COVID-19. At the same time, many people living with non-communicable diseases are no longer able to access the medicines that they need.
“WHO conducted a rapid assessment of service delivery for NCDs during the COVID-19 pandemic with 155 countries submitting data. The results released today show that more than half of the countries surveyed have partially or completely disrupted services for treatment of hypertension; half for treatment of diabetes and related complications; and 42 percent for cancer treatment, and 31 percent for cardiovascular emergencies. Rehabilitation services have been disrupted in almost two-thirds of countries.
“The COVID-19 response must therefore be inclusive of the health-care needs of people living with non-communicable diseases. One of the main causes of NCDs is tobacco. This year’s WHO’s World No Tobacco Day focused on reaching young people to educate them on tobacco industry tactics used to manipulate them into using deadly products that kill 8 million people every year.
“Even during this global pandemic, where we know tobacco puts users at a higher risk of severe disease and death, the tobacco and nicotine industry persist with their dangerous marketing tactics that aim to attract new users. Just as we continue to respond to well-known health threats like tobacco, we’re also responding to one of the most urgent challenges of our time: the threat of antimicrobial resistance.
“I’m glad to say a record number of countries are now monitoring and reporting on antibiotic resistance – marking a major step forward in the global fight against drug resistance. But the data they provide reveals that a worrying number of bacterial infections are increasingly resistant to the medicines we have traditionally treated them with. As we gather more evidence, it’s clear that the world is losing its ability to use critically important antimicrobial medicines all over the world.
“On the demand side, in some countries there is an overuse of antibiotics and antimicrobial agents in both humans and animals. However, in many low- and middle-income countries these life-saving medicines are out of reach for those that need them, leading to needless suffering and death.
“On the supply side, there is essentially very little market incentive to developing new antibiotics and antimicrobial agents, which has led to multiple market failures of very promising tools in the past few years.
“As well as finding new models to incentivize sustainable innovation, as seen with the COVID-19 solidarity trial, we must find ways to accelerate viable candidates. The COVID19 pandemic has led to an increased use of antibiotics, which ultimately will lead to higher bacterial resistance rates that will impact the burden of disease and deaths during the pandemic and beyond.
“In the current Clinical Management of COVID-19, Interim Guidance, WHO has outlined the appropriate use of antibiotic therapy for medical professionals to treat patients. Therefore, both tackling antimicrobial resistance, while also saving lives.
“I will conclude by saying that we have received questions about Friday’s announcement by the President of the United States of America. The world has long benefited from the strong, collaborative engagement with the government and the people of the United States.
The US government and people’s contribution and generosity towards global health over many decades has been immense, and it has made a great difference in public health all around the world. It is WHO’s wish for this collaboration to continue.” the WHO Director-General added. (eom)