News / Health

WHO Chief Praises Public Health Triumphs

Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, delivers her statement during the launch of the global plan to prevent resistance to potent malaria treatment at the WHO headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, 12 Jan 2011.
Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, delivers her statement during the launch of the global plan to prevent resistance to potent malaria treatment at the WHO headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, 12 Jan 2011.

World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan is praising a number of, what she calls, public health triumphs.  Dr. Chan’s remarks were made at the opening of the annual WHO Executive Board meeting.   

World Health Organization Chief, Margaret Chan, is upbeat about the future of public health.  She detailed recent life-saving ventures for the 34-member WHO Executive Board.  

She says one of the most exciting achievements is a new meningitis vaccine that has the potential to end devastating epidemics in Africa’s meningitis belt.  

She notes no large pharmaceutical company was interested in developing the vaccine because it would not result in big profits.  So, she says a consortium of academics and scientists, with core funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, developed the vaccine.  

She says African scientists contributed to the design of study protocols and conducted the clinical trials.

“The vaccine was developed, from start to finish, in less than a decade, in record time, and at about one-tenth of the cost usually needed to bring a product through development to the market," said Chan. "African countries frequently have to wait for years, if not decades, for new medical products to trickle into their health systems.  Not this time.  For once, the best technology that the world, working together, can offer is being introduced in Africa.”  

The first country wide vaccination campaign took place in Burkina Faso in December.  This is being followed by similar campaigns in Mali and Niger.  While this is seen as a great triumph, Dr. Chan notes there are 25 countries in the Meningitis belt, many of whom will not be able to mount vaccination campaigns for lack of funds.

Women hold mosquito nets after receiving them at a distribution point in Sesheke, Zambia (File Photo -30 Sep 2010)
Women hold mosquito nets after receiving them at a distribution point in Sesheke, Zambia (File Photo -30 Sep 2010)


She says public health is on a winning streak.  But, Dr. Chan warns a shortage of money could stall progress in other promising undertakings, such as vaccines for preventing diarrhoeal disease and pneumonia and the new diagnostic test for tuberculosis.

“Treated bed nets need to be replaced.  Antiretroviral therapy for AIDS is a lifeline, for a lifetime," she said.  "Case finding and treatment for tuberculosis are a constant undertaking that needs to intensify.  Every new generation of babies must be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.  Last year, we launched an aggressive new strategy for polio eradication.  Does the international community have the stamina, and the resources, to reach the milestones?” 

The WHO chief says she hopes the effort to eradicate guinea worm will continue and not be stymied by lack of money.  She notes significant progress is being made in treating neglected-tropical diseases that claim thousands of lives in Africa each year.

She urges the 34-member board to think carefully about how to maintain the public health momentum and how to turn less successful ventures into winning strategies.

During the course of this week, the board will examine many health issues, including the H1N1 pandemic, smallpox eradication and ways to control and prevent cholera.  It will make decisions to advise and facilitate the work of the World Health Organization and prepare the agenda for the next Health Assembly in May.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid