A- A A+

Polluted environments kill 1.7 million children each year, UN health agency reports

6 March 2017 – Unhealthy environments are responsible for one-quarter of young child deaths, according to two new reports from the United Nations health agency, which reviewed the threats from pollutants such as second-hand smoke, UV radiation, unsafe water and e-waste.

According to the latest information, polluted environments take the lives of 1.7 million children under the age of five.

“A polluted environment is a deadly one – particularly for young children,” said Margaret Chan, Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO). “Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

In one of the two reports, Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children's Health and the Environment , WHO announced that many of the common causes of death among children aged between one month and five years of age are preventable with safe water and clear cooking fuels. These include diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia.

The main pollutant is in the air, resulting in 570,000 deaths each year among children under five years old. Air pollution can stunt brain development and reduce lung function and trigger asthma. In the longer-term, exposure to air pollution can increase the child's risk of contracting heart disease, a stroke or cancer.

To counter such exposure, WHO recommends reducing air pollution, improving safe water and sanitation, and protecting pregnant women and building safer environments, among other actions described in Don't pollute my future! The impact of the environment on children's health .

“Investing in the removal of environmental risks to health, such as improving water quality or using cleaner fuels, will result in massive health benefits,” said Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.

One of the emerging environmental threats to children is electronic and electrical waste, according to the second WHO report. Appliances such as old mobile phones that are improperly recycled “expose children to toxins which can lead to reduced intelligence, attention deficit, lung damage, and cancer,” the UN agency reported.

At the current rate, the amount of such waste is expected to increase by 19 per cent between 2014 and 2018, up to 50 million metric tonnes.

The reports also point out harmful chemicals that work themselves through the food chain – such as fluoride, lead and mercury, as well as the impact that climate change and UV rays have on children's development.

 


 info-graphic on pollution

Read more...

PAHO Director to visit Guyana for new country cooperation strategy

Georgetown, Guyana, 5 February 2017 (PAHO/WHO) — The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, plans to visit Guyana from Feb. 5 to 8 to meet with high-level government officials and sign a new strategy for technical cooperation in health.

Her visit will include working meetings and courtesy visits with Prime Minister, Hon. Moses Nagamooto, First Lady Sandra Granger and Minister of Public Health, Hon. Dr. Volda Lawrence and her staff. 

Dr. Etienne will be accompanied during her visit by PAHO Chief of Staff Dr. Merle Lewis and PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana Dr. William Adu-Krow.

A top subject for discussion will be the reconstitution and relaunch of Guyana’s National Non-communicable Diseases Commission, which PAHO/WHO considers especially important since noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) account for 70% of deaths in Guyana. Other subjects that are expected to be discussed include universal health coverage and health financing, tobacco control legislation, health systems strengthening, human resources in health, and the health of women, adolescents, and older adults.

During her visit, Dr. Etienne is also scheduled to meet with Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Carl Greenidge, Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, and Deputy Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) Dr. Douglas Slater, among others. Her agenda also includes a visit to a health center.

The country cooperation strategy (CCSs) that is expected to be signed is a mutually agreed instrument to guide PAHO’s work in the country. PAHO CCSs, which are developed with each PAHO Member State, are aligned with country priorities and also with the work plans of the World Health Organization (WHO), PAHO, the United Nations and other collaboration platforms, which facilitates an intersectoral approach to priority health problems. The agreements also incorporate core PAHO principles such as the right to health, equity, solidarity and diversity. 

Guyana is one of eight “key countries” where PAHO places greater emphasis on its technical cooperation to ensure that equity gaps are closed.  

About Dr. Etienne

 

official photo of PAHO DirectorDr. Carissa F. Etienne, a native of Dominica, was elected Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on September 2012. From March 2008 until 1 November 2012, Dr. Etienne served as Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Services at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to that, as Assistant Director of PAHO from July 2003 to February 2008, she led five technical areas: Health Systems and Services; Technology, Health Care and Research; Health Surveillance and Disease Management; Family and Community Health; and Sustainable Development and Environmental Health.

During her tenures at WHO and PAHO, Dr. Etienne led the efforts to renew primary health care and to strengthen health systems based on primary health care, promoting integration and improved functioning of health systems. She has also spearheaded policy directions for reducing health inequalities and advancing health for all through universal coverage, people-centered care, the integration of health into broader public policies, and inclusive and participatory health leadership.

 

Read more...

PAHO Director to visit Guyana for new country cooperation strategy

Georgetown, Guyana, 5 February 2017 (PAHO/WHO) — The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, plans to visit Guyana from Feb. 5 to 8 to meet with high-level government officials and sign a new strategy for technical cooperation in health.

Her visit will include working meetings and courtesy visits with Prime Minister, Hon. Moses Nagamooto, First Lady Sandra Granger and Minister of Public Health, Hon. Dr. Volda Lawrence and her staff. 

Dr. Etienne will be accompanied during her visit by PAHO Chief of Staff Dr. Merle Lewis and PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana Dr. William Adu-Krow.

A top subject for discussion will be the reconstitution and relaunch of Guyana’s National Non-communicable Diseases Commission, which PAHO/WHO considers especially important since noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) account for 70% of deaths in Guyana. Other subjects that are expected to be discussed include universal health coverage and health financing, tobacco control legislation, health systems strengthening, human resources in health, and the health of women, adolescents, and older adults.

During her visit, Dr. Etienne is also scheduled to meet with Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Carl Greenidge, Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, and Deputy Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) Dr. Douglas Slater, among others. Her agenda also includes a visit to a health center.

The country cooperation strategy (CCSs) that is expected to be signed is a mutually agreed instrument to guide PAHO’s work in the country. PAHO CCSs, which are developed with each PAHO Member State, are aligned with country priorities and also with the work plans of the World Health Organization (WHO), PAHO, the United Nations and other collaboration platforms, which facilitates an intersectoral approach to priority health problems. The agreements also incorporate core PAHO principles such as the right to health, equity, solidarity and diversity. 

Guyana is one of eight “key countries” where PAHO places greater emphasis on its technical cooperation to ensure that equity gaps are closed.  

About Dr. Etienne

 

official photo of PAHO DirectorDr. Carissa F. Etienne, a native of Dominica, was elected Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on September 2012. From March 2008 until 1 November 2012, Dr. Etienne served as Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Services at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to that, as Assistant Director of PAHO from July 2003 to February 2008, she led five technical areas: Health Systems and Services; Technology, Health Care and Research; Health Surveillance and Disease Management; Family and Community Health; and Sustainable Development and Environmental Health.

During her tenures at WHO and PAHO, Dr. Etienne led the efforts to renew primary health care and to strengthen health systems based on primary health care, promoting integration and improved functioning of health systems. She has also spearheaded policy directions for reducing health inequalities and advancing health for all through universal coverage, people-centered care, the integration of health into broader public policies, and inclusive and participatory health leadership.

 

Read more...

One month after Hurricane Matthew, needs in Haiti remain ‘vast,’ UN reports

4 November 2016 – As Haiti struggles to recover from the massive destruction wrought by Hurricane Matthew, which pummelled the tiny island one month ago today, the United Nations warned that while its seems as if “the world has moved on,” Haiti’s needs are vast, exemplified by the nearly 600,000 children being stalked by disease, hunger and malnutrition and in need of assistance.

“One month after the hurricane, life for more than half a million children in Haiti is still far from back to normal,” said Marc Vincent, Haiti Representative for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in a news release. “Too many children are still homeless, hungry, out of school and in danger. We are scaling up our response and are determined to help as many of them as possible as fast as we can.”

UNICEF said there have been at least 1,000 suspected cholera cases among children in the past month. Out of 219 cholera treatment centres in the country, 18 have been damaged in the worst-hit departments of Grand’Anse and South, further complicating efforts to contain the disease.

11 04 2016HealthCentre

The total destruction the Category 4 storm inflicted on crops, food stock and livestock in some of the worst affected areas have left over 800,000 people in need of immediate food assistance and more than 112,000 children at risk of acute malnutrition.

An estimated 50,000 children have been left homeless and are staying in temporary shelters. Another 3,500 children living in institutions need help accessing nutrition, water and sanitation services.

Up to 80 per cent of hospitals and health centres in Grand’Anse have lost their roofs. An additional seven health centres in Grand’Anse, four in South and three in Nippes are no longer operational.

More than 700 schools have been affected and about 86 schools have been used as temporary shelters, causing school disruption for at least 150,000 children.

UNICEF is working with national and other partners to provide basic assistance to the most vulnerable children. They are providing 100,000 people a day with safe water, organizing a cholera vaccination campaign that will be launched next week to immunize up to 900,000 people, and providing cholera prevention kits that contain water purification tablets, soap and oral rehydration salts. Between 100 and 200 kits are distributed every day.

In addition, they are delivering an integrated package of services to prevent and treat malnutrition among children under five as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers living in the hurricane affected areas, replenishing vaccines and restoring the cold chain so that routine immunization can resume in the health centres that are still operational and in mobile clinics, and distributing emergency medical supplies to 18 health centres.

Joint actions also include setting up mobile child friendly spaces where vulnerable children and families can receive psychosocial support, and training 60 volunteers to staff them, and repairing 22 schools and distributing school-in-a-box and early childhood development kits so that children can resume their learning as soon as possible.

UNICEF requires over $23 million through the end of the year to meet children’s humanitarian needs following the hurricane, including for the cholera response. So far, it has received a mere $6 million.

Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters in Geneva that, according to the latest figures from the authorities in Haiti, Matthew has so far caused 546 deaths and left 438 people injured.

He said that needs are vast, especially in the areas of quality water, education, shelter, child protection, health and nutrition. A total of 1.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and an estimated 40 per cent of them are children. The UN emergency humanitarian appeal for $120 million is far only 33 per cent funded.

Haiti needs support to restore, rebuild health services

Haiti needs support to restore and rebuild its health services at various levels, ranging from cholera treatment centers to community health centers to major hospitals, according to Dr. Jean-Luc Poncelet, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) representative in Haiti.

In the country’s South, “the government faces challenges in restoring health facilities in affected areas and urgent repairs to restore functionality have been identified,” he said.

In Sud Department, 28 per cent of health facilities sustained severe damage and eight per cent are closed, while in Grand’Anse, 43 per cent of health facilities were severely damaged and seven per cent are closed. Of the 74 cholera and acute diarrhea treatment facilities in Haiti, 34 are fully functional, while 40 sustained various levels of damage.

11 04 2016Haiti

Restoring health services to a functional level requires not only fixing structures, but providing electricity and water and sanitation, as well as helping many health workers who themselves have been severely affected by the hurricane’s destruction, according to the Haiti Ministry of Public Health.

“The major needs are to renovate existing health structures with durable repairs, to increase humanitarian assistance to rural areas, and to improve water quality and sanitation,” Mr. Poncelet said.

The latest figures from the Haitian government show that 175,509 Haitians are still living in shelters, while more than 1.4 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

PAHO/WHO teams identified five priority areas of action for the health sector, estimating that $9 million in emergency funding is needed to carry out essential activities.

These priorities are: restoration of health care delivery capacity and access to health services in the most affected areas; increased epidemiological surveillance to support early detection and timely management of disease outbreaks; intensification of vector-control and protective environmental health measures in impacted areas; rapid and effective response to cholera outbreaks in affected communities; and support for efficient coordination of humanitarian assistance and management of information to effectively address the most urgent humanitarian needs.

A vaccination campaign is planned to start Nov. 8, targeting 820,000 people in 16 communes affected by Hurricane Matthew and that have reported cholera cases or deaths. To prevent additional cholera cases, which are likely to increase in the rainy season from now until December, it is also important to advance on water purification, health promotion, and sanitation at the same time.

Bettina Luescher, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP), said that the agency has delivered food to 400,000 people, as part of its work to support the Government in its work. The situation is dire on the ground, with huge logistical challenges, but together with its partners WFP has reached people by truck, helicopter and boat.

Some 140,000 people are still displaced and living in temporary shelters. The food situation is worrisome: in areas hit by the hurricane crops have been destroyed, along with livestock and seeds, local markets are running out of food and the prices of imported goods are rising.

The planting season is supposed to happen this month and will be affected, which meant in turn that the next harvest, in the early months of 2017 will be affected. WFP aims to reach 800,000 people. In order to do that, it has appealed for $58 million overall and still needs $40 million urgently.

Read more...

Report Demonstrates Benefits from Protecting Biodiversity

Montreal/Kolkata, 13 February 2015 - A ground-breaking report on biodiversity and health, launched today at the 14th World Congress on Public Health, in Kolkata, India, shows the significant contribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services to better human health.

The report, Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health, demonstrates that the relationship between biodiversity and human health is extensive and complex. It outlines the ways that the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity has positive impacts on human health, including through impacts on water and air quality, nutrition, non-communicable and infectious diseases, and medicines, among others.

Prepared by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the report features contributions from numerous partners and over 100 experts, including Bioversity International, COHAB Initiative, EcoHealth Alliance, Harvard School of Public Health, United Nations University, Wildlife Conservation Society's Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages and many others.

"We hope this joint report will increase awareness and understanding not only of the intrinsic value of biodiversity, but also as a critical foundation for sustainable development, and for human health and well-being," said Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. "In particular, it should serve as a useful reference for the definition of the sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development agenda, which represent a unique opportunity to promote integrated approaches to protect human and planetary health."

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, said "Despite the clear role that biodiversity plays for human health, and thus for the Sustainable Development Goals, this linkage is not being made in policy forums. Hopefully this new report will help shed some light on this critical issue."

[ read the full story]

[ get the executive summary]

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Contact

Email: unic.portofspain@unic.org

Telephone: 1(868) 623 8438 or 623 4813

Fax: 1 (868) 623 4332 

Address: 

2nd Floor Bretton Hall, 16 Victoria Avenue, 

Port of Spain, Trnidad and Tobago

 

 

 

  follow us on facebook
Follow us on Google  
128x128 instagram  
 Follow us Twitter  
Follow us YouTube