Polio in the EU

This year on World Polio Day the WHO European Region is celebrating the 15th anniversary of being certified free from poliomyelitis (polio). Achieving this back in 2002 was a vital step forward for both the Region and the world on the path towards global eradication of this crippling disease. While this target is now closer than ever before, the threat from polioviruses still hangs over the Region, and maintaining and improving vaccination coverage is as important as ever.

According to Professor David Salisbury, Chair of the Global Certification Commission and European Regional Certification Commission for Poliomyelitis Eradication, “The threat from polioviruses and the possibility of outbreaks remains very real. The Region must not ease up on either its actions or its political commitment to preserving its polio-free status.”

 

To read more about this on the WHO Europe website go to: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicable-diseases/poliomyelitis/news/news/2017/10/15th-anniversary-of-polio-free-certification-in-the-european-region-but-the-hard-work-to-prevent-future-cases-is-not-over

Measles are no longer an endemic in 79% of the WHO European Region

In the WHO European Region, 42 of 53 countries have interrupted endemic transmission of measles, and 37 Member States have interrupted endemic transmission of rubella as of the end of 2016. This was determined by the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) at its 6th meeting in June 2017.

“I congratulate each country for fulfilling the commitment to protect its people from measles and rubella and collectively moving the European Region closer to its elimination goal,” said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “However, we cannot become complacent now. Outbreaks continue to cause unnecessary suffering and loss of life.”

To read more about this on the WHO/Europe website: http://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/sections/press-releases/2017/measles-no-longer-endemic-in-79-of-the-who-european-region

The world is running out of antibiotics

An analysis of the antibacterial clinical development pipeline, including tuberculosis, launched by WHO shows a serious lack of new antibiotics under development to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

The report found very few potential treatment options for those antibiotic-resistant infections identified by WHO as posing the greatest threat to health, including drug-resistant tuberculosis which kills around 250 000 people each year.

Source: WHO | The world is running out of antibiotics, WHO report confirms

The WHO Global Hepatitis Report

World Health Organization (WHO) data from 28 countries – representing approximately 70% of the global hepatitis burden – indicate that efforts to eliminate hepatitis are gaining momentum. The data reveals that nearly all 28 countries have established high-level national hepatitis elimination committees (with plans and targets in place) and more than half have allocated dedicated funding for hepatitis responses.

This WHO Global Hepatitis Report describes, for the first time, the global and regional estimates on viral hepatitis in 2015, setting the baseline for tracking progress in implementing the new global strategy.

Find out more about the WHO’s 2017 Global Hepatitis Report on the who.int website.

Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea on the rise

Each year, an estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhoea, which can infect the genitals, rectum, and throat. Complications of gonorrhoea disproportionally affect women and can include pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility, as well as an increased risk of HIV.

Data from 77 countries show that antibiotic resistance is making gonorrhoea more difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat. Some countries – particularly high-income ones, where surveillance is best – are finding cases of the infection that are untreatable by all known antibiotics. These cases may just be the tip of the iceberg, as gonorrhoea is more common in lower-income countries.

Currently, in most countries, ESCs are the only single antibiotic that remain effective for treating gonorrhoea. But resistance to cefixime – and more rarely to ceftriaxone – has now been reported in more than 50 countries. As a result, WHO issued updated global treatment recommendations in 2016 advising doctors to give 2 antibiotics: ceftriaxone and azithromycin.

For more information about Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea on the who.int website

Measles outbreaks across Europe

Over 500 measles cases were reported for January 2017 in Europe with 85% of them coming from 7 of the 14 endemic countries (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine). Measles continues to spread within and among European countries, with the potential to cause large outbreaks wherever immunization coverage has dropped below the necessary threshold of 95%.

As the WHO Regional Director for Europe pointed out:   “Today’s travel patterns put no person or country beyond the reach of the measles virus. Outbreaks will continue in Europe, as elsewhere, until every country reaches the level of immunization needed to fully protect their populations.”

Preliminary information for February indicates that the number of new infections is sharply rising. In all of the countries listed above, estimated national immunization coverage with the second dose of measles-containing vaccine is less than the 95% threshold.

For more information about measles in Europe from the euro.who.int website

The cost of a polluted environment: 1.7 million child deaths a year

More than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments.

Every year, environmental risks – such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation, and inadequate hygiene – take the lives of 1.7 million children under 5 years, according to the WHO.

The top 5 causes of death in children under 5 are:

  • respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution, and second-hand smoke (570,000 children a year)
  • diarrhoea, as a result of poor access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (361,000 children a year)
  • conditions, including prematurity, which could be prevented through access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene in health facilities as well as reducing air pollution (270,000 children a year in their first month of life)
  • malaria that could be prevented through environmental actions, such as reducing breeding sites of mosquitoes or covering drinking-water storage (200,000 children a year)
  • unintentional injuries attributable to the environment, such as poisoning, falls, and drowning (200,000 children a year)

For more information on the causes of death for children under 5 from the who.int website

Measles and rubella in Europe

Countries in the WHO European Region are continuing to eliminate measles and rubella both nationally and regionally. The European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) reports that 37 of the 53 Member States in the Region (70%) had interrupted endemic measles transmission by the end of 2015 and 35 of them (66%) had also interrupted endemic rubella transmission. Of these countries, 27 sustained interruption for at least 36 months and are therefore considered to have eliminated one or both of the diseases. These conclusions indicate that measles is endemic in 4 fewer countries and rubella is endemic in 2 fewer countries than in the previous year. Progress is also reflected in a lower number of measles and rubella cases reported through routine surveillance in the Region in 2016 than in previous years.

For more information about European reduction in measles and rubella on the euro.who.int website

UN European coalition on health

The UN European coalition on health is a coordination mechanism focusing on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 – to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages – in the pan-European Region, and of the health-related targets present in other SDGs.

At its initial meeting in 2016 the coalition identified four key workstreams to focus on:

  1. health throughout the life-course, with a focus on maternal and child health (contributing to SDG 3, 4, 5, 16);
  2. communicable diseases, with a focus on HIV and tuberculosis (contributing to SDG 3, 1, 6);
  3. universal health coverage, with a focus on medicines (contributing to SDG 3, 1, 5);
  4. migration, including aspects of emergencies (contributing to SDG 3, 1, 10, 11, 13).

For more information about the UN European coalition on health on the euro.who.int website

HIV & Hepatitis in Europe

There are 53 countries in the WHO European Region and within those countries there are 15 million people living with hepatitis C and 13.3 million people living with hepatitis B, the vast majority of whom are unaware of their infection and therefore at risk of developing cirrhosis or liver cancer. On average, fewer than 3% of patients with chronic hepatitis C receive treatment. In addition, there are 2.5 million people living with HIV, almost half of whom are unaware of their infection.

Safe and effective treatments exist that allow people living with HIV and/or viral hepatitis B to lead healthy and long lives. Those living with hepatitis C can be cured. Knowing your health status, however, is the prerequisite to accessing treatment and the WHO strongly supports the European HIV-Hepatitis initiative which aims to break the silence around HIV and viral hepatitis and build momentum to stop these epidemics by 2030.

Read more about HIV and Hepatitis in Europe on the euro.who.int website