Key facts about falls

The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its fact sheet on falls. Key facts include:

  • Falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide.
  • Each year an estimated 646 000 individuals die from falls globally of which over 80% are in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Adults older than 65 years of age suffer the greatest number of fatal falls.
  • 37.3 million falls that are severe enough to require medical attention occur each year.
  • Prevention strategies should emphasize education, training, creating safer environments, prioritizing fall-related research and establishing effective policies to reduce risk.

To read more on the WHO website:

Towards tobacco-free generations

Towards tobacco-free generations: stopping second-hand smoke and smoking initiation among children 

Several Member States in the WHO European Region are moving towards becoming “tobacco-free”, which means having a smoking prevalence of 5% or less. To achieve this, countries must address a number of tobacco-related issues that specifically impact children, and work to protect children from the harmful effects of tobacco.


Second-hand exposure kills over 600 000 non-smokers globally each year, many of whom are children. Causes of such deaths include asthma, respiratory infections and cancer.

To read more about tobacco-free generations from 


Development of a draft global action plan to promote physical activity

Further to the decision of the 140th session of the Executive Board to request the WHO Director-General to develop a draft global action plan to promote physical activity, the WHO Secretariat is hosting an open web-based consultation on a first draft from 1 August 2017 to 22 September 2017.

Physical inactivity is one of the leading behavioural risk factors for the leading causes of NCDs, namely heart disease, stroke, breast and colon cancers and diabetes. Conversely, regular physical activity is associated with improved well-being, as well as enhanced social and mental health. However, inactivity is on the rise in many countries, and globally one in four adults, and four out of five adolescents, do not meet the global recommendations.

Read the Draft WHO global action plan on physical activity 2018 – 2030 on the website.

Malaria in the UK: annual report

Malaria does not occur naturally in the UK but travel-associated cases are reported in those who have returned to the UK or arrived (either as a visitor or migrant to the UK) from malaria-endemic areas. An annual report has presented data on malaria imported into the UK, based on figures reported to Public Health England’s Malaria reference laboratory.

In 2016, 1,618 cases of imported malaria were reported in the UK (1,529 in England, 58 in Scotland, 25 in Wales and six in Northern Ireland), 15.6% higher than reported in 2015 (N=1,400) and 4.5% above the mean number of 1,547 cases reported between 2006 and 2015.

See the full document about Malaria in the UK on the website.



7% of antibiotics in the EU are taken without prescription

A study published today on antimicrobial resistance and the causes of non-prudent use of antibiotics carried out by Nivel (NL) as part of the EU-funded project ARNA, estimates that 7% of antibiotics taken in the EU are taken without a prescription. The highest rates of non-prescription use of antibiotics are in Romania (20%) and Greece (16%) with high rates also found in Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Spain. Over the counter selling of antibiotics in pharmacies and the use of leftover antibiotics were found to be the main causes.

The study gives a number of policy recommendations, for example:

  • A multi-faceted approach with interventions and policies that target both patients and healthcare professionals
  • Education and awareness raising, e.g. media campaigns for citizens staring with school children, and education programmes for health professionals
  • Better enforcement of laws in EU countries where antibiotics are available over the counter without prescription.

Read the study on antimicrobial resistance in full on the website.

Fourth Global Forum on Human Resources for Health

The Fourth Global Forum on Human Resources for Health will be held on 13–17 November 2017, in Dublin, Ireland with the theme: building the health workforce of the future. The Forum welcomes participation from representatives in the education, health, labour/employment and finance sectors. The Forum will feature high-impact decision-makers, leaders and investors representing all stakeholder groups to discuss and debate innovative approaches towards advancing the implementation of the Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030 and the recommendations of the United Nations High level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth.

For more information about the Fourth Global Forum on Human Resources for Health on the website.

WHO’s recommendations on antenatal care

Pregnancy can be a precarious time in a woman’s life. By ensuring high-quality and people-centred health services for mothers-to-be, health systems make a valuable investment, with benefits that go well beyond pregnancy. Pregnancy offers an opportunity for health-care providers to work across sectors to address many aspects of health, leading to a reduction in disease and death and improvements to well-being. The information given to pregnant women is passed from mothers to their children and wider families, from generation to generation, and is a prime example of the life-course approach, as health behaviour at this critical time in life influences health behaviour and affects health later in life.

Prenatal classes in Georgia are turning pregnancy into a life-course opportunity for health.

Tinatin Gagua, head of an antenatal care clinic in Tbilisi, Georgia stated:

“When we started our training in 2011, antenatal care was a brand new concept in Georgia. Doctors were not used to spending time informing pregnant women about their pregnancies and their babies’ health. We were trained to give classes to groups of pregnant women. Being in a group made a great difference because it helped women to ask questions and socialize with their peers.”

More information about the WHO’s recommendations on antenatal care on the website.

Public health interventions to manage sunbeds


Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer among light-skinned populations. The chief environmental cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet radiation (UVR). UVR exposure comes mainly from the sun, but over the past three decades there has been an increase in the use of artificial sources of UVR in the form of artificial tanning devices, such as sunbeds, stand up booths and facial tanners. This deliberate exposure to UVR is increasing the incidence of the major types of skin cancer.

The World Health Organization has produced a document intended for government health authorities, to assist in the development of public health interventions in relation to the use and management of sunbeds. The document provides a summary of health effects as well as a catalogue of interventions that have been used to reduce risks associated with artificial tanning. It is supplemented by a WHO database on sunbed regulations.

Artificial tanning is a recent phenomenon. Sunbeds and other tanning devices emitting artificial ultraviolet radiation (UVR) were developed in the 1960s but it was not until the 1980s that people began to use tanning beds in large numbers. During the 1990s, the artificial tanning industry grewrapidly in Northern Europe, Australia and the Americas. With increasing exposure by young people,often women, to artificial ultraviolet radiation, the health risks soon became apparent. Artificialtanning is now seen as a public health issue accounting for about half a million new cancer diagnoseseach year in the United States of America, Europe and Australia. Evidence of an association between artificial tanning and risk of skin cancer clearly shows that the risk is highest in those exposed to artificial tanning in early life.

More information on public health interventions to manage artificial tanning devices on the website.

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 website.

Discovering who misses out on health: the example of Indonesia

Using Indonesia as an example, the World Health Organization (WHO) showcases a range of tools for gathering data needed about the health state of all population subgroups including the most disadvantaged.

In Indonesia in 2012, immunization programs had eliminated tetanus in three of the sprawling archipelago’s four regions, but lower vaccination rates in the poorest West Papua region meant that the disease remained a major threat there.

One of the key products in the package is the Health Equity Assessment Toolkit (HEAT), a software application which was launched by WHO last year. It enables countries to analyse, interpret and report data on health inequalities in order to shed light on where investments are needed to expand services to those who don’t have them and to improve their health.

Find out more about the the Health Equity Assessment Toolkit on the website.