Milestones :: Perspectives
World leaders join new drive to beat noncommunicable diseases
1 March 2018 | Geneva – WHO is announcing today a new high-level commission, comprised of heads of state and ministers, leaders in health and development and entrepreneurs. The group will propose bold and innovative solutions to accelerate prevention and control of the leading killers on the planet – noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like heart and lung disease, cancers, and diabetes.
The WHO Independent Global High-level Commission on NCDs is co-chaired by President Tabaré Vázquez of Uruguay; President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka; President Sauli Niinistö of Finland; Veronika Skvortsova, Minister of Healthcare of the Russian Federation; and Sania Nishtar, former Federal Minister of Pakistan.
Seven in 10 deaths globally every year are from NCDs, the main contributors to which are tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity. More than 15 million people between the ages of 30 and 70 years die from NCDs annually. Low- and lower-middle income countries are increasingly affected, with half of premature deaths from NCDs occurring in those countries. Many lives can be saved from NCDs through early diagnosis and improved access to quality and affordable treatment, as well as a whole-of-government approach to reduce the main risk factors.
“NCDs are the world’s leading avoidable killers but the world is not doing enough to prevent and control them,” says Dr Vázquez. “We have to ask ourselves if we want to condemn future generations from dying too young, and living lives of ill health and lost opportunity. The answer clearly is ‘no.’ But there is so much we can do to safeguard and care for people, from protecting everyone from tobacco, harmful use of alcohol, and unhealthy foods and sugary drinks, to giving people the health services they need to stop NCDs in their tracks.”
Mr Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Commission member, said: “For the first time in history, more people are dying of noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, than infectious diseases. This loss of human life spares no one — rich or poor, young or old – and it imposes heavy economic costs on nations. The more public support we can build for government policies that are proven to save lives – as this Commission will work to do – the more progress we’ll be able to make around the world.”
The new Commission was established by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and runs until October 2019. It will provide actionable recommendations to contribute to the Third United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on NCDs scheduled for the second half of 2018. This will include the submission of its first report to Dr Tedros in early June.
“Everybody deserves the right to a healthy life,” says Dr Tedros. “We can beat the drivers of the NCD epidemic, which are among the world’s main obstacles to health. I am looking to the Commission to show us new ways to unblock the barriers to good health, and identify innovative, bold and practical actions steps to scale up prevention and treatment of NCDs and provide health for all.”
Co-chair Dr Nishtar says the Commission’s establishment has come at an opportune time, as the world prepares for the UN High-level Meeting on NCDs. “This year, governments will be held to account on progress they have made in protecting their citizens from NCDs,” says Dr Nishtar. “While there have been improvements in some countries and regions, the overall rate of progress has been unacceptably slow. This is resulting in too many people suffering and dying needlessly from NCDs, and leaving families, communities and governments to bear the human and economic costs.”
The World Health Assembly has endorsed the set of WHO “best buys” and other cost-effective interventions proven to prevent or delay most premature NCD deaths. Such measures, which can be readily scaled up in countries, target prevention and treatment of, and raising awareness about, NCDs.
BBC: In the Wake of Wakefield
Archive on 4 :: 58 minutes
Twenty years ago, in February 1998, one of the most serious public health scandals of the 20th century was born, when researcher, Andrew Wakefield and his co-authors published a paper in the medical journal The Lancet suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. As we know, in the years that followed, Wakefield’s paper was completely discredited as “an elaborate fraud” and retracted. Attempts by many other researchers to replicate his “findings” have all failed and investigations unearthed commercial links and conflicts of interests underpinning his original work. Wakefield himself was struck off the medical register.
And yet, the ripples of that episode are still being felt today all over the world as a resurgent anti-vaccine movement continues to drive down inoculation rates, particularly in developed Western societies, where measles rates have rocketed particularly in Europe and the United States.
But the Wakefield scandal hasn’t just fostered the current ant-vax movement but has played a key role in helping to undermine trust in a host of scientific disciplines from public health research to climate science and GM technology.
Through the archive, science journalist Adam Rutherford explores the continuing legacy of the anti-vaccine movement on the anniversary of one of its most notorious episodes, and explore its impact on health, on research and on culture both at home and abroad.
We include the following news report but note that we could not identify original announcements by Sanofi, Shanta or WHO as referenced. See OCV articles in PLoS Medicine and PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases in Journal Watch below.
WHO approves cholera vaccine for use at temperatures high as 40 degrees Celsius for up to 14 days
The Indian Express/EP News Bureau | 26 February 2018
Sanofi Pasteur announced that its affiliate Shantha Biotechnics has received approval from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Shanchol, its oral cholera vaccine. The vaccine may be kept for single period of time of up to 14 days at temperature of up to 40°C immediately prior to administration, provided the vaccine has not reached its expiry date and vaccine vial monitor has not reached discard point. The approval is of great significance to regions where the vaccine is used, including India, as it eliminates the challenges of maintaining the vaccine cold chain (between +2°C and +8°C to maintain vaccine potency) during transport.
Commenting on this development, Dr Mahesh Bhalgat, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, Shantha Biotechnics, said, “This is a significant milestone in our efforts towards effective cholera prevention and control. The WHO’s approval will help us make Shanchol available to populations living in remote, hard-to-reach areas of India and other parts of the world, especially ones with erratic electricity supply.”
The WHO approval for use of Shanchol in controlled temperature chain (CTC) was granted after a review of its stability data. Used for prevention and control of cholera in outbreak, endemic settings during humanitarian crises, Shantha Biotechnics’ Shanchol cholera vaccine is the second “mass campaign” vaccine and first cholera vaccine worldwide to receive such a stamp of approval for storage and distribution outside the traditional cold chain.
“Cholera is an easily preventable disease that has no place in the 21st Century,” said Anuradha Gupta, Deputy CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “This important development will make it easier to deliver vaccines to the remote areas where it is desperately needed, saving lives and contributing to the global effort to finally consign this disease to the history books.”
Responding to the WHO’s approval, N Rajaram, Managing Director, Sanofi India, said, “The storage label change takes us a few steps closer to our vision of a world where no lives are lost to preventable infectious diseases, as it has the potential to significantly change cholera control efforts for the better, not only in India but also in other parts of the world where the vaccine is needed the most. It is indeed a great news as it will help increase vaccine access and decrease the cost of conducting vaccination campaigns worldwide.”