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WHO Warns of a Global Flu Epidemic; Outlines Plans For Actionable Response

WHO says vaccine shots and antiviral drugs remain the best flu prevention

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A woman blowing her nose from flu epidemic infection. Photo Credit: Mojpe/Pixabay

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that a global flu epidemic is on its way. WHO on Monday alerted governments around the world to be prepared to contain the coming flu crisis. The international health body warned that no governments should underestimate the far-reaching impacts of the approaching flu epidemic.

According to WHO, the approaching influenza pandemic may occur any moment and there is no doubts about this. It is a matter of when, and not necessary of if, WHO warned. Apart from the fact that national governments need to prepare ahead for the flu outbreak, WHO has its own plans to contain the deadly viral disease.

Costs of Flu Outbreak Outweigh the Price of Prevention

WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, cautioned that global leaders must remain proactive in the face of the coming flu epidemic. He noted that the threat of pandemic influenza is ever-present and cannot go away. It is a viral disease that always comes with the season.

“We must be vigilant and prepared – the cost of a major influenza outbreak will far outweigh the price of prevention,” Ghebreyesus said.

The last global flu pandemic occurred in 2009 and 2010. It was triggered by the H1N1 viral strain of the disease. According to statistics, about one in five people around the world was infected with the flu outbreak in 2009-2010. Thousands of people died from the infection too.

flu vaccine shots

                            Flu vaccine shots. Photo Credit: WikiImages/Pixabay

WHO and international health experts warn that flu will take on a different ferocity in the future. They warn the disease will become more deadly and even transmit from animals to humans. They warn that flu strains will mutate faster and become more potent, infecting millions of people around the world and killing thousands.

There are various flu strains out there. They are not stable and continue to mutate, becoming deadlier and claiming more lives. During seasonal outbreaks, up to one billion people are infected worldwide. About 3 to 5 million cases are often severe, requiring hospitalization and critical medical attention. But then, between 290,000 to 650,000 people die from respiratory complications occasioned by the disease during the peak period.

Vaccines and Antiviral Drugs Are the Two Most Effective Ways to Survive Flu Epidemics

The people most vulnerable to flu are children, aged people and people with compromised immunity. Health workers are also prone to the disease during the flu season. WHO recommends that people get vaccinated for the disease every year. Getting flu shots enables vaccinated people to fight the disease during any epidemics, leading to lower death rates across the United States and around the world.

WHO revealed it has the most comprehensive action plan to counter any potential devastations caused by the approaching flu. This plan involves protecting people from any potential flu infection, and setting up measures to contain the disease in the case of an epidemic.

While the WHO plan will increase global response and surveillance for flu pandemics, each country must also be able to develop a flu plan aimed at preventing, detecting, tracking and treating flu infections. Even at these, vaccines and antiviral drugs remain the most effective ways to deal any flu infection.

Brad is a dedicated writer and author. He finished from college and then proceeded to university to study Nursing. He loves to take care of the sick and educate them on what ails them. When not writing or caring for the sick, Brad can be seen playing tennis with friends.

Diseases & Disorders

WHO Releases 12 Risk Factors for Dementia and Guidelines for Tackling Them

WHO identifies risk factors for dementia and recommendations for prevention

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WHO gives recommendations for dementia
WHO gives recommendations for preventing dementia. Photo Credit: Geralt/Pixabay

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified 12 risk factors for developing dementia and guidelines for preventing it. The WHO report is targeted at helping national governments, health policymakers and healthcare providers prevent the onset of dementia in people. As at today, it is estimated that about 50 million people around the world are suffering from dementia, with 5.8 million of them in the United States.

Dementia is a general term for neuro-degenerative conditions that affect an individual’s ability to think, remember or undertake daily routines. While it is usually associated with old age, dementia presents itself as a progressive decline in cognitive functions because of aging, brain damage or disease. Patients have problems related to memory, attention, judgment, language and problem-solving abilities.

Families and Caregivers Also Suffer From the Effects of Dementia on Patients

Health experts agree that Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia – making up 50% to 70% of cases. An individual may suffer from several forms of dementia, and sometimes it could also run in families. Diagnosis is done by cognitive testing which includes medical imaging and blood tests, as well as evaluating the history of the patient’s illness.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for dementia but there are several identified risk factors.

The 12 risk factors published by WHO are –

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Alcohol
  • Impaired cognitive reserve
  • Low level of social life
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Dyslipidemia or high cholesterol levels
  • Depression
  • Hearing loss

While these risk factors have been found to increase the chances of developing dementia, scientists are not exactly sure of what causes the brain disease. All they know is that it is related to old age. The patient is not the only one affected by dementia, family members and caregivers also suffer from caring for the patient. This goes to prove that the lives of dementia patients and their families are changed by the disease.

“The goal of the action plan is to improve the lives of people with dementia, their carers and families, while decreasing the impact of dementia on them as well as on communities and countries,” the WHO report reads.

Number of People Suffering From Dementia May Triple In the Next 30 Years

Given that most of the risk factors for dementia advanced by WHO are lifestyle-related, health analysts say there is hope for prevention. With the new guidelines published by the international health body, people must learn to adopt healthier lifestyles to reduce the chances of developing dementia and other complicated health conditions.

Except people get proactive on their health as they advance in age, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that the number of people suffering from dementia may triple in the next 30 years.

“We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia. The scientific evidence gathered for these guidelines confirm what we have suspected for some time, that what is good for our heart, is also good for our brain,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said.

With adequate information, people can evaluate the risk factors for dementia and determine how they live their lives accordingly. Health experts stated that tackling the entire risk factors can prevent dementia and insure a better health. This is against the background that excessive alcohol, a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet are linked to cognitive decline and other debilitating health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Public Health Approach Is Important For Dementia Management and Prevention

There is scanty medical evidence to prove that hearing aids, antidepressants and an active social life cut down the likelihood of dementia. But WHO insists they are nevertheless important for cognitive health and general wellbeing.

According to WHO, a public health approach is crucial to implementing key dementia interventions. This is largely because dementia can be prevented or delayed when cognitive health and lifestyle changes are geared towards positive wellbeing. WHO is all for positive global health experiences and frequently publishes recommendations aimed at improving global wellness.

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Fitness & Exercise

WHO Says $1 Trillion Is Lost Annually To Workplace Depression and Anxiety Disorders

Should discussing mental health issues at the workplace be a taboo?

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Mental health at work should not be a taboo topic. Photo Credit: Shivmirthyu/Pixabay

Yesterday, April 28, was the World Day for Safety and Health at Work. This is an annual celebration and promotion of occupational safety and health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), low productivity in the workplace as a result of depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion each year.

WHO estimates that over 300 million suffer from depression, leading to reduced work performance, around the world.

Many of the people suffering from depression also experience anxiety, even though this is not always related to work. But WHO made it clear that a negative work environment is linked to mental and physical health prooblems, as well as lost productivity as a result of absenteeism and substance abuse.

Employers Should Address Mental Health Issues at Work by Reviewing Work Cultures

“Workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and benefit from associated economic gains,” WHO wrote.

With the 2019 World Day for Safety and Health at Work, mental health and workplace experts agree on one thing: mental health issues start with individuals and spread to the entire workplace, impacting work culture and overall productivity, Psychology Today wrote. They therefore advise employers and work supervisors to address mental health issues in the workplace.

mental health at work costs billions in loss of productivity

Mental health at work costs billions in loss of productivity. Photo Credit: Wokandapix/Pixabay

They can do this by acknowledging that mental health is real and counterproductive. They should therefore create a workplace culture that reduces stress and anxiety, as well as encourage employees to speak up about personal or work worries. This will ultimately boost employee engagement and productivity in the workplace.

Why Discussing Mental Health in the Workplace Shouldn’t Be a Taboo

The problem however is that it has become a taboo to talk about mental issues in the workplace. Some employers do not even agree that mental health is associated with work productivity. Such employers prefer to talk about work safety and health, but not mental health. This gives employees the impression that owning up to work stress is taboo, and that it may endanger their employment status.

Morra Aarons-Mele in a Harvard Business Review disclosed that employees rarely talk about mental health at work. She said people lock up themselves in the bathroom if they feel emotional at work or offer an excuse to be absent from work. They do not ask to have a flex time or work from home unless of course they have a new baby or receive news that their parents are ill.

“The burden of depression and anxiety is shared by all members of a workplace, and it’s a vicious cycle,” Aarons-Mele said.

Working from Home Reduces the Effects of Workplace Stress and Anxiety

With newer technologies, people are able to ask to work from home if they feel down, transforming the workplace experience and giving better flexibility to workers. Mental health issues in the workplace can be reduced if people can afford to work from home.

Without this option, people get easily experience a burnout and run dangerously low on personal bandwidth.

Debilitating mental health in the workplace impacts an individual in four major areas – mental, physical, emotional/interpersonal, and financial. “Each affects the other in a downward spiral of cognitive drain, physical debilitation, compromised relationships, and a real loss of productivity and profits,” wrote Camille Preston in her 2012 book, Rewired.

 

 

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Diseases & Disorders

First Malaria Vaccine in the World to Be Administered To 360,000 Children in Africa

360,000 children in Africa to be given malaria vaccine every year – the first of such vaccine in the world

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360,000 children in Africa to be given malaria vaccine every year. Photo Credit: etinosa_yvonne/Pixabay

Every year, 360,000 African children will receive malaria vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced. The malaria vaccine is the first of such in the world. As part of a large-scale pilot project, it will roll out first in three African countries, CNN reported.

The malaria vaccine administration is already underway in Malawi. But it will be rolled out to children two years and younger in Kenya and Ghana in the coming weeks. According to WHO, the governments of each country will determine where the vaccine is to be administered.

WHO revealed that the malaria vaccine proved effective during clinical trials in protecting four out of 10 kids against malaria attack.

Malaria Vaccine May Prevent the Death of One Child Every Two Minutes

WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said mosquito nets and other malaria prevention tools had proved effective in the last 15 years. But the progress has stalled and even reversed in some cases. He said new solutions are needed to get malaria control back on track and this new vaccine holds a lot of promise in that regard.

“The malaria vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of children’s lives,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said.

An estimated 435,000 people die from malaria every year, with 250,000 of the malaria deaths occuring in Africa. WHO says one child dies every two minutes from malaria around the world. Malaria is an infective disease caused by sporozoan parasites transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes. Symptoms include chills, headache and other feverish conditions.

The good news however is that malaria is preventable and treatable.

The new malaria vaccine is known as RTS,S or Mosquirix and developed in 1987 by GSK. Several health organizations have tested and trialed it over the years and it has been certified effective in protecting against malaria.

Malaria Is Most Endemic In Africa and Vaccine Provides 40% Protection – Better Than Nothing

Adrian Hill, a professor of human genetics and director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, said it can be difficult to win the war over malaria permanently.

“The tools we have are modestly effective but drugs and insecticides wear out – after 10, 20 years mosquitoes become resistant. There’s a real concern that in 2020s, [cases] are going to jump back up again,” Hill said.

The malaria vaccine will be administered in four doses. Three doses will be given to infants aged 5-9 months, and the fourth dose given when the children are about two years old.

WHO however cautioned that the vaccine should be used to complement other malaria prevention measures such as insecticide treated bed nets and indoor sprays among others.

Alena Pance, senior staff scientist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said the vaccine is not 100% effective against malaria. But “it is very important to bear in mind that 40% protection in the most endemic part of the world, Africa, is better than no protection at all,” he said.

 

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