WHO Targets Infectious Diseases, Premature Cancer Deaths


31 January 2018: The World Health Organization (WHO) is tackling both communicative and non-communicative diseases, with a series of recent initiatives. An investigation by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) highlights the economic value of preventive activities tailored to each country’s “cancer profile.” The Organization is also working to eliminate measles, rubella and yellow fever in several target countries, and supporting countries to monitor the rise of antimicrobial resistance by establishing their own national surveillance systems.

On 31 January, the IARC reported highlights of its research as published in the medical journal, Cancer Epidemiology. The study noted that 42% of all the world’s cancer deaths occur in BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The study estimates that in 2002, the most recent year for which complete data is available, the cost of lost productivity in these five countries due to premature cancer deaths was US$46.3 billion.

The authors recommend that national policies promote preventive activities relevant to the types of cancer that are prevalent in each country. In particular, policies in China should address hepatitis B transmission and exposure to aflatoxins. High alcohol consumption in Russia, smoking in South Africa, chewing tobacco in India, and obesity in Brazil are the key risk factors for the various types of cancer prevalent in those countries. IARC stressed that collating evidence to inform preventive interventions represents “a powerful lever for sustainable economic development.”

WHO Southeast Asia organized a meeting in New Delhi, India, on 31 January 2018, with some of the most populous countries in the region. The meeting launched an accelerated vaccination drive to wipe out measles and rubella in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand, with the target of reaching 500 million children, including those in remote areas.

On 25 January, WHO with the Government of Nigeria launched a mass campaign to immunize more than 25 million people against yellow fever, including by training health workers to track cases of the infectious disease. Nigeria experienced an outbreak of yellow fever in late 2017. The yellow fever vaccination campaign is part of WHO’s global effort to end yellow fever epidemics by 2026.

WHO launched the first report of its Global Antimocrobial Surveillance System (GLASS) on 29 January. Surveillance data has shown problems with treating common pathogens, including those responsible for pneumonia, salmonella poisoning, and urinary tract infections. Currently, 52 countries are enrolled in GLASS, and the initiative’s first report provides information on in-country systems to maintain surveillance. [UN Press Release on Premature Cancer Deaths] [UN Press Release on Measles] [UN Press Release on Yellow Fever] [UN Press Release on Antibiotic Resistance] [Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS) report: Early implementation 2016-2017]

References: International Institute for Sustainable Development. 2018. Retrieved from http://sdg.iisd.org/news/who-targets-infectious-diseases-premature-cancer-deaths/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2018-02-06%20-%20SDG%20Update%20AE&utm_content=2018-02-06%20-%20SDG%20Update%20AE+CID_6d45e1b29a77180993f8274027c7d01c&utm_source=cm&utm_term=WHO%20Targets%20Infectious%20Diseases%20Premature%20Cancer%20Deaths

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