Over 1 Billion Of The World’s Population Are Smokers

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed in a new study that about 1.1 billion smokers in the world today. The report states: “Tobacco is the only legal drug that kills many of its users when used exactly as intended by manufacturers.

WHO’s ‘Global Report on Trends in Prevalence of Tobacco Smoking 2000-2025’, which coincided with World No Tobacco Day 2018, observed every May 31, warned that smoking is a habit that destroyed the hearts.

The report further reveals; “WHO has estimated that tobacco use (smoking and smokeless) is currently responsible for the death of about six million people across the world each year with many of the deaths occurring prematurely.

“This total includes about 600,000 people that are also estimated to die from the effects of second-hand smoking.

“Although often associated with ill-health, disability and death from non-communicable chronic diseases, tobacco smoking is also associated with an increased risk of death from communicable diseases’’.

The global health agency, in the report by health experts, said spreading the message that tobacco caused deadly illnesses such as heart disease and stroke helped prevent “needless” loss of life.

WHO warned that tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke were “major causes” of cardiovascular disease, contributing to three million deaths annually.

It said lack of awareness about the risks of tobacco use was most common in low and middle-income countries.

The report said in China, more than six out of 10 people were unaware that smoking could cause a heart attack while in India and Indonesia, more than half of all adults did not know that the habit could lead to a stroke.

Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director, Department for the Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases at WHO, said tobacco use was falling globally but it still killed more than seven million people a year.

“Progress is uneven in protecting consumers from the tobacco industry,’’ Bettcher said.

He explained that higher income countries were making “faster progress” than their poorer counterparts at protecting consumers, partly owing to stronger regulations.

“In spite of the apparent lack of progress in tackling the total number of smokers, the report highlighted that only one in five people smoked today, compared to more than one in four, 18 years ago.

“The decline was masked by the world’s growing population.’’

On efforts to encourage people to quit, the UN health expert warned that only around 12 per cent countries were on track to meet global targets to reduce by one-third the number of people dying from non-communicable diseases by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.

In a bid to promote a healthy heart, the WHO wanted every one of its 194 Member States to implement a series of increasingly strict tobacco control measures.

These include making indoor public and workplaces smoke-free and insisting that tobacco packaging carries warnings that demonstrate the health risks for users.

“The good news is that these deaths are preventable and we know what needs to be done,’’ Bettcher said.

He named Ireland and Uruguay as countries that had achieved the highest level of tobacco control before, adding that since 2007, the number of people around the world to have benefited from these measures has more than quadrupled, from one billion to five billion.

WHO Calls Emergency Meeting on Congo’s Ebola Outbreak

The World Health Organisation (WHO) would convene an Emergency Committee on Friday to consider the international risks of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said on Thursday.

The expert committee will decide whether to declare a “public health emergency of international concern”, which would trigger more international involvement, mobilising research and resources, Lindmeier said.

Earlier, Congo’s Health Minister, warned that the Ebola outbreak has entered “a new phase” after a case of the deadly virus was detected for the first time in the northwest city of Mbandaka, with a population of about one million people.

So far, the 23 deaths believed to have been caused by Democratic Republic of Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak had been detected in more isolated areas, giving authorities a better chance of ring-fencing the virus.

The first urban case to be announced threatens to change that.

The WHO, which on Wednesday deployed the first experimental vaccines in the vast central African country, had expressed concern about the disease reaching Mbandaka, which would make the outbreak far harder to tackle.

Adding to concerns is the city’s location on the banks of the Congo River, a major thoroughfare for trade and transport into the capital, Kinshasa.

The Congo Republic is on the other side of the river.

“We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone,” Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said in a statement.

“Since the announcement of the alert in Mbandaka, our epidemiologists are working in the field to identify people who have been in contact with suspected cases.”

He said authorities would intensify population tracing at all air, river and road routes out of the city.

It is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded in Congo since the disease made its first known appearance near its northern Ebola river in the 1970s.

Ebola is most feared for the internal and external bleeding it can cause in victims owing to damage done to blood vessels.

Before Wednesday’s announcement, there had been only two cases of the virus confirmed by lab tests.

The first batch of over 4,000 Ebola vaccines was sent by the WHO to Kinshasa on Wednesday.

The health ministry said vaccinations would start by early next week, the first time the vaccine would come into use since it was developed two years ago.

The vaccine, developed by Merck and Co Inc, is still not licensed but proved effective during limited trials in West Africa in the biggest-ever outbreak of Ebola, which killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014 to 2016.

 

(NAN)

Nigeria’s Lassa Fever Outbreak Under Control – WHO

The World Health Organisation,WHO, has said that with the declining numbers and only a handful of confirmed cases reported in recent weeks, the critical phase of Nigeria’s largest Lassa fever outbreak is under control.

According to a statement issued by WHO’s Communication Officer, Ms Charity Warigon in Abuja, continued vigilance is, however, needed as the country is still Lassa fever endemic.

She said that this year, 423 confirmed cases, including 106 deaths, had been reported but that national case numbers had consistently declined in the past six weeks.

The spokeswoman said that the numbers had dropped below levels considered to be of national emergency when compared with data from previous outbreaks.

Warigon said that in the week ending May 6, only three new confirmed cases of Lassa fever were reported, stating that people could still be infected throughout the year hence the need for continued vigilance.

The UN agency congratulated Nigeria for reaching a milestone in the fight against Lassa fever but urged the country not to “let its foot off the pedal”.

It assured the Federal Government its continuous support in maintaining intensified response to the outbreak.

“WHO continues to help states that have reported new cases by strengthening their capacity to conduct disease surveillance, treat patients, implement infection prevention and control measures, laboratory diagnostics and engaging with communities.

“Communities are encouraged to remain vigilant and report any rumour to the nearest health facility because early diagnosis and treatment can save lives.

“Thirty-seven health workers have been infected with Lassa fever and eight have died.

“This highlights the need to implement standard infection prevention and control precautions with all patients regardless of their diagnosis.

“Health workers are urged to maintain a high index of suspicion for Lassa fever when handling patients with fever, headache, sore throat and general body weakness, especially when malaria has been ruled out with a Rapid Diagnostic Test.”

The world body also urged health workers to adhere to standard precautions by wearing protective equipment like gloves, face masks, face shields, and aprons when handling suspected Lassa fever patients.

It would be recalled that WHO in its Emergency Report, issued in April stated that in March less than 20 cases were reported each week while only five new cases were reported in the week ending April 15.

These figures, according to WHO compare with earlier reports issued in January, the beginning of the outbreak, to Feb. 18, when the number of weekly reported Lassa fever cases increased from 10 to 70.

(NAN)

WHO Confirms Cases Of Lassa Fever In Taraba State

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed twelve cases of Lassa fever in six out of the sixteen local government areas of Taraba state.

According to WHO representatives operating in the State, disclosed that patients of the confirmed cases who emanated from Ardo-Kola, Bali, Gashak, Gassol Ibi and Jalingo local government councils are presently receiving medical attention at the various isolated centers located at both the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Jalingo and the state specialist hospital.

This was revealed on Monday at a one day sensitization workshop organized by the State Ministry of Health for health workers, has it that while three of the confirmed cases have been positive, three have as well been confirmed dead.

Dr. Zeto Philip of the WHO made this known on behalf of the state coordinator of the organization, Alhaji Umar Farouk, said over 297 suspected cases of the epidemic have been unraveled in the country with twenty-two death said to have been recorded in thirteen states.

Philip said that the death mortality rate occasioned by Lassa fever has risen to 25 per cent even as he beckoned at the various state governments to rise up to the challenges. “It is expected that the way the government at the center is working, the states should as well take cue.”

According to the WHO, Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever illness that is known to be endemic in various West African countries including Nigeria. “As of June 9, 2017, a total of 501 suspected cases including 104 deaths was reported since the onset of the Lassa fever outbreaks season in December 2016.

“… During the 2016 and 2017 Lassa fever outbreak, 17 Nigerian states (Anambra, Bauchi, Borno, Cross-River, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Plateau, Rivers, and Taraba) have reported at least one confirmed case. As of June 9, 2017, the outbreak is still active in nine states (Anambra, Bauchi, Cross-River, Edo, Taraba, Nasarawa, Ondo, Plateau, and Kano).”

 

Toothpaste Could Fight Drug-Resistant Strains Of Malaria

A research carried out in part by an Artificially-Intelligent (AI)‘robot scientist’ has found that a common ingredient of toothpaste can be developed to fight drug-resistant strains of malaria.

From the study in the journal Scientific Reports, scientists from Britain’s Cambridge University who used the AI robot to conduct high-throughput screening said the ingredient, triclosan, showed the potential to interrupt malaria infections at two critical stages – in the liver and the blood.

WHO says malaria kills around half a million people every year, the vast majority of them children in the poorest parts of Africa.

The disease can be treated with a number of drugs, but resistance to these medicines is increasing, raising the risk that some strains may become untreatable in the future.

Because of this, the search for new medicines was becoming increasingly urgent, said Steve Oliver of Cambridge University’s biochemistry department, who co-led the work with Elizabeth Bilsland.

After being transferred into a new host via a mosquito bite, malaria parasites work their way into the liver, where they mature and reproduce.

They then move into red blood cells, multiply and spread around the body, causing fever and potentially life-threatening complications.

Scientists have known for some time that triclosan can halt malaria parasites’ growth at the blood stage of the infection by inhibiting the action of an enzyme known as Enoyl Reductase (ENR), which is involved in production of fatty acids.

In toothpaste, this helps prevent a build-up of plaque bacteria.

In this latest work, however, Bilsland’s team found that triclosan also inhibits an entirely different enzyme of the malaria parasite, called DHFR.

DHFR is the target of the antimalarial pyrimethamine, a drug to which malaria parasites are increasingly developing resistance, particularly in Africa.

The Cambridge team’s work showed that triclosan was able to target and act on this enzyme even in pyrimethamine-resistant parasites.

“The discovery by our robot colleague that triclosan is effective against malaria targets offers hope that we may be able to use it to develop a new drug,” said Elizabeth Bilsland, who co-led the work.

“We know it is a safe compound, and its ability to target two points in the malaria parasite’s lifecycle means the parasite will find it difficult to evolve resistance.”

The Artificial Intelligence robot scientist used in the study – nicknamed Eve – was designed to automate and speed up the drug discovery process.

It does this by automatically developing and testing hypotheses to explain observations, running experiments using laboratory robotics, interpreting the results, altering the hypotheses, and then repeating the cycle.

 

WHO to Immunize 300,000 in Borno Against Cholera

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it will immunize 300,000 people against cholera in Borno.

This is contained in the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), Humanitarian Situation Report for the Month of September.

It said that the organisation in collaboration with other health development partners would also conduct another round of Oral Cholera Vaccination (ORV) exercise in the state.

Reports indicate that the immunization exercise would be conducted at Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and host communities of Damasak, Banki, Bama, Gamburu, Ngala and Pulka.

“For the first time in Nigeria; an Oral Cholera Vaccines (OCV) was carried out between Sept. 18 and 22 to protect communities and prevent further spread of the disease. The first round campaign reached close to 850,000 people through combination of fixed and mobile strategies.

“The request for the additional vaccines is to be submitted to the International Coordination Group on Vaccines Provision pending the clearance and approval of the state and health authorities”.

The UN-OCHA report shows that 4,360 suspected or confirmed cholera cases and 60 related deaths were recorded in Borno in September.

It notes that humanitarian organisations had scale up activities to contain the outbreak in parts of Maiduguri, Jere, Dikwa, Monguno and Mafa local government areas.

To control the outbreak health, sanitation and hygiene actors established Cholera Treatment Centers (CTC) and Oral Re-hydration Points (ORP) in the affected communities.

Another key intervention to be conducted was the third round Seasonal Malaria Chemo-Prevention campaign.

The exercise was targets children under the age of five in Maiduguri, Konduga, Monguno, Jere and Mafa local government councils.

OCHA also disclosed that the Mobile Hard-To-Reach teams were increased to 35 as against 24, to enhance health care delivery in Yobe.

It noted that the measure was to enhance access to healthcare services in remote and security compromised communities at Gujba, Gulani, Geidam, Yunusari, Tarmuwa, Karasuwa, Bade and Fika local government areas of Yobe State.

The report further showed that 13,000 children had so far benefited from consultations and treatments of minor ailments, 41,752 children de-wormed and 32,930 received Vitamin A supplement, since the deployment of the teams to the state.

While 59,080 children were screened of malnutrition; 41,542 reached with health promotion messages, 626 women received ante-natal care, 82 pre-natal care and 31 family planning consultations.

The UN agency revealed that proactive measures had been evolved to strengthen the Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) response to provide appropriate referral pathways for individuals, groups or families in need of mental health support in the war ravaged region.

It added that WHO and other health partners are working with Nigerian mental health authorities to enhance clinical management of mental disorder through deployment of specialized mental health workers such as psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, pharmacological, non-pharmacological and psychologists.

According to OCHA, the Boko Haram insurgency caused humanitarian crisis with over 6.9 million people in need of quality healthcare services.

It explained that 5.9 million persons were targeted for support services while 5 million people reached with emergency health services this year in the Northeast.

NAN

WHO Sacks Mugabe as Ambassador

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been removed as a goodwill ambassador, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Sunday following outrage among Western donors and rights groups at the appointment.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus named Mugabe to the largely ceremonial post at a meeting on chronic diseases attended by both men in Uruguay on Wednesday.

At the time, Tedros praised Zimbabwe as “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide healthcare to all”.

But Tedros said in a statement that he had listened to those expressing concerns and heard the “different issues” raised.

“Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of H.E. President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for NCDs (non-communicable diseases) in Africa.

”As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment,” Tedros said.

The decision had been taken after consultation with the Harare government and was “in the best interests of the World Health Organisation”, he said.

Jeremy Farrar, a global health specialist and director of the Wellcome Trust charity and the NCD alliance, representing health groups combating chronic diseases, welcomed the reversal.

“Dr Tedros deserves all our support to ensure he and WHO build a global health movement that is inclusive and works to improve health for everyone,” Farrar said in a statement.

Zimbabwean Member of Parliament Psychology Maziwisa, of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party, tweeted.

The tweet said:“A very, very disappointing decision by WHO but not an entirely unexpected one, given the well-known political position of its donors on ZW.”

Several former and current WHO staff had said privately they were appalled at the “poor judgement” and “miscalculation” by Tedros, elected the first African head of WHO in May.

Mugabe was head of the African Union when the bloc endorsed Tedros – a former health and foreign minister of Ethiopia – over other African candidates for the top post, without any real regional contest, they said.

Mugabe, 93, is blamed in the West for destroying Zimbabwe’s economy and numerous human rights abuses during his 37 years leading the country as either president or prime minister.

Britain had said Mugabe’s appointment as a goodwill ambassador was “surprising and disappointing” and that it risked overshadowing the WHO’s global work.

The United States, which has imposed sanctions on Mugabe for alleged human rights violations, also voiced disappointment.

“He (Tedros) has to remember where his funding comes from,” said one health official who declined to be identified.

The Trump administration, which is already questioning financial support for some United Nations agencies, is WHO’s largest single donor.

WHO is struggling to recover a reputation tarnished by its slowness in tackling the Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa from 2014-2015 under Tedros’ predecessor Margaret Chan.

The agency is grappling with a massive cholera outbreak in Yemen that has infected some 800,000 people in the past year and a plague outbreak in Madagascar that has killed nearly 100 in two months.

Mugabe Now WHO Disease “Ambassador”

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been appointed as a “goodwill ambassador” of the World Health Organisation (WHO), to help tackle non-communicable diseases.

New WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health.

However, critics say Zimbabwe’s healthcare system has collapsed, with the president and many of his senior ministers going abroad for treatment.

They say that staff are often unpaid and medicines are in short supply.

Dr Tedros, who is Ethiopian, is the first African to lead the WHO and replaced Margaret Chan, who stepped down from her 10-year post in June.

He was elected with a mandate to tackle perceived politicisation in the organisation.

The WHO head praised Zimbabwe as “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide healthcare to all”.

But U.S.-based campaign group Human Rights Watch said it was an embarrassment to give the ambassador role to Mr Mugabe given his record on human rights.

“If you look at Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s corruption, his utter mismanagement of the economy has devastated health services there,” said executive director Kenneth Roth.

“Indeed, you know, Mugabe himself travels abroad for his health care. He’s been to Singapore three times this year already. His senior officials go to South Africa for their health care.

“When you go to Zimbabwean hospitals, they lack the most basic necessities.”

“The idea of hailing Mr Mugabe “as any kind of example of positive contribution to health care is absolutely absurd,” he added.

BBC

7,000 Children Die Everyday –WHO

The World Health Organisation has revealed that about 7,000 children die every day. In further explanation, the organization said every day in 2016 at least 15 000 children died before their fifth birthday. In a new report by the United Nations, 46% of them – or 7 000 babies – died in the first 28 days of life. Although the number of children dying before the age of five is at a new low– 5.6 million in 2016, compared with nearly 9.9 million in 2000 – the proportion of under-five deaths in the newborn period has increased from 41% to 46% during the same period.

 

“The lives of 50 million children under-five have been saved since 2000, a testament to the serious commitment by governments and development partners to tackle preventable child deaths,” said UNICEF Chief of Health, Stefan Swartling Peterson. “But unless we do more to stop babies from dying the day they are born, or days after their birth, this progress will remain incomplete. We have the knowledge and technologies that are required – we just need to take them where they are most needed.”

 

At current trends, 60 million children will die before their fifth birthday between 2017 and 2030, half of them newborns, according to the report released by UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the Population Division of UNDESA which make up the Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME). Most newborn deaths occurred in two regions: Southern Asia (39%) and sub-Saharan Africa (38%). Five countries accounted for half of all new-born deaths: India (24%), Pakistan (10%), Nigeria (9%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (4%) and Ethiopia (3%).

 

“To achieve universal health coverage and ensure more newborns survive and thrive, we must serve marginalized families,” says Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health at WHO. “To prevent illness, families require financial power, their voices to be heard and access to quality care. Improving the quality of services and timely care during and after childbirth must be prioritized.”

 

The report notes that many lives can be saved if global inequities are reduced. If all countries achieved the average mortality of high-income countries, 87% of under-five deaths could have been averted and almost 5 million lives could have been saved in 2016.

 

“It is unconscionable that in 2017, pregnancy and childbirth are still life-threatening conditions for women, and that 7 000 newborns die daily,” said Tim Evans, Senior Director of Health Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group. “The best measure of success for Universal Health Coverage is that every mother should not only be able to access healthcare easily but that it should be quality, affordable care that will ensure a healthy and productive life for her children and family. We are committed to scaling up our financing to support country demand in this area, including through innovative mechanisms like the Global Financing Facility (GFF). ”

 

Pneumonia and diarrhoea top the list of infectious diseases which claim the lives of millions of children under-five globally, accounting for 16% and 8% of deaths, respectively. Preterm birth complications and complications during labour or childbirth were the causes of 30% of newborn deaths in 2016. In addition to the 5.6 million under-5 deaths, 2.6 million babies are stillborn each year, the majority of which could be prevented.

 

Ending preventable child deaths can be achieved by improving access to skilled health-professionals during pregnancy and at the time of birth; lifesaving interventions, such as immunization, breastfeeding and inexpensive medicines; and increasing access to water and sanitation, that are currently beyond the reach of the world’s poorest communities.For the first time, mortality data for older children age 5 to 14 was included in the report, capturing other causes of death such as accidents and injuries. Approximately 1 million children aged 5 to 14 died in 2016.

 

“This new report highlights the remarkable progress since 2000 in reducing mortality among children under age 5,” said UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Mr. LIU Zhenmin. “Despite this progress, large disparities in child survival still exist across regions and countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet many deaths at these ages are easily preventable through simple, cost-effective interventions administered before, during and immediately after birth. Reducing inequities and reaching the most vulnerable newborns, children and mothers are essential for achieving the SDG target on ending preventable childhood deaths and for ensuring that no one will be left behind.”

 

In sub-Saharan Africa, estimates show that 1 child in 36 dies in the first month, while in the world’s high-income countries, the ratio is 1 in 333. Unless the rate of progress improves, more than 60 countries will miss the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to end preventable deaths of newborns by 2030 and a half would not meet the target of 12 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births by 2050. These countries account for about 80% of neonatal deaths in 2016.

 

 

 

Kebbi Seeks WHO Support On Polio

Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi has called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to help curtail spread of Polio by influx of children infected with the virus from neighboring Benin and Niger republics.

Bagudu, who received a delegation of WHO led by County Representative, Dr Wondi Alemu, in Birnin Kebbi on Wednesday, said the influx of infected children had reduced Polio immunisation performance index.

“Our state has porous border with neighboring Benin and Niger republics.

“Most of the children we have on the streets are beggars or out of school who are not from the state not even from this country, but from the two countries.

“We are known for Islamic scholarship as a result of that citizens from the two countries send their children to acquire Islamic education in our state,” he said.

He appealed to the WHO to consider increasing funding to tackle health challenges commensurate with the population of Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi states with about 11 million people.

He described the WHO donation to the three states as inadequate when compared to the amount received by Asian and Latin American developing countries.

“While we are not implying that we want to be dependent on WHO’s assistance but the assistance is needed by a country in need of it at the time of need,’’ Bagudu said.

According to him, Kebbi has the largest number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the whole of North West Nigeria, noting that about 60 per cent of fishermen in Borno are from Kebbi.

“A few months ago we received about 7,000 IDPs from Niger Republic,” he added.

He said the influx of IDPs was a challenge to the state health sector.

The governor commended development partners for the engagement in the health sector, while appreciating the efforts of WHO in the eradication of polio and improvement of the health sector.

However, he thanked traditional and religious leaders for their support and participation in polio immunisation campaigns and actualisation in the state.

Alemu had earlier said the team was in the state to review what the government was doing and its efforts in health care service delivery as well as challenges faced on polio immunisation in the state.

He said the organisation was looking forward to building capacity on surveillance on polio and other diseases.

“We are determined to improve regular supervision on capacity surveillance, strengthen gains and evaluation of health sector,” he said.

He advised the state government to strengthen the health sector, especially improvement of laboratory system, adding that some diseases could be diagnosed via laboratory channels before they escalate.

He commended the state government for the restoration and increase of counterpart funding to support WHO’s activities.

Girls Account For Nearly 80% Of New HIV Infections In Africa – WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says girls account for nearly 80 per cent of new HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Director, Family and Reproductive Health Cluster, WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr. Felicitas Zawaira, said this in a statement issued, in Abuja, on Monday.

Zawaira said most recent data from the organisation showed that only 13 per cent of these adolescent girls, and nine per cent of adolescent boys had been tested for HIV in the past 12 months in the region.

She said adolescents in the African region represented approximately 23 per cent of the population with several specific needs when it comes to their health.

Zuwaira said in spite of their large numbers, very few African governments had put in place specific plans and policies that targeted adolescents.

According to her, numerous social, cultural and economic barriers further prevent them from accessing the health services they need.

“These realities are compounded by the fact that adolescents and young people represent a growing share of people living with HIV.

“In 2015, 250,000 adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 were newly infected with HIV.

“Adolescents and young people are our future; we call them the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) generation.

“This is because they will be adults by the time we get to 2030. Unless we ensure that they grow up healthy and remain healthy, we are going to face incredible challenges down the road,’’ Zawaira said.

The director said adolescents had the potential to become productive members of the society, adding that this would not be achieved, if they were plagued by illness and lacked the opportunity to grow.

She said that as part of WHO’s new Adolescent Health Flagship programme, the organisation would support countries to develop strategies and implement evidence-based interventions.

Zuwaira said the interventions would include: improving immunization coverage, tackling substance abuse, treating mental health, offering reproductive and sexual health services, and preventing accidents and injuries.

She said that while the health sector had a special role to play in leading this effort, improving adolescent health would require the involvement of other sectors such as education and finance.

According to her, the involvement of adolescents themselves is also very important to the success of the intervention.

 

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