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WHO Publishes The Health Product Profile Directory for Smarter Research and Development to Tackle Global Health Priorities



|| Wednesday: May 15: 2019 || ά. Today, the World Health Organisation:WHO’s new Science Division launched an online resource to guide the development of new health products for which there are limited markets or incentives for research and development. An essential tool for realising universal health coverage, the Health Product Profile Directory aims to promote research and development for products to combat neglected diseases and threats to global health, including, anti-microbial resistance and diseases with pandemic potential.

The Health Product Profile Directory is a free-to-use online resource, created and developed by TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, on behalf of WHO as a global public good. It provides a searchable database of profiles for health products, needed to tackle pressing health issues in global health, including, those prioritised by WHO. The summary of the published profiles outlines 08-10 key characteristics, such as, target population, measures of efficacy and dosage, for the development of health products, including, medicines, vaccines and diagnostics.

Building in these characteristics at an early stage of the development process is essential to ensure that the final products will be accessible to the populations, that need them. The Ebola outbreak of 2014-15 and other recent pandemics have highlighted the urgent need for centralised information to guide and improve coordination of efforts to develop new health products for neglected diseases and populations.

Until now, less than 10% of new products, that have been submitted for regulatory review have referenced product profiles in the RandD process. This absence of a standard way to describe the health products, that are priorities for global health has contributed to unco-ordinated and ineffective research and development in these areas.

“As the first global public good launched by WHO’s new Science Division, the Health Product Profile Directory exemplifies our effort to shape the global health research agenda to achieve health for all.” said WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan. “While the Directory is launched with a focus on infectious diseases, we will update and grow the content, so I invite submissions of product profiles on other priority areas, such as, non-communicable diseases and anti-microbial resistance.”

Currently, the Directory contains 196 product profiles, developed by 24 agencies, of which 191 describe a product with an infectious disease as the target. The top four diseases with product profiles are tuberculosis, malaria, HIV and Chagas. The Directory contains only five product profiles for conditions other than infectious diseases, one vaccine for breast cancer and four contraception technologies.

“DNDi welcomes the release of this new resource, that will help to better understand the priorities of the global health product RandD landscape.” said Mr Graeme Bilbe, the Research and Development Director, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative:DNDi.

“At DNDi, we recognise the importance of product profiles as an essential tool to guide our research strategy and ensure that the products we develop are able to be used by the vulnerable populations we are developing them for. We are pleased to have contributed some of the product profiles, used in this valuable new directory and we look forward to using it.”

“In an RandD landscape, which is, increasingly, complicated to navigate, Medicines for Malaria Venture welcomes this new Directory, which will help us ensure that new Malaria products, that are developed are able to be accessed and used by the populations, that need them.” said Mr David Reddy, the Chief Executive Officer of Medicines for Malaria Venture.

The Directory includes profiles, developed by WHO and other agencies and can, also, be accessed through the WHO Global Observatory on health RandD, where other key resources to analyse RandD can be found.

Profiles for products, prioritised for global action by WHO are clearly marked as authored by WHO.  Other product profiles, authored by Product Development Partnerships, commercial companies and other organisations, that meet the inclusion criteria are, also, included.  For non-WHO authored profiles, inclusion in the directory does not imply endorsement by WHO but, may, help inform research prioritisation decisions. Organisations outside WHO stand to benefit from submitting profiles to the Directory by gaining an understanding of the landscape of related profiles and seeing where gaps lie.

As an example of the impact product profiles can make, profiles published by WHO in response to the Ebola outbreak have been used by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation:CEPI to inform its RandD funding strategy. This covers diseases, identified by WHO as having the potential to cause global outbreaks. To date, CEPI has distributed more than $350 million to develop new vaccines to combat these diseases.

More information on how to submit a health product profile for inclusion in the Directory

On March 06, 2019, WHO announced wide-ranging reforms, which include the creation of a new Science Division, led by the Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan. As a division with a cross-cutting mandate, relevant to all levels of the organisation, the Science Division was established to perform two essential functions:

Ensure WHO anticipates and stays on top of the latest scientific developments and identify opportunities to harness those developments to improve global health and

Ensure the excellence, relevance and efficacy of WHO’s core technical functions, including, norms and standards and research.:::ω.

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The Estimated Number of People With Disabilities in the World Is One Billion Or 15% of the Whole Human Race: And Yet No Other Group of Humanity Faces Poverty of All Manners and Kinds In Its Harshest and Hardest Form Than This Humanity: Why Is It: New Research Project to Gather Evidence for Policy Makers



|| Monday: April 29: 2019: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine News || ά. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine:LSHTM is to lead a major new project, that aims to show which interventions should be implemented to improve the well-being of people with disabilities in low and middle-income countries:LMIC. Despite millions of people, escaping poverty over the last 20 years, the global situation and well-being of the majority of people with disabilities has not sufficiently improved.

Running over five years the £07m project, Penda, meaning love in Swahili, funded by the Department for International Development:DFID, will evaluate interventions so that policymakers can make evidence-based decisions on issues, including, poverty, health, education, stigma and discrimination. Disability Inclusive Development:DID is about providing services, such as, health and education, which meet the needs of all children and adults. It means ensuring that the additional costs of disability are met and that disabled people have a chance to flourish on an equal basis with others.

There are an estimated one billion people with disabilities globally, approximately, 15% of the world’s population. An estimated 80% of people with disabilities live in LMICs and one in five of the world’s poorest people have a disability. This number is likely to increase in the future as population’s age and chronic conditions, that lead to impairment and disability become more prevalent.

In LMICs, people with disabilities and their families are poorer than people without disabilities in nearly all socio-economic indicators. They are more likely to remain poor due to higher living costs, unpaid caring responsibilities, exclusion from education and employment and entrenched stigma and discrimination.

The project will be led by Professor Hannah Kuper and Professor Tom Shakespeare, with support from the International Centre for Evidence in Disability:ICED.

Professor Shakespeare said, “At the moment, we lack evidence of what works to remove barriers and achieve inclusion for disabled people in developing countries.  The Penda programme of research seeks to fill some of these gaps with good quality evidence. The evidence we generate will show what interventions are worth supporting, thus, helping improve lives.”

The research team has identified three key themes for exploration: Knowledge: there are major knowledge gaps around what works in DID and so researchers will aim to discover how DID can improve education, health, livelihoods and in reducing stigma.

People: many people investigating DID are mostly from high-income settings and so rarely have the lived experience of disability in LMICs. This programme will improve the capacity of researchers from LMICs to conduct research on disability, in particular, researchers with disabilities. Tools: better tools will be developed in the programme to measure effectiveness of DID and how to measure impairment.

The grant will fund ten new research projects, six of which will be led by LSHTM. Penda brings together partners, including, Help Age International, Action on Disability and Development and the overseas disability charity CBM. Researchers will, also, work closely with wider organisations, that support disabled people.

Professor Kuper said, ‘’Today’s world is, often, not built for people with disabilities and disabled people around the world, often, face really negative attitudes. The findings of our research could really make a difference in ensuring that people with disabilities are not left behind.

I am delighted that we will be working closely with a range of fantastic partners and people with disabilities, in this project. This will help us to do the best possible research, on the right questions, and make sure that the findings are used to improve policy and programmes.”

The first research project, DEWORM-three, is already under way, looking at the inclusion of children with disabilities in Mass Drug Administration. DEWORM-three is a Gates-funded initiative looking at whether giving children medication through school or through the community is more effective.

As well as, seeing what the difference is for disabled participants, the project will take the opportunity of exploring with children, parents and teachers what some of the barriers are to inclusive education in Malawi and India.::::ω.

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The Tripartite Organisations Launch a Guide for Countries on Taking a One Health Approach to Addressing the World’s Zoonotic Diseases That Cause Millions of Deaths and Much Economic Losses



|| March 14: 2019 || ά. Zoonotic diseases continue to be a threat to the world’s populations, causing millions of deaths and economic losses every year. To support countries to control these diseases, the Tripartite Organisations, which are FAO, OIE and WHO launched a guide, ‘Taking a Multi-sectoral, One Health Approach: A Tripartite Guide to Addressing Zoonotic Diseases in Countries’.

Zoonotic diseases, that can spread between animals and people, continue to have major impacts on human health. Every year, nearly 60,000 people die from Rabies and other zoonotic diseases, such as, Avian Influenza, Ebola or Rift Valley Fever constitute additional threats. These diseases do not only affect human health but, also, animal health and welfare, causing lowered productivity, i.e, milk or egg quality and safety, etc or, death and, consequently, affecting livelihoods of farmers and economies of countries.

Diseases know no borders. As global trade and travel expands, zoonotic diseases are increasingly posing concerns worldwide. Every day, new health challenges emerge at the human-animal-environment interface. To face these threats, collaboration, co-ordination, communication, and concerted action between different sectors are needed, using a multi-sectoral, One Health approach. However, many countries lack the capacity to implement such collaboration.

To support countries in filling these gaps, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN:FAO, the World Organisation for Animal Health:OIE and the World Health Organisation:WHO launched this Guide. This Guide, referred to as the Tripartite Zoonoses Guide:TZG, provides principles, best practices and options to assist countries in achieving sustainable and functional collaboration at the human-animal-environment interface.

It is flexible enough to be used for other health threats, for example, food safety and anti-microbial resistance:AMR. By using the TZG and its associated operational tools, which are currently being developed, countries can build or strengthen their national capacities in:

Multisectoral, One Health co-ordination mechanisms

Strategic planning and emergency preparedness

Surveillance and information sharing

Co-ordinated investigation and response

Joint risk assessment for zoonotic disease threats

Risk reduction, risk communication and community engagement

Workforce development

Options for monitoring and evaluating the function and impact of these activities are additionally included to support countries in their efforts to make improvements in their zoonotic disease frameworks, strategies and policies. Moreover, taking the One Health approach, presented in the TZG helps countries to make the best use of limited resources and reduces indirect societal losses, such as, impacts on livelihoods of small producers, poor nutrition and restriction of trade and tourism.

By working collaboratively across sectors and disciplines, human and animal lives are saved, livelihoods are secured and our global health systems are improved in a sustainable way. The Tripartite organisations encourage countries to use the TZG to achieve these goals by taking a One Health approach to address zoonotic diseases.:::ω.

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Finland Responds to World’s Humanitarian Needs and Offers Euro 70 Million Support Package



|| February 26: 2019 || ά. Finland has made Euro 70 Million funding available in response to the humanitarian needs in various parts of the world. Of the support, Euro four million will be channelled to Yemen, which is suffering from the worst humanitarian crisis of world with over 80 per cent of the population in need of assistance. In the first round of distribution of funds for humanitarian assistance in 2019, by the decision taken by the Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Ms Anne-Mari Virolainen, Finland grants Euro 68.35 million to United Nations' humanitarian organisations, International Committee of the Red Cross and Finnish civil society organisations.

Of this sum, Euro 35.5 million is core funding. Humanitarian organisations can decide on its use at short notice and flexibly. Regionally the most important targets are the humanitarian crises in the Middle East and Africa, which are granted Euro 29.5 million in all. Half of this will be channelled to the Middle East and the other half will be targeted to Africa. In addition, Finland supports Afghanistan, Baangladesh and Ukraine by a total of Euro 03.2 million.

In Yemen, 24 million people, representing over 80% of the population of the country, are in need of assistance. Finland will announce its Euro four million support for Yemen at the UN Pledging Event in Geneva on February 26. This is one million more than last year. The assistance will be channelled via the World Food Programme:WFP, the United Nations Refugee Agency:UNHCR and Save the Children.

"Finland shoulders its responsibility for alleviating the distress and humanitarian assistance is the most reliable and effective means to do that. We want to help and develop humanitarian organisations' work by granting them core funding. Our partners are present in all major crises." Ms Anne-Mari Virolainen says.

In this decade, the need of humanitarian assistance has grown considerably worldwide. Most assistance work is related to protracted crises. This year's total requirement is, approximately, Euro 20 billion for about 130 million people in 42 countries. Finland complements its country-specific support by means of multi-annual core funding for humanitarian organisations to help them plan and implement their activities more effectively.

Funding is granted to the following international organisations: United Nations Refugee Agency:UNHCR, World Food Programme:WFP, International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction:UNISDR, United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs:OCHA and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees:UNRWA. Additionally, Finland provides funding to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund:CERF.

Of Finnish civil society organisations, Finland supports Finn Church Aid, Red Cross Finland, Fida International, Plan International Finland, World Vision Finland and Save the Children Finland.

Inquiries: Claus Lindroos: Director: Unit for Humanitarian Assistance and Policy: Tele:  +358 40 132 1416: Juha Kirstilä: Special Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development: Tele: +358 40 552 8200. The Foreign Ministry's email addresses are of the format firstname.lastname atω.

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A Child’s Real Passport’ to the Future Education Should Be Stamped in the Classroom Not at a Border Checkpoint: A Lost Generation Is Not Only Identified by Empty Class Rooms and Silent Playgrounds and Short Unmarked Graves: A Lost Generation Is One Where Hope Dies in Those Who Live: UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown Calls on the World to Wake Up to Meet the Duties to These Children




|| February 20: 2019 || ά. ‘’A child’s ‘real passport’ to the future, education, should be stamped in the classroom, not at a border checkpoint.’’ Mr Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, said. Ensuring that the world’s children have a place in school classroom is essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal Four, which calls for quality education for all by 2030. Speaking to journalists at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr Brown warned that 99 per cent of the world’s young refugees, who were now becoming the invisible generation would never get a place in college or higher education and only 20 per cent would get a secondary education.

“It’s time the world woke up to the horror of so many children devoid of hope.” he said. Highlighting the urgency of the situation, Mr Brown said that there were, perhaps, 75 million children caught in conflict. “They are broken by the absence of hope, the soul crushing certainty that there’s nothing ahead for which to plan or prepare, not even a place in a school classroom.” He lamented the desolation of a lost generation and made an urgent appeal for new funding for more than 30 million displaced and refugee young people. Recounting the situation of the Maria refugee camp in Greece, where no formal education was on offer to any of the hundreds of children, who were there, Mr Brown told journalists the story of two young boys, one, only 10 years old, who attempted suicide in the camp.

Mr. Brown said that at that age, their lives should be full of hope and excitement at every new dawn but, instead, young people were so devoid of hope that they attempted to take their own lives. “A lost generation is not only identified by empty class rooms and silent playgrounds and short unmarked graves; a lost generation is one where hope dies in those who live.” said.

Noting that the Security Council was currently on the difficult circumstances in Yemen affecting millions of children, Mr Brown, the former British Prime Minister, also, highlighted the escalating crisis in Venezuela, the half a million out of school children alone in Central African Republic:CAR, the need to reopen 1,000 schools in Afghanistan, where there are still 03.7 million out of school children and the on-going refugee challenge, being driven by situations in, among others, Myanmar, Sudan and Syria.

On a positive note, Mr Brown announced that the Education Can Not Wait Fund:ECW  which was set up in 2016 to provide opportunities for displaced children in crisis, would launch on Thursday a programme for safe and reliable education for half a million children in Afghanistan, including, more than 320,000 girls.

On February 27, in CAR, the Government, ECW and a coalition of partners, will, also, launch a new three-year education programme to reach an estimated 900,000 thousand children to address the violence and displacement, that had left nearly half a million children out of schools. Both initiatives follow a programme, that was launched in Uganda in September last year to help with the influx of South Sudanese refugees.

Responding to questions from journalists, Mr Brown noted the success of double-shift schools in Lebanon, highlighting the fact that from the 400,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, who were now in school, almost, 300,000 are in the double-shifts schools.

“They get their education in the afternoon, in Arabic, after the Lebanese children get their education in the morning in English and French, in the same class-room. It just proves that it is possible to use the existent education system, already in place to provide schooling for children.” he said.

Discussing the pressing funding requirements to address the needs of children, trapped in humanitarian crises, the Special Envoy announced the launch of the International Finance Facility for Education:IFFEd, which will serve 700 million children, living in low and middle income countries, where the majority of out of school and displaced children reside.

“The facility is advancing rapidly with a high-level event scheduled in April where prospective donors are expected to agree to constitute the new $10 billion fund this year.” Mr Brown said.:::ω.

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The World in the Grip of High Impact Weather as US Freezes Australia Sizzles While Parts of South America Deluged: World Meteorological Organisation



|| February 05: 2019 || ά. High impact weather has gripped much of the world so far this year, the World Meteorological Organisation:WMO, reported on Friday, with dangerous and extreme cold in North America, record high heat and wildfires in Australia, heavy rains in parts of South America and heavy snow on the Alps and Himalayas. The WMO assessment of January’s weather, describes it as a month of extremes, with large parts of North America gripped by bitterly cold temperatures, caused by the influence of the Polar Vortex.

In southern Minnesota, reports the UN weather agency, the wind chill factor pushed readings down to minus 65°F or -53.9°C on January 30.  The national low temperature record was measured at minus 56 °F or -48.9°C. “Disturbances in the jet stream and the intrusion of warmer mid-latitude air masses can alter the structure and the dynamics of the Polar Vortex, sending Arctic air south into middle latitudes and bringing warmer air into the Arctic. This is not a new phenomenon, although, there is increasing research into how it is being impacted by climate change.” WMO stated.

But climate sceptics should be careful before equating the frigid conditions, with a rejection of the inexorable rise in global temperatures due to global warming or rising carbon dioxide emissions. ‘’The cold weather in the eastern United States certainly does not disprove climate change.” said WMO Secretary-General Mr Petteri Taalas.

“In general and, at global level, there has been a decline in new cold temperature records as a result of global warming.  But frigid temperatures and snow will continue to be part of our typical weather patterns in the northern hemisphere winter. We need to distinguish between short-term daily weather and long-term climate,’’

While the eastern US and parts of Canada are seeing record-breaking cold temperatures, Alaska and large parts of the Arctic have been warmer than average. During January, severe winter storms, also, hit the eastern Mediterranean and parts of the Middle East, severely affecting vulnerable populations, lacking adequate shelter, including, the refugees.

A cold front in the third week of January, that swept south through the Arabian Peninsula, bringing a widespread dust storm from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Iran and the United Arab Emirates, also, brought heavy rain and precipitation to Pakistan and northwest India, reports WMO.

Parts of the European Alps saw record snowfalls earlier in January. In Hochfilzen in the Tirol region of Austria, more than 451 centimetres of snow fell in the first 15 days, an event statistically, only, expected once a century. On Friday, staff at the UN Office in Geneva were advised to leave early due to major whiteout conditions. The German weather service or Deutscher Wetterdienst, DWD, also, issued a number of top-level snow and winter weather warnings. Climate projections show that winter precipitation in Germany is expected to be more intense this winter.

The Indian Meteorological Department issued warnings on January 21 of heavy or very heavy rain and snow for Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, prompting warnings of avalanches amid an intense cold front. Meanwhile, Australia had its warmest January on record, according to its Bureau of Meteorology. The month saw a new series of heatwaves unprecedented in their scale and duration. Overall rainfall was 38% below average for January.

Australia saw an unusual extended period of heatwaves, which began in early December 2018 and continued into January 2019. The city of Adelaide reached a new record high of 46.6°C on January 24.

Australia's annual mean temperature has warmed by just over 01 °C since 1910 and summer has warmed by a similar degree. Australia's annual warming trend is consistent with that observed for the globe, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Heatwaves are becoming more intense, extended and frequent as a result of climate change and this trend is expected to continue.

Elsewhere in the southern hemisphere, heat records tumbled in Chile. A weather station in the capital Santiago set a new record of 38.3°C on January 26.  In other parts of central Chile, temperatures topped 40°C.

Argentina has, also, been gripped by a heatwave, prompting a number of alerts about high temperatures. Northeast Argentina and the adjacent parts of Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil have been hit with extensive flooding, with well above the long-term expected average rainfall.

On January 08, the Argentine city of Resistencia recorded 224mm of rainfall, setting a new 24-hour rainfall record, much higher than the previous highest of 206mm, recorded in January 1994, according to the national meteorological service, SMN Argentina.:::ω.

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The Lancet Commission on Obesity Report: At the Moment Economic Incentives Are Driving Us to Over-produce and Over-consume Leading to Obesity and Climate Change: At the Same Time Many Millions Still Do Not Have Enough Nutritious Food Leading to Under-nutrition: It’s a Warped System With an Outdated Economic Model at Its Core




|| January 30: 2019: City University of London News || ά. A major new Report by the Lancet Commission on Obesity has found that leaders must take a hard line against powerful commercial drivers and rethink global economic incentives within the food system in order to tackle the joint pandemics of obesity, under-nutrition and climate change. Led by the University of Auckland, New Zealand, the George Washington University, USA and World Obesity Federation, UK, the new Lancet Commission is the result of a three-year project, led by 26 experts from 14 countries.

The Commission says that maligned economic incentives, lack of political leadership, and insufficient societal demand for change are preventing action on the Global Syndemic, with rising rates of obesity and greenhouse gas emissions and stagnating rates of under-nutrition. The Commission is calling for a global treaty to limit the political influence of Big Food, redirection of US$05 trillion in government subsidies away from harmful products and advocacy from civil society to break policy inertia.

Professor Corinna Hawkes is one of the Commissioners aiming to stimulate action on obesity and strengthen accountability systems. She is the Director of the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London. Her expertise is in food policy, food systems and nutrition.

She said that turning back the epidemic of obesity would mean a very different food economy for the 21st century. ‘’We need far-sighted policy makers and private sector leaders to drive forward actions, that produce benefits for obesity, under-nutrition, economy and sustainability.

At the moment, economic incentives are driving us to over-produce and over-consume, leading to obesity and climate change. At the same time, many millions, still, do not have enough nutritious food, leading to under-nutrition. It’s a warped system with an outdated economic model at its core.’’

The Commission Co-chair, Professor Boyd Swinburn of the University of Auckland said, “Until now, under-nutrition and obesity have been seen as polar opposites of either too few or too many calories. In reality, they are both driven by the same unhealthy, inequitable food systems, underpinned by the same political economy, that is single-focused on economic growth and ignores the negative health and equity outcomes. 

Climate change has the same story of profits and power ignoring the environmental damage, caused by current food systems, transportation, urban design and land use. Joining the three pandemics together as The Global Syndemic allows us to consider common drivers and shared solutions, with the aim of breaking decades of policy inertia.”

The Commission aims to stimulate action on obesity and strengthen accountability systems for the implementation of agreed recommendations to reduce obesity and its related inequalities.

The release of this Report follows the publication of the EAT-Lancet Commission earlier this month, which provided the first scientific targets for a healthy diet within planetary boundaries. Professor Hawkes and Professor Tim Lang from City, also, contributed to this Report.:::ω.

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