PREVENTING MEASLES AND RUBELLA: A father waits with his baby daughter during Pakistan’s WHO-supported vaccination campaign in November. Massive floods have heightened the risk of severe disease. ©WHO
This week, we check in with projects from the Americas to Zambia, where contributions to WHO are providing the means to prevent disease, respond to emergencies, build vaccine-manufacturing facilities and much more.
Read about how WHO is helping embattled Ukraine adapt its health system for winter, supporting Comoros in its efforts to end HIV transmission from mothers to babies, and teaming up with authorities in Pakistan to protect children in flooded villages from
measles and rubella.
This issue also features a trio of stories – from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Zambia – on ways that WHO is helping communities keep alert to the presence of infectious diseases and be able to quickly identify drug-resistant
WHO supports Ukraine’s health-care system as winter approaches
WHO is helping Ukraine prepare the country’s health facilities to keep running this winter. Above: WHO staff deliver a generator in Dnipro, not far from the front lines of the war. ©WHO
Mechnikov Hospital was just hours away from a power outage when the donation of a generator from WHO helped avert devastating consequences for patients on life support.
Delivery of new generators is part of a larger push by WHO and the Ukraine Ministry of Health to keep essential health services running during the winter months. Half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed by war, and continuing
attacks on health care threaten millions of lives.
“As attacks on power and heating infrastructure continue, so will our support to health facilities, because everyone has a right to health and well-being. Health care must never be a target,” said Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine.
WATCH THE VIDEO: Ukraine adapts its health system to wartime with WHO support
Democratic Republic of the Congo hones early-warning system for superbugs
PATHOGEN HUNTERS: A laboratory technician at the National Institute of Biomedical Research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo reads a Gram stain – a technique for classifying bacterial species. ©WHO
WHO recently trained 26 medical technicians from eight pilot laboratories in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to use WHONET, an app that yields microbiology data for use in the fight against drug-resistant microbes.
WHONET instantly provides analysis of pathogens, including their resistance profiles and their evolution.
“If we manage to save many lives, it is thanks to WHO trainings that have allowed us to better monitor resistance and respond to it in less than a week,” said Dr. Daniel Vita Mayimona, Medical Director at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kinshasa.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest rate of mortality linked to drug-resistant microbes. WHO is working with governments and health authorities to strengthen measures to combat antimicrobial resistance.
Liberia promotes rational use of antibiotics to fight drug-resistant microbes
WHO estimates that drug-resistant microbes could kill 4.1 million people across Africa by 2050 without more prudent drug-taking practices. Above: pedestrians along the Guinea/Liberia border. ©WHO/Ahmed Jallanzo
WHO is working with health leaders across Africa to make sure antibiotic drugs are used only when needed; unnecessary use of antibiotics is a major factor in the rise of drug-resistant infections around the world.
Over the past year, WHO has supported work in Liberia to introduce antimicrobial stewardship programmes in seven hospitals spread over four counties.
“We have seen an increase in the number of cases reported for AMR (antimicrobial resistance), which is an indication that the surveillance is working,” said Dr Diana Smith, the National AMR Coordinator for Liberia’s ministry of health.
“It will be good to roll out the program to the remaining counties.”
Zambia boosts disease surveillance thanks to Ireland’s contribution
Community health workers go door to door in Zambia. ©UNICEF/Chipema Chinyama
Irish Aid signed an agreement with WHO in November to contribute €500 000 to strengthen Zambia’s emergency preparedness, health-surveillance systems and more. The funds will support a project that aims to train 600 health workers and benefit
at least three million Zambians through better disease surveillance.
“One of the many lessons we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that early surveillance, data collection, and building capacity at local level are critical to an effective response,” said Ms Bronagh Carr, Ambassador of Ireland to Zambia.
Comoros on the path to ending mother-to-child HIV transmission
HIV-FREE BABIES: As of 2021, all pregnant women living with HIV in Comoros had been put on antiretroviral therapy and received care and monitoring through the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission programme. All their babies were born free of the virus. ©WHO
WHO has been training health workers in Comoros to care for expectant HIV-positive mothers and ensure that the virus is not passed on to their babies. The country aims to have no babies born with HIV by 2025.
“All HIV-positive pregnant women are put on treatment, and all give birth to healthy children,” said Ichata Hassani, a midwife at the El’maarouf National Hospital in Moroni, the country’s capital. “The strategy is based on women’s
acceptance of their HIV status. At first it wasn’t easy because of HIV-related stigma and discrimination.”
Pakistan’s vaccination campaign protects children from flood-related diseases
OVERCOMING OBSTACLES: Using a branch for balance, a mother carries her baby, and a big sister carries her little sister, to a vaccination point in their flooded town in Sindh province. ©WHO
Pakistan worked with WHO on vaccination campaigns in October and November to protect children from measles and rubella – illnesses that are posing a greater risk than usual after the summer’s catastrophic floods upended health services and
destroyed health facilities.
“We applaud the federal and provincial governments for conducting a measles-rubella campaign at a vital moment, preventing more loss of life following the tragic floods,” said Dr Palitha Mahipala, WHO Representative in Pakistan. “This campaign
was critical to maintaining the gains of the previous measles-rubella campaign.”
Canada’s new contribution helps strengthen regional vaccine manufacturing
Canada’s contribution goes to the Pan American Health Organization’s Regional Platform to Advance the Manufacturing of COVID-19 Vaccines and other Health Technologies in the Americas. ©WHO
Canada announced a contribution in November of more than US$ 11 million for an initiative to increase vaccine production capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The contribution will help build the region’s ability to respond quickly and autonomously to health emergencies and to improve access to much-needed vaccines, medicines, and other medical supplies.
“We thank the Government of Canada for this generous and timely contribution, which will be crucial in making the region better prepared for future challenges,” PAHO’s Director Carissa F. Etienne said.
Also see: U.S. FDA helps strengthen regulatory systems for medical products in the Americas
WHO thanks all governments, organizations and individuals who are contributing to the Organization’s work, with special appreciation for those who provide fully flexible contributions to maintain a strong, independent WHO.
Donors and partners featured in this week’s stories includes: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, GIZ, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malta, Médecins Sans Frontières,
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States of America.
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