Connect with us

Health & Wellness

Noncommunicable diseases now ‘top killers globally’

Avatar photo

Published

on

From heart disease to cancer and diabetes, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) now outnumber infectious diseases as the “top killers globally,” the UN health agency said in a new report, released on Wednesday, with one person under 70 dying every two seconds from an NCD.

The report and new data portal, was launched on the sidelines of the 77th session of the General Assembly, at an event co-organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) together with Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Report assets

NCDs constitute one of the greatest health and development challenges of this century, according to WHO.

Chief among them are cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke; cancer; and diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases – as well as mental health illnesses.

Together they account for nearly three-quarters of deaths in the world, taking 41 million lives every year. 

The report, Invisible numbers: The true extent of noncommunicable diseases and what to do about them, highlights NCDs statistics to illustrate the true scale of the threats and risk factors they pose. 

It also shows cost-effective and globally applicable interventions that can lower those numbers and save lives and money.

“This report is a reminder of the true scale of the threat posed by NCDs and their risk factors,” said WHO chief Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Country-specific portal

Sharing the latest country-specific data, risk factors and policy implementation for 194 countries, the NCD data portal brings the numbers in the report to life. 

Moreover, it allows data exploration on cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases along with their main drivers and risk factors, which include tobacco, unhealthy diet, harmful use of alcohol and lack of physical activity. 

The portal spotlights patterns and trends throughout countries and allows comparison across nations and/or within geographical regions.

Important timing

To date, only a handful of countries are on track to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of reducing early deaths from NCDs by a third.  

And yet, NCDs are at the heart of sustainable development and their prevention and treatment is a prime opportunity for investment that would have myriad impacts on economic growth, far outweighing the money spent.

“It is a misconception” that they are “diseases of high-income countries”, said Bente Mikkelsen, WHO’s Director of Noncommunicable Diseased, adding that a full 85 per cent of all premature deaths happen in low and middle-income countries.

At a critical juncture for public health, WHO said that the new information offers a chance to address the issue and recommends spending more on prevention.

Investing $18 billion a year across all low and middle-income countries could generate net economic benefits of $2.7 trillion by 2030.

At the event, the WHO chief called on global leaders to take urgent action on NCDs and renewed the two-year appointment of Michael R. Bloomberg as WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries – his  third reappointment since 2016.

“As we continue to respond to this pandemic and prepare for the next, we have seen the critical importance of addressing a major risk factor in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths – noncommunicable diseases,” said Mr. Bloomberg.

He maintained that they can often be prevented with investment in “proven, cost-effective interventions” and looked forward to continuing to make “life-saving investments in NCD and injury prevention” alongside WHO.

Continue Reading
Comments

Health & Wellness

New WHO strategy aims to strengthen rapid response to health emergencies

Avatar photo

Published

on

Amid mounting health emergencies globally – such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related crises, and the war in Ukraine – the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday announced an initiative to strengthen rapid response. The Emergency Medical Teams (EMT) 2030 Strategy was launched at a meeting in Yerevan, Armenia, bringing together health workers, technical experts and international partners from 110 countries. 

EMTs are groups of health professionals, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, support workers and logisticians. They are trained and prepared to provide immediate support during an emergency. 

A stronger network 

The more than 500 people attending the meeting are part of the EMT Network, which spans WHO’s six global regions. 

The new strategy is the blueprint to continue to development of a network of effective and high-performing national, subnational and regional EMTs, in line with the agency’s classifications and standards.

“As we build a new and stronger architecture for health emergency preparedness and response, a rapidly deployable global health emergency corps will be vital, building on the experience and capacities of Emergency Medical Teams,” said the WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in his opening statement.  

“The EMT 2030 strategy envisions a world in which every country has the ability to respond rapidly and effectively to national emergencies, leveraging regional and sub-regional capacities to support vulnerable communities and others in need.” 

Learning from the pandemic 

The gathering also provides an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned from the response to multiple emergencies, such as the pandemic, now in its third year. 

The global crisis has created an especially challenging context for emergency response in many countries. 

For example, demand has increased for specialized skills on infection prevention and control, and the management of severe respiratory infection cases. 

The WHO network has deployed nearly 200 international EMTs to support response in 67 countries, highlighting how specialized care teams support both a country’s response while building national capacities.  

Value of collaboration 

The pandemic “truly revealed the importance of strengthening in-country health emergency response capacities, including a highly-trained workforce and access to essential technology and equipment,” said Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. 

It has also underscored the benefits of collaboration between EMTs and other WHO entities, such as the Rapid Response Mobile Laboratories of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network.  This allowed EMTs to diagnose cases faster, leading to quicker treatment and care. 

“Bringing EMTs and mobile laboratories together is also proving highly successful in the context of humanitarian crises, making the health response more effective in areas where health facilities and systems have been compromised, as well as when countries are receiving significant numbers of refugees with multiple emergency health needs,” Dr. Kluge added. 

COVID-19: Report reveals mental health ‘pandemic’ 

And in another global health development, countries are failing when it comes to protecting the mental health and wellbeing of health and care workers, WHO and partners said in a new report issued on Wednesday. 

The study examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of these professionals, warning that this too is a ‘pandemic’. 

At least a quarter of those surveyed reported anxiety, depression and burnout symptoms. 

Concern for women 

The report was published by the Qatar Foundation, World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), in collaboration with WHO. 

Women, young people and parents of dependent children were found to be at greater risk of psychological distress. 

The finding is significant, the report said, as women make up 67 percent of the global health workforce and are subject to inequalities in the sector, such as unequal pay.  

The higher risk of negative mental health outcomes among younger health workers was also a concern. 

“Well into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, this report confirms that the levels of anxiety, stress and depression among health and care workers has become a ‘pandemic within a pandemic,’said Jim Campbell, WHO Director of Health Workforce. 

The report contains 10 policy actions for governments, including investing in workplace environments that prevent burnout, promote staff wellbeing, and support quality care. 

Continue Reading

Health & Wellness

HL7 FHIR, the Future of Health Information Exchange?

Avatar photo

Published

on

Health Level 7 International is an association that calls itself a non profit organization, ANSI-accredited standards developing organization devoted to creating a thorough structure and standards set for the exchange, incorporation, sharing, and retrieval of digital health data that endorses clinical practice and the management, delivery, and evaluation of health services.

A next-generation standards framework developed by HL7, FHIR is described as such on the HL7 website. The best aspects of HL7’s v2, v3, and CDA product lines are combined in FHIR, which also makes use of the most recent web standards and places a strong emphasis on implementation.

Do you wonder what’s the difference between HL7 and FHIR? The core development technologies are the fundamental distinction between HL7 and FHIR. FHIR depends on open web technologies like JSON and RDF data formats as well as RESTful web services. FHIR reduces the learning curve for developers because they are already familiar with these technologies, allowing them to start working more immediately.

The “Resources” of FHIR and How They Help the Provider

FHIR is essentially an effective mechanism for healthcare professionals to communicate data about patients in a range of settings, including in-patient, ambulatory, acute, long-term, community, allied health, etc. The implementation of FHIR through its Resources is the aspect of it that matters the most to providers. The resources are comparable to “paper ‘forms’ indicating various types of medical and administrative data that can be gathered and shared,” as stated on their website. Each Resource or “form” is assigned a template by FHIR.

Why is FHIR important?

Data was locked in proprietary structures for many years. Providers, payers, and patients frequently had to revert to outdated, time-consuming techniques to transmit information, such as faxing chart notes or physically transferring paper-based records. Or systems had to transmit whole papers to answer a doctor’s demand for specific health information. Doctors have to search through entire paperwork to find a single piece of information, which drains them and takes lots of time. Luckily, each Resource can be provided using FHIR without the whole clinical record. This enables a quicker and significantly more effective interchange of health information.

Why is HL7 FHIR the future of health information exchange?

Sharing data is made easier, implementation is greatly simplified, and mobile apps are support FHIR better. Additionally, it provides crucial use cases that are advantageous to patients, payers, and providers.

To expedite decision-making, physicians can exchange patient data more effectively among teams. Medical data can be added to claims data by insurance companies to enhance risk assessment, reduce costs, and enhance outcomes. Additionally, patients can have more influence over their health by getting access to medical data via user-friendly apps that operate on smartphones, tablets, and wearables.

What makes FHIR different from the rest of the previous standards?

Although FHIR differs from earlier standards in numerous ways, there are two fundamental distinctions that make it so remarkable:

Security: TLS/SSL encryption is necessary for any production health data exchanged over FHIR. This makes it significantly safer than earlier HL7 standards.

Resources: FHIR makes use of uniform data components and formats, also referred to as “Resources.” The lowest feasible transactional unit in FHIR is a Resource, which provides significant data through a known identity.

FHIR can be used in a wide range of situations, such as mobile apps, cloud communications, data sharing based on electronic health records, server communication in large institutional healthcare providers, and more. Open source, cost-free, scalable, and adaptable summarize FHIR.

Continue Reading

Health & Wellness

Time to address mental health issues in the workplace

Avatar photo

Published

on

With an estimated 12 billion workdays lost annually due to depression and anxiety, costing the global economy nearly $1 trillion, more action is needed to tackle mental health issues at work, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday. The UN agencies have launched two publications which aim to prevent negative work situations and cultures while also offering mental health protection and support for employees.  

Performance and productivity affected 

“It’s time to focus on the detrimental effect work can have on our mental health,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General at WHO, which has issued global guidelines on the issue. 

“The well-being of the individual is reason enough to act, but poor mental health can also have a debilitating impact on a person’s performance and productivity.” 

The WHO guidelines contain actions to tackle risks to mental health at work such as heavy workloads, negative behaviours, and other factors that can create distress. 

For the first time, the UN health agency recommends manager training, to build their capacity to prevent stressful work environments and respond to workers’ needs. 

A workplace taboo 

WHO’s World Mental Health Report, published in June, revealed that of one billion people estimated to be living with a mental disorder in 2019, 15 per cent of working-age adults experienced a mental disorder.  

The workplace amplifies wider societal issues that negatively affect mental health, including discrimination and inequality, the agency said.

Bullying and psychological violence, also known as “mobbing,” is a key complaint of workplace harassment that has a negative impact on mental health. However, discussing or disclosing mental health remains a taboo in work settings globally. 

The guidelines also recommend better ways to accommodate the needs of workers with mental health conditions and proposes interventions that support their return to work. 

Increasing opportunities 

They also outline measures to ease entry into the jobs market, for those workers with severe mental health conditions. 

Importantly, the guidelines call for interventions for the protection of health, humanitarian, and emergency workers. 

A separate policy brief with ILO explains the WHO guidelines in terms of practical strategies for governments, employers and workers, and their organizations, in both the public and private sectors.  

The objective is to support the prevention of mental health risks, protect and promote mental health at work, and support those with mental health conditions, so they can participate and thrive at work.  

“As people spend a large proportion of their lives in work – a safe and healthy working environment is critical,” said, Guy Ryder, the ILO Director-General. 

“We need to invest to build a culture of prevention around mental health at work, reshape the work environment to stop stigma and social exclusion, and ensure employees with mental health conditions feel protected and supported.” 

ILO’s Convention on occupational safety and health, and a related recommendation, provide legal frameworks to safeguard workers.  

Lack of national programmes 

However, only 35 per cent of countries reported having national programmes for work-related mental health promotion and prevention. 

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25 per cent increase in general anxiety and depression worldwide, according to a WHO study published in March. 

The crisis exposed how unprepared governments were for its impact on mental health, as well as a chronic global shortage of mental health resources.  

In 2020, governments worldwide spent an average of just two per cent of health budgets on mental health, with lower-middle income countries allocating less than one per cent. 

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Africa2 hours ago

Torture is ‘widespread’ and likely underestimated in DR Congo

Torture is “widespread” and underestimated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and the abuse involves armed groups and...

Russia5 hours ago

Understanding Today’s Russian Government: Putin’s Goals

Following are excerpts from (which constitute only 22% of) Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech and his answers to questions at...

Health & Wellness7 hours ago

New WHO strategy aims to strengthen rapid response to health emergencies

Amid mounting health emergencies globally – such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related crises, and the war in Ukraine – the...

South Asia9 hours ago

Bright future for Pakistan-Iran relations

One of the oldest civilizations, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is situated in Western Asia, bordering Iraq and Turkey to...

Africa11 hours ago

Five years of violence in northern Mozambique has forced nearly a million to flee

Nearly one million people have fled extreme violence perpetrated by non-State armed groups in northern Mozambique over the past five...

Reports13 hours ago

Ten years of Afghan economic growth, reversed in just 12 months

A year on from the Taliban takeover in Kabul, Afghanistan is gripped by “cascading crises”, including a crippled economy that...

Religion15 hours ago

Betting on the wrong horse: The battle to define moderate Islam

Proponents of a moderate Islam that embraces tolerance, diversity, and pluralism may be betting on the wrong horse by supporting...

Trending