versión impresa ISSN 0042-9686
Bull World Health Organ vol.90 no.4 Genebra abr. 2012
Public health round-up
Safe drinking water target met
The proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water has halved, according to a joint report issued by WHO and UNICEF [the United Nations Children's Fund].
Between 1990 and 2010, more than two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells.
This means that a Millennium Development Goal (MDG) has been met, well ahead of the 2015 target.
The report, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2012, by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, says at the end of 2010 89% of the world's population, or 6.1 billion people, used improved drinking water sources. The report estimates that by 2015 92% of the global population will have access to improved drinking water.
"For children this is especially good news," said UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake. "Every day more than 3000 children die from diarrhoeal diseases. Achieving this target will go a long way to saving children's lives."
Lake warned that victory could not yet be declared as at least 11% of the world's population - 783 million people - are still without access to safe drinking water.
"The numbers are still staggering," he said. "But the progress announced today is proof that MDG targets can be met with the will, the effort and the funds."
WHO in the 80s
'A time of transition' is the key theme running through a new book telling the history of WHO between 1978 and 1987.
The fourth ten years of the World Health Organization: 1978-1987 describes the public health crises of the 1980s, including famines in Africa and the beginning of the HIV [human immunodeficiency virus] epidemic.
The author, Socrates Litsios, a former senior scientist at WHO, said: "It's about a transition period, from the optimism of the 70s to the economic problems of the developing world."
The book is the fourth in the series of official WHO histories. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2011/9789241564298_eng.pdf
Preventing antimicrobial resistance
The evolving threat of antimicrobial resistance- options for action, comes at a time when antimicrobial resistance has evolved to become a worldwide health threat, with every antibiotic ever developed at risk.
The book consists of case studies showing successful strategies and measures to combat antimicrobial resistance. For instance, in Norway, the introduction of effective vaccines in farmed salmon and trout together with improved fish health management reduced the annual use of antimicrobials in farmed fish by 98% between 1987 and 2004.
Higher tobacco taxes and bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in the Americas are key measures recommended by a new report from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
The new Tobacco control report for the Region of the Americas summarizes country-level progress in the implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
Research and innovation
'Forum 2012', to be held April 24-26 in Cape Town will focus on networking and partnerships for research and innovation. It will be jointly hosted by the Council on Health Research and Development Group (COHRED) and the Department of Science and Technology of South Africa.
"The forum's ambition is to improve the links among the various actors, across sectors, that play the key roles in making research and innovation work for health, equity and development," said Professor Carel Ijsselmuiden, director of the COHRED Group. "This marks a new day for research for health and development and with Forum 2012 COHRED aims to create and nurture the 'improbable partnerships' for action towards a world beyond aid."
Red meat consumption linked to early mortality
Red meat consumption is associated with early deaths and increased mortality from cardiovascular diseases and cancer, scientists say.
The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine last month, also suggests that replacing red meat with other sources of protein lowers the risk of early death.
In the USA-based study, of 37698 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2008) and 83644 women from the Nurses' Health Study (1980-2008), scientists investigated the association between red meat intake and cause-specific and total mortality.
After adjustment for major lifestyle and dietary risk factors, the pooled hazard ratio of total mortality for a one-serving-per-day increase was 1.13 (95% confidence interval, CI: 1.07-1.20) for unprocessed red meat and 1.20 (95% CI: 1.15-1.24) for processed red meat.
Previously, several studies have suggested that vegetarians have greater longevity compared with non-vegetarians, but this might not be ascribed to the absence of red meat only. http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/archinternmed.2011.2287
Preventing postpartum haemorrhage
Omitting 'controlled cord traction', a gentle pulling of the umbilical cord, has little effect on increasing the risk of postpartum haemorrhage in childbirth, a study has found.
The findings, published in the Lancet last month, have important implications for expanding access to effective care and could have a substantial impact on maternal survival in places where access to skilled medical staff is difficult.
More than 24000 women participated in this study, which was a randomized controlled trial in 16 hospitals and two primary health-care centres in Argentina, Egypt, India, Kenya, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand and Uganda. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)60206-2/abstract#aff1
7 April: World Health Day - Ageing and health http://www.who.int/world-health-day
24-26 April: Forum 2012 - conference hosted by the Council on Health Research and Development (COHRED) and the Department of Science and Technology of South Africa, Cape Town, South Africa http://www.forum2012.org
25 April: World Malaria Day http://www.rollbackmalaria.org/worldmalariaday/
21-26 May: Sixty-Fifth World Health Assembly, Geneva, Switzerland
31 May: World No Tobacco Day - Tobacco industry interference http://www.who.int/tobacco/wntd
14 June: World Blood Donor Day http://www.who.int/worldblooddonorday
28 July: World Hepatitis Day http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/annual/world_hepatitis_day