Tag Archives: world health organization

Could Polio Finally be Eradicated in India?

indian health workers administer oral polio vaccine to baby

As of January 2012, a whole year has passed with no new cases of polio reported in India, a country where only recently it was endemic. This milestone raises hopes that polio will finally be eradicated. India’s Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad called this achievement “a giant leap in a short span of two years.”

Children with Polio in India

Until now, India was part of the so-called “PAIN group” of countries (short for Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Nigeria) in which polio is endemic. India’s latest assault on the disease began in 1995 with the launch of a program under which nearly 172 million children received the oral poliovirus vaccine. By 1999, one of the three strains of the polio virus, P2, was eradicated in India. Over the past decade, new vaccines were introduced that were effective against the other two polio strains, P1 and P3.

India's Polio Immunization Campaign

More than 700 cases of polio were reported in 2009. But in 2010, only 42 cases were reported and then only one case in 2011. If India can remain polio-free–with no new cases for three consecutive years–it will be certified a polio-free country. There remains the possibility, however, of further detections through laboratory investigations, as well as the risk of the virus transmitting over the border–particularly with Pakistan–or of children contracting the virus through immunizations.

happy and healthy indian kids

Last month, India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare declared that in 2012 the country would intensify routine immunization efforts. This will involve sending out large groups of health workers to immunize the 40 percent of children throughout India who are still unprotected by the vaccine. It is difficult for many to envision deploying millions of health workers to destroy one disease, especially given human resource shortages in India’s health system.


Inspired by India’s feat, the Director of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, recently called for global adaptation of India’s immunization program in an attempt to eradicate polio worldwide. Hamid Jafari, who manages the National Polio Surveillance Project for the World Health Organization believes this is closest the world has come to global eradication of polio. India’s Health and Family Welfare Minister Azad is also optimistic. “We are excited and hopeful, at the same time, vigilant and alert,” he said.


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1 Billion with Disabilities Face Substantial Financial, Health Barriers

One Billion with Disabilities

The World Health Organization (WHO) –-the UN’s international public health agency– and the World Bank –-the international financial institution whose official goal is the reduction of poverty-– have recently estimated that more than one billion people with disabilities are not receiving adequate access to mainstream services or specialized programs, with between 110-190 million of these people encountering significant difficulties. The organizations’ plea is for governments to increase efforts to improve their response to the needs of those with a disability. Few countries have even an ‘adequate’ mechanism in place.

World Health Organization & the World Bank

Director-General for WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, says, “Disability is part of the human condition… Almost every one of us will be permanently or temporarily disabled at some point in life. We must do more to break the barriers which segregate people with disabilities.”

Robert B. Zoellick, President of the World Bank Group, adds, “We need to help people with disabilities to gain equitable access to opportunities to participate and contribute to their communities. They have much to offer if given a fair chance to do so.”

World Report on Disability

To that, the authors of this first-ever “World Report On Disability” are hoping to raise awareness and inspire action. The WHO and the World Bank recommend that governments and their development partners provide their citizens who have disabilities:

  • Access to all mainstream services;
  • An investment in specific disability programs and services;
  • A national disability plan of action strategy;
  • An increase in public awareness and understanding;
  • Support for further research and training;
  • An open forum for discussion, design and implementation of these efforts.

World Health Organization

The report positively cites many countries’ disabilities programs efforts thus far, including Uganda’s Sustainable Clubfoot Care Project, which improves detection and rehabilitation of children with clubfoot by raising public awareness that clubfoot is correctable, improves the provision of foot orthotics, trains primary health personnel, and subsidizes transport costs, and Vietnam’s pursuit to make its buildings handicap accessible, allowing children with disabilities to learn in mainstream schools, and to provide specialized support for individual students, with training for administrators, teachers and parents. Nearly 150 countries and regional organizations have signed on, committing themselves to removing barriers so that people with disabilities may participate fully in their societies.

Stephen Hawking Presenting the World Report on Disability

“We have a moral duty to remove the barriers to participation for people with disabilities, and to invest sufficient funding and expertise to unlock their vast potential,” said renowned theoretical physicist, Professor Stephen Hawking, welcoming this report. “It is my hope this century will mark a turning point for inclusion of people with disabilities in the lives of their societies.”

How do you feel your local community, state and country can improve accessibility?


World Cancer Day February 4th, 2011


Cancer is a leading cause of death around the world, according to The World Health Organization (WHO), which estimates that 84 million people will die of cancer between 2005 and 2015 without intervention. Low-income and medium-income countries are harder hit by cancer than the high-resource countries. It is essential to address the world’s growing cancer burden and to work on effective control measures. The World Health Organization (WHO), which is the United Nations’ (UN) directing and coordinating health authority, works with organizations such as the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) on this day to promote ways to ease the global burden of cancer. Recurring themes over the years focus on preventing cancer and raising the quality of life for cancer patients.

World Cancer Day is part of the World Cancer Campaign, which responds to the Charter of Paris adopted at the World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millennium on February 4, 2000. It called for a strong alliance between researchers, health-care professionals, patients, governments, industry partners and the media to fight cancer. The Charter of Paris designated February 4 each year as World Cancer Day. UICC is responsible for coordinating World Cancer Day globally. It receives support from various partners and organizations, including the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other international bodies. UICC organized the first World Cancer Day in 2006.

Each year globally, cancer kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Research suggests that one-third of cancer deaths can be avoided through prevention and another third through early detection and treatment. Despite having proven interventions for prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and care for cancer – these medicines, technologies and services are not widely available in low- and middle-income countries resulting in the majority of premature deaths each year.

Prevention is an important way to reduce your cancer risk

New figures to be released on February 4th by the World Cancer Research Fund are expected to confirm that about a third of the most common cancers can actually be prevented by:

•            eating a varied and healthy diet,
•            maintaining a healthy weight and
•            regular physical activity
•            limiting alcohol intake.

There is also consistent evidence to:

•            stop tobacco use and avoid exposure to passive smoke
•            avoid excessive sun exposure
•            protect yourself against cancer-causing infections

“Positive lifestyle choices reduce cancer risk not only in high but also in middle and low-income countries. So many of my patients have said to me that they wish they had acted on cancer prevention advice earlier in their lives. I would like to speak on behalf of all of those patients and recommend that you learn about the very simple ways you can reduce your own cancer risk, take action and also spread this advice to those you love” explains Dr Eduardo Cazap, President of UICC.