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Joint statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for the Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems

27.07.2021

The Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems is an opportunity to set the agenda for how we will boldly and collectively strengthen food systems, promote healthy diets, and improve nutrition, especially for children and young people.

Even before the pandemic, children were bearing the brunt of broken food systems and poor diets, leading to an alarming nutrition and health crisis worldwide, and a triple burden of malnutrition: undernutrition, in the form of stunting and wasting, widespread micronutrient deficiencies, and a growing prevalence of overweight and obesity.

Globally, 1 in 3 children is not growing well due to malnutrition – a leading cause of child mortality worldwide – while 2 in 3 don’t have access to the minimum diverse diets they need to grow, develop and learn. We continue to see stubbornly high rates of wasting, and a worrying increase in overweight and obesity among young children.

In recent decades, changes in our global food systems – including the practices used to grow, distribute, market, consume, and dispose of our food – mean that the most nutritious and safe foods are too costly or inaccessible to millions of families. Many increasingly turn to processed foods that are affordable, widely available, and aggressively marketed, but often high in unhealthy sugar, fats and salt.

A toxic combination of rising poverty, inequality, conflict, climate change, and COVID-19 is further threatening food systems and children’s nutritional well-being, especially those from the poorest and most vulnerable communities and households.

A transformation of the food system that listens to the voices of children and young people, and unlocks nutritious, safe, affordable and sustainable diets for every child, everywhere, must be at the heart of strategies, policies and investments. UNICEF and WHO call on governments and decision-makers to scale up effective approaches that include:

  • Incentivizing healthy diets through price policies, including subsidies to reduce the price of nutritious foods such as eggs, dairy, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, or taxes to increase the price of unhealthy options.
  • Improving the nutritional quality of food through mandatory fortification of staple foods with essential micronutrients, the reduction of sodium and sugar, and the elimination of industrially produced trans fats in processed foods.
  • Using public procurement of food as a lever to promote healthy diets and drive sustainable food systems, for example through schools, workplaces, hospitals, and social-protection programmes.
  • Protecting children from the harmful impacts of marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages through strengthened regulatory measures and better enforcement.
  • Protecting and supporting mothers and caregivers to optimally breastfeed their babies, including maternal protection and parental leave, and the implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.
  • Putting in place mandatory, easy-to-understand nutrition labelling policies and practices to help children and families make healthier choices with the right information.
  • Supporting healthy feeding and dietary practices through the food, health, education, and social protection systems with easy to understand, coherent and memorable communication strategies.

Only then will we improve the quality, safety and affordability of the foods that children and young people have access to; the environments in which they grow, learn, play and eat, and the sustainability of the planet they live in.

By joining forces with governments, civil society, families, development and humanitarian partners, private sector stakeholders, and children and young people themselves, we can uphold our promise to deliver good nutrition and a healthier planet for every child and every adult, everywhere.

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About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org

Follow UNICEF on TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube

 

About WHO

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from 149 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing. 

For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus, visit www.who.int and follow WHO on TwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedInTikTokPinterestSnapchatYouTubeTwitch 

WHO reports progress in the fight against tobacco epidemic

26.07.2021

Many countries are making progress in the fight against tobacco, but a new World Health Organization report shows some are not addressing emerging nicotine and tobacco products and failing to regulate them.

Increased adoption of WHO-recommended tobacco control measures

More than four times as many people are now covered by at least one WHO-recommended  tobacco control measure as compared with 2007. The six MPOWER measures are monitoring tobacco use and preventive measures; protecting people from tobacco smoke; offering help to quit; warning about the dangers of tobacco; enforcing bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and raising taxes on tobacco.

Some 5.3 billion people are now covered by at least one of these measures - more than four times the 1 billion who were covered in 2007.

More than half of all countries and half the world’s population are now covered by at least two MPOWER measures at the highest level of achievement. This reflects an increase of 14 countries and almost one billion more people since the last report in 2019.

More than half of the world’s population are exposed to tobacco products with graphic health warnings.  However, progress has not been even across all MPOWER measures. Some measures like raising tobacco taxes have been slow to move and 49 countries remain without any MPOWER measures adopted.

Need to tackle threats posed by new nicotine and tobacco products.

For the first time, the 2021 report presents new data on electronic nicotine delivery systems, such as ‘e-cigarettes’. These products are often marketed to children and adolescents by the tobacco and related industries that manufacture them, using thousands of appealing flavours and misleading claims about the products..

WHO is concerned that children who use these products are up to three times more likely to use tobacco products in the future.  The Organization recommends governments to implement regulations to stop non-smokers from starting to use them, to prevent renormalization of smoking in the community, and to protect future generations..

“Nicotine is highly addictive. Electronic nicotine delivery systems are harmful, and must be better regulated,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, “Where they are not banned, governments should adopt appropriate policies to protect their populations from the harms of electronic nicotine delivery systems, and to prevent their uptake by children, adolescents and other vulnerable groups.”.

84 countries lack safe-guards to protect from unregulated proliferation of electronic nicotine delivery systems

Currently, 32 countries have banned the sale of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). A further 79 have adopted at least one partial measure to prohibit the use of these products in public places, prohibit their advertising, promotion and sponsorship or require the display of health warnings on packaging. This still leaves 84 countries where they are not regulated or restricted in any way.

Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, said “More than 1 billion people around the world still smoke. And as cigarette sales have fallen, tobacco companies have been aggressively marketing new products – like e-cigarettes and heated-tobacco products – and lobbied governments to limit their regulation. Their goal is simple: to hook another generation on nicotine. We can’t let that happen.”

Dr Rüdiger Krech, Director of the Health Promotion Department at WHO, highlighted the challenges associated with their regulation. “These products are hugely diverse and are evolving rapidly. Some are modifiable by the user so that nicotine concentration and risk levels are difficult to regulate. Others are marketed as ‘nicotine-free’ but, when tested, are often found to contain the addictive ingredient. Distinguishing the nicotine-containing products from the non-nicotine, or even from some tobacco-containing products, can be almost impossible. This is just one way the industry subverts and undermines tobacco control measures.”

The proportion of people using tobacco has declined in most countries, but population growth means the total number of people smoking has remained stubbornly high. Currently, of the estimated 1 billion smokers globally, around 80% of whom live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Tobacco is responsible for the death of 8 million people a year, including 1 million from second-hand smoke.

While ENDS should be regulated to maximize protection of public health, tobacco control must remain focused on reducing tobacco use globally. MPOWER and other regulatory measures can be applied to ENDS.

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Editor’s note:

The eighth WHO Report on the global tobacco epidemic launched today summarizes national efforts to implement the most effective demand reduction measures from the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) that are proven to reduce tobacco use. These measures are known collectively as “MPOWER”.

The MPOWER interventions, have been shown to save lives and reduce costs from averted healthcare expenditure. The first MPOWER report was launched in 2008 to promote government action on six tobacco control strategies in-line with the WHO FCTC to:

  • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies.
  • Protect people from tobacco smoke.
  • Offer help to quit tobacco use.
  • Warn people about the dangers of tobacco.
  • Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • Raise taxes on tobacco.

 

The WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2021, finds that:

  • Since 2007, 102 countries have introduced one or more MPOWER measures at the highest level of achievement.
  • More than half of all countries are now covered by graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging at best-practice level
  • While being the most effective way to reduce tobacco use, taxation is still the MPOWER policy with the lowest population coverage and has not increased from the 13% achieved in 2018.
  • Of the 5.3 billion people protected by at least one MPOWER measure, over 4 billion live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) (or 65% of all people in LMICs).
  • 49 countries have yet to adopt a single MPOWER measure at the highest level of achievement – 41 are LMICs.
  • In the world’s 29 low-income countries, 15 today have at least one MPOWER policy in place at best-practice level compared to three in 2007, showing that income level is not a barrier to best-practice tobacco control
  • Most high income countries (HICs) (78%) regulate ENDS, and 7% have a ban on sales without any other regulation. Among MICs, 40% regulate ENDS, and 10% have a ban on sales without any other regulation, leaving half of middle income countries (MICs) neither regulating ENDS nor banning their sale. In contrast, 76% of LICs neither regulate ENDS nor ban their sale.

 

 

For each MPOWER measure, there have been new countries that have implemented some of the measures at the best practice level since the last report:

  • Five countries (Bolivia, Ethiopia, Jordan, Paraguay, Saint Lucia) newly adopted complete smoke-free laws covering all indoor public places, workplaces and public transport.
  • Five countries (Austria, Cook Islands, Jordan, Philippines, Tonga) advanced to best-practice level with their tobacco use cessation services. However, during the same period, three other countries dropped from the highest group, resulting in a net gain of only two countries.543
  • Eight countries (Ethiopia, Gambia, Mauritania, Montenegro, Niger, Nigeria, Qatar, United States of America) adopted large graphic pack warnings.
  • Five countries (Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Iraq, Jordan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)) introduced comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS), including at point-of-sale.
  • Six countries (Denmark, Georgia, Morocco, Netherlands, Portugal, Sri Lanka) moved to the best-practice group by levying taxes that comprise at least 75% of retail prices.

 

 

Together to #ENDviolence: Leaders' Statement. Six game-changing actions to End Violence Against Children

23.07.2021

One billion children experience violence and abuse every year. That shocking figure has risen even higher during the COVID-19 pandemic. Violence prevention and response services have been disrupted for 1.8 billion children living in more than 100 countries. 1.5 billion young people affected by school closures lost the protection and support that schools often provide.

Measures to contain the virus, along with economic hardship and family stress, have combined to create ‘perfect storm’ conditions for children vulnerable to observing or experiencing physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Despite the benefits of digital connectivity, a life lived more online for learning, socialising and gaming has significantly increased children’s exposure to those who wish to harm them.

Today, we stand at a critical moment for the world’s children. Unless we act now and with urgency, we risk losing a generation of children to the long-term impacts of violence and abuse that will undermine child safety, health, learning and development long after the pandemic subsides. We cannot let that happen.

As the world starts to emerge from the pandemic, we have an opportunity to reimagine and create more peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Now is the time to redouble our collective efforts and translate what we know works into accelerated progress towards the goal of a world where every child grows-up safe, secure and in a nurturing environment.

We must create a world: where every child can grow up and thrive with dignity; where violence and abuse of children is legally outlawed and socially unacceptable; where the relationship between parents and children prevents the intergenerational transmission of violence; where children in every community can safely take advantage of the digital world for learning, playing and socialising; where girls and boys experience stronger developmental and educational outcomes because schools and other learning environments are safe, gender-sensitive, inclusive and supportive; where sport is safe for children; where every effort is made to protect the most vulnerable children from all forms of violence, exploitation and abuse, including those living in situations of conflict and fragility (including climate-related fragility); and where all children can access safe and child-friendly help when they need it.

The moral imperative and economic case for action to end violence against children are compelling. Action today will not only prevent the devastating intergenerational social and economic impacts of violence on children, families and societies; it will also help to address the wider impacts of COVID-19 and support progress towards multiple Sustainable Development Goals.

Together, as leaders of organisations committed to ending violence against children, we urge leaders in government, the private sector, faith communities, multilateral organisations, civil society and sports bodies to seize the moment and be champions of this agenda in their countries, organisations, networks and communities. We call on these leaders to prioritise protecting children in their policies, planning, budgets and communications, and to work together to deliver six game-changing actions to end violence against children:

  • Ban all forms of violence against children by 2030
  • Equip parents and caregivers to keep children safe
  • Make the internet safe for children
  • Make schools safe, non-violent and inclusive
  • Protect children from violence in humanitarian settings
  • More investment, better spent

As global organisations working to end violence against children, we will continue to advocate for and invest in effective child protection, promoting solutions that recognise the different ways in which girls and boys experience violence and abuse. We will collectively develop and share technical resources and guidance for policymakers, practitioners, parents, caregivers and children themselves. And we will support the courageous health, education, child protection and humanitarian professionals working alongside faith leaders, community volunteers, parents and young people to keep children safe during these unprecedented times.

In recent years, we have made significant gains in protecting children from violence. We must do all we can to keep children safe during the current turmoil, and work together to build back better — to end all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation of children.

Signatories

  • Alice Albright, CEO, Global Partnership for Education
  • Niklas Andréen, President and Chief Operating Officer, Carlson Wagonlit Travel
  • Inger Ashing, CEO, Save the Children International
  • Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO
  • Irakli Beridze, Head of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, UNICRI
  • Scott Berkowitz, President and Founder, RAINN
  • Anna Borgstrom, CEO, NetClean
  • Professor Lucle Cluver, Universities of Oxford and Cape Town
  • Julie Cordua, CEO, Thorn
  • Bob Cunningham, CEO, International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Professor Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director, Inspiring Children’s Futures, Uni. of Strathclyde
  • Michelle DeLaune, Chief Operating Officer, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
  • Iain Drennan, Executive Director, WeProtect Global Alliance
  • Suzanne Ehlers, CEO, Malala Fund
  • Helga Fogstad,, Executive-Director, PMNCH
  • Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF
  • Dr. Debi Fry, Co-Director, End Violence Lab, University of Edinburgh
  • Virginia Gamba, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
  • Meg Gardinier, Secretary General, ChildFund Alliance
  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO
  • Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Paula Guillet de Monthoux, Secretary General, World Childhood Foundation
  • Susie Hargreaves, CEO, Internet Watch Foundation
  • Mary Harvey, CEO, Centre for Sport and Human Rights
  • Denton Howard, Executive Director, INHOPE
  • Ingrid Johansen, CEO, SOS Children’s Villages International
  • Eylah Kadjar, Secretary General ad Interim, Terre des Hommes International Federation
  • Baroness Beeban Kidron OBE, Founder and Chair, 5Rights Foundation
  • Patrick Krens, Executive Director, Child Helpline International
  • Dr. A.K. Shiva Kumar, Global Co-Chair, Know Violence in Childhood
  • Dr. Daniela Ligiero, Executive Director and CEO, Together for Girls
  • Elizabeth Lule, Executive Director, Early Childhood Development Action Network
  • Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children
  • Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, President, Arigatou International
  • Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women
  • Andrew Morley, President and CEO, World Vision International
  • Thomas Muller, Acting Executive Director, ECPAT International
  • Raj Nooyi, Interim CEO, Plan International
  • Dr. Joan Nyanyuki, Executive Director, African Child Policy Forum
  • Mabel van Oranje, Founder and Board Chair, Girls Not Brides
  • Pramila Patten, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict
  • Joy Phumaphi, Board Co-Chair, Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children
  • Rev. Prof. Dr. Ioan Sauca, Acting General Secretary, World Council of Churches
  • Dr. Rajeev Seth, Chair of the Board, IPSCAN
  • Yasmine Sherif, Director, Education Cannot Wait
  • Dr. Howard Taylor, Executive Director, Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children
  • Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Board Co-Chair, Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children
  • Liv Tørres, Director, Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, New York University
  • Dr. Jennifer Wortham, Chair, World Day Global Collaborative