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Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia

Disease outbreak news - 02.07.2020
Between 1 April and 31 May 2020, the National IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia reported nine new cases of MERS-CoV infection, including five deaths. The cases were reported from Riyadh (seven cases), Assir (one case) and Northern (one case) Regions. Most cases were and ages of the reported cases ranged from 40 to 96 years.

Of the cases reported in Riyadh six were from a hospital outbreak in the region between 21 and 31 May 2020: an index case who was a newly admitted patient, and five secondary cases identified through contact tracing. One of the secondary cases was a health care worker and the other four were in-patients admitted due to other health conditions. All four in-patients were bedridden and above 75 years of age. All reported cases had comorbidities with the exception of the healthcare worker.

Introductory meeting of WHO’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Tuberculosis

WHO news - 01.07.2020

An introductory meeting of WHO’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Tuberculosis (STAG-TB) was held on 24-25 June 2020. STAG-TB, which is comprised of 15 eminent experts from ministries of health, national TB programmes, academic and research institutions, civil society organizations, and communities and patients affected by TB. The group is led by Dr Ariel Pablos-Méndez as Chair,  and provides strategic advice to WHO's Director-General and the Global TB Programme on its TB response.

In his keynote address, WHO Director General Dr Tedros emphasized the important strategic role of STAG-TB in efforts to end TB especially in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. He said, “Even at this difficult time, with COVID-19 threatening the world, WHO remains committed to meet the TB targets and driving high-level action and investment. Commitments must be kept to address all communicable disease threats, and reach the triple billion targets, despite the COVID-19 crisis. Doing so offers hope to end avoidable death and suffering for millions of people worldwide at risk from preventable and treatable diseases like TB.”

The meeting was opened by Dr Ren Minghui, WHO Assistant Director-General, Universal Health Coverage, Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases Division. The first day focused on briefings from the WHO Global TB Programme secretariat on ongoing WHO efforts towards ending TB, preparations underway for the development of the 2020 progress report of the UN Secretary General on TB, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the TB response. The second day included a special session of STAG-TB members with WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Key partners – Stop TB Partnership, Global Fund and UNITAID also participated in this session.

Dr Ariel Pablos-Méndez, STAG-TB Chair highlighted the group’s commitment to guide WHO’s TB response. He emphasized, “We need to leverage existing synergies between TB and universal health coverage to save lives. This is especially critical in this time of crisis. STAG-TB is dedicated to providing strategic direction that will guide WHO in supporting countries to accelerate progress and investment to reach targets set by the UN High-level Meeting on TB.”

Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme appreciated the role of STAG-TB, she said, “The STAG-TB provides a critical contribution to WHO, and the world, in combatting TB. We look forward to receiving strategic advice from STAG-TB during this, and coming, years on how the world can meet commitments to end the TB epidemic especially in the face of new threats”.

The next meeting of the STAG-TB will be held in November 2020.

WHO announced as a Global Leader of the Generation Equality Action Coalition on ending gender-based violence

WHO news - 01.07.2020

The  Generation Equality Forum—a global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France in partnership with civil society—today announced the leaders of the Generation Equality Action Coalitions, to achieve gender equality and all women’s and girls’ human rights. WHO, together with The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) have been invited to co-lead the Action Coalition focusing on ending gender-based violence. 

The Action Coalitions will deliver concrete and transformative change for women and girls around the world in the coming five years. They will focus on six themes  that are critical for achieving gender equality. In addition to the coalition on gender-based violence there are five other coalitions on economic justice and rights, bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights, feminist action for climate justice, technology and innovation for gender equality, and feminist movements and leadership. Adolescent girls and young women will be at the heart of each Action Coalition’s work.    

The 65 initial leaders of the Action Coalitions represent Member States, diverse feminist and women’s rights organizations, youth-led organizations, philanthropic entities, UN agencies and other international organizations ( full list here).  The Action Coalitions’ leaders bring deep commitment to and experience in advancing gender equality and women’s human rights and reflect the different experiences and identities of women and girls from around the world.    

Further appointments of the Action Coalitions’ leaders will be made in the next few months, including private sector companies and youth-led organizations, to ensure intersectional and intergenerational leadership.  

The Action Coalitions’ leaders were selected by the Generation Equality Forum Core Group, which includes France, Mexico, Civil Society and UN Women.  Five criteria  were followed to select the leaders, including evidence of leaders’ commitment and past record of achievement in the respective Action Coalitions’ themes.  

The Action Coalitions are one of the key outcomes of the Generation Equality Forum that will kick off in Mexico City, Mexico, and culminate in Paris, France, in the first half of 2021. The Generation Equality Forum, accelerated by the Action Coalitions, will mobilize urgent action to make irreversible progress towards gender equality and women’s and girls’ human rights globally.  

This announcement comes as the world responds to the impacts of COVID-19, which is exacerbating gender and other inequalities and disproportionally affecting women and girls in all countries. In this context of the pandemic, the Generation Equality Forum and Action Coalitions are important and urgently needed to get through this pandemic, to recover faster, and build a more just, inclusive, and equitable future for everyone. 

Next steps

The Action Coalitions’ leaders will come together in the coming months to co-design concrete, game-changing Blueprints for action to be implemented over the next five years.  

Beginning in September 2020, a set of virtual public conversations will mobilize and capture women’s and young people’s voices to inform the Action Coalitions.  

The Action Coalition Blueprints will then be refined at the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico City, during the first part of 2021, and officially launched at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris, later in 2021.  

The Action Coalitions aim to mobilize a broad support in addition to the leadership structure. A broad set of stakeholders will be involved in the design of the Action Coalitions during the next months and will be provided with opportunities to commit to transformative actions to advance gender equality and women’s rights. 

Violence against women is a major threat to global public health and human rights, cutting across boundaries of age, race, religion, ethnicity, disability, geography, culture and wealth. WHO is committed to working towards a world in which all women live their lives free of violence and discrimination. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization

 

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