WHO says migrants risk illness in host countries, lack access to health care

admin   •   January 22, 2019   •   21393

Female migrants standing in line to get their temperatures checked by a Red Cross worker in Malaga, Spain on January 15, 2018 | Reuters

Migrants and refugees arriving in Europe are likely to be healthy but risk falling sick due to poor living conditions in their host countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a first-ever report on migrants’ health.

WHO regional director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab, said on Monday (January 21) that refugees and migrants in Europe do not bring “exotic” diseases but are in higher risk to of getting sick because they lack access to health care.

Poor living conditions also increase their risk for cardiovascular diseases, stroke and cancer, though they are less affected than their host populations on arrival, WHO said.

The report said that a significant proportion of migrants and refugees who are HIV positive acquired the infection after they arrived in Europe. Despite a widespread assumption to the contrary, there is only a very low risk of refugees and migrants transmitting communicable diseases to their host population.

Jakab said that in some European countries “citizens estimate that there are three or four times more migrants than they are in reality”. — Reuters

Not gov’t incompetence: COVID-19 case surge in PH attributed to ‘multiple factors’ – WHO

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the Philippines is attributed to ‘multiple factors’ and is not caused by government incompetence, an official of the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

During a Palace briefing on Monday, WHO country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said a country’s testing capacity, population, and health systems capacity affect the decline or increase of infections.

“So, what will be more accurate is to look at the incidence rates or the number of cases per 100,000 or 1 million population, this would be going to point where the Philippines actually is,” Abeyasinghe said.

“But again, there are multiple factors that affect the transmission in a country because countries are different from each other,” he added.

The WHO official also stressed that other countries have also experienced a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases, prompting governments to reimpose restrictions even in nations that are doing extensive vaccination.

“I would want to reiterate the fact that the Philippines is not unique in seeing an increase, and this increase is not attributed in any way to incompetence,” Abeyasinghe said.

“We are seeing a week-on-week increase in the number of cases worldwide, not just here in the Philippines, in nearly all of WHO’s six regions, we are seeing an increase of cases week-by-week over the last four weeks,” he added.

Abeyasinghe’s remark comes after some critics questioned the Philippine government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Philippines has so far recorded a total of 803,398 COVID-19 cases with 646,237 recoveries and 13,435 fatalities. Of the total cases, 143,726 are active.

The WHO official said that the increased transmissibility due to new coronavirus variants, along with the gradual reduction in compliance with health protocols due to pandemic fatigue, optimism in the arrival and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines also contribute to the surge in infections.

“The increase is not attributed in any way to a lack of competence. It is an issue related to the factors I have mentioned,” Abyasinghe said.

“Of course, that does not take away from the fact that we need to continue to invest and work towards strengthening our preparedness and response capacities on the ground,”  he added.

The national government placed the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna – called NCR Plus – under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 29 to April 4 in a bid to stem the surge in infections.

It was later extended to April 11.

Aside from the NCR Plus, President Rodrigo Duterte also placed Quirino Province and Santiago City in Isabela under modified ECQ while the Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur under general community quarantine (GCQ) for the month of April.

The rest of the country was placed under modified GCQ.


Health care in NCR Plus faces challenge to contain surge of COVID-19 cases — research group

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 5, 2021


MANILA, Philippines — Health care in the Philippines is facing a challenge to contain the surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, according to the University of the Philippines (UP) OCTA Research group.

Professor Butch Ong, on Monday (April 5), said the team still remains hopeful that the number of cases will decrease after the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus.

Health care utilization in the country, especially in the NCR Plus, is facing difficulty in accommodating COVID-19 patients. However, the research group is expecting that the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals will decrease after a week or two.

Ong also noted that the country’s health care capacity is at a critical level, mentioning that the majority of the health care staff in the Philippine Orthopedic Center tested positive for the virus.

He also said that hospital utilization will remain at a critical level until the end of the week

“The hospitals are full in NCR, it’s about 70% of ICU and isolation bed utilization. We are expecting to see an improvement in the number of cases in hospitals in a week or two,” according to Ong.

“Ang puno’t dulo lang naman health care capacity must be able to take care of the cases being brought to them,” he added.

Ong said things are already being done to improve the capacity for COVID-19 patients. Local government units (LGUs), he stated, have increased their isolation facilities.

He also said that doctors and other health care workers are working around the clock for the recovery of COVID-19 patients to accommodate new patients.

“Nakakalungkot isipin na baka tumagal pa ang kalbaryo ng ating mga  health care workers. But there are things done now to improve the level of capacity especially in the number of quarantine facilities,” he said.

He also urges the public to stay home and to go out only when it is needed. AAC

Global COVID-19 cases continue to decline, WHO says

Robie de Guzman   •   February 16, 2021

The number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases reported globally continues to decline, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

In a regular press briefing in Geneva on Monday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the decline in global COVID-19 cases has been observed for the fifth consecutive week.

Tedros said that so far this year, the number of weekly reported cases has fallen by almost half, from more than 5 million cases in the week of January 4 to 2.6 million cases in the week starting February 8.

“This shows that simple public health measures work, even in the presence of variants,” he said.

Tedros, however, stressed that what matters now is how the world will respond to this trend.

“The fire is not out, but we have reduced its size. If we stop fighting it on any front, it will come roaring back,” he said.

In the hopes of bringing the pandemic under control, Tedros said the WHO has given emergency use listing for two versions of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to be rolled out globally through COVAX facility.

The WHO emergency use listing assesses and assures the quality, safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, and is a prerequisite for vaccines to be distributed by COVAX.

In addition to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, these are now the second and third vaccines to receive emergency use listing.

“We now have all the pieces in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines. But we still need to scale-up production, and we continue to call for vaccine developers to submit their dossiers to WHO for review at the same time as they submit them to regulators in high-income countries,” Tedros said.

The WHO chief emphasized that ensuring the rapid and equitable rollout of vaccines is essential in saving lives and livelihoods, as well as stabilizing health systems and economies.


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