WHO: Tobacco kills 8 million each year; e-cigarettes, not a proven alternative

Robie de Guzman   •   May 30, 2019   •   3678

FILE PHOTO – A cigarette burns in an ashtray at a pub in Prague, Czech Republic, May 8, 2017. REUTERS/David W Cerny

Tobacco kills eight million people each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday (May 29), ahead of World No Tobacco Day on Friday (May 31).

The WHO said 40 percent of tobacco victims die from lung diseases and about one million from second-hand smoke.

More than 60,000 children under 5 years old die of lower respiratory infections caused by second-hand smoke, WHO director for non-communicable diseases, Vinayak Prasad, said in a briefing.

“Out of these 8 million, we have about 3.3 million — about 40% — of these deaths, due to lung diseases. What are these lung diseases: cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and even tuberculosis,” said WHO Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases Director, Dr. Vinayak Prasad.

Globally, there are around 1.1 billion smokers.

Anti-tobacco campaigns and measures are bearing fruit, but mostly in high-income countries, Prasad said, while the smoking population remained constant or even increased in low-income countries, where the tobacco industry is now focusing sales efforts.

Prasad issued a caveat on e-cigarettes, saying there is no evidence proving they are a safer alternative to cigarettes, warning that it normalizes smoking and hooks young people.

“There is a perception that these are safe products and it is actually hitting the market and the group which is most vulnerable — children, teenage children…So it is a problem we are seeing in a number of countries now,” he said.

The WHO recommends that e-cigarettes be subjected to the same guidelines as for tobacco products, meaning non-smokers should be protected from second-hand smoke, pregnant women should be prohibited from using them, and advertising content must be regulated.

“These products (e-cigarettes) are not smokeless, these products are tobacco products, so there are two big things: one is these are tobacco products, and our recommendations as WHO (World Health Organization) is ‘please regulate them as tobacco products’. The claims that these are less harmful… We don’t know,” he said.

“There is no evidence to demonstrate that and therefore we follow the precautionary principle: take precautions, treat them as tobacco products, and regulate them, the way you regulate for other products,” he added.

Earlier this week, more than 100 public health and anti-tobacco organizations called on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to take swift action to curb advertising of tobacco products on their platforms.

This is after a Reuters report documented how cigarette maker Philip Morris International has used young personalities on Instagram to sell a new “heated tobacco” product called IQOS. (REUTERS)

READ: Rules on use of e-cigarettes, vapes out next week – DOH

Testing at sequencing ng samples ng international passengers vs Omicron variant, inirerekomenda ng WHO

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Inirerekomenda ng World Health Organization (WHO) ang pagpapaigting sa screening at sequencing ng samples ng lahat ng mga pasaherong papasok sa Pilipinas.

Ayon kay WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, isa ito sa mga mabisang paraan upang agad mapigilan ang pagkalat ng Omicron variant sakaling makapasok na ito sa bansa.

Aniya, dapat muling higpitan ang screening at isailalim sa RT-PCR screening ang mga pasahero, may Omicron variant case man o wala ang pinanggalingan nilang bansa.

“Risk-based approach should not only target countries that have already confirmed the Omicron variant in travellers or in citizens. We need to be aware of the fact that many countries have limited capacity for whole genome sequencing,” ani Abeyasinghe.

“That’s why I am advocating that anyone returning from overseas should be sequenced… So that we can get a headstart on being able to detect on the arrival of the variant in the country,” dagdag pa niya.

Kailangan rin aniyang isailalim sa genome sequencing ang lahat ng samples mula sa inbound travelers na nagpositibo sa COVID-19 upang matiyak na walang makakalusot na Omicron variant sa Pilipinas.

Sang-ayon rin si Abeyasinghe sa pagpapatupad ng travel restrictions sa South Africa at iba pang mga bansang may kaso na nito dahil karapatan ng isang bansa na magpatupad ng precautionary measures mula sa anumang banta.

“WHO has always advocated a risk-based approach. So each country should consider the risk of potential information from countries that are already confirming these variants and take appropriate measures while we’re trying to determine the absolute epidemiological significance of the variant and its response to the preventive entry and protocols that we have in the country at the moment in the world,” ayon sa WHO official.

“We continue to urge countries to take a risk- based approach in assessing the likelihood of information,” dagdag pa niya.

Ang Omicron variant ay unang natuklasan sa South Africa noon lamang nakaraang linggo at ngayo’y napaulat na rin sa iba’t ibang bansa.

Sa mga inisyal na pag-aaral, pinangangambahang mas agresibo at mas nakakahawa ang variant na ito dahil sa nakita ritong mutations na mas marami pa kumpara sa Delta variant.

Ngunit giit ng WHO, sa ngayon ay wala pang malinaw na detalye para sabihing mas mabagsik nga ang Omicron variant at may epekto ito sa transmission, mga gamot na ginagamit sa severe infection at sa bakuna laban sa COVID-19.

Ayon sa ahensiya, mas mainam pa ring panlaban sa virus ang umiiral na health protocols gaya ng tamang pagsusuot ng face mask, physical distancing, at palagiang paghuhugas ng kamay.

Mas maigi ring magpabakuna dahil nagbibigay ito ng proteksyon laban sa COVID-19. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Mandatory face shield use vs Omicron variant, hindi pa kailangan sa ngayon – WHO

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Naniniwala ang World Health Organization (WHO) na hindi pa kailangan sa ngayon ang muling pagpapatupad ng mandatory face shield use sa harap ng banta ng bagong COVID-19 variant na Omicron.

Ayon kay WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, mas mahalaga sa ngayon ang pagsunod sa health protocols gaya ng tamang pagsusuot ng face mask, physical distancing, at ang pagpapanatili ng kalinisan upang makaiwas sa COVID-19.

“WHO has right along said that this is a virus that is not airborne. It is closed contact transmission and that is why we emphasized that what is important is the physical distancing and face masking and hygiene,” ani Abeyasinghe.

“If we can ensure those minimum requirements, those minimum public health measure are complied with, if we can ensure that people don’t congregate in close settings, the requirement of face shield probably at this point of time is not mandatory,” dagdag pa niya.

Una nang inatasan ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang mga eksperto at ang Inter-Agency Task Force na magsumite ng rekomendasyon hinggil sa posibleng pagbabalik ng mandatory face shield use dahil sa banta ng bagong variant.

Ang Omicron variant ay unang natuklasan sa South Africa noon lamang nakaraang linggo at ngayo’y napaulat na rin sa iba’t ibang bansa.

Sa ulat ng ilang eksperto, pinangangambahang mas agresibo at mas nakakahawa ang variant na ito dahil sa nakita ritong mutations na mas marami pa kumpara sa Delta variant.

Ngunit giit ng WHO, sa ngayon ay wala pang malinaw na detalye para sabihing mas mabagsik nga ang Omicron variant at may epekto ito sa transmission, mga gamot na ginagamit sa severe infection at sa bakuna laban sa COVID-19.

COVID-19 reinfection dulot ng Omicron variant, posible – WHO

Robie de Guzman   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Mas mataas umano ang tiyansa ng COVID-19 reinfection sa Omicron variant kumpara sa ibang coronavirus variants of concern, ayon sa World Health Organization (WHO).

Sa update ukol sa bagong variant, sinabi ng WHO na ang mga taong naka-recover na mula sa COVID-19 ay may mataas na tiyansang muling mahawa nito.

Gayunman, sinabi ng ahensiya na nananatiling limitado ang impormasyon at patuloy pa ang ginagawang pag-aaral ukol sa nasabing COVID-19 variant.

“Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron (.ie. people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron), as compared to other variants of concern, but information is limited,” ang wika ng WHO.

“More information on this will become available in the coming days and weeks,” dagdag pa nito.

Hindi rin pa malinaw sa ngayon kung mas transmissible o mas nakakahawa ang variant na ito kumpara sa Delta COVID-19 variant at iba pang naunang strain bagaman dumarami na ang kaso nito sa iba’t ibang bansa.

Unang na-detect ang variant na ito sa South Africa at ngayo’y napaulat na rin sa iba’t ibang bansa.

“The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors,” ang pahayag ng WHO.

“Researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available,” dagdag pa nito.

Batay rin sa inisyal na datos, tumataas rin ang hospitalization sa South Africa ngunit hindi pa masabi kung ito ay dahil sa Omicron variant. Patuloy rin pang inaalam ng mga dalubhasa kung mas matindi nga ba ang sintomas na mararanasang isang tao kapag naging carrier ng ganitong variant.

“Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron,” ang wika ng WHO.

“Initial reported infections were among university students—younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease—but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks,” dagdag pa nito.

Ayon sa WHO, maaari pa rin namang gamitin ang RT-PCR tests para ma-detect kung infected ng COVID-19 variants ang isang indibiduwal.

“The widely used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants as well. Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests.”

Ongoing rin anila ang assessment sa bisa ng mga ginagamit na gamot sa mga pasyenteng may severe COVID-19 infection.

Corticosteroids and IL6 Receptor Blockers will still be effective for managing patients with severe COVID-19. Other treatments will be assessed to see if they are still as effective given the changes to parts of the virus in the Omicron variant.

Sa ngayon, sinabi ng WHO na nakikipag-ugnayan na sila sa mga eksperto at researcher upang maunawaan ang galaw at behavior ng Omicron variant at ang posibleng epekto nito sa mga umiiral na hakbang laban sa COVID-19

Pero giit ng ahensiya, epektibo pa rin ang available vaccine products para maiwasan ang severe COVID-19 infection na maaaring humantong sa kamatayan.

“WHO is working with technical partners to understand the potential impact of this variant on our existing countermeasures, including vaccines,” ang pahayag ng WHO.

“Vaccines remain critical to reducing severe disease and death, including against the dominant circulating variant, Delta. Current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death,” dagdag pa nito.

Inirerekomenda naman ng WHO sa mga bansa na lalong paigtingin ang genome sequencing sa mga samples na nagpositibo sa COVID-19; agad isapubliko o iulat ang mga naitalang kaso, at magsagawa ng field investigations at laboratory assessments upang mas maunawaan ang epekto ng Omicron sa bisa ng diagnostics, gamot, at mga bakuna kontra COVID-19.

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