World Health Organisation

WHO head visits Tonga for first time

The Director General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, visited Tonga last week - the first time the agency has sent any of its leaders to the Kingdom.

Dr Ghebreyesus planted a mangrove seedling to mark his visit to the 'Ahau coastal barrier, where he learnt how houses along the coast are flooded at high tide, causing concern about sewage contamination of fisheries.

Measles resurgence 'due to vaccine hesitancy', WHO warns

The World Health Organization data shows a rise in cases in almost every region of the world, with 30% more cases in 2017 than 2016.

Experts say complacency, collapsing health systems and a rise in fake news about the vaccine are behind the rise.

They say the measles vaccines can save millions of lives.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that in severe cases can lead to complications such as blindness, pneumonia and infection and swelling of the brain.

Dengue impact widespread in Pacific in past 18 months

The Team Coordinator, Health Security and Communicable Diseases, Angela Merianos, says outbreaks were reported from American Samoa, Fiji, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu in 2017.

She said Wallis and Futuna has had an outbreak of dengue type 1, with French Polynesia and New Caledonia having both serotypes 1 and 2 of the illness.

Dr Merianos said Niue has had types 2 and 4, with Kiribati recently reporting type 2 dengue fever.

Congo suffers eighth Ebola outbreak

Health officials were trying to trace 125 people thought to be linked to the cases identified in the remote northeastern province of Bas-Uele, near the border with Central African Republic, World Health Organisation (WHO) Congo spokesman Eugene Kabambi said.

Three people have so far died among the 19 suspected and confirmed cases, he added.

Experts say to prevent the spread of the virus they must quickly track down, test, isolate and treat suspected cases. They also need to protect health workers and educate the population about hygiene measures.

Zika vaccine still years away - WHO

In a statement to mark the first anniversary of WHO declaring Zika as an international emergency, it says it is unlikely a vaccine will be available for women of childbearing age before 2020.

The outbreak, which emerged in Brazil in 2015, has affected some 70 countries.

An earlier outbreak of a less severe form of Zika hit tens of thousands of people in French Polynesia in 2013.

The WHO says five vaccines are entering or about to enter into clinical trial for safety and ability to induce an immune response.

Stop junk food ads on kids' apps - WHO

Its report warns parents are often unaware of the sheer volume of such adverts as they are precisely targeting children.

The WHO also criticised governments for failing to keep up with a revolution in the way people consume media.

Children's doctors said strict measures were needed to stop childhood obesity.

Tax on sugary foods and drinks backed by World Health Organisation

A new report from the body found that raising prices by 20% or more results in lower consumption and "improved nutrition".

The global health group has previously advised a lower sugar intake, but stopped short of backing tax measures.

Several countries, including Mexico and Hungary, already tax added sugar products.

South Africa is introducing a sugar tax next year. It's the only country in Africa to do so.

Zika found to remain in sperm for record six months

Doctors at the Spallanzani Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome said it pointed to the possibility that the virus was reproducing itself in the male genital tract.

The infection is suspected of leading to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

Zika is spread by mosquitos.

The outbreak was declared a global public health emergency by the World Health Organisation in February.

WHO says diabetes is stabilising in Pacific

RNZI reports non communicable diseases officer Wendy Snowdon said in the Pacific the overall the prevalence of diabetes is stabilising but there won't be a noticeable reduction in numbers for some time.

She said a lot was being done to ensure people did not develop diabetes but also said once people had the disease there was not a lot that could be done.

The health benefits of regular blood donation

Background information from World Health Organisation
Every year, on June 14, countries around the world celebrate World Blood Donor Day.

The event serves to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood and to raise awareness of the need for regular blood donations to ensure the quality, safety, and availability of blood and blood products for patients in need.