World Health Organisation

Tonga’s Minister of Health Saia Piukala to step down from his role once he joins WHO

Dr Piukala was elected by Health ministers and other senior officials from the Region's Member States on 17 October.

He is the first Tongan and Pacific person to take up the regional role.

It is expected that he will take office as the Regional Director on 1 February next year, for an initial term of five years.

Dr Piukala said he wished to continue his work in Tonga as the Minister of Health, before embarking on his new journey.

The WHO Western Pacific Region is home to more than 1.9 billion people across Asia and the Pacific.


Tonga's Dr Saia Ma’u Piukala to lead WHO's Western Pacific

Piukala's nomination for WHO's top job in the Western Pacific comes months after the UN health agency fired its previous director, Dr Takeshi Kasai, following allegations of racism and misconduct first reported by The Associated Press last year.

WHO said in a statement that Dr Piukala has nearly three decades of experience working in public health in Tonga and across the region in areas including chronic diseases, climate change and disaster response.

Potentially poisonous product found in two Pacific nations

Reuters reports this follows a spate of child deaths linked to similar syrups in some countries last year, but the WHO statement did not say whether any children in the Marshall Islands or Micronesia had fallen sick.

The WHO said samples from a batch of imported cough syrup was contaminated with unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.

These are toxic to humans when consumed and can prove fatal.

Guaifenesin is an expectorant used to relieve chest congestion and the symptoms of cough.

WHO regional head sacked after harassing staff

It is the first time in WHO's history that a regional director has been dismissed.

The Associated Press reports an email sent to employees on Wednesday by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Dr Takeshi Kasai's appointment had been "terminated" after an internal investigation resulted in "findings of misconduct".

Former Tonga Health Minister takes up international position, vows to be global advocate for nurses

In her inaugural address, Dr Tu’ipulotu said she was privileged to be the WHO’s new Chief Nursing Officer.

She said she would be an advocate for nurses and midwives around the world.

She said they had faced tough times during the Covid-19 epidemic and shown courage, resilience and commitment to their profession.

She said the world needed to be better prepared to respond to challenges in the future.

Dr Tu’ipulotu told Kaniva News she was extremely overwhelmed and excited by the appointment.

WHO warns about China under-representing Covid deaths

The removal of most restrictions last month has led to a surge in cases.

But China has stopped publishing daily cases data, and has announced only 22 Covid deaths since December, using its own strict criteria.

"We believe that definition [of a Covid death] is too narrow," WHO emergencies director Dr Michael Ryan said.

Dr Ryan said China's figures "under-represent the true impact of the disease in terms of hospital admissions, in terms of ICU admissions, and particularly in terms of deaths".

WHO expert group recommends second Covid-19 booster for vulnerable groups

Experts appointed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) made the statement on Thursday. 

The recommendation comes in a statement issued by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunisation, following a meeting held last week.  

Most Covid-19 vaccines consist of a primary series of two doses, with a first booster administered some four to six months after completion to improve immune response. 

80 cases Monkeypox confirmed in 11 countries, says WHO

The WHO says that another 50 suspected cases are being investigated, without naming any countries.

Earlier, infections were confirmed in Italy, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, the US, Canada and the UK - where the first European case was reported.

Monkeypox is most common in remote parts of Central and West Africa.

It is a rare viral infection which is usually mild and from which most people recover in a few weeks, according to the UK's National Health Service.

The virus does not spread easily between people and the risk to the wider public is said to be very low.

Covid-19 led to 15 million deaths globally, not the 5m reported - World Health Organisation

There were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with Covid-19 by the end of 2021, the UN body said on Thursday.

The official count of deaths directly attributable to Covid-19 and reported to WHO in that period, from January 2020 to the end of December 2021, is slightly more than 5.4m.

The WHO's excess mortality figures reflect people who died of Covid-19 as well as those who died as an indirect result of the outbreak, including people who could not access healthcare for other conditions when systems were overwhelmed during huge waves of infection.

Why India's real Covid toll may never be known

India's government has rejected the figure, saying the methodology is flawed. Will we ever know how many Indians died in the pandemic?

In November 2020, researchers at the World Mortality Dataset - a global repository that provides updated data on deaths from all causes - asked authorities in India to provide information.