Highlights archive


Communicating about the response to Typhoon Haiyan

29 November 2013 – The WHO Representative Office in the Philippines has started using social media to inform about the health response to Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda), which devastated the central part of the country on 8 and 9 November. WHO is working closely with the Philippine Department of Health and other partners to coordinate the response, to provide emergency care and to ensure that the peoples' longer-term needs are met.

Controlling hepatitis B

November 2013 – In the WHO Western Pacific Region, the virus that causes hepatitis B is being brought under control, thanks to a vaccine that protects babies against infection. Three doses: That's all it takes to protect an infant for life, to prevent the liver cancer and cirrhosis that commonly result from hepatitis B, to allow every child to grow into healthy adulthood, to put hepatitis B in its place—permanently.

A healthy future for Suva, Fiji

November 2013 – Suva, Fiji is becoming a healthy city. Where there was once a modest foot path and sparse trees, there are now welcoming wide foot paths, children’s parks, picnic shelters, and physical activity stations along the shore looking out onto the Pacific Ocean to promote physical activity.

WHO fighters against malaria in the Western Pacific

October 2013 – In the WHO Western Pacific Region, malaria is in retreat. Over the last two decades, in the 10 countries where it remains endemic, cases have decreased by more than 71%, and deaths by nearly 86%. Nine of these countries have vowed to achieve the previously unimaginable—eliminate the disease. In May 2013, malaria experts from across the Region, and beyond, assembled at the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific in Manila to take stock and to plot ways forward. Among them were regional malaria advisers going back to 1990, and one for pharmaceuticals. An 11-minute video tells their story of malaria control in the Western Pacific.

Tobacco free for a healthy Pacific

October 2013 – Health leaders from around the Pacific region took action to achieve a tobacco-free Pacific by 2025 as a means of controlling the epidemic of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Participants of the “Fifth Pacific NCD Forum: Political Commitment to Resilient Action” agreed on actions needed to reach this goal, ranging from increasing tobacco taxes and enforcing tobacco-free workplaces to development of a Pacific network to support and overcome implementation challenges.

Violence in the southern Philippines displaces thousands

MANILA, 25 September 2013 – The situation in Zamboanga city and its surrounding areas is now a humanitarian crisis, as tens of thousands of people remain forcibly displaced. “We are increasingly alarmed by the situation and the growing needs of people caught up with the conflict,” says United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines Luiza Carvalho. The standoff between a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front and the Government has left approximately 132 people dead, with roughly 158 000 affected and more than 10 000 homes destroyed. More than 109 000 people are estimated to be displaced in Zamboanga city and nearly 19 000 in Basilan province. About 70 000 people are staying in the main sports complex in Zamboanga city, in desperately overcrowded conditions and with insufficient sanitation facilities. There is a risk of a disease outbreak. Food, drinking water, health services, cooking utensils, tents and other necessities are needed. The health and protection of women and children is of increasing concern. Read the latest situation report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Flood relief in the Philippines

MANILA, 29 August 2013 – Health officials are continuing to warn people of the threat of disease following torrential rains 10 days ago that caused flooding in the Philippine capital and other parts of the island of Luzon, as well as parts of the island of Mindoro. In particular, they urged precautions against leptospirosis, a potentially fatal bacterial disease that people can get from floodwaters that have been contaminated by the urine of infected animals, and against the mosquito-borne diseases dengue and chikungunya, which tend to flourish two to three weeks after floods. Among other types of assistance, the World Health Organization is providing primary health-care emergency-response kits; technical guidance and support for the control and management of waterborne and mosquito-borne diseases; and post-disaster disease surveillance.

The BRICS and global health: a call for papers

2 July 2013 – In recent decades, the influence of the major emerging economies called the BRICS—Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa—within the international arena has increased enormously, according to an editorial co-authored by the WHO Representative in China, Dr Michael J. O'Leary, in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. These countries represent around 25% of the world’s gross national income, more than 40% of the its population and about 30% of the its land area. To enhance people's understanding of the dynamics of health and development in the BRICS, the Bulletin calls for relevant papers. The deadline is October 2013.

Pacific health ministers to hold tenth meeting in Samoa

APIA, Samoa, 28 June 2013 – The Pacific health ministers will hold their tenth meeting here from 2 to 4 July as part of their continuing effort to move towards the healthy islands vision. Among the topics to be discussed will be progress and challenges towards commitments made during the meeting in Honiara, Solomon Islands, in 2011; further actions needed to scale up responses to the crisis of noncommunicable diseases in the Pacific; and the need to ensure the development of a healthy workforce.

Drought continues in the Marshall Islands

MANILA, 14 June 2013 – The state of drought disaster declared by the Marshall Islands Government on 8 May has been extended into early July, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The drought has depleted water tanks and made groundwater unsuitable for human consumption due to high salinity. In addition, it has damaged or destroyed food crops. More than 6300 people on 15 islands and atolls remain in urgent need of safe water. They, and an additional 11 000 people, are increasingly short of food. WHO deployed an epidemiologist to the Pacific island country from 21 to 30 May. There have been no significant disease outbreaks. However, an increased number of cases of influenza-like illness has been reported on Lae, Likiep and Namu and of diarrhoea on Mejit. The Government is appealing for an additional US$4.1 million to meet its emergency response requirements, including reinforcing surveillance of infectious diseases; informing and training health workers about outbreak detection, response and control; and ensuring that health facilities have sufficient antibiotics, oral rehydration salts and other medical supplies. The Government blames the drought on climate change.

Deadly earthquake hits central China

MANILA, 21 April 2013 – An earthquake hit Sichuan province in central China on 20 April 2013, killing nearly 200 people and injuring nearly 6000, according to the latest official report. Almost all the homes in Longmen Township, Lushan County, at the earthquake’s epicentre, are said to have collapsed, and hospitals have had to suspend their work. Local roads are badly damaged and blocked by landslides, and dozens of bridges are damaged to varying degrees. The government is working to restore power, communication, gas and water to the affected population of more than 1.5 million people. The World Health Organization and other United Nations agencies are in close contact with the relevant governmental ministries and preparing to assist upon request.

WHO Healthy Islands Recognition 2012-2013

FIJI, 15 March 2013 – Healthy Pacific islands are places where children are nurtured in body and mind; where environments invite learning and leisure; where people work and age with dignity; where ecological balance is a source of pride; and where the oceans that sustain life are protected. They are places that fully address the islands' triple burden of communicable and noncommunicable diseases and of diseases resulting from climate change. To recognize the great work that being done in making the Healthy Islands concept a reality, WHO invites applications for the WHO Healthy Islands Recognition 2012-2013. Eligible applicants include communities—such as schools, workplaces, faith-based groups, villages, districts and provinces—and governmental and nongovernmental organizations and agencies in 21 Pacific Island countries, territories and areas. Recognition will be given in two categories: best practice and best proposal. For detailed information, including instructions on how to apply, please click on the link at the bottom of this announcement. The deadline for submission is 31 March 2013.

Heavy rains hamper health response to Typhoon Bopha

PHILIPPINES, 29 January 2013 – Heavy rains and floods last week hampered the health response to the parts of Davao Oriental province that were most affected by Typhoon Bopha, which struck the southern Philippines in early December 2012, killing 1146 people, displacing around 850 000 and destroying or damaging nearly 200 000 dwelllings. The rains damaged outpatient tents on the grounds of the Cateel District Hospital. They also damaged a bridge in Caraga, cutting off several districts from health care. The United Nations health response targets more than 100 000 people in the most-affected municipalities of Boston, Cateel and Baganga, and another approximately 36 000 people in Caraga municipality who were receiving suboptimal health services because of the bad weather. On 25 January, the United Nations appealed for an extra US$76 million to help typhoon survivors. This was in addition to the US$65 million for which it had appealed on 10 December.