Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Recent news from WHO

  • By 12 August, more than 14 million people had been affected by Pakistan’s worst floods on record, according to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. More than 1200 people have died and at least 2 million left homeless by the disaster which has also destroyed homes, farmland and major infrastructure in large parts of the country, most notably the north-west province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. United Nations aid agencies, including WHO, have requested almost US$ 460 million to help Pakistan address the needs of flood-affected families, including by providing food, clean drinking water, tents and other shelter and non-food items, as well as medical supplies.
  • WHO is calling for increased access to infant diagnosis of HIV within four to six weeks after birth. Without treatment, an estimated one-third of HIV-infected infants will die before their first birthday, and about half will die before reaching two years of age. By the end of 2009, 355 000 children were receiving life-saving HIV treatment, compared to 276 000 at the end of 2008; but many more lives could be saved if more infants started on medication earlier.
  • On 19 July at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, WHO announced that an estimated 5.2 million people in low- and middle-income countries were receiving life-saving HIV treatment at the end of 2009. WHO estimates that 1.2 million people started treatment in 2009, which is the largest increase in people accessing treatment in a single year.
  • The maximum amount of melamine allowed in powdered infant formula is 1 mg/kg and in other foods and animal feed is 2.5 mg/kg, according to new rulings decided in July at the 33rd Session of the United Nations' food standards body, Codex Alimentarius Commission. Melamine is a chemical used in a variety of industrial processes and traces of it unavoidably get into food without causing health problems. However the substance is toxic at high levels.
  • WHO and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) signed a memorandum of understanding on 21 July in Lausanne to promote healthy lifestyle choices, including physical activity, sports for all, tobacco-free Olympic Games and the prevention of childhood obesity. The WHO and IOC will work at both the international and country level to promote activities and policy choices to help people reduce their risk of noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancers and diabetes.

For more about these and other WHO news items please see: http://www.who.int/mediacentre