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1.
East Mediterr Health J ; 28(10): 705-706, 2022 Oct 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2111421

ABSTRACT

After nearly 3 years of increasingly successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers and other stakeholders need to broaden their focus to deal with other public health challenges too. That was the message of the 69th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, which took place at WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (WHO/EMRO) in Cairo, Egypt, from 10 to 13 October 2022. The Regional Committee is the WHO's main governing body in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR). Its 2022 annual session brought together ministers of health, other representatives of Member States, WHO experts, partner organizations, civil society groups, and other stakeholders to discuss a wide range of health policy issues, review achievements and challenges, and chart a course for the region. For the first time in 3 years, Member State delegations were able to meet in person, with many other participants joining virtually.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Sustainable Development , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Health Policy , World Health Organization , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology
2.
J Evol Biol ; 34(6): 910-923, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2097796

ABSTRACT

Climate change is impacting locally adapted species such as the keystone tree species cork oak (Quercus suber L.). Quantifying the importance of environmental variables in explaining the species distribution can help build resilient populations in restoration projects and design forest management strategies. Using landscape genomics, we investigated the population structure and ecological adaptation of this tree species across the Mediterranean Basin. We applied genotyping by sequencing and derived 2,583 single nucleotide polymorphism markers genotyped from 81 individuals across 17 sites in the studied region. We implemented an approach based on the nearest neighbour haplotype 'coancestry' and uncovered a weak population structure along an east-west climatic gradient across the Mediterranean region. We identified genomic regions potentially involved in local adaptation and predicted differences in the genetic composition across the landscape under current and future climates. Variants associated with temperature and precipitation variables were detected, and we applied a nonlinear multivariate association method, gradient forest, to project these gene-environment relationships across space. The model allowed the identification of geographic areas within the western Mediterranean region most sensitive to climate change: south-western Iberia and northern Morocco. Our findings provide a preliminary assessment towards a potential management strategy for the conservation of cork oak in the Mediterranean Basin.


Subject(s)
Adaptation, Biological , Climate Change , Quercus , Ecosystem , Gene-Environment Interaction , Mediterranean Region , Models, Statistical , Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
3.
Vaccine ; 40(45): 6558-6565, 2022 Oct 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2061960

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The aim of this project was to develop a road map to support countries in Eastern Mediterranean Region in developing and implementing evidence-based seasonal influenza vaccination policy, strengthen influenza vaccination delivery program and address vaccine misperceptions and hesitancy. METHODS: The road map was developed through consultative meetings with countries' focal points, review of relevant literature and policy documents and analysis of WHO/UNICEF Joint Reporting Form on immunization ((JRF 2015-2020) data. Countries were categorised into three groups, based on the existence of influenza vaccination policy and national regulatory authority, availability of influenza vaccine in the country and number of influenza vaccine doses distributed/ 1000 population. The final road map was shared with representatives of all countries in Eastern Mediterranean Region and other stakeholders during a meeting in September 2021. RESULT: The goal for next 5 years is to increase access to and use of utilization of seasonal influenza vaccine in Eastern Mediterranean Region to reduce influenza-associated morbidity and mortality among priority groups for vaccination. Countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region are at different stages of implementation of the influenza vaccination program, so activities are planned under four strategic priority areas based on current situations in countries. The consultative body recommended that some countries should establish a new seasonal influenza vaccination programme and ensure the availability of vaccines, while other countries need to reduce vaccine hesitancy and enhance current seasonal influenza vaccination coverage, particularly in all high-risk groups. Countries are also encouraged to leverage COVID-19 adult vaccination programs to improve seasonal influenza vaccine uptake. CONCLUSION: This road map was developed through a consultative process to scale up the uptake and utilization of influenza vaccine in all countries of Eastern Mediterranean Region. The road map proposes activities that should be adopted in the local context to develop/ update national policies and programs.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Influenza Vaccines , Influenza, Human , Adult , Humans , Influenza, Human/prevention & control , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , Immunization Programs , Vaccination , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology
4.
East Mediterr Health J ; 27(8): 610-613, 2022 Aug 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2026387

ABSTRACT

Since 2014 WHO has been advocating for the integration of palliative care into health systems. Although there has been some progress in the development of palliative care in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, many countries in the region still have no palliative care activity and none has achieved integration. The WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean has been engaged in activities aimed to develop palliative care in the region since 2010. We report on the establishment of the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Palliative Care Expert Network and its mandate, activities, and plans.


Subject(s)
Government Programs , Palliative Care , Humans , Mediterranean Region
5.
East Mediterr Health J ; 27(8): 553-554, 2022 Aug 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2026385

ABSTRACT

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of lives of patients and their families when facing problems associated with life-limiting illness, whether physical, psychosocial, or spiritual. It is acknowledged as a crucial part of integrated, people-centered health services and a human right. In 2014, WHO Member States endorsed the World Health Assembly Resolution 67.19 on Strengthening of Palliative Care as a component of comprehensive care throughout the life course, recognizing the importance of palliative care for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and highlighting the opportunities to advance its integration into health systems through primary health care and home-based care services.


Subject(s)
Palliative Care , Universal Health Insurance , Global Health , Humans , Mediterranean Region , World Health Organization
6.
East Mediterr Health J ; 28(7): 469-477, 2022 Jul 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2002925

ABSTRACT

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the delivery of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) services globally as health systems are overwhelmed by the response to the pandemic. Aims: The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean conducted an assessment to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on NCD-related services, programmes, funding and consideration of NCDs in COVID-19 response. Methods: Data were collected from countries of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) in mid-2020 through a web-based questionnaire on NCD services-related infrastructure, policies and plans, staffing, funding, NCD services disruptions and their causes, disruption mitigation strategies, data collection on comorbidity, surveillance, and suggestions for WHO technical guidance. The data were exported into Microsoft Excel and summarized. Countries were grouped according to socioeconomic level. Results: Nineteen of the 22 countries in the EMR responded: 95% had NCD staff reallocated to support their COVID-19 response. Lower-income countries were less likely to include NCDs in their pandemic response plans and more likely to report disruption of services. The most commonly disrupted services were hypertension management (10 countries 53%), dental care (10 countries 53%), rehabilitation (9 countries 47%), palliative care (9 countries 47%) and asthma management (9 countries 47%). Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the continuity of NCD-related services in EMR countries. The ability to mitigate service disruptions varied noticeably between countries. The mitigation measures implemented included triaging of patients, novel NCD medicines supply chains and dispensing interventions, and the use of digital health and telemedicine. Guidance and support for systems resilience, preparedness and response to crises are recommended.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Noncommunicable Diseases , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , Noncommunicable Diseases/epidemiology , Noncommunicable Diseases/therapy , Pandemics , World Health Organization
7.
East Mediterr Health J ; 28(2): 130-143, 2022 Feb 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2002923

ABSTRACT

Background: COVID-19 is the first pandemic during which innovative technologies are being used to keep people connected, safe, and productive while being physically and socially apart. Aims: This study aimed to map health innovations in response to the pandemic in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Methods: Health innovations are defined as novel methods, models, processes, products, services, or a combination that produce notable public health impact in people, families, and communities at large. We used two approaches: an online survey using a specially designed data collection tool and a review of publicly available literature using PubMed, IMEMR, Google Scholar, Google, and INSERM search engines. Data collection was conducted between September 2020 and February 2021. Results: We describe 80 innovations in this region, of which 13 were identified through the online survey and 76 via literature review. For the purposes of this paper, we subclassified two-thirds of these innovations (n = 52; 65%) as "digital health innovations", including telehealth and telemedicine, surveillance, and contact tracing. The rest were classified as "non-digital health innovations", including prevention and clinical management. Conclusion: This mapping exercise provides baseline information on response to the pandemic by the public and private sectors, innovation hubs within and outside the region, as well as by entrepreneurs and innovators. In-depth studies measuring the impact of health innovations will likely only become available when the pandemic is under better control and experts are able to assess the replicability, sustainability and scalability of the health innovations introduced.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Arabs , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , Pandemics/prevention & control , Public Health
8.
East Mediterr Health J ; 26(5): 492-494, 2020 May 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2002915

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak that began in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in late 2019 has spread globally within a few months. The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) after the second meeting of the IHR (2005) Emergency Committee on 30 January 2020. On 12 March 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 was characterized as a pandemic.


Subject(s)
Communicable Disease Control/methods , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Clinical Trials as Topic , Communicable Disease Control/economics , Congresses as Topic , Disease Outbreaks , Financing, Government , Humans , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral , SARS-CoV-2 , World Health Organization
12.
BMJ Glob Health ; 7(Suppl 4)2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1909730

ABSTRACT

The functionality of Public Health Emergency Operations Centres (PHEOCs) in countries is vital to their response capacity. The article assesses the status of National PHEOCs in the 22 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region. We designed and administered an online survey between May and June 2021. Meetings and Key Informant Interviews were also conducted with the emergency focal points in the WHO country offices and with other select partners. We also collected data on PHEOCs from the Joint External Evaluations conducted in the Region between 2016 and 2018 in 18 countries, and intra-action review mission reports conducted in 11 countries to review the response to COVID-19 during May 2020-June 2021 - and other relevant mission reports. Only 12 countries reported having PHEOC with varying levels of functionality and 10 of them reported using PHEOC for their response operations. This review formed the baseline of capacity requirements of National PHEOC in each country and will facilitate identifying benchmarks of areas of improvement for future national, WHO and partners support.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Public Health , Humans , Mediterranean Region , Surveys and Questionnaires
13.
BMJ Glob Health ; 7(Suppl 4)2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1909729

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: A global reduction in influenza virus activity during the COVID-19 pandemic has been observed, including in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR). However, these changes have not been thoroughly evaluated scientifically in the EMR. OBJECTIVE: We aim to present data on seasonal influenza activity during the pre-pandemic period (2016-2019) and compare it to the pandemic period (2020-2021) in EM countries. METHODS: Epidemiological and virological influenza surveillance data were retrieved from both WHO FluNet and EMFLU networks. Four pre-pandemic analytical periods were used in the comparative analysis. We compiled and calculated weekly aggregated epidemiological data on the number of enrolled patients, number of tested specimens and number of positive influenza specimens. RESULTS: 19 out of the 22 countries of the EMR have functioning sentinel influenza surveillance systems, and these countries report the influenza data to WHO through FluNet and EMFLU. The number of enrolled patients and tested specimens increased gradually from 51 384 and 50 672, respectively, in 2016-2017 analytical period to 194 049 enrolled patients and 124 697 tested specimens in 2019-2020. A decrease has been witnessed in both enrolled patients and tested specimens in 2020-2021 'pandemic period' (166 576 and 44 764, respectively). By comparing influenza activity of analytical period 2020-2021 with that of 2016-2019 analytical periods, we found that there has been a decrease in influenza positivity rate in the EMR by 89%. CONCLUSION: The implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions to control the COVID-19 pandemic may have also impacted the spread of influenza viruses. The low circulation of influenza viruses during 2020-2021 and the associated potential immunity gap may result in increased transmission and severity of post-pandemic influenza seasons. This necessitates high vigilance to continuous data and virus sharing to monitor circulating viruses in a timely fashion to reduce the intensity and severity of future influenza epidemics.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Influenza, Human , Humans , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , Pandemics , Sentinel Surveillance
14.
15.
East Mediterr Health J ; 28(3): 242-243, 2022 03 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1812016
16.
East Mediterr Health J ; 28(3): 173-174, 2022 Mar 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1812015

ABSTRACT

The World Health Organization has noted the important synergies between health and peace since its very inception, both in its foundational document and in its work globally. The WHO Constitution remarks that the "health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent on the fullest co-operation of individuals and States". In addition, peace is noted as being one of the fundamental conditions to promote health in the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion in 1986. The Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) has been contending with the challenges borne of conflict and insecurity for decades. Currently, nine out of the 22 countries and territories in the Eastern Mediterranean Region are represented in the World Bank's List of Fragile and Conflict Affected States ranging from acute conflict to high institutional fragility.


Subject(s)
Health Promotion , Humans , Mediterranean Region , World Health Organization
18.
East Mediterr Health J ; 28(1): 3-4, 2022 Jan 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1744416

ABSTRACT

The United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, as a more detailed and ambitious follow-up to the Millennium Developments Goals (MDGs). Health and wellbeing of all, at all ages, is addressed by the third SDG (SDG3) and health-related targets of other SDGs. However, progress to date on the health-related SDGs in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) is not on track. Although there was progress in over half of the 50 health-related SDG targets and indicators between 2015 and 2019, there is still a long way to go. Progress is required, among others, in reducing maternal, child and neonatal mortality; increasing vaccination coverage; reducing the number of cases of malaria and HIV; and in tackling the increase in mortality rates due to noncommunicable diseases. Much progress is needed in many health-related SDGs considered as important social, economic and environmental determinants of health.


Subject(s)
Insurance Pools , Sustainable Development , Child , Global Health , Humans , Infant, Newborn , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , United Nations
19.
East Mediterr Health J ; 27(11): 1031-1033, 2021 Dec 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1595705

ABSTRACT

The Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) faces massive challenges that threaten people's livelihood and health due to multiple factors, including socioeconomic disparities, conflicts and emergencies in many countries of the Region. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these challenges and significantly disrupted access to essential health services. As highlighted in recent flagship reports, the region is unlikely to achieve health-related Sustainable Development Goals, unless crucial changes are made in the way the goals are pursued. Effective implementation of digital health technologies could provide opportunities to enhance the response to the pandemic, as well as improve the access to health services and develop stronger and more resilient health systems.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Humans , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2
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