The WHO South-East Asia Region is entering a new phase in its pandemic response. In recent weeks the spread of COVID-19 in the Region has slowed, due in large part to the unprecedented physical distancing measures that countries implemented early and aggressively. Several Member States are now preparing to safely transition towards a “new normal” in which social and economic life can function amid low disease transmission. To do that successfully, countries must continue to be bold, decisive and mobilize the full power of their whole-of-government, whole-of-society approaches.
The approach of the WHO South-East Asia Region to health security is guided by a simple yet powerful logic: When we work together we are protected together. Never has this been more important. The outbreak of COVID-19 is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and provides significant challenges to countries in the Region. We must stand together and work as one to face the outbreak down.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV is a Public Health Emergency of international concern. The highest level of international solidarity and cooperation is needed to protect health and keep people safe. Since the novel coronavirus emerged late December, the number of cases reported globally has climbed. Human-to-human transmission has been reported in a number of countries. It is imperative that countries report and share information on suspected cases early, provide detailed reports on confirmed cases, and ensure all people receive the care they need in accordance with the rights and dignity that is due.
There are two things everyone should know about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). First, almost all STIs can be prevented through ready access to and use of a highly effective technology—condoms. The four most common STIs – chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomonas vaginalis can be cured by antibiotics. Second, STIs don’t always show symptoms, despite the health impacts they can have. Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause infertility. Syphilis in a pregnant woman can cause fetal and neonatal illness and death. Human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer.
Snakebite is a serious cause of disability and death in mostly poor, rural and hard-to-reach communities worldwide. Though just 250 of 3000-odd species of snakes are medically important, their impact can be devastating: Across the globe, snakebite envenoming is reported to cause the death of up to 138 000 people annually, while up to three times that number are estimated to suffer amputation, physical or psychological disability. The need to take action is clear, and core to the principle of leaving no one behind.
Each of the WHO South-East Asia Region’s Member States has played a critical role in the global push to End TB by or before 2030. In 2017, for example, health ministers from across the region issued a Call for Action, highlighting the measures needed to rout the disease. That was built on the following year by a Statement of Action, which pledged intensified efforts to achieve that outcome, even as domestic funding reached unprecedented levels.