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WHO revises Protocol for Antibiotics

With an aim to curb antibiotic resistance, the World Health Organization (WHO) has revised the protocol for antibiotics. This revision is the biggest such revision of the antibiotics section in the 40-year history of the essential medicines list (EML).

Salient Highlights

WHO has divided the drugs into three categories — access, watch and reserve. It has also specified which category of drugs are to be used  for treating common ailments and which are to be used to treat complicated diseases.

As per the classification, commonly used antibiotics will be placed under the ‘access’ category. WHO has recommended that the antibiotics in this category be made available at all times as a treatment for a wide range of common infections. The drugs that fall under this category includes drugs such as amoxicillin which is widely-used for treating infections such as pneumonia.

Second line of antibiotics which are slightly potent will be placed under ‘watch‘ category. WHO recommends that the drugs coming under this category be prescribed less to avoid further development of resistance. Example of drug that falls under this category is Ciprofloxacin, which is used to treat cystitis and upper respiratory tract infections like bacterial sinusitis and bacterial bronchitis.

The highly potent drugs which should be used only as a last resort will be placed under the ‘reserve’ category. WHO recommends that these drugs be used only when all other alternatives failed such as life-threatening infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria.

WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, it succeeded the Health Organization, which was an agency of the League of Nations. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and its headquarters is located at Geneva. WHO flag features the Rod of Asclepius as a symbol for healing.

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Union Health Minister Conferred WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award for Global Tobacco Control

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda has been conferred the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award for global tobacco control. The award was presented to him by Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia at the ‘National Consultation on Accelerating Implementation of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) for achievement of SDGs’.

Indian Scenario

India is the second largest tobacco consuming country in the world with 27 crore users.

The government has initiated various measures to reduce tobacco consumption in the country. These include large pack warnings with 85% pictorial health warnings on both the sides, launching of toll-free national tobacco Quitline and mCessation services, carrying out second round of Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), increase in investment under the 12th Five Year Plan for expansion of National Tobacco Control Programme, which was recognized by WHO as a best practice in its Global Tobacco Control report, 2015. Apart from the above measures health ministry has also put a ban on smokeless tobacco products and works towards strengthening Tobacco Free film and television policy.

As a result of various measures taken by the government, NGOs and civil society organizations, the tobacco use in the country is estimated to have reduced by 81 lakhs and youth consumption of tobacco has also seen marked decrease. A 54% relative reduction in prevalence of tobacco use among minors (15-17 years) and 28% reduction in the age group of 18-24 years has been reported.

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

The FCTC is the first international public health treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO. It was adopted by the World Health Assembly on 21 May 2003 and subsequently entered into force on 27 February 2005. It provides a new legal dimension for international cooperation in healthcare in combating the tobacco epidemic. It has successfully helped to co-ordinate and energize the global struggle against tobacco. It is considered as one of the most widely embraced treaties in the history of WHO and UN. It is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health and was developed in response to globalization of tobacco epidemic. Under it, the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was adopted to address the increasing illegal trade in tobacco products in November 2012.

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May 31: World No Tobacco Day

World No-Tobacco Day (WNTD) is observed every year across the world on 31 May. This day highlights the health risks associated with consumption all forms of tobacco and advocates for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. In 1988, World Health Assembly of WHO had passed a resolution calling for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day, every year on May 31. Since then, the WHO has supported the observance of World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) every year. WNTD is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the WHO.

Salient Highlights

WHO has released a report ahead of the World Tobacco which has made the following observations:

According to the report, smoking and tobacco use kills more than 7 million people every year. Hence, Tobacco has emerged as world’s single biggest cause of preventable death. The report has estimated that by 2030, over 80% of the deaths will occur in developing countries which are increasingly targeted by tobacco companies.

The economic cost of tobacco use is estimated to be more than $1.4 trillion (1.3 trillion euros) spent each year by the households and governments in healthcare expenditures and lost productivity. It roughly corresponds to nearly 2% of the global gross domestic product (GDP).

The report has also highlighted the dire environmental impact of tobacco production, distribution and waste. This is the first time the report has looked into the environmental impact of tobacco use. Tobacco farming is one of the main reasons behind deforestation in many countries. This is because huge amount of wood are needed for curing tobacco. The report also estimates that the tobacco industry emits nearly four million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually.

The report has urged the countries to take tougher measures against tobacco use in the workplace and indoor public spaces.

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