By Jon Queally
President Donald Trump at a White House press conference on Friday announced he was "terminating" ties to the World Health Organization, even as the global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic nears 363,000 — including the more than 100,000 dead from the virus in the U.S., many attributed to his own mismanagement of the crisis.
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By Linda Lacina
World Health Organization officials today announced the launch of the WHO Foundation, a legally separate body that will help expand the agency's donor base and allow it to take donations from the general public.
<div id="3caa0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="16f209220db97fa1572877a1700956f5"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1265660879669886976" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Media briefing on #COVID19 with @DrTedros https://t.co/j5ZoeBdBvO</div> — World Health Organization (WHO) (@World Health Organization (WHO))<a href="https://twitter.com/WHO/statuses/1265660879669886976">1590592043.0</a></blockquote></div>
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
By Jake Johnson
President Donald Trump on Monday sent a four-page letter to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, threatening to permanently freeze U.S. funding to the United Nations agency in the midst of a global pandemic that has made international cooperation as crucial as ever.
Trump's letter, which he posted to Twitter Monday night, repeats the president's accusations that WHO is deferential to China and says that if the organization "does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization."
The president also alleged that WHO ignored early warnings about the spread of the coronavirus and made "grossly inaccurate or misleading" claims about the virus. Observers noted that much of Trump's critique of WHO's handling of the coronavirus pandemic applies to the White House's handling of the crisis, which has been condemned as fatally slow and inadequate.
"This is a phenomenally damning letter—of the president's own response," tweeted HuffPost White House correspondent S.V. Dáte. "All of those early dates? Late December and January? Were known to U.S. officials and relayed to Trump. Who did nothing."
This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory! https://t.co/pF2kzPUpDv— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1589856927.0
Trump wrote that WHO "consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from The Lancet."
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, a U.K.-based medical journal, refuted the president's claim in a tweet early Tuesday.
"Dear President Trump—You cite The Lancet in your attack on WHO. Please let me correct the record," Horton wrote. "The Lancet did not publish any report in early December, 2019, about a virus spreading in Wuhan. The first reports we published were from Chinese scientists on Jan 24, 2020."
Trump's letter comes just over a month after he announced his decision to temporarily halt U.S. funding to WHO, a move Horton condemned at the time as an "appalling betrayal of global solidarity" that "every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against."
Devi Sridhar, professor and chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, tweeted that the U.S. president's letter shows that he "doesn't understand what WHO can and cannot do."
"It is a normative, technical agency which needs to keep member states at the table," Sridhar said. "If he thinks they need more power then member states should agree and delegate it more. This letter is written for his base and to deflect blame."
John Cavanagh, director of the Institute for Policy Studies and former economist at the WHO, wrote in an op-ed for Foreign Policy In Focus earlier this month that while "WHO is far from perfect," the organization "is playing a key role in poorer countries, and its importance will only grow as the pandemic spreads in these nations."
"The story line from Reagan to Trump is the same: undermining global public health to serve narrow interests," Cavanagh wrote. "For Reagan, it was to help a few well-connected corporate backers. For Trump, it may be to help a single billionaire in particular—himself. Only now, we're in the middle of a pandemic that's only just begun to devastate the vulnerable regions that need the WHO the most. The United States shouldn't be cutting support now. We should be increasing it."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Note: This story was originally published on Healthline on April 26, 2020. All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication.
By Bob Curley
More men are dying from COVID-19 worldwide than women, and the potential reasons run the gamut from biology to bad habits.
Men Are Actually the ‘Weaker Sex’<p>Males are culturally conditioned to think of themselves as strong, Giorgianni told Healthline, but "women are not the 'weaker sex' when it comes to immunity."</p><p>Moreover, he noted, men have higher rates in 9 out of 10 of the leading causes of death in the United States.</p><p>That means they're more likely to have preexisting conditions that can make COVID-19 more dangerous.</p><p>Behaviors that impact lung health, such as smoking, also may play a role in the disease's deadly impact on men.</p><p>"In China, for example, smoking is largely a male habit, resulting in many men suffering from chronic lung disease," Berger said. "This puts men at a much greater disadvantage should they get COVID-19."</p><p>The WHO <a href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1" target="_blank">estimates</a> that air pollution kills more than 4 million people annually by contributing to illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, lung and heart diseases, and respiratory allergies.</p>
Risk Taking May Play a Role<p>Male behavior during the pandemic also could be increasing their exposure to the novel coronavirus.</p><p>A <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/295505/coronavirus-worries-surge.aspx" target="_blank">Gallup poll</a> taken between March 2 and 13 found that women were more concerned about COVID-19 than men were (by a 62 to 58 percent margin).</p><p>"It's possible that men are more at risk because they tend to expose themselves more to larger crowds and social exchanges, including things like handshaking and sporting events," Berger said.</p><p>"There are men with invincibility syndrome that underpins a lot of behaviors, and they tend to be less compliant" with pandemic-related restrictions such as physical distancing, Giorgianni said.</p><p>For other men, he said, the issue isn't so much a cavalier attitude as simply being conditioned "to think of health as 'not their job.'"</p><p>COVID-19 prevention messages aimed at men should focus on these traditional male roles, "not ignore millions of year of biology and natural selection," Giorgianni said.</p><p>"Guys are very concerned for their families, so tell them don't do it for yourself, do it for those who love you," he said. "Even if they feel like they're in good shape and can fight it off, they can still be a carrier and can cause the death of their spouse or daughter or their dad."</p><p>Griffith cautioned, however, that much remains unknown about COVID-19, including its different impact on men and women.</p><p>"It's worth considering these factors, but it's a little premature," he said. "Most of these statements seem to assume we know more about this disease than we do."</p>
Taking Symptoms Seriously<p>One thing that is well-proven, however, is that men tend to delay seeking healthcare and ignore or dismiss symptoms of illness.</p><p>"Many men see self-care as an admission of weakness," <a href="https://darienwellness.com/david-ezell/" target="_blank">David Ezell</a>, chief executive officer of Darien Wellness, a mental health group in Connecticut, told Healthline. "We are taught to be self-sufficient and there for everyone but ourselves. That results in ignoring telltale symptoms of not only COVID but any life-threatening condition."</p><p><a href="https://www.state.gov/biographies/deborah-l-birx-md/" target="_blank">Dr. Deborah Birx</a>, the COVID-19 response coordinator for the Trump administration, <a href="https://www.cnsnews.com/article/washington/susan-jones/dr-birx-reminds-men-if-you-have-symptoms-you-should-be-tested" target="_blank">noted</a> at an April 9 briefing that 56 percent of people who have been tested for the illness are male compared to 44 percent female.</p><p>Of the men who were tested, 23 percent were positive for COVID-19, compared to 16 percent of women.</p><p>"It gives you an idea about how men often don't present in the healthcare delivery system until they have greater symptomatology," Birx said. "This is to all of our men out there, no matter what age group: If you have symptoms, you should make sure that you are tested."</p>
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In a move roundly decried by public health experts, President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he would halt U.S. funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) as his administration investigates the international body's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
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By Jessica Corbett
The World Health Organization on Friday raised the global risk of the new coronavirus to its highest level and reiterated the necessity of worldwide containment efforts as U.S. President Donald Trump continued to face widespread criticism over how his administration has handled the public health crisis so far.
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Infants less than a year old should not be exposed to electronic screens, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
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ricardo / zone41.net
The new study, conducted by journalism organization Orb Media and researchers at the State University of New York at Fredonia, has already prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to launch a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water.
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The agrochemical and seed giant Monsanto, one of the world's most controversial corporations, is attempting to take down a World Health Organization (WHO) agency that in 2015 linked the Monsanto product glyphosate to an increased risk of cancer in humans. That year, the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that the widely used herbicide is "probably carcinogenic to humans."
The decision was a major blow to Monsanto as its most popular product, Roundup, is glyphosate-based. Following the IARC's decision, the European Union began to consider banning the product altogether, potentially depriving Monsanto of a significant stream of revenue. Monsanto, which is seeking the EU's renewal of the chemical's license for the next 10 years, is now also fighting a high-profile court case attempting to bring IARC's 2015 decision—as well as the agency itself—under scrutiny.
By Nadia Prupis
More than 90 percent of people on the planet live in places where air pollution levels are dangerously high, and millions of people are dying as a result of the exposure, according to new research from the World Health Organization (WHO) released Tuesday.
A polluted Christmas Day at Anyang Normal University, China.V.T. Polywoda / Flickr
Using an air quality model based on satellite data and other ground and air monitors in 3,000 locations, the WHO found that fully 92 percent of people worldwide live in regions where the pollution exceeds the organization's safety limits.
"To date, air pollution—both ambient (outdoor) and household (indoor)—is the biggest environmental risk to health, carrying responsibility for about one in every nine deaths annually," the report states. "Air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, and affects economies and people's quality of life; it is a public health emergency."
The organization created an interactive map showing where in the world, both in rural and urban areas, the air is contaminated by toxins that can seep into the lungs and cause cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer, among other illnesses.
Screenshot of WHO's interactive map of global ambient air pollution.World Health Organization
The majority of those locations are in developing counties, largely in the regions of Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific, with "vulnerable populations" at a particularly high risk, the report states. More than 6 million people die every year due to exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution, according to an International Energy Agency study released in June.
"Air pollution continues take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations—women, children and the older adults," said WHO assistant director general Dr. Flavia Bustreo. "For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last."
Much of the pollution is human-caused, created through household waste and fuel burning, inefficient transportation, industrial activities and coal-fired power plants, the report states. Particulate matter that emanate from those activities like black carbon, sulphates, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, and mineral dust and water can penetrate and coat the lungs and cause health issues with even short-term exposure. (Other air pollution can have natural causes, such as dust in the air in regions near deserts.)
Map Shows Where Toxic Air Pollution From Oil and Gas Industry Is Threatening 12.4 Million Americans https://t.co/1pDbjG2oqB via @EcoWatch— Simon Mainwaring (@Simon Mainwaring)1466031617.0
Dr. Maria Neira, WHO director of the Department of Public Health, Environment, and Social Determinants of Health, said the new data confirms there is no time to waste to address toxins in the atmosphere.
"Fast action to tackle air pollution can't come soon enough," Neira said. "Solutions exist with sustainable transport in cities, solid waste management, access to clean household fuels and cook-stoves, as well as renewable energies and industrial emissions reductions."
50% of EU Residents Could Be Generating Their Own #RenewableEnergy by 2050 https://t.co/T8mBjrj3em— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1475001969.0
The new data follows recent studies linking air pollution to everything from Alzheimer's to economic slowdowns. In the U.S., air pollution is especially high in minority and low-income communities, which a study published in Social Science Research last year referred to as "sacrifice zones."
Increasing and improving studies of dangerous air pollution, particularly in low-income areas, is "crucial" to curtailing its toxic impacts, the WHO said. And strengthening the capacity of developing cities to "monitor their air quality with standardized methods, reliable and good quality instrumentation, is key," the report concludes.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
IARC Scientist Reaffirms Glyphosate’s Link to Cancer as Monsanto’s Requests to Dismiss Cancer Lawsuits Denied
Dr. Kurt Straif, a section head with the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), appeared in an interview with euronews defending the agency's assessment that glyphosate probably causes cancer in humans.
"Our evaluation was a review of all the published scientific literature on glyphosate and this was done by the world's best experts on the topic that in addition don't have any conflicts of interest that could bias their assessment," Straif said.
"They concluded that, yes, glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans based on three strings of evidence, that is clear evidence of cancer in experimental animals, limited evidence for cancer for humans from real-world exposures, of exposed farmers, and also strong evidence that it can damage the genes from any kind of other toxicological studies."
In March 2015, the IARC concluded that glyphosate is a "probable human carcinogen," touching off an international row on the health and safety of the widely applied herbicide. However, this past May, the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and a different regulatory body from the WHO issued a joint report concluding that the ingredient is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet." Unsurprisingly, the different opinions about the controversial herbicide were "welcomed" by Phil Miller, Monsanto's vice president for global regulatory and government affairs.
UN Says Glyphosate 'Unlikely' to Cause #Cancer, Industry Ties to Report Called Into Question https://t.co/VeprImTxGs https://t.co/bQpkWVMkym— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1463499367.0
During the euronews interview, Straif explained why the conclusions from the IARC and the FAO/WHO about the weedkiller seem to be contradictory.
"Our classification of the cancer hazards of glyphosate still stand," he said. "We are the authority to classify cancer substances worldwide for the WHO, and it was then this other panel that looked at a very narrow angle of exposure from daily food, and then came up with the conclusion on how much of that may be safe or not."
Basically, the IARC assessment focussed on "hazard" while the other looked at "risk." David Eastmond, a toxicologist at the University of California, Riverside, explained to Wired how the terms are different: "If you have people gawking at sharks swimming around a tank in an aquarium, the sharks are a hazard, but they pose little risk. If you have a surfer on the beach with a shark, now that shark is both a hazard and a risk."
During the interview, the euronews host asked Straif which body of the WHO she should trust as a "consumer, as a farmer, as an occasional beer drinker, as somebody who likes to sit in parks that have been treated with glyphosate."
He replied, "I think it's important to understand the literature that our assessment that glyphosate can cause cancer in humans still stands, and then you have to look at the other assessments for the specific scenarios, and that is not my authority to comment on these evaluations."
Straif also hinted at possible conflicts of interest from the FAO/WHO report. When the euronews host asked the senior scientist if he was "disturbed" by credible reports of the FAO/WHO scientists allegedly receiving payoffs by Monsanto for a favorable glyphosate review, Straif replied, "It is an important topic that needs important scrutiny, yes."
Will Monsanto have to face the music about its weedkiller? Roundup cancer lawsuits have been mounting against the company, as EcoWatch reported last week, the agribusiness giant has not been able to legally run away from the growing thorn.
Mother-of-Three Sues #Monsanto Claiming #Roundup Caused Her #Cancer https://t.co/7qqPNHs5WH @nongmoreport @FoodDemocracy @food_tank @EWG— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1467379973.0
In court documents obtained by EcoWatch, at least one court from Hawaii and two from California have rejected Monsanto's attempts to dismiss the respective lawsuits.
For instance, last week, U.S District Judge Michael Seabright denied Monsanto's request to dismiss a lawsuit by Christine and Kenneth Sheppard, former owners of Dragons Lair Kona Coffee Farm in Hawaii.
The Sheppards claim that Monsanto falsely masked the carcinogenic risks of glyphosate and is responsible for causing Christine Sheppard's cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
As detailed by Courthouse News Service, one reason Seabright decided to reject Monsanto's dismissal considers the 2015 designation [of Roundup as a probable carcinogen] by the WHO.
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