Polio-free world possible as second virus strain eliminated: WHO
Global health reached a milestone on Thursday with the eradication of another strain of the polio virus.
Eliminating wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) proves that a polio-free world is achievable, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which said it was an “historic” moment.
There are three individual wild poliovirus strains, all of which can cause irreversible paralysis or even death. However, due to their genetic differences, each must be eradicated individually.
WPV3 is the second strain to be wiped out, with the last case detected in northern Nigeria in 2012.
An independent commission of experts has certified its eradication, which means only one type now remains. That strain, known as WPV1, is present in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.
WHO said ongoing international commitment will be needed to make a polio-free world a reality which also will generate some $14 billion in savings globally by 2050, compared with the cost countries would incur for controlling the virus indefinitely.
UN and partners stepping up support to north-east Syria as winter approaches
With winter looming in northeast Syria, UN agencies and their partners are scaling up to support people in need, including 120,000 living in displacement camps as well as others who require aid relief.
So far this month, they have delivered food to 256,000 people and distributed winter items to 100,000.
The UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, reports that nearly 180,000 people in northeast Syria have been displaced since 9 October, when Turkey launched a military operation in the region.
A reduction in fighting in some areas has seen an estimated 43,000 people return to their homes in recent days.
The UN continues to reiterate the need for all sides to ensure that civilians remain protected and that humanitarians have safe access to those in need.
Weather experts call for protection of vital radio spectrum frequencies
While timely weather warnings have helped to save lives, experts in the field fear the rise in wireless technology could have an impact on weather prediction and thus global well-being and safety.
For this reason, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is urging Governments to protect radio frequencies allocated to satellites, radar and other Earth observation services which are vital for weather forecasting and long-term climate change monitoring.
WMO reports growing alarm over increasing competition for bandwidth, including by mobile telecommunications that use 5G and other new technologies.
Eric Allaix, chair of the WMO Steering Group on Radio Frequency Coordination, stressed that while the UN agency “obviously does not wish to hamper the rollout of new telecommunication technologies”, these should not encroach on the frequencies used by life-saving applications such as weather prediction.
He said: “There needs to be a balance between short-term commercial and technological interests and long-term global well-being and safety”, adding that “we should not run the risk of reversing many of the gains in our warning services…potentially increasing loss of life and property.”
Management of what WMO describes as “scarce orbit/spectrum resources” will be on the agenda at the World Radiocommunication Conference taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 28 October to 22 November.