- New WHO Guidelines on Fats and Carbohydrates for a Healthy Diet
In a recent update, the World Health Organization (WHO) has revised its recommendations on fats and carbohydrates based on the latest scientific evidence. The three new guidelines focus on reducing the risk of unhealthy weight gain and diet-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.
Guideline 1: Fats Intake
WHO emphasizes that dietary fats’ quantity and quality are essential for good health. Adults should limit their total fat intake to 30% of their total energy intake. Fats consumed should be mainly unsaturated fatty acids, with no more than 10% of energy coming from saturated fats and only 1% from trans-fatty acids from industrial and ruminant animal sources.
Guideline 2: Healthy Fats and Carbohydrate Sources
Saturated and trans-fatty acids can be replaced with healthier alternatives, such as polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids from plant sources or carbohydrates from foods rich in dietary fibre like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and pulses.
Guideline 3: Carbohydrate Intake
WHO recommends that everyone aged 2 years and older primarily consume carbohydrates from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and pulses. Adults should consume at least 400 grams of vegetables and fruits and 25 grams of naturally occurring dietary fibre per day. Additionally, WHO provides specific intake recommendations for children and adolescents based on age.
These updated guidelines and existing WHO recommendations on free sugars, non-sugar sweeteners, and sodium reinforce the importance of healthy diets. Upcoming guidelines on polyunsaturated fatty acids and low-sodium salt substitutes will further support this concept of promoting good health through balanced nutrition.
Overall, the WHO’s revised guidelines are aimed at helping individuals make healthier food choices and reduce the risk of various non-communicable diseases.
- Africa CDC, WHO, and RKI Unite to Strengthen Disease Surveillance in Africa
On July 18, 2023, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) joined forces to launch a Health Security Partnership aimed at bolstering disease surveillance and epidemic intelligence in Africa. The partnership’s primary focus is to enhance Africa’s health security capabilities in biosecurity, integrated disease surveillance, event-based surveillance, genomic surveillance, and epidemic intelligence.
The first phase of this initiative will be implemented in six African Union Member States, including The Gambia, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Tunisia, and South Africa. The long-term plan is to extend the program to additional countries in the future.
Strengthening disease surveillance is vital for health security. While significant progress has been made in disease surveillance across Africa recently, the continent still experiences more outbreaks and health emergencies than other regions. Proven public health interventions can prevent or control Many of these incidents. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical role of public health laboratories in surveillance and highlighted the need for improved data collection, management, reporting, and dissemination to make evidence-based policies during health security emergencies.
The Health Security Partnership in Africa aims to enhance integrated disease surveillance capabilities across the continent, enabling better detection, confirmation, and notification of health security threats. This partnership encourages strong country leadership and aims to share experiences and best practices among participating nations for the project’s success.
The initiative aligns with WHO’s commitment to supporting African countries to strengthen their health systems and safeguard public health. WHO’s Regional Offices for Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean have been actively collaborating with Africa CDC under the Joint Emergency Action Plan (JEAP) framework to enhance public health surveillance, foster regional cooperation, and address health challenges in Africa.
Funded by the Government of Canada’s Weapons Threat Reduction Program and in line with the health security objectives of the G7-led Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, the Health Security Partnership in Africa represents a collective commitment to collaboration at the health security interface. It will be pivotal in accelerating the development and pooling of capabilities and expertise for disease surveillance and epidemic intelligence in Africa.
- 2 African Countries to Receive 18 Million Malaria Vaccine Doses in 2023-2025
In a significant step towards combating malaria, 12 African countries will receive 18 million doses of the first-ever malaria vaccine over the next two years. The vaccine, known as RTS, S/AS01, will be allocated based on areas with the highest need, where malaria poses a significant threat to children’s health.
Since 2019, Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi have been administering the malaria vaccine through the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP), reducing severe malaria cases and child deaths. Responding to the high demand for the vaccine, additional countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Uganda, will now be able to introduce the vaccine into their routine immunization programs.
Malaria remains a significant health challenge in Africa, claiming the lives of nearly half a million children under 5 annually. Introducing the malaria vaccine is expected to save many young lives and contribute to the fight against this deadly disease.
The allocation of vaccine doses was determined using a framework based on ethical principles and solidarity, prioritizing areas with the greatest need. The first doses are scheduled to arrive in countries by the end of 2023, with the rollout beginning in early 2024.
GSK developed the vaccine, which Bharat Biotech will also supply. Additionally, a second vaccine, R21/Matrix-M, developed by Oxford University and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), is expected to be prequalified by WHO soon. The global demand for malaria vaccines is projected to increase in the coming years, and efforts are being made to meet the growing need for these life-saving vaccines.
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