Moderna tries to take on Omicron with its vaccine
By Dana Malcolm
May 11, 2022 – Moderna has announced a variant specific Omicron booster that it says will be ready by fall of this year.
“We are confident that by the fall of this year, we should have large amounts of that new booster vaccine that will protect against omicron and other variants, and really protect Americans and people around the world as we go into the fall of 2022,” said Paul Burton, Moderna Chief Medical Officer on CBS News.”
Omicron and its sub-variants have continued to render many vaccines less effective. Omicron and its variants now occupy the top three spots for most dominant strains of the coronavirus; almost completely breaking down the wall of defence by Covid-19 vaccines which were already in use when the mutation was first discovered late last year.
Efficacy for the initial mRNA Moderna vaccine wore off after about four months and was 48 percent effective in regards to Omicron according to the US Centres for Disease Control. The institute for Health Metrics and evaluation says Astra Zeneca wore off after about 20 weeks and was 36 percent effective against omicron. The Pfizer vaccine was 44 per cent effective against omicron and Johnson and Johnson was 33 percent effective
The Moderna chief says the company had at least two vaccines being developed but one was a clear leader and was in clinical trials. Moderna says it believes that will be superior.
CARPHA Plans Activities for Caribbean Nutrition Day and Caribbean Nutrition Awareness Month
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. 1 June 2023. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) joins the Caribbean Association of Nutritionists and Dietitians (CANDi) and countries in the Caribbean region in commemorating Caribbean Nutrition Day (1 June) and Caribbean Nutrition Awareness Month (June) 2023.
Caribbean Nutrition Day and Awareness Month are annual regional nutrition education and information campaigns that aim to promote healthy eating and active living in populations using a promotion-based approach. To kick-start the month, Caribbean Nutrition Day will be observed under the theme: “Let’s Nourish to Flourish…Your Mental Health Matters.” It was first celebrated on 1 June 2004 and became a month-long observance in response to the growing recognition of nutrition in disease prevention and health promotion. Caribbean Nutrition Awareness Month provides an opportunity to promote and encourage health seeking behaviours on a range of topics and across multiple sections of the population.
“CARPHA has planned a series of activities to commemorate these campaigns, and to raise awareness of the importance of nutrition. This includes the launch of a Diabetes Nutritional Management Toolkit. A social media campaign will also be rolled out to engage the public on nutrition and mental health and nutritional management of NCDs in the region,” said Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director at CARPHA.
The observance of Caribbean Nutrition Day originated from the former Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI); one of five institutions subsumed under the Caribbean Public Health Agency.
- Fifth Meeting of the CARPHA Six Point Policy Package (6-PPP) Inter-Agency Technical Committee (ITC) on Monday 12 June 2023.
The 6-point policy package is a framework instituted in 2017 to promote healthier food environments and food security to address childhood obesity (and non-communicable diseases) through joint policy action. The 6-PPP includes policy recommendations to address: (1) Food Labelling; (2) Nutrition Standards and Guidelines for Schools and other Institutions; (3) Food Marketing; (4) Nutritional Quality of Food Supply; (5) Trade and Fiscal Policies; and (6) Food Chain Incentives. The ITC comprises of CARICOM institutions and other agencies with responsibility for economic and social sectors to collectively monitor and coordinate the implementation of the 6-PPP.
- Webinar to launch the Diabetes Nutritional Management Toolkit on Tuesday 13 June 2023.
The toolkit – comprising of booklets, posters, flyer and recipes for both the health care professional and person with diabetes – will standardise the nutritional management of diabetes in primary care in the Caribbean. The toolkit was developed in 2022 following a Rapid Needs Assessment of Nutrition Services in primary health care in a representative 10 Member States. This initiative was funded by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) through the CARPHA-led project “Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to Prevent and Control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean”.
Click here to register in advance for this Webinar
CARPHA will also disseminate an article “Nutrition for Good Mental Health”. The article will highlight the essential role nutrition (nutrients) play in the functioning of the nervous system and key elements of the diet to ensure good mental health.
We encourage persons to follow CARPHA’s social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – for updates and pertinent information on nutrition for good mental health and NCDs management.
CARPHA will also be supporting its Member States in their celebration of Caribbean Nutrition Day and Awareness Month.
New WHA resolution to accelerate efforts on food micronutrient fortification
May 30, 2023 – The delegates at the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly adopted the resolution on accelerating efforts to prevent micronutrient deficiencies through safe and effective food fortification. The resolution urges Member States to make decisions on food fortification with micronutrients and/or supplementation and to consider ways of strengthening financing and monitoring mechanisms.
Deficiencies in vitamin and mineral status, particularly of folate, iron, vitamin A, and zinc, affect 50% of all preschool aged children and 67% of all women of reproductive age (WRA) worldwide. Micronutrient deficiencies can have serious consequences, including spina bifida and other neural tube defects. These preventable deficiencies are also associated with a higher risk of blindness, fragile immune systems, diminished exercise and physical capacity. Mothers with low micronutrient can have babies prematurely or with low birth weight. Iodine deficiency, still prevalent in many countries, impairs brain development in children, undermining their ability to learn and their eventual productivity.
Large scale food fortification (LSFF) is part of the solution. By adding essential vitamins and minerals to staple foods and condiments, such as wheat and maize flours, rice, cooking oil, and salt in accordance with national consumption patterns and deficiencies, countries can correct and further prevent a demonstrated micronutrient deficiency.
Fortification is an evidence-informed intervention that contributes to the prevention, reduction and control of micronutrient deficiencies. It can be used to correct a demonstrated micronutrient deficiency in the general population (mass or large-scale fortification) or in specific population groups (targeted fortification) such as children, pregnant women and the beneficiaries of social protection programmes.
WHO has been working in food fortification for decades and collaborates with different networks for fortification at the regional, country and community levels. WHO recommends large scale food fortification as a powerful evidence-informed and cost-effective intervention to fight the consequences of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, including iodine deficiency disorders, anaemia and iron deficiency, and neural tube defects among others.
The resolution was put forward by Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, European Union and its 27 Member States, Israel, Malaysia and Paraguay.
The resolution received a wide support from the civil society, with over 50 organizations calling on WHO to accelerate efforts on micronutrient fortification of food through a jointly signed letter. The organizations underlined in their letter that micronutrient deficiency is a crisis that affects all communities globally, low-income or high-income, and that there is still a large unfinished agenda on food fortification, calling on WHO to double the efforts to improve the reach and quality of food fortification programs, which have big potential to combat these preventable deficiencies and protect health.
The resolution was adopted under the umbrella of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025) report. The Nutrition Decade aims to accelerate the implementation of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) commitments, achieve the global nutrition and diet-related noncommunicable disease (NCD) targets by 2025, and contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Reflection on global progress and challenges encountered and on a way forward after the ending of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016 – 2025) is encouraged.
CARPHA Observes World No Tobacco Day, says Heart disease & Cancer due to TOBACCO leads to 47% of deaths
May 30, 2023 – Tobacco use remains a major public health concern in the Caribbean Region. There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. The use of tobacco products in any form harms nearly every organ of the body, irrespective of whether it is smoked, smokeless, or electronic. Of all the forms of tobacco use, most common in the Caribbean region is cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. Using other tobacco products such as cigars or pipes also increases the risk for this disease.
Second-hand smoke exposure causes stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease in adults; and acute respiratory infections and severe asthma in children. It is a preventable risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which are the leading cause of death, disease and disability among Caribbean people.
This year, World No Tobacco Day focuses on Grow Food, Not Tobacco. This campaign advocates for ending tobacco cultivation and switching to more sustainable crops that improve food security and nutrition. The campaign observed annually on 31 May, also informs the public on the dangers of direct use, and exposure to tobacco.
In the Caribbean Region, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death and disability – 76.8% of the total deaths (non-Latin Caribbean, excluding Haiti) were due to NCDs in 2016. Cardiovascular diseases 30.8% and cancer 17.2% are the leading causes of death due to NCD, both linked to tobacco use. Many of these persons die in the prime of their lives before the age of 70 years old. The prevalence of smokers for overall tobacco products ranged from 57.2% prevalence (95%CI 48.4 to 65.4%) to 16.2% (95%CI 11.2 to 23.0%). According to the Report on Tobacco Control in the Region of the Americas (2018) Caribbean countries have the highest levels of tobacco experimentation before the age of 10.
Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) “Smokeless does not mean harmless. Nicotine in e-cigarettes is a highly addictive drug and can damage children’s developing brains. Children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life. Preventing tobacco product use among youth is therefore critical. It is important that we educate children and adolescents about the harms of nicotine and tobacco product use. We must work to prevent future generations from seeing such products as “normal”.”
In 2008, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) endorsed the recommendation to ban smoking in public spaces. Later, in 2012, CARICOM regulated a standard for labelling retail packages of tobacco products with health warnings. Caribbean civil society organisations (CSOs), working in collaboration with local governments and international partners, have led the charge in fighting for significant gains in tobacco control in the Caribbean region.
Dr. Heather Armstrong, Head, Chronic Disease and Injury: “At CARPHA, we believe that reducing the harm caused by tobacco use requires a collective approach, where government, civil society, and the individual play a critical role. CARPHA promotes the prevention of tobacco use in all forms and commitment to the WHO FCTC. The focus on tobacco control deals with the youth of the Region. Children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life.”
The Chronic Diseases and Injury Department of CARPHA provides leadership, strategic direction, coordinates and implements technical cooperation activities directed towards the prevention and control of NCDs in CARPHA Member States. CARPHA’s message for prevention of tobacco product use has spread across its Member States.
In 2018, CARPHA in partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI), Global Health Diplomacy Program at the University of Toronto, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Healthy Caribbean Coalition evaluated the Port of Spain Declaration to learn which mandates helped to prevent and control NCDs. Taxation, smoke-free public places mandate, and mandatory labelling of tobacco products are some of the leading policies making the biggest impact on reduction of tobacco use in the Caribbean regions.
CARPHA urges Member States to work together to prevent and reduce the use of all forms of tobacco products, and scale-up efforts to implement their commitments under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). By doing so, the negative impact of smoking and its consequences on the health of our people, especially the younger generation, and the tremendous burden on the economies of the countries in our Region, will greatly be reduced.
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