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World Bank creates fund to better prevent, respond to pandemics

The World Bank's board on Thursday approved creation of a fund meant to finance investments in strengthening the fight against pandemics.

The fund will support prevention, preparedness and response (PPR), with a focus on low- and middle-income countries, the bank said in a statement.

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“The devastating human, economic, and social cost of COVID-19 has highlighted the urgent need for coordinated action to build stronger health systems and mobilize additional resources,” it said.

The World Bank added that the fund, which it aims to open later this year, was developed under the leadership of the United States, Italy and Indonesia as part of their G20 presidencies, and with broad support from the G20.

It will be used in a number of areas, including disease surveillance, with more than $1 billion in commitments already announced.

“The World Bank is the largest provider of financing for PPR with active operations in over 100 developing countries to strengthen their health systems,” World Bank President David Malpass said in the statement.

The so-called financial intermediary fund (FIF) will provide financing to “complement the work of existing institutions in supporting low- and middle-income countries and regions to prepare for the next pandemic,” the World Bank said.

The World Health Organization is a stakeholder in the project and will provide technical expertise, its president Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

US President Joe Biden said more than 1 million Americans and millions of people around the world have lost their lives to Covid-19, underscoring the importance of boosting investment in pandemic preparedness.

“When it comes to preparing for the next pandemic, the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action,” Biden said in a statement late Thursday. “Investing in preparedness now is the right thing and the smart thing to do.”

In a separate statement earlier in the day, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called the fund “a major achievement that will help low- and middle-income countries be better prepared for the next pandemic.”

“Even as we continue to work to end COVID-19, today's decision by World Bank shareholders will help bolster capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to future pandemics,” she said.

A spokesperson for the World Bank told AFP that if the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing when the fund is implemented, it could be used to provide support against the current as well as future pandemics.

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Healthpoint launches new procedure to help treat sleep apnea after success in 35-year-old patient

  • The new procedure provides same-day results and can help physicians identify and resolve underlying conditions that can cause high blood pressure or cardiac issues
  • It also helps diagnose patients with respiratory issues undetected by traditional screening options

Abu Dhabi, UAE; 06 February 2023: Healthpoint, a Mubadala Health partner, has introduced a new diagnostic procedure in the UAE that helps treat people with obstructive sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder that impairs breathing and results in poor sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when airflow is blocked during sleep. This causes the patient to stop breathing for a short period of time, which deprives the body and brain of oxygen. This interrupts sleep, causing loud snoring and choking noises, and results in the patient feeling tired, even after sleeping a full six to eight hours. Untreated, it often becomes the silent cause behind other common comorbidities such as hypertension, cardiac diseases, diabetes, and metabolic disorders, as well as strokes or heart attacks.

The patient who had been living in the UAE for five years, suffered from OSA. After trying many different traditional treatment options, including a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, he turned to Healthpoint’s multidisciplinary team, made up of specialists in sleep, anesthesiology, orthodontics and ear, nose and throat (ENT) issues.

Dr. Favas Thaivalappil recommended the newly introduced DISE-PSG procedure to the patient, and the team was able to use the comprehensive 3D evaluation procedure to diagnose and classify his complicated respiratory issue on the same day.

The DISE-PSG procedure involved an evaluation of the patient’s upper airway performed at various sleep stages. This, coupled with a synchronizing polysomnogram, also known as a sleep study, allows physicians to observe the stage of sleep a patient is in as well identify episodes of air flow obstruction, which was not previously possible.

The patient said, “After feeling a bit helpless from not seeing results from the various treatment options, it was a huge relief that after a few short and painless hours, Healthpoint’s multidisciplinary team were able to pinpoint exactly what the issue was and the different treatments options available to me, all in the same day. I literally walked away with a customized and alternative treatment option. From this approach, I am now able to consider different options that we know will work, from oral appliances to a specific type of surgery to treat my OSA. After years of struggling with this condition, I am looking forward to that first night of rested sleep soon.”

Dr. Favas Thaivalappil, Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine Consultant and Head of Sleep Center, Healthpoint said: “We often see a lot of patients affected by sleep-related breathing disorders complaining about a lack of sleep, many of which have underlying conditions that can cause high blood pressure or cardiac issues. We can usually determine the root cause of the issue and treat the conditions effectively. However, in patients who are unable to comply with traditional sleep therapy options, a personalized approach is essential to identify their underlying cause and to plan the treatment accordingly,”

“For this patient, this procedure helped us identify the site of the obstruction in more detail, allowing us to offer customized alternative treatment options of sleep apnea including reconsideration of an oral appliance or surgery. The DISE-PSG procedure is a very useful investigation method for selected patients who have had a bad night’s sleep for far too long. Through Healthpoint, we are now able to bring this new procedure to the region to help detect and diagnose complicated respiratory illnesses and provide modern treatment options to them, and probably of the benefit to their wider family too,” continued Dr. Favas.

Healthpoint specializes in sleep-related disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome (RLS), excessive day time sleepiness, disorders related to the circadian rhythm and parasomnia. With a dedicated team of multidisciplinary experts, including sleep physicians, surgeons, dentists, psychologists and qualified sleep therapists, Healthpoint’s Sleep Medicine Center is designed to diagnose and help to treat patients suffering from sleep and respiratory illnesses using precision-based technology.

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Trafficked medical products kill almost half a million sub-Saharan Africans every year, and action is needed to stem the flow, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) states in its new threat assessment report.

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