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WHO chief warns of risk to 'winning streak' for public health

[ 2011-01-21 12:32]     字号 [] [] []  
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WHO chief warns of risk to 'winning streak' for public health

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

The World Health Organization says it has reached a limit in its fight against diseases and disasters. Director-General Margaret Chan says the agency is "overextended" and faces "serious funding shortfalls." Dr. Chan says the WHO is no longer operating "at the level of top performance that is increasingly needed, and expected."

She told the agency's Executive Board on Monday that the level of action should not be governed by the size of a problem. Instead, it should be governed by the extent to which the WHO can have an effect on the problem.

Dr. Chan said one of the most exciting developments recently is a new vaccine that could end Africa's deadly meningitis epidemics. She said no large drug company wanted to develop the vaccine because it would not bring big profits. So a group of researchers developed it with major support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

MARGARET CHAN: "The vaccine was developed, from start to finish, in less than a decade, in record time, and at about one-tenth of the cost usually needed to bring a product through development to the market. African countries frequently have to wait for years, if not decades, for new medical products to trickle into their health systems. Not this time."

African scientists tested the vaccine. The first countrywide vaccination campaign took place in Burkina Faso in December. This is being followed by similar campaigns in Mali and Niger.

But Dr. Chan noted there are 25 countries in Africa's so-called meningitis belt. Many do not have enough money for vaccination campaigns.

The WHO chief warned that a shortage of money could also limit other progress. She said public health has been on what she called "a winning streak."

She pointed out the meningitis vaccine as well as new vaccines for preventing diarrheal disease and pneumonia and a new test for tuberculosis. But she questioned whether there are enough resources to maintain, if not speed up, these gains.

MARGARET CHAN: "Treated bed nets need to be replaced. Antiretroviral therapy for AIDS is a lifeline, for a lifetime. Case finding and treatment for tuberculosis are a constant undertaking that needs to intensify. Every new generation of babies must be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. Last year, we launched an aggressive new strategy for polio eradication. Does the international community have the stamina, and the resources, to reach the milestones?"

The World Health Organization is part of the United Nations. The Executive Board is meeting this week in Geneva to prepare for the next World Health Assembly in May.

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report. I'm Steve Ember.

overextended: involved in more work or activities, or spending more money, than you can manage without problems 承担过多工作的;开支过大的

meningitis: a serious disease in which the tissues enclosing the brain and spinal cord become infected and swollen, causing severe headache, fever and sometimes death 脑脊膜炎;脑膜炎

diarrheal disease: 腹泻病

pneumonia: a serious illness affecting one or both lungs that makes breathing difficult 肺炎

tuberculosis: a serious infectious disease in which swellings appear on the lungs and other parts of the body 结核病

Antiretroviral therapy: 抗逆转录病毒疗法

polio: an infectious disease that affects the central nervous system and can cause temporary or permanent paralysis 脊髓灰质炎;小儿麻痹症

stamina: the physical or mental strength that enables you to do something difficult for long periods of time 耐力;耐性;持久力

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(来源:VOA 编辑:崔旭燕)