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According to a significant report by the World Health Organization (WHO), a person dies by taking their own life every 40 seconds.

The WHO said suicide was a “major public health problem” that was too often shrouded in taboo.

The UN health agency wants to reduce the rate of suicide by 10% by 2020, but warned just that 28 countries have a national suicide prevention strategy.

Campaigners said there needed to be more education in schools.

The WHO analyzed 10 years of research and data on suicide from around the world.

It concluded:

  • Around 800,000 people kill themselves every year
  • It was the second leading cause of death in young people, aged 15 to 29
  • Those over 70 were the most likely to take their own lives
  • Three-quarters of these deaths were in low and middle income countries
  • In richer countries, three times as many men as women die by suicide

It said limiting access to firearms and toxic chemicals was shown to reduce rates of suicide.

The WHO wants to reduce the rate of suicide by 10 percent by 2020

The WHO wants to reduce the rate of suicide by 10 percent by 2020 (photo Wikipedia)

And that introducing a national strategy for reducing suicides was effective yet had been developed in only a minority of countries.

Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, said: “This report is a call for action to address a large public health problem, which has been shrouded in taboo for far too long.”

Social stigma attached to mental health disorders is known to stop people seeking help and can ultimately lead to suicide.

The WHO also attacked the reporting of suicide in the media, such as the details revealed about the death of Hollywood actor Robin Williams.

There was also a call for countries to provide more support for people who had previously made a suicide attempt as they were the most at-risk group.

Dr. Alexandra Fleischmann, a scientist in the department of mental health and substance abuse at WHO, said: “No matter where a country currently stands in suicide prevention, effective measures can be taken, even just starting at local level and on a small-scale.”

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa could infect more than 20,000 people before it is brought under control.

The WHO said the number of cases could already be four times higher than the 3,000 currently registered.

It also called on airlines to resume “vital” flights across the region, saying travel bans were threatening efforts to beat the epidemic.

So far, 1,552 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria have died.

Announcing a WHO action plan to deal with the outbreak, Bruce Aylward said “the actual number of cases may be 2-4 fold higher than that currently reported” in some areas.

The WHO assistant director-general said the possibility of 20,000 cases “is a scale that I think has not ever been anticipated in terms of an Ebola outbreak”.

“That’s not saying we expect 20,000… but we have got to have a system in place that we can deal with robust numbers,” he added.

The WHO plan calls for $489 million to be spent over the next nine months and requires 750 international workers and 12,000 national workers across West Africa.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa could infect more than 20,000 people before it is brought under control

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa could infect more than 20,000 people before it is brought under control (photo AFP)

On August 28, Nigeria confirmed its first Ebola death outside Lagos, with an infected doctor in the oil hub of Port Harcourt dying from the disease.

Operations have not yet been affected in Africa’s biggest oil producer, but a spokesman for Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary said they were “monitoring the Ebola outbreak very closely”.

Health ministers from across West Africa are meeting in Ghana at an extraordinary meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to discuss how to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Officials at the ECOWAS session backed the WHO’s call for flight bans to be ended and called for states to reopen their borders to make it easier for health workers to access affected areas.

Earlier Bruce Aylward insisted bans on travel and trade would not stop the spread of Ebola, saying they were “more likely to compromise the ability to respond”.

Despite rumors to the contrary, the Ebola virus is not airborne and is spread by humans coming into contact with bodily fluids, such as sweat and blood, from those infected with virus.

Medical agencies in West Africa are struggling to cope with an increasing number of cases and growing hostility from communities in certain affected areas.

Efforts to prevent the virus spreading are unlikely to see any results given that most treatment centers are already operating at full capacity.

Meanwhile, British medical charity Wellcome Trust and pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said safety trials on an experimental Ebola vaccine are being fast-tracked.

GSK says it plans to build up a stockpile of up to 10,000 doses for emergency deployment if results from the trials, which could begin as soon as next month, are good.

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According to the World Health Organization, the scale of the Ebola outbreak appears to be “vastly underestimated”, as the death toll from the disease reaches 1,069.

The WHO said its staff had seen evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths do not reflect the scale of the crisis.

The UN health agency said in a statement that “extraordinary measures” were needed.

The outbreak began in Guinea in February and has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

However, the WHO said the risk of transmission of Ebola during air travel remained low, as the disease is not airborne.

As a consequence, Kenya Airways has rejected pressure to suspend its flights to the Ebola-hit states of West Africa.

The Ebola virus death toll reaches 1,069 in West Africa

The Ebola virus death toll reaches 1,069 in West Africa (photo AP)

The WHO said the outbreak was expected to continue “for some time”.

“Staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak,” its statement said.

“WHO is co-ordinating a massive scaling up of the international response.”

Part of the challenge was the fact that the outbreak was in “settings characterized by extreme poverty, dysfunctional health systems, a severe shortage of doctors and rampant fear”, the WHO added.

Two people have died in Nigeria after drinking a salt solution rumored to prevent Ebola infection.

Text messages began circulating in Nigeria towards the end of last week recommending that people drink and bath in a salt solution as a way to stop getting the virus, for which there is no cure or vaccine.

Despite the health minister scotching the rumor, many people have been admitted into hospital after drinking salt water.

Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is infected.

Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external hemorrhaging from areas such as eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure.

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Canada will donate up to 1,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to help battle the disease’s outbreak in West Africa.

The announcement comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was ethical to use untested drugs on Ebola patients.

However, experts say supplies of both the vaccine, and experimental drug ZMapp are limited and it could take months to develop more supplies.

More than 1,000 people have been killed by the current outbreak.

Canada says between 800 and 1,000 doses of the vaccine, which has only been tested on animals, will be donated to the WHO for use in West Africa.

However, it will keep a small portion of the vaccine for research, and in case it is needed in Canada.

The current outbreak has infected people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

Canada will donate up to 1,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to help battle the disease's outbreak in West Africa

Canada will donate up to 1,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to help battle the disease’s outbreak in West Africa (photo WHO)

Dr. Gregory Taylor, deputy head of Canada’s Public Health Agency, said he saw the vaccines as a “global resource”.

He said he had been advised that it would make sense for health care workers to be given the vaccine, given their increased risk of contracting the disease.

Even if Canada releases most of its existing doses, experts warn it could take four to six months to make a quantity large enough to have any real impact at preventing the illness.

On Tuesday, the WHO said that in light of scale of the outbreak and high number of deaths, it was “ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention.”

Last week the WHO declared the Ebola outbreak was a global health emergency.

Liberia says it is getting an experimental drug, ZMapp, after requests to the US government.

However, the WHO said there were only 12 doses.

ZMapp maker Mapp Biopharmaceutical said on Tuesday: “The available supply of ZMapp has been exhausted. We have complied with every request for ZMapp that had the necessary legal/regulatory authorization.

“Drug has been provided at no cost in all cases.”

ZMapp has been used on two US aid workers, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who have shown signs of improvement, although it is not certain what role the medication played in this.

A Roman Catholic priest, infected with Ebola in Liberia, who died after returning home to Spain is also thought to have been given the drug.

Ebola’s initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external hemorrhaging from areas like eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure. Patients have a better chance of survival if they receive early treatment.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that untested drugs can be used to treat patients infected with the Ebola virus.

The WHO said it was ethical in light of the scale of the outbreak and high number of deaths – more than 1,000 people have died in West Africa.

The statement was made after its medical experts met in Switzerland on Monday to discuss the issue.

However, officials warned there were very limited supplies of potential treatments.

The WHO said where experimental treatments are used there must be informed consent and the results of the treatment collected and shared.

The WHO says it is ethical to use untested drugs to treat patients infected with the Ebola virus

The WHO says it is ethical to use untested drugs to treat patients infected with the Ebola virus

In a statement, it said: “In the particular circumstances of this outbreak, and provided certain conditions are met, the panel reached consensus that it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention.”

However, the organization conceded there were still many questions to be answered including how data could be gathered effectively while the focus remained on providing good medical care.

It was also unclear where the funding for the treatment would come from.

Last week the WHO declared the Ebola outbreak was a global health emergency.

The move came as Liberia said it was getting an experimental drug, ZMapp, after requests to the US government.

The WHO said there were only 12 doses.

ZMapp has been used on two US aid workers, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who have shown signs of improvement, although it is not certain what role the medication played in this.

A Roman Catholic priest, infected with Ebola in Liberia, who died after returning home to Spain is also thought to have been given the drug.

However, the drug has only been tested on monkeys and has not yet been evaluated for safety in humans.

There is no cure for Ebola, which has infected at least 1,779 people since the outbreak was first reported in Guinea in February.

The Liberian government said it was aware of the risks associated with ZMapp, but the alternative was to allow many more people to die.

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The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola outbreak an international health emergency.

WHO officials said a coordinated international response was essential to stop and reverse the spread of the virus.

The announcement came after experts convened a two-day emergency meeting in Switzerland.

The WHO has declared the spread of Ebola in West Africa an international health emergency

The WHO has declared the spread of Ebola in West Africa an international health emergency (photo Getty Images)

So far more than 960 people have died from Ebola in West Africa this year.

The WHO said the outbreak was an “extraordinary event”.

“The possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus,” the UN health agency said in a statement.

More than 1,700 cases of Ebola have been reported in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

WHO director-general Dr. Margaret Chan appealed for help for the countries hit by the “most complex outbreak in the four decades of this disease”.

Dr. Margaret Chan said there would be no general ban on international travel or trade.

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World Health Organization head Margaret Chan has said the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is spreading faster than efforts to control it.

The WHO director general told a summit of regional leaders that failure to contain Ebola could be “catastrophic” in terms of lives lost.

She said the virus, which has claimed 729 lives in four West African countries since February, could be stopped if well managed.

Ebola kills up to 90% of those infected.

It spreads by contact with infected blood, bodily fluids, organs – or contaminated environments. Patients have a better chance of survival if they receive early treatment.

Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external hemorrhaging from areas like eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure.

Dr. Margaret Chan was meeting the leaders of the worst-affected countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – to launch a new $100 million Ebola response plan.

Ebola virus has claimed 729 lives in four West African countries since February

Ebola virus has claimed 729 lives in four West African countries since February

The plan includes funding the deployment of hundreds more health care workers to affected countries.

“This meeting must mark a turning point in the outbreak response,” Margaret Chan said at the summit in Guinea’s capital, Conakry.

“Cases are occurring in rural areas which are difficult to access, but also in densely populated capital cities,” she said, explaining that the outbreak was the world’s deadliest and largest in terms of geographical areas.

“It is taking place in areas with fluid population movements over porous borders, and it has demonstrated its ability to spread via air travel, contrary to what has been seen in past outbreaks,” she said.

In her comments – also published on the WHO website – Dr. Margaret Chan said the virus was affecting a large number of doctors, nurses and other health care workers who have an essential role in curtailing the outbreak.

“To date, more than 60 health care workers have lost their lives in helping others. Some international staff are infected. These tragic infections and deaths significantly erode response capacity,” she said.

Dr. Margaret Chan said that while the situation in West Africa “must receive urgent priority for decisive action at national and international levels, experiences in Africa over nearly four decades tell us clearly that, when well managed, an Ebola outbreak can be stopped”.

She pointed out that medics are not fighting an airborne virus – transmission requires close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.

“Apart from this specific situation, the general public is not at high risk of infection by the Ebola virus,” Margaret Chan said.

“At the same time, it would be extremely unwise for national authorities and the international community to allow an Ebola virus to circulate widely and over a long period of time in human populations.”

Saudatu Koroma, a Sierra Leone woman who fled hospital after testing positive for the Ebola virus, has died after turning herself in.

Her family had forcibly removed her from a public hospital on Thursday.

Saudatu Koroma’s is the first case of Ebola to be confirmed in the country’s capital Freetown, where there are no facilities to treat the virus.

Since February, more than 660 people have died of Ebola in West Africa – the world’s deadliest outbreak to date.

Nigeria has put all its entry points on red alert after confirming the death there of a Liberian man who was carrying the highly contagious virus.

The man died after arriving at Lagos airport on Tuesday, in the first Ebola case in Africa’s most populous country.

The outbreak began in southern Guinea and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Since February, more than 660 people have died of Ebola in West Africa

Since February, more than 660 people have died of Ebola in West Africa (photo AP)

Reports on Saturday said that a prominent Liberian doctor, Samuel Brisbane, had died after a three-week battle with the virus.

And later it emerged that a US doctor working with Ebola patients, Kent Brantly, was being treated for the virus in a hospital in the capital Monrovia.

The virus, which kills up to 90% of those infected, spreads through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.

Patients have a better chance of survival if they receive treatment early.

Saudatu Koroma was the first registered Ebola case in the capital Freetown.

Both she and her parents – who are suspected of having the virus – had been taken to Ebola treatment centers in the east of the country..

Saudatu Koroma had been one of dozens of people who tested positive but were unaccounted for.

The Ebola cases in Sierra Leone are centered in the country’s eastern districts of Kenema and Kailahun, just over the border from the Guekedou region of Guinea where the outbreak started.

Police said thousands of people joined a street protest in Kenema on Friday over the government’s handling of the outbreak.

Earlier this week, it was announced that the doctor leading Sierra Leone’s fight against Ebola was being treated for the virus.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization said that 219 people had died of Ebola in Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, the health minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said that all other passengers on board the flight with the infected man had been traced and were being monitored.

Twenty five more people have died from Ebola in West Africa since July 3, taking the total number of deaths to 518, health officials say.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said 50 new cases of the deadly disease had also been reported.

A WHO spokesman said health workers were struggling to contain the outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

On Monday, a doctor in Ghana said preliminary tests on a US citizen showed he did not have the disease.

But further tests are now being carried out.

Twenty five more people have died from Ebola in West Africa since July 3

Twenty five more people have died from Ebola in West Africa since July 3

The man had recently visited Sierra Leone and Guinea and was quarantined after showing signs of the virus.

In a statement on Tuesday, the WHO said the latest figures from health ministries in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea showed a total of 844 cases since the epidemic began in February.

Guinea’s ministry reported two deaths since 3 July but no new cases in the past week, the WHO said, calling the situation in the affected region of West Africa a “mixed picture”.

It said Sierra Leone had accounted for 34 of the new cases and 14 deaths, while Liberia reported 16 new cases and 9 deaths.

“These numbers indicate that active viral transmission continues in the community,” the statement said.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said the two main modes of transmission were people caring for sick relatives at home and people attending funerals of victims.

“If we don’t stop the transmission in the several hotspots in the three countries we will not be able to say that we control the outbreak,” she said.

Last week, health ministers from 11 West African countries adopted a common strategy to fight the outbreak.

At an emergency meeting in Ghana last Thursday, ministers promised better collaboration to fight what has become the world’s deadliest outbreak to date.

Under the new strategy, the WHO will open a sub-regional control centre in Guinea to co-ordinate technical support.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned over the spread of polio as the disease becomes an international public health emergency.

Outbreaks in Asia, Africa and Middle East are an “extraordinary event” needing a coordinated “international response”, the WHO said.

The WHO said polio outbreaks in Asia, Africa and Middle East are an extraordinary event needing a coordinated international response

The WHO said polio outbreaks in Asia, Africa and Middle East are an extraordinary event needing a coordinated international response

The agency recommends citizens of affected countries travelling abroad carry a vaccination certificate.

The conditions for a public health emergency of “international concern” were met, said the WHO’s Bruce Aylward.

Bruce Aylward, WHO Assistant Director General, was speaking after an emergency meeting in Geneva on the spread of polio which included representatives of the affected countries.

“The international spread of polio to date in 2014 constitutes an <<extraordinary event>> and a public health risk to other states for which a co-ordinated international response is essential,” the WHO’s Emergency Committee said in statement.

“If unchecked, this situation could result in failure to eradicate globally one of the world’s most serious vaccine preventable diseases.”

“Pakistan, Cameroon, and the Syrian Arab Republic pose the greatest risk of further wild poliovirus exportations in 2014,” the WHO says.

The WHO lists Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Somalia and Nigeria as “posing an ongoing risk for new wild poliovirus exportations in 2014”.

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According to new World Health Organization (WHO) guidance, people should halve the amount of sugar in their diet.

The recommended sugar intake will stay at below 10% of total calorie intake a day, with 5% the target, says the WHO.

The suggested limits apply to all sugars added to food, as well as sugar naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates.

The recommendation that sugar should account for no more than 10% of the calories in the diet, was passed in 2002.

It works out at about 50g a day for an adult of normal weight, said the WHO.

The WHO recommended sugar intake will stay at below 10 percent of total calorie intake a day, with 5 percent the target

The WHO recommended sugar intake will stay at below 10 percent of total calorie intake a day, with 5 percent the target

However, a number of experts now think 10% is too high, amid rising obesity levels around the world.

Announcing the new draft measures, the WHO said in a statement: “WHO’s current recommendation, from 2002, is that sugars should make up less than 10% of total energy intake per day.

“The new draft guideline also proposes that sugars should be less than 10% of total energy intake per day.

“It further suggests that a reduction to below 5% of total energy intake per day would have additional benefits.”

Dr. Francesco Branca, WHO’s nutrition director, told a news conference that the 10% target was a “strong recommendation” while the 5% target was “conditional”, based on current evidence.

“We should aim for 5% if we can,” he added.

The plans will now go for public consultation, with firm recommendations expected this summer.