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World Health Organization

The World Health Organization has issued a new scientific brief that summarizes what's known about the different ways the coronavirus can transmit.

The U.S. has sent a letter officially notifying the United Nations that it is leaving the World Health Organization, starting the formal process of withdrawal that President Trump first threatened in April when he halted funding to WHO.

The head of the World Health Organization is warning that the COVID-19 pandemic is speeding up, and he criticized governments that have failed to establish reliable contact tracing to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking at a briefing in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over."

"Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up," he said.

The National Institutes of Health has halted its study of hydroxychloroquine, a drug President Donald Trump has promoted as a possible treatment for COVID-19 and once claimed to be taking himself.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the agency said that although it did not appear hydroxychloroquine caused harm to patients in the study, it was also "very unlikely to be beneficial."

As the world seeks to join together to bring the novel coronavirus under control, President Trump has sent a letter to the World Health Organization threatening that the U.S. will halt all funding and consider leaving the agency, pending an assessment of its response to COVID-19.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

President Trump is giving the World Health Organization 30 days to commit to substantial changes in how it operates — or he will make his hold on U.S. funding permanent. The threat came in a letter that sharply criticizes the WHO response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its relationship with China.

China's President Xi Jinping is defending his country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it has acted openly and responsibly in sharing information with the international community. Speaking at a World Health Organization conference via video, Xi said that if China succeeds in developing a vaccine, it will share it widely.

"All along, we have acted with openness, transparency and responsibility," Xi said. "We have provided information to the WHO and the relevant countries in a most timely fashion."

Updated on Thursday at 11:20 a.m. ET

National security adviser Robert O'Brien has accused the World Health Organization of being "a bit of a propaganda tool for the Chinese," and said the White House is investigating whether money from China influenced the WHO's judgments during the coronavirus crisis.

O'Brien made the remarks in an interview with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep on Tuesday. The interview airs Wednesday.

Even as the number of new coronavirus infections continues to spiral upward in countries around the world, a top global health expert says it's not too late to contain the virus.

"As long as you have these discrete outbreaks ... there is the opportunity to control them — to get on top of these and contain them and prevent a lot of disease and ultimately death," says Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to the director-general of the World Health Organization. "That's the big message we saw in China — and one of the big surprises."

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is now in at least 75 countries, the World Health Organization said in a Wednesday update on the respiratory disease that has killed more than 3,200 people globally. Italy is being hit particularly hard, with more than 2,000 cases.

Despite the increase in cases, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says, "We can push this virus back."

Updated on March 9th at Noon EST.

The coronavirus outbreak has sparked what the World Health Organization is calling an "infodemic" — an overwhelming amount of information on social media and websites. Some of it's accurate. And some is downright untrue.

Updated at 9:40 p.m. ET

The World Health Organization announced Thursday that the outbreak of a deadly and fast-spreading strain of coronavirus constitutes a global health emergency.

"Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen, which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak and which has been met by an unprecedented response," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.

After decades of progress against one of the most contagious human viruses, the world is seeing measles stage a slow, steady comeback.

The World Health Organization and the CDC say in a new report that there were nearly 10 million cases of measles last year, with outbreaks on every continent.

An estimated 140,000 people died from measles in 2018, WHO says, up from an all-time low of 90,000 in 2016.

And so far 2019 has been even worse.

Polio Is Making A Comeback

Nov 15, 2019

As the global effort to eradicate polio gets tantalizing close to its goal, the program is running in to new challenges.

One of the biggest obstacles this year is the proliferation of so-called "vaccine-derived" polio outbreaks.

In the incredibly ambitious, multibillion-dollar effort to wipe polio off the face of the planet, there's currently good news and bad news.

The good news, says Michel Zaffran, who runs the World Health Organization's global polio eradication program, is that there's hardly any polio left.

"When we started back in 1988," Zaffran says, "we had cases in 125 countries and 300,000 cases every year."

The World Health Organization says there's not enough evidence to conclude that microplastics — which exist nearly everywhere in the environment and show up in drinking water — pose any risk to human health, but it cautions that more research is needed to draw firm conclusions.

In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared measles "eliminated" from the United States. But with measles continuing to spread and at times flourish in many parts of the globe, the U.S. has been unable to remain immune to the disease.

This year, the U.S. has its highest number of measles cases in 25 years. As of this week, the CDC has recorded 704 cases in 22 states.

The reemergence of measles is linked to parents who have chosen not to vaccinate their children against this highly contagious disease.

The major cause of death in children aged 1 to 19 years is not cancer or other another medical condition. It's injury. And by a long shot – 61 percent, versus 9 percent for cancer.

The largest cause of injury was motor vehicle crashes, and next was firearms, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study sorts through the 20,360 deaths of U.S. children and adolescents in 2016, as counted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you take the long view, international health organizations have much to be encouraged about when it comes to the global fight against measles. From 2000 to 2017, for instance, the annual number of measles-related deaths dropped 80 percent — from a toll of over half a million to just under 110,000 last year.

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Children's Hospital in Columbus has launched a campaign to raise awareness of youth mental illness.