How to Wash Your Hands

Thought you knew how to wash your hands? Think again!

Apparently and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it’s a lot more complicated than you thought. Here’s what they call the six-step method of hand washing (even though it looks like there are actually 11 steps)


Diabetes Epidemic

Back in 1980, 108 million people had diabetes worldwide. Today it is estimated at around 425 million which means that cases of diabetes almost quadrupled in the past 36 years. Diabetes is presently the eighth biggest killer in the world.


Diabetes used to be prominent in affluent countries but that is no longer the case. Today diabetes is growing fast in low and middle income countries.Diabetes_2(Source:

What’s the cause of this epidemic rise in diabetes? Have a look at these numbers:

  • In 1700, the average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 1800, the average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 2012, more than 50% of all Americans consumed 1/2 pound of sugar per day — translating to a whopping 180 pounds of sugar per year.


The problem is that “sugar” is hidden in almost everything we eat. From the website here’s a list of the different names given to sweeteners:

  • Saccharide = sugar
  • Glucose (aka “dextrose” or “grape sugar”), galactose (“milk sugar”), and fructose (“fruit sugar”) are all “monosaccharides” (i.e. single sugar molecules), known as “simple sugars.” The primary difference between them is the way your body metabolizes them.
  • Glucose is a form of energy you were designed to run on. Every cell in your body uses glucose for energy.
  • High amounts of fructose are very damaging to the body if it isn’t burned immediately for energy because it travels directly to the liver where it’s converted to triglycerides (fats). Excess triglycerides increase insulin resistance (and insulin production), thus contributing to diabetes in a “back door” fashion.
  • The simple sugars can combine to form more complex sugars, like sucrose (“table sugar”) which is a “disaccharide” comprised of 50% glucose and 50% fructose.
  • “Refined” white sugar (pure sucrose) is washed with a syrup solution, then with hot water, clarified (usually chemically) to remove impurities, decolorized, concentrated, evaporated, re-boiled until crystals form, centrifuged again to separate, then dried. By this point, any remnants of “natural goodness” and “nutritional value” have completely disappeared! Quite frankly, white sugar should be considered an “industrial product” rather than “food.”
  • “Brown sugar” is white sugar mixed with molasses.
  • “Raw” sugar is not really raw. It has been cooked, and most of the minerals and vitamins are gone. But it’s probably a little better than refined white sugar because it has a little of the molasses remaining.
  • Aspartame or AminoSweet is a neurotoxic rat poison… need I say more?
  • Splenda (sucralose) is NOT a sugar, despite its deceptive marketing slogan, “made from sugar.” It’s a chlorinated artificial sweetener in line with aspartame, though not quite as harmful.
  • Honey is approximately 50% fructose, but in natural (raw and unpasteurized) form contains many health benefits. Buying honey that is local and unpasteurized is best.
  • Stevia is an extremely sweet herb derived from the leaf of the South American stevia plant, which is completely safe (in its natural form). Green stevia is the whole plant, while white stevia is processed and can often contain other ingredients like natural flavors or dextrose − a form of sugar. 100% green stevia in its natural state is what you want.
  • Agave nectar is made from the agave plant, which is a cactus. Sounds natural, right? Like maple syrup from a tree, or honey from a beehive. Only it isn’t. Agave is HIGHLY processed while the end product does not even remotely resemble the original agave plant. Furthermore, agave is approximately 80% fructose (much higher than honey and maple syrup).
  • HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is 55% fructose and 45% glucose. It is mostly genetically modified. Stay away!
  • Rapadura is the pure juice extracted from the sugar cane (using a press), which is then evaporated over low heat, whilst being stirred with paddles, then sieve ground to produce a grainy sugar. It has not been cooked at high heats or spun to change it into crystals, and the molasses is maintained in the sugar. “Sucanat” is the USA trade name for Rapadura.
  • Coconut sugar is made from the sweet watery sap that drips from the cut flower buds of the coconut palm. It has a low glycemic index (GI) and is rich in amino acids. It is typically less than 10% fructose, with sucrose being the primary component.
  • Xylitol is a sweetener known as a “sugar alcohol” (or polyol). Sugar alcohols are neither sugars nor alcohols − they are carbohydrates (with structures that happen to resemble sugar and alcohol). Xylitol is extracted from corn or birch cellulose. Unlike sugar, Xylitol is slowly absorbed, does not cause a rapid blood sugar increase, and does not require an immediate insulin response from the body to be metabolized. Moreover,  many studies have shown that it actually helps prevent dental cavities, ear infections, and some evidence suggests that it helps prevent gum disease because Xylitol is anti-bacterial. However, Xylitol does have some potential health side effects (most notably gastrointestinal issues) and should be used with caution.

Until we reduce sugar and label it for what it is, diabetes is going to continue to rise. Educating yourself about what you are eating and drinking is crucial. You have to take your health in your own hands and not trust food companies.

WHO Urges Use of “Smart Syringes”


The World Health Organization (WHO) is urging the universal use of “smart syringes” for any and all applications that require an injection.
According to WHO “A 2014 study sponsored by WHO, which focused on the most recent available data, estimated that in 2010, up to 1.7 million people were infected with hepatitis B virus, up to 315 000 with hepatitis C virus and as many as 33 800 with HIV through an unsafe injection.

The reuse of needles is a big reason for the spread of communicable diseases worldwide. “Smart syringes” wouldn’t solve that problem.

There are several different types of smart syringes. In most cases the needle breaks if the users tries to retract the syringe plunger rendering the needle useless. Other models have a clip that falls in place preventing the plunger from being pulled back once an injection has been administered.

Additionally, there are now syringes where a cap or sheath slides over the needle once it has been used in order to protect health workers and clean-up crews from getting accidentally infected by needle pricks.

The challenge, of course, is going to be the cost. Smart syringes cost about twice as much as regular syringes.

Get the Facts about Ebola

A few years back, Barry Glassner wrote “The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things. It’s a good read and one that most of us could benefit from reading.

The premise of the book is that media is in the business of getting viewers. In order to do that, news has to be sensational and shocking. What this means is that they take a few isolated incidents and turn them into sensational news stories designed to frighten us so that we’ll keep tuning in to find out more.

I bring this up because of the Ebola scare going around right now.

The best way to calm the fears and put things into perspective is to get the facts. Just because a couple of people who were recently in Africa have contracted Ebola does not mean that we need to go into panic mode. The Ebola Virus Disease (EBD) is only contracted through bodily contact and transmitted through bodily fluids. It can also be contracted through contact with certain species of animals that are carriers (fruit bats, monkeys and apes notably) or by eating their raw meat. I don’t know about you but I haven’t eaten any raw fruit bat meat recently so I’m pretty sure I don’t have a lot to worry about on that count.

Get the facts on the Ebola Virus Disease from the World Health Organization website. Knowledge is power when it comes to not loosing sleep worrying about things like Ebola.

World Health Organization Speaks out about Antibiotic Resistance

The World Health Organization announced in a 256 page report on Antibiotic Resistance that if something isn’t done about the issue, then we are facing a “problem so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine.”

They go on to state that “Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. ”

The key findings, according to the document, are:

• Very high rates of resistance have been observed in bacteria that cause common health-care associated and community-acquired infections (e.g. urinary tract infection, pneumonia) in all WHO regions.

• There are significant gaps in surveillance, and a lack of standards for methodology, data sharing and coordination.

Key findings from AMR surveillance in disease-specific programmes are as follows:

• Although multidrug-resistant TB is a growing concern, it is largely under-reported, compromising control efforts.

• Foci of artemisinin resistance in malaria have been identified in a few countries. Further spread, or emergence in other regions, of artemisinin-

resistant strains could jeopardize important recent gains in malaria control.

• Increasing levels of transmitted anti-HIV drug resistance have been detected among patients starting antiretroviral treatment.

Download or read the full document here.

World Health Organization Warns of the End of the “Golden Age of Antibiotics”


The past 30 years has seen no new types of antibiotics. Existing bacteria are rapidly becoming immune to the antibiotics presently available. Unless we can make a radical breakthrough in antibiotics the World Health Organization warns that “we are heading for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill.

Influenza, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, malaria, HIV are among the most threatening of diseases but at the present rate other diseases are certain to become more dangerous as well.

Read the WHO report and find out more as well as what can be done to help fight the problem.

Diesel Fuel can cause Cancer says WHO

In a press release this past Tuesday (June 12, 2012), the World Health Organization finally classified diesel engine exhaust as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The release came after a week-long meeting of international experts, including the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which took place in Lyon, France.

“There has been mounting concern about the cancer-causing potential of diesel exhaust, particularly based on findings in epidemiological studies of workers exposed in various settings. This was re-emphasized by the publication in March 2012 of the results of a large US National Cancer Institute/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study of occupational exposure to such emissions in underground miners, which showed an increased risk of death from lung cancer in exposed workers.”

The findings show that people exposed to diesel gas exhaust are at higher risk of lung cancer and possibly also bladder cancer than the rest of the population.

This new classification should pave the way for an increase in regulations and tighter emission standards around the world.

The summary of the evaluation is scheduled to appear online in The Lancet Oncology today, Friday June 15th 2012.

WHO launches new Global Network

This press release from the World Health Organization dated July 8, 2009

New network to combat noncommunicable diseases

8 JULY 2009 | GENEVA — Noncommunicable diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, cancers, diabetes, respiratory diseases and common injuries account for the vast majority of all global deaths, but because they are not yet included as priorities in the global development agenda, donors and international organizations have yet to pledge support to help developing countries address these leading health problems.

As the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) meets in Geneva this week to focus on global public health commitments, many health and development leaders will call upon the international development community to integrate indicators on noncommunicable diseases and injuries into the core Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) monitoring and evaluation system.

To support these efforts, WHO today announced the launch of a network of leading organizations and experts from around the world. The network will scale up action to combat noncommunicable diseases, strengthen global partnerships and help governments plan and implement measures to reduce the burden of these diseases.

The new Global Noncommunicable Disease Network (NCDnet) will unite currently fragmented efforts by bringing the cancer, cardiovascular, diabetes and respiratory communities together with tobacco control, healthy diets and physical activity advocates.

Focus on prevention and control

“Integrating the prevention of noncommunicable diseases and injuries into the national and global development agendas is not only achievable but also a priority for developing countries,” said Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. “The goals of the new network are to increase focus on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, to increase resource availability and to catalyse effective multi-stakeholder action at global and country levels.”

Strengthened by the support of the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and leading NGOs such as the World Heart Federation, the International Diabetes Federation and the International Union against Cancer, NCDnet will advocate for action to raise the priority accorded to noncommunicable diseases in development work at global and national levels.

“Noncommunicable diseases are a serious threat to global well-being,” said Richard Samans, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum. “They present a growing economic and social challenge for many developed and developing countries. At the World Economic Forum we are committed to working with WHO, and in collaboration with other international partners, to build an effective Global Noncommunicable Disease Network.”

Challenges for policy-makers

“The challenges policy-makers face include how to address the links between noncommunicable diseases and poverty, how to minimize the health and economic losses among the economically active population, and how to prepare for the pressures on health systems resulting from the growing numbers of people with noncommunicable diseases,” commented Joy Phumaphi, Vice-President of the Human Development Network of the World Bank.

“I want to highlight the glaring omission of noncommunicable diseases in the Millennium Development Goals. I believe that this is a serious omission and this anomaly should be corrected. It is in this light that I propose we seriously consider an MDG-plus which would set goals for noncommunicable diseases, as we have done for other public health challenges,” commented Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy of Guyana.

Noncommunicable diseases cause 38 million deaths annually and together with injuries are responsible for 70% of all global deaths, with 80% of these deaths occurring in low-income and middle-income countries. WHO forecasts that globally, deaths from noncommunicable diseases are likely to increase by 17% over the next 10 years, with the greatest increase projected in the African Region (27%) followed by the Eastern Mediterranean Region (25%).

For further information contact:

Janet Voute
Partnerships Adviser
WHO, Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 5572
Mobile: +41 79 204 4216

Menno van Hilten
External Relations Officer
WHO, Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 2675
Mobile: +41 79 457 0929