Maria Neira, Director of Public Health and Environment at the World Health Organization.
The World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified two clear strategies in its roadmap for the short and medium term: Improving air quality Attention is paid to mental problems; They are from the table of its Director of Public Health and Environment, Maria Nera, She has set herself the goal of disseminating information about all her international visits. On a short layover in Spain, passing between Sweden and Rwanda, The health spokesperson gave an interview to medical writing Where to review these keys to the future.
Maria Neira (WHO): “Investing in mental health is always positive.”
The Endocrinologist Originally from L.to Felguera (Asturias) made the main recommendations that the Foundation sent to all countries, including Spain, to raise Mental health stigma and investment needs in this area. While he has made teeth and nails a defense of pollution containment measures, with which he has presented himself to The Fifty-Fifth Separate Congress in Pamplona.
What does the World Health Organization think of a conference the size of Separ?
The fact that they are respiratory specialists at this critical time when we are often promoting the importance of air quality gives me great relief. I am an endocrinologist and I told you yesterday that I would love that the respiratory specialists considered me to work with.
We urgently need the support of respiratory specialists because not only do we need to treat patients with these diseases, but we have to turn to the causes of these diseases and many of them have to do with such massive air pollution.
Separ warned that the post-Covid era will increase its activity by 60%, is it necessary to increase investment in lung diseases in Spain?
During the pandemic, pulmonology has played an essential and crucial role. The entire medical profession has suffered greatly but they have definitely been on the front lines. Now in the post-Covid era, we have to think, continue to give all the strength to pulmonologists, specialists in thoracic surgery, but also to think more and more that their voices are essential in air pollution reduction strategies.
Director of Public Health and Environment at the World Health Organization, Maria Neira, in an interview with Medical Writing.
Increasingly we need to hear the voices of doctors who have a great deal of credibility in society, and who have won great battles in the past, such as when we fought for drinking water. It was fundamental to medicine. If you want to be healthy, you must have clean water. Today, air quality must be one of our main battles.
We have pulmonologists, we want to create collaborative networks, and I’m sure that from Separ it will be important for all of us to make our voices heard and in our cities we can breathe cleaner air. In this way, all associated diseases, from asthma to chronic obstructive respiratory diseases, will have another treatment that is not only curative, but also preventive.
What concerns currently exist with variants such as BA.4 or BA.5?
I think the concern we can have is that at any given moment, there is any respiratory virus. But it will likely continue to exist if we do not take these preventive measures. If we don’t start to stop the destruction of ecosystems that somehow cause aggressive deforestation, that pollution, the use of fossil fuels, and that city traffic generates a lot of toxicity.
Indeed, the pandemic has shown that the medical profession and health in general are essential. Investing in the best conditions for health professionals to work is never an investment lost. It’s always valid, winner. In any crisis preparedness, post-crisis or crisis situation, the best investment is health and education. No country at the top of development has not had these conditions.
In Spain, pulmonologists have played a role, and therefore are socially valued, they are financially protected and strengthened when necessary and create the best conditions for them to do their best job.
The World Health Organization is studying the special situation in Spain with regard to the supply of anti-tuberculosis drugs, what are the expectations for the coming months?
All investigations are still ongoing. The day before we came here we finished one. All these expert networks, all this knowledge that has been acquired in the last two years, in general, are also working out of the crisis. It’s been so intense these past two years, so creative, with so much science production that it was the most motivating part.
More and more studies will be released, more scientific publications and from there we will get results. Now we have to see what happens with post-Covid, what that means, what is its significance from an epidemiological point of view and how we will face this situation.
Also, yesterday we launched a report on the impact on mental health. Mental health is one of the great blocks in which all professions should have a more open mind, resulting from all that we have seen in recent years. Our lifestyle conditions lead us in this direction.
Has the World Health Organization given any specific instructions to Spain or to a group of Member States to confront the paradigm shift in mental health?
Recommendations above all for consideration in any strategy, in any health policy. Sometimes, we focus on recovery, the physical illness, and don’t take into account a mental health issue. There is another recommendation about the potential stigma that may exist in some countries. We have to raise it and demystify the problem of mental health illness.
More professionals need to be trained, more and more of the mental health portfolio needs to be integrated and it should be considered an integral part of how we typically define health. Not just a state of absence of disease, but a state of complete physical and mental health and well-being. We hope that society will move in this direction
Is more investment in mental health necessary in Spain?
I would say that it is as necessary in Spain as it is in all countries. If you were to ask someone from the WHO if more investment was needed, the answer would always be yes. Investing in health, not just curing disease, is not a bad investment at all. It is always a very good investment. You won’t find anyone in the WHO who will say no.
In all countries, and especially in those that still lack universal and free health coverage, we demand action. Nothing destroys a country’s economy and social fabric more than these inequalities are generated by the people, a high percentage in some rich countries, who do not have access to universal health coverage.
How does the World Health Organization assess the prevalence of UCRI in Spain? Is it exportable model to other countries? Is it a necessary investment?
At the national level, we are obviously working with the health authorities, but to evaluate a particular model, we need a very specific study to buy it at the European level. There are many different initiatives in Europe. Now would be a good time to confront them and see them and extrapolate which of them would be most beneficial, always from a public health perspective.
At WHO, we work a lot not just on the very therapeutic part, but above all to balance how that balance of investments makes the whole system work. This requires not only a dedicated, highly specialized investment, but also a complete review of how to improve the entire existing health system. With companies like Separ, there are many issues that can be discussed, that can be promoted and that will lead to very positive proposals for the health system if they are listened to and implemented.
Maria Nera answers medical writing questions in Pamplona.
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