A woman sits in a kitchen leaning forward covering her face with her hands.

This year’s World Mental Health Day, on 10 October, comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected that the need for mental health and psychosocial support will substantially increase in the coming months and years. Investment in mental health programmes at the national and international levels, which have already suffered from years of chronic underfunding, is now more important than it has ever been. This is why, the goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is increased investment in mental health. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled the huge challenges and risks health workers are facing globally. Working in stressful environments makes health workers more prone to errors which can lead to patient harm. Health worker safety is a priority for patient safety.

18 September 2020 - Despite efforts to break the global cycle of panic and neglect seen throughout multiple disease outbreaks, the UN health agency chief said on Friday that the new coronavirus has shown that the world was “woefully under prepared”.


A child holding a doll among other children faces the camera.

The number of under-five deaths dropped to its lowest point on record in 2019 – down to 5.2 million from 12.5 million in 1990, according to new UN mortality estimates. Since then, however, surveys by UNICEF and WHO reveal that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in major disruptions to health services that threaten to undo decades of hard-won progress. Health check-ups, vaccinations and prenatal and post-natal care, are restricted due to resource constraints and general uneasiness with using health services due to fear of getting COVID-19.

In response to community transmission of COVID-19, New Zealand implemented a range of measures to contain the virus, including extensive testing, contact tracing and clear and consistent communications to the public.

health worker with mother and children

Many routine and elective services have been suspended, while critical care - such as cancer screening and treatment and HIV therapy – has seen high-risk interruptions in low-income countries.

A girl opens her mouth and looks up to receive an oral vaccine.

The WHO African Region was certified as wild polio-free after four years without a case. Over 90% of the world’s population is now free of the wild poliovirus, moving the world closer to achieving global polio eradication. Only two countries worldwide continue to see wild poliovirus transmission: Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) congratulates the national governments of the 47 countries in the WHO African Region for this historic milestone.

open air market

Find out how to shop for and prepare food safely and which foods and supplements can help.

A helicopter transports a wounded health worker and others, while Dr. Michael Ryan helps tend to him.

In the latest episode of Awake at Night, Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the Health Emergencies Programme for WHO, speaks about giving up on dreams of becoming a trauma surgeon after breaking his spine in a car crash in Iraq. He was held hostage there while working in a hospital during the first Gulf War. That experience set him on the path to WHO, with a specialism in infectious diseases.

Dr. Moeti does an elbow shake with a man wearing a vest that says "WHO"

Matshidiso Moeti is the first female Regional Director for Africa for the World Health Organisation. Now she’s the face of the COVID-19 fight in Africa, but she says facing the pandemic is easier than where she started her career as a doctor - fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s. In this third episode of season 3 of Awake at Night with host Melissa Fleming, she says, we’re willing to talk about inequalities and tackle stigma about disease.

Illustration of three human figures working on infected lungs.

The COVID-19 Law Lab initiative gathers and shares legal documents from over 190 countries to help states establish and implement legal frameworks to manage the pandemic. The goal is to ensure that laws protect individuals and communities and that they adhere to international human rights standards. Well-designed laws help build strong health systems; evaluate and approve safe and effective drugs and vaccines; and create healthier and safer public spaces and workplaces. The new Lab is a joint project of UNDP, WHO, UNAIDS and partners.

Close-up of various pills

Seventy-three countries warned that they are at risk of stock-outs of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-four countries reported having either a critically low stock of ARVs or disruptions in the supply of these life-saving medicines. This new WHO survey follows an exercise convened by WHO and UNAIDS which forecasted that a six-month disruption in access to ARVs could lead to a doubling in AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa alone.

A healthy diet, a healthier world

Today there is a new nutrition reality.

Girl sitting on a bench cropped mid-body.

Half of the world’s children, approximately 1 billion children, are affected by physical, sexual or psychological violence, suffering injuries, disabilities and death, because countries have failed to protect them. This is according to a new report by WHO, UNICEF, UNESCO, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children and the End Violence Partnership. WHO and its partners continue to work with countries to fully implement the INSPIRE strategies.

Mother breastfeeding her baby

A new report by WHO, UNICEF, and partners reveals that despite efforts to stop the harmful promotion of breast-milk substitutes, countries fall short in protecting parents from misleading information. Breastmilk saves children’s lives as it provides antibodies that give babies a healthy boost and protect them against many childhood illnesses. Agencies encourage women to continue to breastfeed during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if they have confirmed or suspected COVID-19.