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Stockpile medicines for 'nuclear war', WHO tells governments

Typical radiation emergency stockpile should contain stable iodine to lessen thyroid exposure to radioactive iodine, says WHO

By
Web Desk
A logo is pictured at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, December 14, 2022.— Reuters
A logo is pictured at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, December 14, 2022.— Reuters

For the first time since 2007, the World Health Organisation (WHO) updated its list of recommended medications on Friday to treat exposure to radiological and nuclear catastrophes, advising governments on how to stockpile for nuclear and radiological accidents and crises.

The new WHO study takes into account information and research for associated medical treatment that developed in the last ten years. 

Maria Neira, the director of the WHO’s Department of Public Health and Environment, said it was important for nations and governments to have “ready supplies of lifesaving medicines that will reduce risks and treat injuries from radiation.”

“In radiation emergencies, people may be exposed to radiation at doses ranging from negligible to life-threatening,” Neira said in a statement. “Governments need to make treatments available for those in need — fast.”

According to the WHO, a typical radiation emergency stockpile should contain stable iodine to lessen thyroid exposure to radioactive iodine, chelating agents to remove radioactive caesium from the body, which can occur during nuclear fission, and cytokines to lessen bone marrow harm.

Others that can treat infections, diarrhoea, vomiting, or other causes of physical harm or radiation exposure are mentioned on the list. It describes the many chemical and pharmaceutical types, how to store and handle them, and how to use them in an emergency.

Around 440 nuclear reactors can be found worldwide, and nine nations, including Pakistan, are regarded as nuclear powers.

Radiation exposure has the potential to harm DNA and result in cancer or cardiovascular disease. High amounts of exposure can cause acute radiation sickness, which can cause vomiting and nausea as well as have fatal consequences.

According to the WHO, a number of nations still do not have adequate radiation emergency preparedness procedures.

The WHO's Health Emergencies Program's executive director, Mike Ryan, said in a statement that the updated list will be essential for governmental readiness.

“This updated critical medicines list will be a vital preparedness and readiness tool for our partners to identify, procure, stockpile and deliver effective countermeasures in a timely fashion to those at risk or exposed in these events,” said Ryan.