The WHO updates the list of medicines to be stockpiled in a nuclear emergency

The World Health Organization updates the list of medicines to be stockpiled in a nuclear emergency.

The World Health Organization on Friday updated the list of drugs it recommends for treating exposure to radiological and nuclear emergencies for the first time since 2007.

The updated list advises countries on how to stock up on nuclear and radiological accidents and emergencies and is included in a new WHO report that reflects data and research on related medical treatment that has emerged in the past decade.

It's important for countries and governments to have "ready supplies of life-saving medicines that will reduce risks and treat radiation-related injuries," said Maria Neira, director of the WHO's Department of Public Health and Environment.

"In a radiological emergency, people may be exposed to radiation at doses ranging from minimal to life-threatening," Nira said. "Governments must make treatments available to those in need - fast."

The World Health Organization says that a typical radiological emergency stock should include stabilized iodine to reduce thyroid exposure to radioactive iodine; chelating agents to reduce radioactive cesium, which can form during nuclear fission, from the body; and cytokines to mitigate damage to the bone marrow.

The list indicates many other people who can treat infections, diarrhea, vomiting, or other causes of physical injury and damage from radiation exposure. It also details the types of drugs and chemicals, how to store and manage them, and how to use them for emergency treatment.

There are about 440 nuclear reactors around the world, and nine countries, including the United States, are considered atomic powers.

Radiation exposure can damage DNA and cause cardiovascular disease or cancer. Exposure to high levels can lead to acute radiation syndrome, resulting in vomiting, nausea, and possibly death.

The World Health Organization says many countries still lack adequate preparedness procedures for radiological emergencies.

Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, said in a statement that the updated list would be critical to government preparedness.

"This updated Critical Drug List will be a vital preparedness and preparedness tool for our partners to identify, procure, stock, and timely deliver effective countermeasures to those at risk or exposed to these events," Ryan said.

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