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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:42 am 
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The WHO IHR meeting on Ebola begins today to determine if the Ebola outbreak is a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern).

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:43 am 
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List of Members of, and Advisers to, the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding Ebola

6 and 7 August 2014

CHAIR

Dr Sam Zaramba

Senior Consultant Surgeon, Former Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health, Kampala, Uganda

VICE-CHAIR

Professor Robert Steffen

Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of Infectious Diseases, WHO Collaborating Centre for Travellers’ Health, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

RAPPORTEUR

Professor Oyewale Tomori

Redeemer’s University, Redemption City, Lagos, Nigeria

MEMBERS

Dr Abdullah Al-Assiri

Assistant Deputy Minister of Health for Preventive Health, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Professor Chris Baggoley

Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra, Australia

Professor Lucille Blumberg

Deputy Director, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

Dr Martin Cetron

Director, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, United States of America

Dr Alain Epelboin

Researcher in Medical Anthropology, National Centre for Scientific Research and National Museum of Natural History, Paris, France

Dr Amara Jambai

Director, Disease Prevention and Control, Ministry of Health, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Professor James LeDuc

Director of Galveston National Laboratory, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, United States of America

Dr Fernando Otaiza

Chief, National Infection Prevention and Control Programme, Ministry of Health, Santiago, Chile

Dr Mark Salter

Global Health Consultant, Public Health England, London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Dr Theresa Tam

Branch Head, Health Security Infrastructure Branch, Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Canada

ADVISERS

Professor William Ampofo

Head of Virology Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana

Colonel (retired) Vincent Anami

Continent Representative (Africa), Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health and Sciences, Friends International Centre, Nairobi, Kenya

Dr Vincent Covello

Director, Center for Risk Communication, New York, United States of America

Dr Anthony Evans

Chief, Aviation Medicine Section, International Civil Aviation Organization

Dr Maria João Martins

Advisor to the General Director of Health for International Health, Ministry of Health, Lisbon, Portugal

Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe

Department of Microbiology, University of Kinshasa, and Director-General, National Institute of Biomedical Research, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Professor Michael Selgelid

Director, Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

http://www.who.int/ihr/procedures/emerg ... 140806/en/

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:51 am 
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6 August 2014 Last updated at 05:38 ET
Summit to discuss Ebola emergency starts
Image
Nigeria health officials wait to screen passengers at the arrival hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday, 4 August 2014
Airports in Nigeria are now screening passengers for Ebola on arrival

Global health experts at the World Health Organization are meeting to discuss new measures to tackle the Ebola outbreak.

The meeting - being held in Geneva, Switzerland - is expected to last two days and will decide whether to declare a global health emergency.

That could involve imposing travel restrictions on affected areas.

The outbreak began last February and has since spread to four African countries, claiming nearly 900 lives.

It comes as leading infectious disease experts have called for experimental treatments to be offered more widely.

Two US aid workers who contracted Ebola in Liberia appear to be improving after receiving an unapproved medicine before being evacuated back to the US.

But it is not clear if the ZMapp drug, which has only been tested on monkeys, can be credited with their improvement.
Image
Map showing Ebola outbreaks since 1976
Prof Peter Piot, who co-discovered Ebola in 1976, Prof David Heymann, the head of the Centre on Global Health Security, and Wellcome Trust director Prof Jeremy Farrar said there were several drugs and vaccines under study for possible use against Ebola.

"African governments should be allowed to make informed decisions about whether or not to use these products - for example to protect and treat healthcare workers who run especially high risks of infection," they wrote in a joint statement.

The World Health Organization (WHO), "the only body with the necessary international authority" to allow such experimental treatments, "must take on this greater leadership role", they said.

"These dire circumstances call for a more robust international response," they added.
Image
Graph showing Ebola deaths since 1976
The WHO meeting involves the organisation's emergency committee and is solely focusing on how to respond to the Ebola outbreak.

If a public health emergency is declared it could also involve detailed plans and efforts to identify, isolate and treat cases.

A WHO spokesman said: "We can't speculate in advance what the committee members are going to decide in advance."

In the meantime, the World Bank is allocating $200m (£120m) in emergency assistance for countries battling to contain the Ebola outbreak.

It is the world's deadliest outbreak to date and has centred on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There have also been two cases in the Nigerian city of Lagos, where eight people are currently in quarantine.

British Airways has temporarily suspended flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone until 31 August because of the health crisis, the airline said in a statement. It follows a similar suspension by two regional air carriers last week.

The virus spreads by contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. The current outbreak is killing between 50% and 60% of people infected.

There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola - but patients have a better chance of survival if they receive early treatment.

Ebola has initial flu-like symptoms that can lead to external haemorrhaging from areas like eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure.

line
Ebola virus disease (EVD)
Coloured transmission electron micro graph of a single Ebola virus, the cause of Ebola fever
Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
Fatality rate can reach 90% - but the current outbreak is about 55%
Incubation period is two to 21 days
There is no vaccine or cure
Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
Fruit bats are considered to be virus' natural host
Ebola: Experimental treatments

Why Ebola is so dangerous

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-28673380

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:05 pm 
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W.H.O. Weighing Emergency Decree on Ebola
By RICK GLADSTONEAUG. 6, 2014

Scrambling to catch up with the worst outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday that it was considering the declaration of an international public health emergency and would convene a panel of experts in coming days to explore the use of experimental treatments for the incurable disease.

The announcements came as fears spread that a Saudi citizen may have brought the Ebola virus home to Saudi Arabia, which is still reeling from a mismanaged epidemic of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome that has killed nearly 300 people in the last two years. Saudi news media said that the citizen, a businessman in his 40s, died on Wednesday at King Fahd Hospital in Jidda after exhibiting Ebola-like symptoms, and that Saudi health officials had submitted biological samples from the patient to laboratories in the United States and Germany.

Former President George W. Bush sat with the spouses of African leaders at a summit meeting in Washington. Mr. Bush is to address the gathering on combating AIDS and other deadly diseases in Africa.Bush Urges Renewed Fight Against Deadly Diseases in AfricaAUG. 6, 2014
The Saudi accounts emphasized that the illness had not yet been identified, and they did not specify where the patient got sick. But Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the World Health Organization in Geneva, said in an email that the patient appeared to have been in Sierra Leone on business in some of the affected areas.

The organization also announced 108 new Ebola cases recorded from Saturday to Monday, bringing the total to 1,711, with 932 deaths. Nearly all are in the three afflicted West African countries at the epicenter of the outbreak: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

But in a sign of the spread of the disease internationally, the organization listed five new cases in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, bringing the Nigerian total to nine. The virus was discovered to have leapfrogged there by plane last week, carried by an American who had been working in Liberia and died in a Nigerian hospital.

The health organization said an emergency committee of international experts was evaluating whether the Ebola outbreak constituted a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” a classification that has only rarely been invoked to combat deadly contagions. The classification gives health authorities greater powers that include quarantining people in affected areas. The committee’s recommendations are expected by Friday.

In a separate announcement, the organization said it was convening a panel of medical ethicists to explore the use of experimental treatments for Ebola, which has a mortality rate as high as 90 percent. The virus, which causes high fevers, aches and severe internal bleeding, is named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, where it was first discovered in 1976.

“We are in an unusual situation in this outbreak,” Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, the organization’s assistant director general, said in the announcement. “We have a disease with a high fatality rate without any proven treatment or vaccine.”

She said “we need to ask the medical ethicists to give us guidance on what the responsible thing to do is.”

Several experimental options are under development, including an untested drug that was administered to two American health workers from Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief group based in Boone, N.C. They had been treating Ebola patients in Liberia and contracted the disease. Both were flown in recent days to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and have been showing signs of improvement, causing an international debate over why Americans were given the drug when hundreds of Africans have died without access to it.

The World Health Organization’s announcement also cited the Samaritan’s Purse workers’ apparent response to the drug, saying it had “raised questions about whether medicine that has never been tested and shown to be safe in people should be used in the outbreak and, given the extremely limited amount of medicine available, if it is used, who should receive it.”

Denise Grady contributed reporting.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/07/world ... .html?_r=0

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:37 pm 
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World Health Organisation meets as Ebola fears grow
Date
August 6, 2014 - 10:41PM

The World Health Organisation began a two-day emergency meeting on West Africa's Ebola epidemic, with the UN agency deciding whether to declare it an international crisis.
The closed-door session is tasked with ruling whether the outbreak constitutes what is known in WHO-speak as a "public health emergency of international concern".
The meeting comes as Nigeria reported its second death and Saudi Arabia said a man who had visited Sierra Leone and had returned with Ebola symptoms died at a hospital in Jeddah.
Taking the form of a telephone conference between senior WHO officials, representatives of affected countries, and experts from around the globe, the WHO meeting is not expected to made its decision public until Friday.

To date, the WHO has not issued global-level recommendations - such as travel and trade restrictions - related to the outbreak which began in Guinea and has spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
But the scale of concern is underlined by the WHO emergency session itself - such consultations are relatively rare.
The UN agency this year held such meetings on polio and last year on the mysterious Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
But before that, the last emergency meeting had been during the 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak.
Nigeria on Wednesday confirmed five new cases of Ebola in Lagos and a second death from the virus, bringing the total number of infections in sub-Saharan Africa's largest city to seven.
"Nigeria has now recorded seven confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVB)," Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said.
Those who have died include the "index patient," a Liberian who brought the virus to Lagos on July 20, and a nurse who treated him, the minister added.
"All the Nigerians diagnosed with EBV were primary contacts" of Patrick Sawyer, who worked for Liberia's finance ministry and contracted the virus from his sister, Mr Chukwu said.
He travelled to Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, for a meeting of West African officials.
Visibly sick upon arrival at the international airport in Lagos, officials said he was immediately transferred to the First Consultants hospital in the upmarket Ikoyi neighbourhood.
He died in quarantine on July 25 and the hospital has since been closed.
The five Ebola patients are being treated in an isolation ward in Lagos, the minister told journalists.
Since breaking out earlier this year, the tropical virus has claimed almost 900 lives and infected more than 1603 people across West Africa.
The other cases have been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
A Saudi Arabian who had travelled to Sierra Leone and had symptoms similar to those found in Ebola sufferers died Wednesday of a heart attack, the health ministry said.
"The patient died of cardiac arrest, despite efforts by the medical team to resuscitate him," the ministry website reported.
It added that the man will be buried in the Islamic manner, but under precautions laid down by the world health authorities.
The ministry did not reveal the results of tests carried out abroad on whether the patent had been suffering from the Ebola virus.
British Airways announced on Tuesday that it has temporarily suspended flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The suspension will remain in place until the end of August, “due to the deteriorating public health situation in both countries,” the airline said in a statement. “The safety of our customers, crew and ground teams is always our top priority and we will keep the route under constant review in the coming weeks.”
The airline is offering customers who already have tickets along those routes a full refund and the ability to re-book flights at a later date.
Meanwhile Spain's government said on Wednesday it will send an air force plane to Liberia to fly an elderly Spanish missionary infected with Ebola back home for treatment.
"This news lifts my spirits, it's great, I am very happy, it is worth fighting," the 75-year-old Roman Catholic priest, Miguel Pajares, told the online edition of daily Spanish newspaper ABC by telephone.
Pajares tested positive for Ebola at the Saint Joseph Hospital in Monrovia were he has worked for the past seven years, Spanish aid organisation Juan Ciudad ONG said Tuesday.
Spain has equipped a military Airbus A310 for a medical evacuation and is to send the aircraft shortly to the West African nation to retrieve the missionary, a Defence Ministry spokesman said.
"As soon as it is ready it will leave," the spokesman told AFP.
The Airbus A310, based at Madrid's Torrejon military air base, was equipped overnight and a military medical team has been trained for the operation, the spokesman said.
Spain's health ministry said no decision had been taken on where the priest would be treated.
The priest has been in quarantine at the Saint Joseph Hospital in Monrovia, along with five other missionaries, since the death on Saturday of the hospital's director from Ebola.
Pajares has worked in Liberia for over five decades.
Ebola, a form of haemorrhagic fever for which there is no vaccine, causes severe muscular pain, fever, headaches and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.
It is believed to be carried by animals hunted for meat, and spreads among humans via bodily fluids.
It has killed around two-thirds of those it has infected since its emergence in 1976, with two outbreaks registering fatality rates approaching 90 per cent.
The death rate in the current outbreak is around 55 per cent.
Ebola was first discovered in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and is named after a river there.
AFP, Washington Post


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/world-healt ... z39ecjFJqs

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 7:48 am 
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WHO Statement on the Meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee Regarding the 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

WHO statement
8 August 2014

The first meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) [IHR (2005)] regarding the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD, or “Ebola”) outbreak in West Africa was held by teleconference on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 from 13:00 to 17:30 and on Thursday, 7 August 2014 from 13:00 to 18:30 Geneva time (CET).

Members and advisors of the Emergency Committee met by teleconference on both days of the meeting1. The following IHR (2005) States Parties participated in the informational session of the meeting on Wednesday, 6 August 2014: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.

During the informational session, the WHO Secretariat provided an update on and assessment of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The above-referenced States Parties presented on recent developments in their countries, including measures taken to implement rapid control strategies, and existing gaps and challenges in the outbreak response.

After discussion and deliberation on the information provided, the Committee advised that:

the Ebola outbreak in West Africa constitutes an ‘extraordinary event’ and a public health risk to other States;
the possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus, the intensive community and health facility transmission patterns, and the weak health systems in the currently affected and most at-risk countries.
a coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola.
It was the unanimous view of the Committee that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have been met.

The current EVD outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013. This outbreak now involves transmission in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. As of 4 August 2014, countries have reported 1 711 cases (1 070 confirmed, 436 probable, 205 suspect), including 932 deaths. This is currently the largest EVD outbreak ever recorded. In response to the outbreak, a number of unaffected countries have made a range of travel related advice or recommendations.

In light of States Parties’ presentations and subsequent Committee discussions, several challenges were noted for the affected countries:

their health systems are fragile with significant deficits in human, financial and material resources, resulting in compromised ability to mount an adequate Ebola outbreak control response;
inexperience in dealing with Ebola outbreaks; misperceptions of the disease, including how the disease is transmitted, are common and continue to be a major challenge in some communities;
high mobility of populations and several instances of cross-border movement of travellers with infection;
several generations of transmission have occurred in the three capital cities of Conakry (Guinea); Monrovia (Liberia); and Freetown (Sierra Leone); and
a high number of infections have been identified among health-care workers, highlighting inadequate infection control practices in many facilities.
The Committee provided the following advice to the Director-General for her consideration to address the Ebola outbreak in accordance with IHR (2005).

States with Ebola transmission

The Head of State should declare a national emergency; personally address the nation to provide information on the situation, the steps being taken to address the outbreak and the critical role of the community in ensuring its rapid control; provide immediate access to emergency financing to initiate and sustain response operations; and ensure all necessary measures are taken to mobilize and remunerate the necessary health care workforce.
Health Ministers and other health leaders should assume a prominent leadership role in coordinating and implementing emergency Ebola response measures, a fundamental aspect of which should be to meet regularly with affected communities and to make site visits to treatment centres.
States should activate their national disaster/emergency management mechanisms and establish an emergency operation centre, under the authority of the Head of State, to coordinate support across all partners, and across the information, security, finance and other relevant sectors, to ensure efficient and effective implementation and monitoring of comprehensive Ebola control measures. These measures must include infection prevention and control (IPC), community awareness, surveillance, accurate laboratory diagnostic testing, contact tracing and monitoring, case management, and communication of timely and accurate information among countries. For all infected and high risks areas, similar mechanisms should be established at the state/province and local levels to ensure close coordination across all levels.
States should ensure that there is a large-scale and sustained effort to fully engage the community – through local, religious and traditional leaders and healers – so communities play a central role in case identification, contact tracing and risk education; the population should be made fully aware of the benefits of early treatment.
It is essential that a strong supply pipeline be established to ensure that sufficient medical commodities, especially personal protective equipment (PPE), are available to those who appropriately need them, including health care workers, laboratory technicians, cleaning staff, burial personnel and others that may come in contact with infected persons or contaminated materials.
In areas of intense transmission (e.g. the cross border area of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia), the provision of quality clinical care, and material and psychosocial support for the affected populations should be used as the primary basis for reducing the movement of people, but extraordinary supplemental measures such as quarantine should be used as considered necessary.
States should ensure health care workers receive: adequate security measures for their safety and protection; timely payment of salaries and, as appropriate, hazard pay; and appropriate education and training on IPC, including the proper use of PPEs.
States should ensure that: treatment centres and reliable diagnostic laboratories are situated as closely as possible to areas of transmission; that these facilities have adequate numbers of trained staff, and sufficient equipment and supplies relative to the caseload; that sufficient security is provided to ensure both the safety of staff and to minimize the risk of premature removal of patients from treatment centres; and that staff are regularly reminded and monitored to ensure compliance with IPC.
States should conduct exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaports and major land crossings, for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection. The exit screening should consist of, at a minimum, a questionnaire, a temperature measurement and, if there is a fever, an assessment of the risk that the fever is caused by EVD. Any person with an illness consistent with EVD should not be allowed to travel unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation.
There should be no international travel of Ebola contacts or cases, unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation. To minimize the risk of international spread of EVD:
Confirmed cases should immediately be isolated and treated in an Ebola Treatment Centre with no national or international travel until 2 Ebola-specific diagnostic tests conducted at least 48 hours apart are negative;
Contacts (which do not include properly protected health workers and laboratory staff who have had no unprotected exposure) should be monitored daily, with restricted national travel and no international travel until 21 days after exposure;
Probable and suspect cases should immediately be isolated and their travel should be restricted in accordance with their classification as either a confirmed case or contact.
States should ensure funerals and burials are conducted by well-trained personnel, with provision made for the presence of the family and cultural practices, and in accordance with national health regulations, to reduce the risk of Ebola infection. The cross-border movement of the human remains of deceased suspect, probable or confirmed EVD cases should be prohibited unless authorized in accordance with recognized international biosafety provisions.
States should ensure that appropriate medical care is available for the crews and staff of airlines operating in the country, and work with the airlines to facilitate and harmonize communications and management regarding symptomatic passengers under the IHR (2005), mechanisms for contact tracing if required and the use of passenger locator records where appropriate.
States with EVD transmission should consider postponing mass gatherings until EVD transmission is interrupted.
States with a potential or confirmed Ebola Case, and unaffected States with land borders with affected States

Unaffected States with land borders adjoining States with Ebola transmission should urgently establish surveillance for clusters of unexplained fever or deaths due to febrile illness; establish access to a qualified diagnostic laboratory for EVD; ensure that health workers are aware of and trained in appropriate IPC procedures; and establish rapid response teams with the capacity to investigate and manage EVD cases and their contacts.
Any State newly detecting a suspect or confirmed Ebola case or contact, or clusters of unexplained deaths due to febrile illness, should treat this as a health emergency, take immediate steps in the first 24 hours to investigate and stop a potential Ebola outbreak by instituting case management, establishing a definitive diagnosis, and undertaking contact tracing and monitoring.
If Ebola transmission is confirmed to be occurring in the State, the full recommendations for States with Ebola Transmission should be implemented, on either a national or subnational level, depending on the epidemiologic and risk context.
All States

There should be no general ban on international travel or trade; restrictions outlined in these recommendations regarding the travel of EVD cases and contacts should be implemented.
States should provide travelers to Ebola affected and at-risk areas with relevant information on risks, measures to minimize those risks, and advice for managing a potential exposure.
States should be prepared to detect, investigate, and manage Ebola cases; this should include assured access to a qualified diagnostic laboratory for EVD and, where appropriate, the capacity to manage travelers originating from known Ebola-infected areas who arrive at international airports or major land crossing points with unexplained febrile illness.
The general public should be provided with accurate and relevant information on the Ebola outbreak and measures to reduce the risk of exposure.
States should be prepared to facilitate the evacuation and repatriation of nationals (e.g. health workers) who have been exposed to Ebola.
The Committee emphasized the importance of continued support by WHO and other national and international partners towards the effective implementation and monitoring of these recommendations.

Based on this advice, the reports made by affected States Parties and the currently available information, the Director-General accepted the Committee’s assessment and on 8 August 2014 declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The Director-General endorsed the Committee’s advice and issued them as Temporary Recommendations under IHR (2005) to reduce the international spread of Ebola, effective 8 August 2014. The Director-General thanked the Committee Members and Advisors for their advice and requested their reassessment of this situation within 3 months.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/sta ... it.who.int

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 8:01 am 
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VIDEOS

The World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency Friday over the Ebola outbreak in western Africa that has killed almost 1,000 people. The outbreak of the deadly virus is “extraordinary event” and a public health risk to other countries, it said.

"The possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus," the organization said in a statement after a meeting of top officials from affected countries. "It was the unanimous view ... that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have been met," it said. Two American aid workers who contracted Ebola in Africa were still being treated in the United States on Friday. An elderly missionary became the first Ebola patient to arrive in Europe for treatment early Thursday after Spain's government flew him back from Liberia.

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ebola- ... cy-n175751

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 8:05 am 
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WHO: Ebola outbreak in West Africa an international health emergency
By Faith Karimi and Radina Gigova, CNN
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014


(CNN) -- Global health experts on Friday declared the Ebola epidemic ravaging West Africa an international health emergency that requires a coordinated global approach.
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are battling the Ebola virus, which has also spread to Nigeria. More than 930 people have died.
"The possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus, the intensive community and health facility transmission patterns, and the weak health systems in the currently affected and most at-risk countries," the World health Organization said Friday after two days of emergency meetings.
The U.N health agency described it as the worst outbreak in the four-decade history of tracking the disease.
Step inside CDC's Ebola war room
"A coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola," WHO said.
Photos: Ebola outbreak in West Africa Photos: Ebola outbreak in West Africa
Why Ebola drug isn't available in Africa
Map: Ebola outbreakMap: Ebola outbreak
A WHO official said bogus information is adding to the rapid spread of the disease.
"Perhaps one of the most important factors contributing to this is fear and misinformation," said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, assistant director for health security.
"This is critical to understand, because what it is doing is that it helps foster suspicion and anxiety in communities, and when that happens we see a situation where people are reluctant to go to health facilities or maybe reluctant to bring their family members there. And it underscores the importance of communities being aware and understanding, but we also see that fear impacts other countries."
Though infectious, Ebola "is not mysterious" and can be contained, Fukuda said.
Medical aid groups applauded the designation but said that it alone won't reduce fatalities.
"Declaring Ebola an international public health emergency shows how seriously WHO is taking the current outbreak, but statements won't save lives," said Dr. Bart Janssens, director of operations for Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian organization.
"Now we need this statement to translate into immediate action on the ground. For weeks, MSF has been repeating that a massive medical, epidemiological and public health response is desperately needed to saves lives and reverse the course of the epidemic," said Janssens, using the initials for his organization's French name, Medecins Sans Frontieres.
"Lives are being lost because the response is too slow."
The agency said it has nearly 700 staff responding to the crisis in the affected countries.
"All our Ebola experts are mobilized, we simply cannot do more," he said.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the fast-spreading disease has overwhelmed her nation's health care system.
"The scope and scale of the epidemic ... now exceed the capacity and statutory responsibility of any one government agency or ministry," she said.
How an Ebola outbreak can start, and end The facts about Ebola
The Liberian leader declared a 90-day state of emergency this week, which will allow her government to set up a series of measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
While Liberia struggles to contain the epidemic, the United States ordered relatives of its embassy employees to leave the country. The U.S. Embassy is in the capital of Monrovia -- one of the areas hardest-hit by the epidemic.
Washington said it's sending experts to Liberia, including 12 specialists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a 13-member disaster assistance response team from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Two Americans who were in Liberia are undergoing treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta: Dr. Kent Brantly and aid worker Nancy Writebol. Emory is one of four U.S. institutions capable of providing such treatment.
The Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever that affects multiple organ systems in the body.
Early symptoms include weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. They later progress to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function -- and sometimes internal and external bleeding.
Ebola spreads through contact with organs and bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, urine and other secretions of infected people. It has no known cure. The most common treatment requires supporting organ functions and maintaining bodily fluids such as blood and water long enough for the body to fight off the infection.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/08/health/eb ... _inthenews

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 8:16 am 
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Ebola: Official MSF response to WHO declaring epidemic an "extraordinary event"

"Lives are being lost because the response is too slow"

DR BART JANSSENSMSF DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
08.08.2014

In a statement released today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that West Africa's Ebola epidemic is an "extraordinary event" and now constitutes an international health risk.

"A coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola," the WHO said in a statement after a two-day meeting of its emergency committee on Ebola.

MSF reaction to WHO Ebola statement

In response, Dr Bart Janssens, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Director of Operations said:

“Declaring Ebola an international public health emergency shows how seriously WHO is taking the current outbreak but statements won’t save lives

“Now we need this statement to translate into immediate action on the ground. For weeks, MSF has been repeating that a massive medical, epidemiological and public health response is desperately needed to saves lives and reverse the course of the epidemic.

“Lives are being lost because the response is too slow.

“Countries possessing necessary capacities must immediately dispatch available infectious disease experts and disaster relief assets to the region.

“It is clear the epidemic will not be contained without a massive deployment on the ground from these states.

“In concrete terms, all of the following need to be radically scaled up: medical care, training of health staff, infection control, contact tracing, epidemiological surveillance, alert and referral systems, community mobilisation and education.

“MSF currently has 66 international and 610 national staff responding to the crisis in the three affected countries. All our Ebola experts are mobilised, we simply cannot do more.”

MSF Ebola response

MSF emergency teams are continuing their efforts to fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The disease has claimed 932 lives, according to the WHO, since the outbreak began in March this year.

Over recent weeks, MSF teams have seen a worrying surge in the epidemic, with the number of cases increasing dramatically in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and the disease spreading to many more villages and towns.

MSF currently has 676 staff working in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, but warns that it has reached its limit in terms of staff, and urges the WHO, health authorities and other organisations to scale up their response.

http://www.msf.org.uk/article/ebola-off ... nary-event

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:56 am 
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(Reuters) - West Africa's Ebola epidemic is an "extraordinary event" and now constitutes an international health risk, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

The Geneva-based U.N. health agency said the possible consequences of a further international spread of the outbreak, which has killed almost 1,000 people in four West African countries, were "particularly serious" in view of the virulence of the virus.

"A coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola," the WHO said in a statement after a two-day meeting of its emergency committee on Ebola.

The declaration of an international emergency will have the effect of raising the level of vigilance on the virus.

"The outbreak is moving faster than we can control it," the WHO's director-general Margaret Chan told reporters on a telephone briefing from the WHO's Geneva headquarters.

"The declaration ... will galvanize the attention of leaders of all countries at the top level. It cannot be done by the ministries of health alone."

The agency said that, while all states with Ebola transmission - so far Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone - should declare a national emergency, there should be no general ban on international travel or trade.

"THIS CAN BE STOPPED"

Ebola has no proven cures and there is no vaccine to prevent infection, so treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea - all of which can contribute to severe dehydration.

Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's head of health security, stressed that, with the right measures to deal with infected people, the spread of Ebola - which is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids - could be stopped.

"This is not a mysterious disease. This is an infectious disease that can be contained," he told reporters. "It is not a virus that is spread through the air."

Fukuda said it was important that anyone known to have Ebola should be immediately isolated and treated and kept in isolation for 30 days. "Based on scientific studies, people who have infection can shed virus for up to 30 days," he said.

The current outbreak, in which at least 1,711 people have so far been infected, of whom 932 have died, is the most severe in the almost 40 years since Ebola was identified in humans.

The WHO said this was partly because of the weakness of the health systems in the countries currently affected, which lacked human, financial and material resources.

It also said inexperience in dealing with Ebola outbreaks and misperceptions of the disease, including how it is transmitted, "continue to be a major challenge in some communities".

"If we do not in global solidarity come together to help these countries, they will be set back for many years," Chan said. She noted the three hardest-hit nations had only begun to emerge and rebuild after "years of conflict and difficulties".

Although most cases of Ebola are in the remote area where Guinea borders Sierra Leone and Liberia, alarm over the spread of the disease increased last month when a U.S. citizen died in Nigeria after traveling there by plane from Liberia.

After an experimental drug was administered to two U.S. charity workers who were infected in Liberia, Ebola specialists urged the WHO to offer such drugs to Africans. The U.N. agency has asked medical ethics experts to explore this option next week. [ID:nL6N0QB5UH]

David Heymann, a former WHO official and now director of the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security, who this week urged the WHO to show greater leadership and to consider allowing the use of experimental drugs for Africans affected by Ebola, said governments should step up their response.

The major message, he said, was that the three known measures that stop Ebola outbreaks – hospital infection control, community understanding of risks of infection, and contact tracing - "appear not to have been robustly enough applied".

"Governments appear to not have been engaged as necessary," he said in an emailed response to the WHO's statement.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland, additional reporting and editing by Kevin Liffey)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/ ... ce=twitter

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