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Archive for the category “Health”

Joint Press Release: WHO Director General Visits Uganda to Assess Ebola Response (17.06.2019)

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Rwanda: Public Notice – Reminder to strengthen measures to prevent the spread of Ebola into Rwanda (11.06.2019)

Ministry of Health: Update of Ebola Outbreak in Kasese District (12.06.2019)

Amid ‘unprecedented combination’ of epidemics, UN and partners begin cholera vaccination campaign in DR Congo (28.05.2019)

The campaign began in North Kivu in the restive east of the country.

NEW YORK, United States of America, May 28, 2019 –  Amid what global Vaccine Alliance Gavi is calling an “unprecedented combination” of epidemics, the UN and partners are supporting  the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s major new immunization campaign against cholera which began on Monday, targeting more than 800,000.

The campaign began in North Kivu in the restive east of the country, where armed groups hold sway over large areas, and the DRC’s worst-ever Ebola epidemic is still raging, having claimed well over 1,000 lives so far.

The cholera campaign will be implemented by the DRC’s Ministry of Health with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, and funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. A total of 835,183 people in Binza, Goma, Kayina, Karisimbi, Kibirizi, Kirotshe and Rutshuru areas will be vaccinated by a deadline of next Saturday.

A first dose will be given, and if all goes well, the second dose will be rolled out at a later stage to provide full protection. More than 10,000 cases of cholera have been reported in the country since January 2019, leading to more than 240 deaths. In addition, over 80,000 suspected cases of measles have led to over 1,400 deaths so far this year while a case of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 was reported in Kasai province, earlier this month.

  “The DRC is confronted with an unprecedented combination of deadly epidemics,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “While the Ebola outbreak continues to cause untold misery in the East, measles and cholera epidemics are claiming the lives of thousands of people throughout the country.

That’s why we are stepping up our response,” he added, “through ongoing measles vaccinations in health zones affected by measles outbreaks, as well as through our continued support for Ebola vaccinations in both the DRC and neighbouring countries. We cannot allow this needless suffering to continue.” 

Campaign is ‘massive contribution’ – WHO

“Cholera is a preventable disease. Vaccinating people at risk in the most exposed health zones in North Kivu against cholera is a massive contribution and will protect hundreds of thousands of people against the disease and raise population immunity levels in these areas,” said Dr. Deo Nshimirimana, acting WHO Representative in the DRC.

The cholera vaccine doses were taken from the global cholera vaccine stockpile, which is fully funded by Gavi. Gavi is also supporting operational costs for the campaign.

Since the stockpile was launched in 2013, millions of doses have helped tackle outbreaks across the globe. In the fifteen years between 1997 and 2012, just 1.5 million doses of oral cholera vaccine were used worldwide. In 2018 alone, the stockpile provided 17 million doses to 22 different countries.

United Nations strengthens Ebola response in Democratic Republic of the Congo (23.05.2019)

The Ebola epidemic has claimed more than 1,200 lives and the risk of spread to other provinces in the eastern Congo as well as neighbouring countries remains very high.

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 23, 2019 – With the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo now in its tenth month and the number of new cases increasing in recent weeks, the United Nations announced today measures to strengthen its response and end the outbreak.

The Ebola epidemic has claimed more than 1,200 lives and the risk of spread to other provinces in the eastern Congo as well as neighbouring countries remains very high. A third of those who have fallen ill are children, which is a higher proportion than in previous outbreaks.

Under the leadership of the Government and Congolese communities, with support from the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the response has contained Ebola in parts of Ituri and North Kivu provinces. But ongoing insecurity and community mistrust in the response continue to hamper access to communities. This is hindering efforts by WHO and the Ministry of Health to detect sick people and ensure access to treatment and vaccination, ultimately leading to more intense Ebola transmission.

In view of the increasingly complex environment, the UN in partnership with the Government and all partners is now strengthening its political engagement and operational support to negotiate access to communities; increasing support for humanitarian coordination; and bolstering preparedness and readiness planning for Goma and surrounding countries. WHO is adapting public health strategies to identify and treat people as quickly as possible; expanding vaccination to reach and protect more people; and redoubling work to end transmission in health facilities.

The UN Secretary-General has established a strengthened coordination and support mechanism in the epicenter of the outbreak, Butembo.

MONUSCO Deputy UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) David Gressly has been appointed UN Emergency Ebola Response Coordinator (EERC) in the Ebola affected areas of the DRC. Mr. Gressly, who brings a wealth of humanitarian leadership and political and security experience to the role, will report to the SRSG, Leila Zerrougui. He will oversee the coordination of international support for the Ebola response and work to ensure that an enabling environment—particularly security and political—is in place to allow the Ebola response to be even more effective.

Mr. Gressly will work closely with WHO, which will continue to lead all health operations and technical support activities to the Government response to the epidemic. Dr. Ibrahima Socé Fall, Assistant Director-General, Emergency Response, who has been in Butembo since end-March, is leading the WHO response in DRC. WHO will also continue to coordinate public health interventions that are being implemented by other UN partners.

“The Ebola response is working in an operating environment of unprecedented complexity for a public health emergency—insecurity and political protests have led to periodic disruptions in our efforts to fight the disease. Therefore, an enhanced UN-wide response is required to overcome these operating constraints and this includes moving senior leadership and operational decision making to the epicenter of the epidemic in Butembo. We have no time to lose,” said DSRSG Gressly.

WHO’s Dr. Fall said: “This system-wide and international support is exactly what WHO has been calling for. We know that the outbreak response must be owned by the local population, and this new approach reflects what they have asked for: better security for patients and health workers, wider access to vaccination, and a more humane face to the response.” Dr. Fall has been working alongside Dr. Michel Yao, the WHO Ebola Incident Manager who has been in place since August 2018. In Kinshasa, WHO has also appointed a special representative to the Ebola Response, Dr. Peter Graaff, to coordinate with partners there.

Additional UN measures will bolster the critical work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and agencies already on the ground, including UNICEF. Working with NGOs, UNICEF leads community engagement activities; provides psychosocial interventions; and helps prevent infection through water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Financial planning and reporting will also be strengthened and efforts will be accelerated to ensure sustainable and predictable funding required for the Ebola strategic response plan considering the ongoing needs.

PSK Position on the Unfortunate Incident of Death of Seven-Month-Old Baby at Shalom Community Hospital, Machakos (07.05.2019)

DRC: Ebola situation worsening while support lags (30.04.2019)

Statement from WHO High-Level Mission to Butembo, DRC

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, have concluded a visit to Butembo, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was in Butembo on 19 April that WHO epidemiologist Dr Richard Mouzoko was killed by armed men while he and colleagues were working on the Ebola response.

“Dr Mouzoko’s death moved me profoundly. On this mission, he was on my mind the whole time as we met with other dedicated colleagues. I am also profoundly worried about the situation. Cases are increasing because of violent acts that set us back each time. We have already begun to adjust our response.”

Dr Tedros and Dr Moeti traveled to Butembo to express their gratitude and show support to WHO and partner organization staff, while also assessing the next steps needed to strengthen both security and the Ebola response effort. They also met with local political, business and religious leaders, and called on them to accelerate their efforts to stabilize the surrounding environment.

They urged the international community to step up support to contain the Ebola outbreak, including filling the funding gap that threatens to stymie the Ebola response.

Most Ebola response activities, including community engagement, vaccination, and case investigation, have been re-launched following a slowdown in the wake of the attack that left Dr. Mouzoko dead and two people injured. However, they expressed deep concern that a rise in reported cases in recent weeks is straining resources even further.

“My pride and respect for my extraordinary colleagues has only grown,” said Dr Moeti. “They have been through something unimaginable and yet are willing to continue this vital work. We need the security situation to be under control for them and for the local people. During our mission, we had fruitful discussions with the partners who provide security cover to see what more could be done. Meanwhile, we will continue to work with various groups and embed our response at the community level.”

The delegation met the Mayor of Butembo, Sylvain Kanyamanda Mbusa, the US Ambassador, Michael A. Hammer, the Deputy Special Representative of the peacekeeping mission to the DRC (MONUSCO), David Gressly, and other UN partners, business, religious and political leaders, and NGOs active in the response.

“We are entering a phase where we will need major shifts in the response,” said Dr Tedros. WHO and partners cannot tackle these challenges without the international community stepping in to fill the sizeable funding gap.”

Only half of the currently requested funds have been received, which could lead to WHO and partners rolling back some activities precisely when they are most needed.

“We will continue to adjust the response, as we have done for each context in each community,” said Dr Moeti. “This worrisome rise in cases is a further call to action. In the end, it is only through the ownership by all the affected communities that the outbreak will end. Some would have Ebola drive us apart. We can only defeat it if we all work together.”

Nairobi City County: Update on Suspected Cholera Outbreak in the Nairobi Hospital (16.04.2019)

Cyclone Idai briefing: Dr Djamila Cabral, WHO Representative in Mozambique (27.03.2019)

Last Friday I visited Beira, one of the worst-affected areas that was hit by Tropical Cyclone Idai.

The devastation is enormous

More than 100 000 people have lost their homes and all of their possessions. Families, pregnant women, babies are living in temporary camps in horrific conditions, without secure food supplies, or safe drinking water and sanitation.

Around 55 health centres have been severely damaged. I visited the central hospital in Beira where I saw the direct impact of the cyclone. The flooding had damaged essential equipment and the facility is unable to receive patients during this crucial time. As an example, surgical theatre and nursery completely damaged.

Official death toll is more than 446 but we expect the real numbers to be much higher. 1.8 million people in Mozambique need urgent humanitarian assistance.

For WHO, health is our number one priority now

We must not let these people suffer a second disaster through a serious disease outbreak or inability to access essential health services. They have suffered enough.

WHO’s Director General, Dr Tedros has called for a “no regrets” approach – this means that we are doing whatever it takes to address the crisis, investing all the available resources now to save lives and protect health.

We are building up a surge team of over 40 staff from across the Organization, with expertise in logistics, epidemiology, and outbreak prevention and response.

We have a number of key priorities right now. First to set up an early warning disease detection system so that we can respond rapidly as soon as an outbreak is suspected. Then we need to ensure that, as resources come in, they are immediately put to work.

There is increased risk of diseases

We know that after an event like this, there is extremely high risk of diarrhoeal diseases like cholera. WHO is positioning supplies to prepare to treat diarrhoeal diseases – lifesaving intravenous fluids, diagnostic tests, 900 000 doses of oral cholera vaccines are on their way from the global emergency stockpile. We are providing our expertise to set up 3 cholera treatment centres, including an 80-bed treatment centre in Beira.

We are also preparing for a spike in malaria in the coming weeks by procuring 900 000 insecticide-treated bednets to protect all affected families, and ensure rapid diagnostic tests and antimalarials are positioned to high-risk areas.

And we are working at top speed to ensure that the people of Mozambique can access essential health services during this crisis to ensure that:

  • people with HIV, TB or diabetes continue to receive their medications
  • that thousands of pregnant women are able to receive care for safe childbirth
  • that children receive treatment for common infections and are screened (and treated if needed) for acute malnutrition
  • that people in need receive psycho-social support and protection from gender-based violence.

The coming weeks are crucial for WHO in Mozambique. The health sector needs at least $38 million over the next 3 months for the health response to this humanitarian crisis.

The State of Health service delivery and financing: CSO perspectives (17.03.2019)

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