Press release: Red Cross responds to growing need for regional assistance following Burundi pre-election violence (23.05.2015)

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Nairobi/Geneva 23 May 2015 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is deeply concerned about the current situation in Burundi and its humanitarian consequences in the country and region.

Pre-election tension and violence have intensified in recent weeks in Burundi, resulting in a number of casualties in the capital of Bujumbura. More than 100,000 Burundians have fled across the country’s borders into neighbouring Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The Rwandan Red Cross reports that 26,756 Burundians have crossed its border over the past three weeks, while UNHCR reports at least 76,520 Burundians have fled to Tanzania.

In Tanzania, the men, women and children, who fled their homes only with what they could carry, are also now facing a cholera outbreak. According to health officials, 33 people have died so far. The outbreak is feared to be worsening with more than 2,000 suspected cases now reported, increasing at the rate of 300 to 400 new cases per day, particularly in Kagunga and nearby areas. At least 15 suspected cases have been reported on the Burundi side of the border. Many cases of acute watery diarrhoea have also been reported.

“Over half of the refugees from Burundi who seek refuge in Tanzania are children who are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases like cholera. Many of the families arriving are female-led which makes them even more vulnerable to violence and insecurity,” said Finn Jarle Rode, IFRC regional representative, East Africa. “There are urgent needs in water and sanitation, health, first aid and shelter.”

IFRC is supporting National Red Cross Societies in Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania in responding to the urgent and rising humanitarian needs, especially those of woman and children who are the most affected in the current crisis, and to ensure close collaboration and coordination between the three National Societies.

On 20 May, IFRC launched an emergency appeal for 1 million Swiss francs to support the Tanzanian Red Cross Society in delivering assistance to 20,000 Burundian refugees with a focus on emergency health, water, sanitation, hygiene promotion, emergency shelter, and relief. Since the beginning of the crisis, staff and volunteers of the Tanzania Red Cross Society have been on the frontline of the response, providing people in need with immediate humanitarian assistance. A Field Assessment Coordination Team (FACT) has also been deployed to further evaluate the needs of the refugees and update the Red Cross response plan accordingly.

In Burundi, the Red Cross deployed three first aid mobile response teams in Bujumbura. They are offering onsite first aid treatment, evacuation of the injured to hospitals, and referrals of pregnant women caught up in the violence. Burundi Red Cross is monitoring the situation closely in all provinces and has pre-positioned stocks to be able to adapt its response to the fast changing context.

In Rwanda, the National Society has been supporting refugees at different entry points, in two transit camps and in one permanent camp with registration, first aid, psychosocial support, distribution of non-food items and helping separated family members regain contact with their loved ones.

“The Red Cross is on the front lines of this response, and currently, a lot remains unknown,” said Jarle Rode. “As the needs of those affected become clearer through our on-going assessments, we will undoubtedly have to seek significant additional resources to ensure affected people and families in Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania receive the humanitarian support they deserve.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 million people each year through its 189 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org/africa. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Professor PLO Lumumba on “A pan-African perspective…Decolonising the Mind of Africans” (Youtube-Clip) – (04.11.2014)

Well, I know that I’m as European man, and never the less, I am very moved by this speech! Hope you are as well my brother. If not, I don’t know what gives! Listen to the wise words of Professor PLO Lumumba! Peace! 

Press Release: First Ebola Vaccine to Be Tested in Affected Communities One Year into Outbreak Ring Vaccination Starts in Coyah, Guinea (25.03.2015)

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Conakry, 25 March, 2015 – The Guinean Government with the World Health Organization (WHO) initiated the very first efficacy trial of an Ebola vaccine this week in an affected community of the Basse-Guinée, one of the areas where most Ebola cases are found in the country. Ring vaccination tests of VSV-EBOV, a lead Ebola vaccine developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, received an excellent response from the community in a small village in the Coyah prefecture, where the trial team arrived on 23 March.

“This landmark operation gives hope to all of us, in Guinea and in the world, that we might soon have an effective public health tool against Ebola, should the vaccine prove to be safe and effective,” stated the WHO Representative in Guinea, Dr. Jean-Marie Dangou. “The start of ring vaccination clinical testing today in Guinea is therefore one of the most important milestones we have achieved in seeking a modern line of defense against Ebola.”



Trained medical staff, vaccines and other essential equipment were dispatched from Conakry to Coyah to vaccinate contacts of recently infected people who have given consent in a village of the Coyah prefecture. Vaccinations for now will include only adults, who are most at risk of infection, with the exception of pregnant women.
“We are committed to ending this epidemic,” said Dr. Sakoba Keita, National Coordinator of the Fight against Ebola in Guinea. “Combined with control measures that we are putting in place with our partners, a safe and effective vaccine will allow us to close this trying chapter and start rebuilding our country.”

The ring vaccination strategy consists in identifying recently infected patients and vaccinating all their contacts, thereby creating a ‘ring of immunity’ around them to stop the virus from spreading.

“This very same strategy was a key contribution to eradicating smallpox in the 1970’s, and allows us to vaccinate all those at greatest risk,” explained WHO Coordinator for the Guinea Vaccine Trial, Dr. Ana Maria Henao Restrepo.

Dr. Bertrand Draguez, Medical Director for the Non-governmental Organization Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) stressed that: “The trial is organized on a voluntary basis, and participation is confidential, free and non-remunerated.”



The Guinean Government is fully committed to the success of the vaccine clinical trial. In a 20 March official letter addressed to all the Mayors, Prefects and local Health Officials in Guinea, the Head of the National Coordination Against Ebola in Guinea, Dr Sakoba Keita, asked all local public actors for their full cooperation and support.
A total of around 10 000 people are planned to be vaccinated in 190 rings within a six-eight week period. Volunteers will be followed for three months. Results could be available as early as July 2015.

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Note to editors

About the vaccine and the vaccination strategy:

VSV-EBOV Vaccine was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The vaccine was licensed to NewLink Genetics, and on November 24, 2014, NewLink Genetics and Merck announced their collaboration on the vaccine.

The concept of ring vaccination applied to the Guinea Ebola vaccine clinical trial is based on vaccinating the “rings” (group of contacts of a newly diagnosed Ebola “index case”) either immediately after confirmation of the Ebola diagnosis of the “index case”, or three weeks later (delayed vaccination). This strategy allows all the known contacts to be vaccinated within a short period of time, and it constitutes an excellent alternative to the use of a placebo. The ring vaccination trial design was developed by an international group of experts from Canada, France, Guinea, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, and WHO. This group included Professor Donald A. Henderson, who led the WHO smallpox eradication effort.

The Guinea Ebola vaccine trial is a coordinated effort among numerous international partners. The trial is implemented under the responsibility of the Guinean government. The World Health Organization (WHO) is the sponsor of the study. The Government of Guinea, Doctors without Borders / Medecins sans Frontières (MSF), Epicentre, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and WHO are coordinating its implementation. The trial is funded by MSF; the Research Council of Norway through the Norwegian Institute of Public Health; the Canadian government through the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, International Development Research Centre and Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development; and WHO, with support from the Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom.

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For more information, please contact:

Pr Jean-Marie DANGOU, WHO Representative to Guinea
Cel : + 224 623 23 55 55
E-mail: dangouj@who.int

Dr Ana Maria Henao Restrepo
E-mail : henaorestrepoa@who.int

M. Konaté Issiaga
Tel : +224 62 59 70 42
E-mail: konatei@who.int

Rodrigue Barry
E-mail : barryr@who.int
Tel : +224 624 827 240

Koné Souleymane
Email : koneso@who.int
Tel : +224 624 827 337

Mbengue Khalifa
Tel : +224 624 827 350
Email: mbenguek@who.int

WHO Press release: Ebola in West Africa: 12 months on (15.1.2015)

Note for the media
15 January 2015

One year after the first Ebola cases started to surface in Guinea, WHO is publishing this series of 14 papers that take an in-depth look at West Africa’s first epidemic of Ebola virus disease.

The papers explore reasons why the disease evaded detection for several months and the factors, many specific to West Africa, that fuelled its subsequent spread.

The most extensive papers trace events in each of the 3 most severely affected countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. These countries shared many common challenges, shaped by geography, culture, and poverty, but each also faced, addressed and sometimes solved some unique problems.

Key events are set out chronologically, starting with the child who is believed to be the index case of this epidemic through to the Director-General’s commitment to steadfastly support affected countries until they reach zero cases.

The report also looks back at WHO’s response over the past 12 months, including the 9 August declaration of an international health emergency. It documents the many challenges faced by countries and the international community in dealing with the largest, longest, most severe, and most complex Ebola outbreak in history.

Throughout the report, the contributions of national governments and their many partners weave in, as does the great human misery caused by a terrible and terrifying disease.

Other papers provide insight into:

  • how the fast-track development of Ebola vaccines, treatments and rapid diagnostic tests is progressing, with no compromise of safety and efficacy standards;
  • how Senegal, Nigeria and likely Mali managed to contain imported cases and bring their own outbreaks under control;
  • the state of worldwide vigilance and preparedness, especially in countries targeted by WHO as being at greatest risk of an imported case.

The report also looks ahead. Based on what was learned during the previous year, what critical strategies and interventions will give countries and their partners the best chance of bringing the outbreaks under control?

WHO media contacts:

Gregory Hartl
Communications Officer
Telephone: +41 22 791 4458
Mobile: +41 79 203 6715
Email: hartlg@who.int

Tarik Jasarevic
Communications Officer
Telephone: +41 22 791 50 99
Mobile: +41 79 367 62 14
E-mail: jasarevict@who.int

Press Statement: First Cabinet Meeting Held on 15th January 2015 (Kenya)

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British High Commission Press Statement: British charity, UK Police Aid Convoys, gifts Tanzania medical equipment (09.01.2015)

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