News Pouch 25 April 2019

To view images in this newsletter, please allow images and html options. 

View this email in your browser

Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

News Pouch: 25 April 2019


  • Spotlight: Ebola
  • Updates and News on main Outbreaks
    • Priority Infectious Diseases
      • Influenza
      •  VBD, and more
  • One Health
    • Biodiversity and ecosystem
    • Food Security and Safety
    • AMR
    • Health in Emergencies and Disasters
    • Climate Change
    • Urban Health
    • Migration Health
    • Global Health
    • Contact us


    Ebola Outbreak Situation

    WHO AFRO - Situation Report - Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in DRC - Sitrep 38 (2019)
    As of 22 April 2019, a total of 1353 EVD cases, including 1287 confirmed and 66 probable cases, were reported. A total of 880 deaths were reported (overall case fatality ratio 65%), including 814 deaths among confirmed cases. Of the 1353 confirmed and probable cases with known age and sex, 56% (758) were female, and 28% (381) were children aged less than 18 years. The number of healthcare workers affected remains 90, including 33 deaths.
    As the security and safety of response personnel remain a top priority, efforts are being made across all major stakeholders to strengthen both strategic and operational security measures, and identify any potential security gaps in the field. Additional security measures such as revising movement protocols, improving physical security at all fixed locations, and revamping contingency measures are being reviewed and further intensified. Nevertheless, the overall security situation at this time remains volatile and challenging.

    WHO Ebola responder killed in attack on the Butembo hospital
    What is the Ebola virus, and can it be stopped?

    Rumour and violence rife as Congo Ebola outbreak surges out of control

    More food aid could boost fight against Ebola in Congo

    Doctors at Ebola epicenter in Congo threaten strike indefinitely if health workers are attacked again.

    Liberia post Ebola: ready for another outbreak?

    DR Congo Ebola outbreak not given PHEIC designation

    Priority Diseases

    Global, Regional and National Burden of Emergency Medical Diseases Using Specific Emergency Disease Indicators: Analysis of the 2015 Global Burden of Disease Study 
    There are currently no metrics for measuring population-level burden of emergency medical diseases. This study presents an analysis of the burden of EMDs using two metrics: the emergency disease mortality rate and the emergency disease burden per 1000 population at the national, regional and global levels.
    Go to article
    Combating Infectious Disease Epidemics through China’s Belt and Road Initiative
    On March 17, 2017, the United Nations Security Council, backed by the consensus of its 193 member states, adopted Resolution 2344, which calls for strengthening regional economic cooperation through China’s Belt and Road (also called Silk Road) Initiative. Based on the cornerstones of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, and mutual learning and sharing benefit, this initiative was proposed by the Chinese government and is participated in by various parties. Its goal is to provide fundamental solutions to boost global economic development through enhancing policy coordination, facility connection, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and people-to-people bonds.
    Go to article
    New partners in health
    Up to 14 million Australian dollars will be available to support activities to address health security issues in the Pacific and Southeast Asia as part of two new funding rounds from the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security.
    The H5N8 HPAI Global Situation Update from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health 

    • Bulgaria, Iran, and Nigeria reported H5N8 HPAI in domestic birds:
    • Updated maps on H5N8 and H5Nx HPAI events worldwide;
    • 6 relevant publications;

    10 Years Later: The Lasting Impacts of the H1N1 Flu Pandemic Response

    Malaria vaccine pilot launched in Malawi
    The country is the first of three in Africa in which the vaccine, known as RTS,S, will be made available to children up to 2 years of age; Ghana and Kenya will introduce the vaccine in the coming weeks. Thirty years in the making, RTS,S is the first, and to date the only, vaccine that has demonstrated it can significantly reduce malaria in children. In clinical trials, the vaccine was found to prevent approximately 4 in 10 malaria cases, including 3 in 10 cases of life-threatening severe malaria

    Palm-Sized Tool for Malaria Surveillance
    In response to the Zika virus outbreak, CDC staff developed a field-friendly mobile based tool for monitoring mosquito populations called Epi Info Vector, which enables mosquito control programs to save time, improve data quality, and standardize information by providing a platform for data entry in the field and automated data analyses.  The app, which is based on CDC’s open source program, Epi Info™ 7, and is available in four languages (English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese) first became available on Google Play (for Android devices) in 2017.

    Opinion: Combatting the deadliest animal on Earth
    In 2017, roughly 435,000 people died of malaria, a parasitic disease that is spread by mosquitoes.After 10 years of steady declines, malaria cases are back on the rise. This isn’t just concerning, it is a crisis — and one that requires an immediate global response.

    Dengue vaccine fiasco leads to criminal charges for researcher in the Philippines
    Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Dengue in Brazil: Seasonal Travelling Waves and Determinants of Regional Synchrony
    Dengue continues to be the most important vector-borne viral disease globally and in Brazil, where more than 1.4 million cases and over 500 deaths were reported in 2016. Mosquito control programmes and other interventions have not stopped the alarming trend of increasingly large epidemics in the past few years. Here, we analyzed monthly dengue cases reported in Brazil between 2001 and 2016 to better characterise the key drivers of dengue epidemics.
    Go to article

    Chikungunya outbreak affects 8,000 in the Republic of the Congo
    WHO: Brazil Confirms 75 Yellow Fever Cases in Current Season
    From July 2018 through March 2019, Brazil recorded 75 yellow fever cases, including 17 deaths, resulting in a case-fatality ratio of 23%. The numbers come from a new update published today by the WHO.
    Go to article
    Whole-Blood Testing for Diagnosis of Acute Zika Virus Infections in Routine Diagnostic Setting
    We evaluated the benefit of whole blood versus plasma to detect acute Zika virus infections. Comparison of Zika virus quantitative reverse transcription PCR results in single timepoint whole blood–plasma pairs from 227 patients with suspected Zika virus infection resulted in confirmation of 8 additional patients with Zika virus infection.
    Go to article
    ASF Asia Update for 25 April from FAO/EMPRES - Animal Health. 

    UPDATE: African Swine Fever in All Parts of China
    African swine fever has now spread to all parts of China. That's after the island province of Hainan reported its first case of the disease. China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs says 146 pigs died from the highly contagious virus at six farms on the southernmost province of Hainan. Officials are also reporting 77 pigs died from the disease at four other farms on the island.
    Go to article



    UN: 20 million missed vaccinations each year behind global measles outbreak

    Decline in Measles Vaccination Is Causing a Preventable Global Resurgence of the Disease
    In 2000, measles was declared to be eliminated in the United States, when no sustained transmission of the virus was seen in this country for more than 12 months. Today, however, the United States and many other countries that had also eliminated the disease are experiencing concerning outbreaks of measles because of declines in measles vaccine coverage. Without renewed focus on measles vaccination efforts, the disease may rebound in full force, according to a new commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine by infectious diseases experts.
    Go to article

    Where's the White House in the measles outbreaks?
    Despite the recent surge of measles cases, President Trump has been silent about the outbreaks and the importance of the measles vaccine. While top federal health officials have promoted immunizations, Trump’s absence from the conversation is notable given that presidents going back to FDR publicly stressed the value of vaccines, experts said. Some public health advocates have criticized Trump’s lack of engagement, but others are wary of what he would say if he spoke out. In the past, Trump has touted false information about the safety of vaccines.
    the story.

    A Measles Case Has Hit Google's Silicon Valley Headquarters
    As Google fights criticism that it has let anti-vaccine disinformation flourish on its platform, the tech giant’s Silicon Valley campus, where thousands work, is now confronting its own in-house case of measles as the virus resurges across the US.
    Go to article

    NYC Extends Measles Vaccination Order
    New York City’s Board of Health has voted to extend last week’s emergency declaration ordering mandatory measles vaccinations in four Brooklyn ZIP codes. The continuing order, which was voted unanimously on Wednesday, will end when health officials declare the emergency is over. It applies to children ages 6 months and older with fines for noncompliance.
    Go to article

    New polio cases recorded in Pakistan as policeman killed in Bannu
    Today officials in Pakistan recorded two more polio cases, one in North Waziristan and the other in Bannu, as a policeman in Bannu protecting vaccination efforts was gunned down. According to media reports, the attack on the policeman was linked to a personal grudge, and not a statement on vaccination efforts.
    The two new cases raise Pakistan's polio case counts for 2019 to eight. The wild poliovirus infections occurred in a 2-year-old girl from North Waziristan, and a 22-month-old boy from Bannu. Health officials said the children's parents were responsible for the cases, implying they had refused vaccination. Pakistan has currently suspended a vaccine campaign after several protests and demonstrations overwhelmed local hospitals and vaccinators.
    Apr 23 Dawn story
    Apr 23 Pakistan Today story

    One Health  

    Southeast Asia Strategic Multilateral Dialogue on Biosecurity

    Biodiversity and Ecosystem

    Measuring pollutants in Europe's water resources
    A recent JRC-led article delivers the first pan-European inventory of emissions of chemical priority substances that reach rivers and coastal waters in Europe, from both point (single, easily identified) and diffuse (widespread over an area) sources.

    Dumping plastic waste in Asia found destroying crops and health
    Plastic waste imports into Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam jumped from mid-2017 to early 2018, leading to illegal operations dumping and open-burning

    ‘Global deal for nature’ fleshed out with specific conservation goals
    To maintain a liveable planet, governments need to protect 30% of Earth's land and sea and sustainably manage another 20% BY 2030, say researchers. The scientists called for doubling the area of fully protected regions on land, such as tropical forests and grasslands, and a roughly five-fold increase in the extent of marine protected areas.
    Emerging lessons for mainstreaming ecosystem-based adaptation: Strategic entry points and processes
    With the intention to better understand barriers and successes of mainstreaming processes, GIZ has assessed entry points for ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) mainstreaming and governance aspects in five partner countries (Philippines, Viet Nam, South Africa, Mexico and Peru). Results indicate that while progress towards EbA mainstreaming has been achieved, a challenge remains to enhance a broader understanding of the potential benefits that nature-based...

    Indigenous people are the vital link in the fight to protect our planet

    Greenland’s demise is accelerating
    Water from the melting Greenland Ice Sheet has raised sea levels by 13.7 millimetres since 1972 — half of which occurred during the past 8 years. A study that looked at the mass of the ice sheet since 1972 reveals that it has lost 4,976 gigatonnes of water to the ocean in that time. The rate of loss has increased by sixfold since the 1980s, from less than 50 gigatonnes per year back then to almost 300 gigatonnes a year in the past decade.
    The Atlantic | 5 min read
    Reference: PNAS paper

    Scientists track Florida’s vanishing barrier reef

    World's forests 'in emergency room' after years of losses
    The world lost 12 million hectares (30 million acres) of tropical tree cover last year - the equivalent of 30 football pitches a minute - researchers said on Thursday, warning the planet's health was at stake.

    Food Security and Safety

    Food safety and the Sustainable Development Goals
    The brief discusses both the likely role of food safety in contributing to or retarding progress to meet the SDGs as well as the interventions or responses that can maximise benefits and reduce risks. It draws attention to unintended consequences of food safety interventions, which, while attempting to improve public health, may jeopardise other objectives such as improving nutrition or gender equity.

    Scientists are growing meat on blades of grass
    Climate change ‘could slash Brazil’s maize yields’


    How dental plaque reveals the history of dairy farming, and how our neighbors view food waste

    Program to support climate-smart livestock systems launched in Ethiopia

    As superbugs threaten to create a global crisis, why are pharmaceutical companies shying away from antibiotics research?

    We ignore the disaster in the antibiotics market at our peril
    There is no viable path for new drugs, however valuable they are to society

    Ghana pilots innovative tool to combat Antimicrobial Resistance

    The first country to try out FAO’s new assessment tool to stop superbugs

    Long-Term Use of Antibiotics Tied to Heart Risks

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Apr 22, 2019

    • Antibiotic prescribing in Ontario
    • Factors associated with prescribing

    More »


    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Apr 24, 2019

    • Fecal transplant cost savings
    • Delayed antibiotics for CRE infections
    • Antibiotic development collaboration

    More »

    Could antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" become a bigger killer than cancer?
    Antibiotics have saved hundreds of millions of lives. But their continued, widespread use has led to mutated bacteria that are resistant to these drugs

    Emergencies and Disasters

    WHO AFRO - Outbreaks and Emergencies Bulletin - Week 16/2019
    The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 66 events in the region. This week’s edition covers key ongoing events, including:

    • Cyclone in Mozambique
    • Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Lassa fever in Nigeria
    • Hepatitis E in Namibia
    • Chikungunya in the Republic of Congo.

    U.N. caves to veto threat by anti-abortion U.S. over rape in war help
    A resolution was adopted after a reference to the need to give timely "sexual and reproductive health" assistance to survivors of sexual violence was cut to appease the United States

    Libya: Thousands seek shelter in health clinics from Tripoli fighting, UN warns
    Nearly three weeks since fighting began near the Libyan capital Tripoli, the UN health agency warned on Tuesday that “large numbers” of people are sheltering in medical clinics, while civilians continue to be killed or injured, and refugees and migrants remain exposed to clashes.

    How rampant deforestation made Mozambique more vulnerable to Cyclone Idai

    Aid preparations gear up as Mozambique braces for second massive storm

    Cyclone Kenneth batters Comoros and heads to Mozambique
    Violent winds of up to 140 kph (87 mph) lashed the East African island nation of Comoros overnight, killing three people, authorities said on Thursday, as Cyclone Kenneth swept towards flood-battered Mozambique.
    Causes of Excess Deaths in Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria: A Time-Series Estimation
    The number of excess deaths was similar to recent government estimates. However, this study is the first to identify the causes of death that were exacerbated by the disaster. An accurate estimation of the top causes of excess mortality can help authorities plan resource allocation for the island’s recovery and for the prevention of deaths in future disasters.
    Go to article
    Impacts of flood disasters in Nigeria: A critical evaluation of health implications and management
    This study reviews flood disasters in Nigeria and how the government has managed them over the past two decades. The extensive review of the literature is complemented by data obtained from Ajegunle, a community in Ajeromi–Ifelodun Local Government Area. Because of its proximity to water bodies, its large population and its small land mass, the Ajegunle community is highly susceptible to floods and outbreaks of waterborne diseases.

    Rescuers race to find survivors after Philippine quake kills 16

    New Training to Enhance Disaster Health Outcomes for Your Whole Community
    About half of the U.S. population has a temporary or permanent condition that limits their ability to take action in an emergency. In other words, they have access and functional needs. Learn about a new training that can help you better understand how to meet the needs of people with access and functional needs in the communities you serve.

    Mayors: As floods deluge Midwest towns, where is national response to climate disasters?

    Imprex game
    This game is about the use of forecasts to prevent flooding. Players work as commanders in a hydrological forecasting office, where they interact with colleagues to learn valuable risk information and gain insight into flood projections. Players must subsequently make risk management decisions, such as sending early warnings or issuing flood watches.

    Algorithms spot 1.81 million tiny quakes
    Researchers have used machine learning and supercomputers to detect millions of imperceptible earthquakes — as small as magnitude 0.3 — hiding in the seismological records of southern California. The detailed data will help seismologists to understand what’s really going on down below.
    Nature | 5 min read
    Reference: Science paper

    First quake detected on Mars
    NASA’s InSight lander has detected the first quake on a planetary body other than Earth or the Moon — a faint trembling of Mars’s surface. It's not yet clear whether the shaking originated within Mars or was caused by a meteorite crashing into the planet’s surface. InSight heard the marsquake using a French-built seismometer that contains three extremely sensitive sensors nestled inside a dome to protect them from the wind.
    Nature | 3 min read
    Hazardous Chemical Emergencies and Poisonings
    Hazardous chemical emergencies and related poisonings result from various exposures, including inadvertent residential, industrial, occupational, or transportation mishaps; natural disasters; and hazardous-substance releases that are intended to cause harm. Up to 100,000 industrial chemicals are used each day in the US, and federal authorities estimate that more than 10,000 potentially consequential releases of hazardous substances occur annually.
    Go to article

    Climate Change

    Earth Day

    What it will take to maintain a liveable planet
    A new report fleshes out a ‘global deal for nature’ that outlines what governments must do to have a hope of saving ecosystems and limiting global warming. Leaders around the world must fully protect 30% of Earth’s surface and sustainably manage another 20% by 2030. “What this paper is doing is putting a hard lens on what really needs to be protected,” says ecologist Jane Smart.
    Nature | 4 min read
    Reference: ScienceAdvances paper

    49 environmental victories since the first Earth Day

    As Earth Day turns 49, we take a look back at the biggest milestones in environmental protection.

    What Will Make Us Care Enough to Save Endangered Species?

    A photographer and a scientist hope that evocative photos will ignite a passion for protecting threatened animals.

    50 dramatic photos of life on Earth

    Scenes from around the world show life both beautiful and vulnerable to human influence.

    The most effective ways to curb climate change might surprise you
    The group Project Drawdown has ranked the most effective climate change solutions, and below, we’ve separated some of the top ones by category.
    Actions are labeled to indicate whether they can be implemented by individuals, companies or policymakers.

    Climate Change and Vector-Borne Disease in Humans in the UK

    Anatomy of a heat wave
    In 1995, Chicago suffered a violent heat wave that resulted in the deaths of over 700 citizens. Many were seniors, African American and living in public housing. Reports out that many of the seniors who died were isolated from their family and community and that others felt imprisoned in their home, fearful of venturing out into their neighbourhood, shocked North America.

    South Africa-Day Zero, 365 days later

    Arrests at London climate-change protests top 1,000

    With more and more EVs on the road, will we breath easier?
    EV adoption is expected to increase drastically in coming years. A new study examines how that will affect ozone and particulate matter emissions, which cause smog.
    Read More

    New report on U.S. air quality won’t have you breathing easy
    More than 1 in 4 Americans are now living in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.
    Ready for the dry years: Building resilience to drought in South-East Asia
    This study identifies actions that ASEAN Member States can individually and collectively undertake to mitigate the impacts of drought. It proposes three priority areas of intervention for ASEAN and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific: Strengthen drought risk assessment and early warning services. Foster risk financing instruments that can insure communities against slow-onset droughts.

    Urban Health

    Addressing urban and human settlement issues in national adaptation plans: A supplement to the UNFCCC technical guidelines on the national adaptation plan process
    The Addressing Urban and Human Settlement Issues in National Adaptation Plans Supplementary Guide (referred hereafter as the NAP-HS Guide) aims to comprehensively address urban and human settlement issues in National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) at the formulation and implementation stage. The NAP-HS Guide's main objective is to reduce the vulnerability of people living in urban areas to climate change impacts.

    Protect our right to light
    Skyscrapers in cities rob people of sunlight and put human health, well-being and sustainability at risk, warn two lighting researchers. Tall buildings can be energy-hungry and contribute to everything from a global rise in short-sightedness (myopia) to the stunting of urban trees and vegetation. The researchers argue that access to natural light should be enshrined in legislation from the ground up.
    Nature | 10 min read

    Rebuilding communities after disasters – four and a half lessons learned
    The death toll from Cyclone Idai that ripped into Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi in March 2019 is now above 1,000, with damages estimated at $2 billion. In 2018, more than 10,000 people lost their lives in disasters (with $225 billion of economic losses). Approximately 79 percent of fatalities occurred in the Asia Pacific region, including the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island. In fact, 2017 and 2018 have been estimated as the most expensive back-to-back years for weather disasters, totaling $653 billion of losses.

    Kenya: From roads to water, Nairobi slum upgrades bear fruit for residents
    Bangladesh: Disaster-tolerant houses for poor on cards
    Pacific island cities call for a rethink of climate resilience for the most vulnerable

    Leveraging endogenous climate resilience: Urban adaptation in Pacific Small Island Developing States
    This paper reflects on two ongoing participatory action research projects conducted by UN-Habitat and research partners from Australian universities in Honiara, Solomon Islands and Port Vila, Vanuatu. Findings from consultations across 16 communities demonstrate the critical role of endogenous modes of resilience, as well as the strong correlation between these spaces and sub-city climate vulnerability.

    Thai death penalty threat over floating home sparks 'seasteading' debate

    City trees reduce daytime heat. But to curb sweltering nights, minimize pavement.
    Research found that higher the percentage of tree cover in an area, the lower the temperature; and the higher the percentage of impervious surface, the higher the temperature.
    Read More

    Migration Health

    Urban refugees: A decade on the margins in Cameroon
    Two thirds of the world’s refugees live in cities, yet they are all too often an invisible underclass, left to fend for themselves without support
    As Cameroon faces increasing political violence and instability, long-term refugees in the cities are being joined by many newly displaced.

    Migrant fishing workers in Ireland to get protections against slavery

    Central America: Climate, drought, migration and the border
    The ongoing food security crisis across the region (caused by drought, crop disease, and water shortages) deserves special examination, not only because it might be a leading causal factor for the crisis, but also because it is undoubtedly one of its catalysts. As such, any U.S. policy prescriptions that do not help to address the catastrophic impacts of environmental changes on Central American agriculture, will fail to achieve their objectives.

    Global Health

    Universal health care in 21st century Americas

    How long do vaccines last? The surprising answers may help protect people longer

    Safe Vaccinations for a Healthy NationIncreasing US Vaccine Coverage Through Law, Science, and Communication

    Here’s the visual proof of why vaccines do more good than harm

    The campaign against vaccination
    Disease will be a major political battleground in the coming decades

    World Immunization Week: 24 – 30 April 2019
    WHO #VaccinesWork campaign
    It comes at a critical time. It will involve all of us – from governments, to health workers and individuals, in our role as parents, teachers, family members or friends – to ensure every person is vaccinated at the right time, and that we remain protected together.

    Drones to deliver vaccines, blood and drugs across Ghana




    Knowledge sharing

    We welcome receiving your reports, articles and studies to share widely within our network.
    Please contact Dr. Chadia Wannous via email at 

    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences