Newsletter, February 2017



Election of the WHO Director-General

WHO Executive Board announces the names of the 3 nominees for the post of WHO Director-General
The WHO Executive Board selected by vote the following 3 candidates to be presented to World Health Assembly as nominees for the post of Director-General of WHO.

Election process for the WHO Director-General 2017
Election roadmap

EB140/39 - Governance reform: follow-up to decision WHA69(8) (2016)

EB140/40 - Governance reform: follow-up to decision WHA69(8) (2016)
EB140/40 Add.1
Resolutions EB140.R3 - Nomination for the post of Director-General

EB140.R4 - Post of Director-General: draft contract

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The Government of Ethiopia has submitted the nomination of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the candidate for WHO Director-General 2017.

Candidate's webpage


David NabarroDavid Nabarro

The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has submitted the nomination of Dr David Nabarro as the candidate for WHO Director-General 2017.

Candidate's webpage
Campaign activities and finances


Sania NishtarSania Nishtar

The Government of Pakistan has submitted the nomination of Dr Sania Nishtar as the candidate for WHO Director-General 2017.

Candidate's webpage
Campaign activities and finances pdf, 46kb


Media coverage

A Healthier and Safer World: An Interview with Dr. David Nabarro
Huffington Post, 18 Jan
Imagine a safer and healthier world. A place where diseases did not fester for months or years until public outcry demanded action. A world without pandemics, and one with thriving, healthy children.

Q&A: WHO candidate David Nabarro
As candidate for the World Health Organization director-general, Nabarro vows to make the case to donors that the agency is in every nation's national interest — and therefore worth funding more generously and flexibly.
Q&A: WHO candidate Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Director-general candidate Tedros of Ethiopia says he would begin reforming the World Health Organization by listening to concerns and assessing priorities. Member states should up their funding commitment if they want a real decision-making power in the organization's future, he tells Devex.
Q&A: WHO candidate Sania Nishtar
As Pakistan's candidate to lead the World Health Organization, Sania Nishtar tells Devex she will push transparency and accountability, just as she has in previous government and international roles.

Election sees WHO's future role in question
Devex, 12 Jan
When Jean-Bosco Ndihokubwayo reported back to headquarters in April 2014, the World Health Organization Ebola expert did the electronic equivalent of shouting. “WE NEED SUPPORT,” he wrote in the subject line of an email to Geneva describing a ballooning epidemic at a major public hospital in the Guinean capital of Conakry.

WHO Executive Board - 140th session

Main documents

EB140/7 - Health emergencies WHO response in severe, large-scale emergencies

EB140/8 - Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee

EB140/9 - Research and development for potentially epidemic diseases
A blueprint for research and development preparedness and rapid research response

EB140/10 - Health workforce coordination in emergencies with health consequences

EB140/11 - Antimicrobial resistance

EB140/12 - Improving the prevention, diagnosis and clinical management of sepsis

EB140/13 - Poliomyelitis

EB140/14 - Implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005) Draft global implementation plan

EB140/15 - Implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005) Public health implications of the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol

EB140/16 - Review of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework
EB140/17 - Human resources for health and implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations’ High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth
EB140/19 - Addressing the global shortage of medicines and vaccines

EB140/21 - Follow-up of the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination

EB140/22EB140/24 - Promoting the health of migrants

EB140/25 - Global vaccine action plan

EB140/26 - Global vector control response

EB140/32 - Progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

EB140/33 - The role of the health sector in the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management towards the 2020 goal and beyond

EB140/38 - Overview of WHO reform implementation


Cholera outbreak

Yemen: Cholera Outbreak Situation Report | As of 15 Jan 2017
Reliefweb, 18 Jan
The cholera/Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) epidemic curve shows a declining trend of incidences from week 51 onwards (18 to 24 Dec). The downward trend is ...

Donor 'consortium' needed to bolster Haiti's long-term recovery and eradicate cholera, UN adviser says
Reliefweb, 17 Jan
A senior United Nations adviser called today for a new “consortium” of donors committed to improving Haiti's water supply and sanitation services to help finally eradicate cholera from the island, in support of the newly-elected ...

Avian Influenza situation

Influenza at the human - animal interface Summary and assessment, 20 December to 16 January 2017
WHO, 16 Jan
Evolution of the influenza A(H5) haemagglutinin: WHO/OIE/FAO H5 Working Group reports a new clade designated WHO, 12 January 2015
Recent detections of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N8) in East Asia and Europe, A(H5N8) and A(H5N2) in North America, and A(H5N6) in East and Southeast Asia, have prompted the WHO/OIE/FAO H5 Evolution Working Group to review and update the H5 haemagglutinin

H7N9 in China

Sudden increase in human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China, September-December 2016
WHO Journals
Since the first outbreak of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in humans was identified in 2013, there have been five seasonal epidemics observed in China. An earlier start and a steep increase in the number of humans infected with H7N9 virus was observed between September and December 2016, raising great public concern in domestic and international societies.

What's behind the sudden increase?


WHO calls for heightened vigilance as avian influenza continues to spread in Europe
WHO, 25 Jan
WHO is calling for heightened vigilance and strengthened surveillance efforts to prevent and detect potential human cases of avian influenza as it continues to spread in birds across Europe.

WHO DG Address to the Executive Board at its 140th session
The world is better prepared for the next influenza pandemic, but not at all well enough.
I am asking all countries to keep a close watch over outbreaks of avian influenza in birds and related human cases. Just since November of last year, nearly 40 countries have reported fresh outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in poultry or wild birds.
The rapidly expanding geographical distribution of these outbreaks and the number of virus strains currently co-circulating have put WHO on high alert. For example, the H5N6 virus causing severe outbreaks in Asia is a new strain created by gene-swapping among four different viruses.
Since 2013, China has reported epidemics of H7N9 infections in humans, now amounting to more than 1000 cases, of which 38.5% were fatal.
The latest epidemic, which began in late September 2016, started earlier than usual, and since December has shown a sudden and steep increase in cases. In the most recent two clusters, WHO could not rule out limited human-to-human transmission, though no sustained transmission has been detected to date.
As required by the International Health Regulations, all countries must detect and report human cases promptly. We cannot afford to miss the early signals.

Yellow fever

WHO:  Yellow fever outbreak timeline

Suspected yellow fever cases double in Brazil
CIDRAP, 24 Jan
The number of suspected yellow fever cases in Brazil is climbing quickly, with 421 suspected infections and two more states reporting cases, the health ministry said yesterday in a statement. The case total reflects an increase of 215 cases from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) update on Jan 18.
Jan 23 Brazil health ministry statement
Jan 18 CIDRAP News scan "Brazil's yellow fever outbreak climbs to 206 cases"


Interagency Cooperation Is the Key to an Effective Pandemic Response
The Lancet, Jan 2017
We view this from the perspective of the interface between the military and civilians under the umbrella of a whole-government approach. A large outbreak does more than cross international borders; the response requirements frequently cross interagency boundaries.

Biological Security Threats – situation report on biological attacks, weapons development and misuse
Danish Centre for Biosecurity and Biopreparedness, 14 Dec
In this new publication, the Danish Centre for Biosecurity and Biopreparedness presents an overall assessment of current biological threats and risks. All sources and references in the report are open source, and the publication contains no classified information.

Report: Completing the Development of Ebola Vaccines- CURRENT STATUS, REMAINING CHALLENGES, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
CIDRAP, January 2017
Global Platform host Mexico is icon of risk management
UNISDR, 12 Jan
UNISDR chief Mr. Robert Glasser has hailed 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction host Mexico as a shining example of how to manage the threats posed by hazards.

Bill Gates Is Helping to Launch a Global Coalition to 'Outsmart Epidemics'
Fortune, 19 Jan
CEPI will focus on shortening the time it takes to create and deliver vaccines by supporting innovative medical technologies, and will begin by targeting viruses with serious potential to cause epidemics such as MERS-CoV, Lassa and Nipah, the group's ...

We're not prepared for future Ebola outbreaks, experts warn
STAT, 17 Jan
Despite recent headlines declaring the success of an experimental Ebola vaccine, the world is not fully prepared for future epidemics — and not in position to use vaccines to prevent another deadly outbreak, a report published Tuesday warned.

Why Doctors Without Borders Is Adding Food to Its Medical Bag
Goats and Soda, 11 Jan
"I've been with Medecins Sans Frontieres for about 5 years, and this is the first time I've seen such massive food distribution," says Dr. Kerstin Hanson, a pediatrician specializing in childhood malnutrition and nutrition and pediatrics technical adviser to MSF. "The problem is not just medical care. The problem is that there is no food."


Working as one UN to address the root environmental causes of ill health - Dr Margaret Chan
WHO, 3 Jan
There are many compelling reasons why we need to clean up the global environment. One of the most pressing is that a polluted environment is a deadly one. Every year, almost 12.6 million people die from diseases associated with environmental hazards, such as air, water or soil pollution, and climate change.

Response to climate change is critical as risk of disease outbreaks grows
Conversation Media Group, 9 Jan
Climate change threatens to significantly increase the health risk of people living in the East African Highlands. In addition, droughts have intensified. These have have both short-term and long term effects on human health. Yet there are no guidelines to inform health related decisions under climate change conditions.

There are more than 1 million viruses that we know absolutely nothing about
Stat, 27 Dec
One by one, the viruses have slipped from their hiding places in nature to threaten global populations — SARS, MERS, Zika.  In each case, scientists have scrambled to identify the viruses and to develop vaccines or drugs to stop their spread. After each crisis, the assessment has been the same: Countermeasures were not ready in time to help in the containment effort.
When Every Drop Counts: Protecting Public Health during Drought Conditions—A Guide for Public Health Professionals
CDC, Dec 2016
With regard to drought preparedness and response, public health experts at all levels operate today with only limited guidance. With regard to how water shortages affect public health at the community level, overall understanding is less than optimal.


What helping Haiti teaches us about global public health
Reuters, 12 Jan
I have seen how well-organized and coordinated action can reduce the risk of cholera and malnutrition.  I have seen how the international system is able to support the national effort. 

Seven Years after the Earthquake: Haiti in an unprecedented humanitarian, food, and climate crisis
ReliefWeb, 12 Jan
Approximately 750,000 Haitians are without safe water, causing the number of cholera cases to double in some of the hardest-hit areas. An estimated 80-100 ...

Report on the 3rd Regional Conference on Bridging the Gaps in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies in Asia
ReliefWeb, 3 Jan
Addressing or providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) has become a growing priority in responding to emergencies and disasters not only for the Asia-Pacific region but globally. As disasters continue to hit countries, there is a growing need and realization of addressing and improving the neglected cluster of psychological support to populations at risk.


UN World Data Forum wraps up with launch of Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data
UN Data Forum, 18 Jan
The inaugural United Nations World Data Forum is concluding today with the launch of a global plan for better data to improve people’s lives, and new ideas and solutions to boost the collaboration, resources and policies needed to put it into action.

Outpacing pandemics - data visualization
Mosaicscience, Jan 2016
Vaccines are an essential weapon in fighting disease outbreaks. But how does the time taken to develop vaccines compare to the speed and frequency of outbreaks? And how can we do it better?

A Global Health Epidemic Is a Ticking Time Bomb - But Virus Databases Can and Are Helping to Save Lives
Huffington Post, 12 Jan
The rapid spread of lethal infectious diseases is a global challenge which affects us all. Only recently the global health philanthropist and former chairman of Microsoft Corp, Bill Gates said the world's emergency response systems are not strong enough to cope with a deadly flu epidemic.

Data, Disease and Diplomacy: GISAID's Innovative Contribution to Global Health
Global Challenges, 10 Jan
Scientists must rapidly share information to assess the nature of the threat and develop new medical countermeasures. This article undertakes the first analysis of the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data as an innovative policy effort to promote the international sharing of genetic and associated influenza virus data.

Harnessing hi-tech to reduce risk
UNISDR, 16 Dec
Hi-tech tools are a powerful means to reduce the impacts of hazards and enable communities to recover faster if disaster strikes, experts at an international risk and development conference said this week.


Zika Virus Infection - Step-by-Step Guide to Risk Communication and Community Engagement
WHO/PAHO, 15 Jan
This document provides Technical content on ZIKV, its manifestations, complications, modes of transmission, and prevention measures to be used in answering ...