News Pouch, 8 March 2019

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

News Pouch: 8 March 2019


  • Spotlight: Ebola
  • Spotlight: International Women Day
  • Updates and News on main Outbreaks
    • Priority Infectious Diseases
      • Influenza
      •  VBD, and more
  • One Health
    • 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 31 (2019)
    As of 3 March 2019, a total of 897 EVD cases, including 832 confirmed and 65 probable cases, were reported from 19 health zones in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces. Overall, cases have been reported from 119 of 301 health areas across 19 health zones. A total of 563 deaths were reported (overall case fatality ratio 63%), including 498 deaths among confirmed cases. Of confirmed and probable cases with reported age and sex, 57% (510/896) were female, and 30% (271/896) were children aged less than 18 years. Three new cases among health workers were reported during the week, bringing the number of health workers infected with Ebola virus to 72, with 24 deaths.

    Ebola Total Tops 900 in DRC, with 7 New Cases Today
    Today the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) ministry of health confirmed there are now officially 907 cases of Ebola in an 8-month long outbreak in the country's North Kivu and Ituri provinces, reflecting 10 new cases in 2 days.
    Go to article
    An Epidemic of Suspicion - Ebola and Violence in the DRC
    Until the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, Ebola outbreaks had been sporadic, small, and largely confined to isolated rural villages in Central Africa. But the 2014 epidemic broke all the rules and killed more than 15,000 people; since then, more outbreaks have been reaching larger urban centers, sometimes resulting in uncontrolled spread. The current epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo has triggered a massive international response, which has been met by violence, culminating in attacks at the end of February that partially destroyed Ebola treatment units in the regional hub of Butembo and its township, Katwa. This area is the epicenter of the epidemic, which is likely to be fueled by any breakdown of isolation and treatment efforts.
    Go to article

    'A slow-burn crisis': how Ebola will take months to resolve
    The Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo may not be brought under control until the end of this year, a senior UK government official has warned.

    DRC: A trip to the front lines of the fight against Ebola

    Doctors Without Borders fiercely criticizes Ebola outbreak control effort

    Ebola could persist in semen for much longer than previously thought
    A new longitudinal study suggests that the window during which male survivors of Ebola may be able to infect sexual partners is longer than was previously thought. Of a sample of 267 survivors in Liberia, 30 percent had Ebola virus RNA in their semen in at least one test, with at least one positive test result 40 months after infection. The previous record had been nearly eight months shorter. However, it’s not known how frequently viral RNA signals the presence of infectious virus. Nearly half the men also had a positive test after two negative tests. “That was … a surprise to all of us,” says Cavan Reilly, one of the study’s authors, because the WHO currently says that a person can be considered Ebola-free if semen is tested every three months until two consecutive tests are negative. Given this, the authors also suggest that the WHO’s recommendation may need to be reevaluated.
    Over 4,000 Health Care Workers and Front-line Workers Vaccinated Against Ebola
    A total of 4,420 health care workers and front line workers have been vaccinated against Ebola Virus Disease using the Ebola-rV5V vaccine in the 13 high risk districts bordering Democratic Republic of Congo at 165 health facilities and 15 Points of Entry.


    Diagnoses by Horn, Payment in Goats: An African Healer at Work
    On a continent wracked with epidemics, millions turn to traditional healers. In rural Uganda, not far from the Ebola zone, an herbalist describes his practice.


    Social science and behavioural data compilation, DRC Ebola outbreak, November 2018-February 2019
    Social science in epidemics: Ebola virus disease lessons learned
    In this ‘Social Science in Epidemics’ series, different aspects of past disease outbreaks are reviewed in order to identify social science ‘entry points’ for preparedness and response activities. This brief draws out some recommendations for Ebola response actors in North Kivu. It includes lessons learned primarily from (i) historical outbreaks in Congo; (ii) outbreaks in Uganda in 2000-01 and 2012; (iii) the 2014-2016 West...

    Colonialists Are Coming For Blood—Literally
    After that Ebola outbreak in West Africa subsided, most of the samples were believed to have been destroyed. But recent reporting by The Telegraph in London revealed that thousands of samples were not destroyed but, rather, shipped out of West Africa. The samples’ location isn’t clear—The Telegraph’s freedom of information request was turned back by the UK government—but they are believed to be in the custody of national health agencies, and possibly pharmaceutical companies, in Western Europe and the United States.

    MEASURE Evaluation Examines Impact Of Ebola On Delivery, Utilization Of Maternal Health Services In Guinea

    International Women Day

    International Women Day 2019
    Date: 8 March 2019

    Celebrating women leaders in science and health
    In 2019, however, women are still only a third of researchers worldwide, on average. Some regions such as Central Asia as well as Latin America and the Caribbean have a nearly equal gender balance, but in Europe and North America, the proportion of women remains around 30-35%.  Women also struggle to rise up the ranks of both health and science. Women make up just 12% of the membership of national science academies around the world. Female health workers comprise 70% of the health workforce worldwide, yet women occupy only 25% of leadership positions in health.
    And the pay differential is high: the gender pay gap in health and social sectors is around 26% in high-income countries and 29% in upper-middle income countries.

    Women in Data Science conference to be held at ILRI’s Nairobi campus on 8 Mar 2019

    Gender parity in infectious diseases

    The GH5050 2019 report “EqualityWorks”
    A review of the gender-related policies and practices of 198 global organisations active in health, with a special focus on gender equality in the workplace
    The report reveals most leading organisations active in global health have a long way to go towards workplace gender equality


    First-time female applicants win fewer NIH grants — and less money — than males
    Women who were first-time NIH grant awardees received almost $40,000 less than first-time male awardees, according to a new analysis. Women, on average, received roughly $127,000 in first-time grants whereas men received nearly $166,000. Women were also less likely to be first-time NIH grant awardees. About 44 percent of the more than 50,000 grants analyzed were were awarded to women. The trend was flipped, however, when researchers specifically looked at basic R01 grants: Women received roughly $16,000 more than men. Studying institutions with greater gender equity may offer insights into the reasons for such imbalances, the authors write.

    Priority Diseases

    The WHO biweekly global influenza

    The latest FluNet summary of lab-confirmed data from GISRS

    Call for abstracts on moving influenza burden estimate to policy decisions and estimating the whole influenza burden pyramid
    In particular, abstracts are invited on the following topics:

    • Influenza disease burden with focus on using data for policy
    • Estimating the whole influenza disease burden (the pyramid)

    Abstracts must be received by Wednesday 3 April 2019 
    If you are not able to meet this deadline, please contact

    Clinical Impact of Rapid Point-of-Care PCR Influenza Testing in an Urgent Care Setting: a Single-Center Study
    Seasonal influenza virus causes significant morbidity and mortality each year. Point-of-care testing using rapid influenza diagnostic tests, immunoassays that detect viral antigens, are often used for diagnosis by physician offices and urgent care centers. These tests are rapid but lack sensitivity, which is estimated to be 50 to 70%. Testing by PCR is highly sensitive and specific, but historically these assays have been performed in centralized clinical laboratories necessitating specimen transport and increasing the time to result.
    Go to article
    The Human Antibody Response to Influenza A Virus Infection and Vaccination Influenza viruses cause mild to severe respiratory infections in humans and are a major public health problem. According to the World Health Organization, seasonal influenza viruses — including the H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A viruses, as well as influenza B viruses — cause approximately 3–5 million severe cases and 290,000–650,000 deaths each year worldwide. Go to article
    New H7N9 Disease Situation Update from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health


    Novel H5N2 detected at Egyptian farm; Denmark reports low-path H5
    Egypt's agriculture ministry yesterday reported a novel H5N2 avian flu virus on a duck farm, according to a brief agriculture ministry statement and Arabic media report translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog. The reports didn't say if it was a highly pathogenic virus or where the farm was located.
    Mar 4 AFD post
    Mar 3 FluTrackers thread


    Past and future spread of the arbovirus vectors Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus
    Yellow Fever: Is Asia Prepared for an Epidemic?
    Epidemic arboviral diseases are relentlessly increasing in incidence, fueled by urbanisation, scarcity of effective disease and vector control strategies, and globalisation resulting in disease exportation. This decade, the number of travellers exporting yellow fever virus to non-endemic countries is at a record high. Furthermore, in 2016, for the first time in documented history, confirmed yellow fever virus was exported in travellers from Africa to Asia, where about 2 billion immunologically naive people live in areas inhabited by the Aedes aegypti mosquito vector and are at risk for transmission. The case-fatality rate of yellow fever is among the highest of all arboviral diseases, underscoring the threat of a newly emerging epidemic disease problem in Asia.
    Go to article
    Tracking Rift Valley fever: From Mali to Europe and other countries, 2016
    NIH Seeking Input on Tickborne Disease Research Priorities. 
    Tickborne diseases are a serious and growing public health problem in the United States, with ticks transmitting at least 20 different infectious diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, and Powassan virus. 
    (NIH, 3/01/19)

    Bangladesh confirms Nipah case in suspected family cluster
    Lab tests in the investigation into the early February deaths of five family members in Bangladesh revealed that one was infected with Nipah virus, according to a report from the Daily Star, Bangladesh's largest English-language newspaper, which cited a statement from the country's Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).
    The IEDCR said it's not known if the patient whose sample was positive had a history of drinking raw date palm sap, a known risk factor for the disease because of virus contamination through bat droppings. The agency said the four others may have been infected by the individual whose samples were positive.
    Mar 4 Daily Star story
    IEDCR yearly distribution of Nipah virus cases

    HHS funds first Marburg vaccine project
    The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today a partnership with Massachusetts-based Public Health Vaccines LLC, to develop the world's first vaccine against Marburg virus.The partnership is funded through HHS's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Marburg virus is in the same family of hemorrhagic viruses as Ebola and is considered a potential bioterrorism threat by the US Department of Homeland Security.
    Mar 6 HHS press release

    Bayer advances indoor insecticide targeting drug-resistant malaria 
    Bayer today launched the world's first combined indoor insecticide residual spray called Fludora Fusion, which combines neonicotinoid clothiandin with pyrethroid deltamethrin to fight malaria against a backdrop of growing insecticide resistance. According to Reuters, the product is sprayed inside a home, typically on walls, where it can kill mosquitoes within 48 hours of contact.
    Mar 6 Reuters story
    Call for Partners
    ECDC is looking for partners for a study to evaluate the effectiveness of vector control strategies on mosquito population dynamics. The study will focus on Aedes albopictus and/or Aedes aegypti species and run from early May until the end of October.
    The project aims to support the decision making process for surveillance and vector control of dengue, chikungunya and Zika virus infection in Europe. Want to know more? Email at Deadline: 8 March


    Oman reports second MERS cluster, 8 new cases, 2 deaths
    Also, the virus sickened four more people in Saudi Arabia over the past few days, three from Riyadh.
    More »


    CDC Data Confirm: Progress in HIV Prevention has Stalled.
    The dramatic decline in annual HIV infections has stopped and new infections have stabilized in recent years, according to a CDC report published today. The report provides the most recent data on HIV trends in America from 2010 to 2016. It shows that after about five years of substantial declines, the number of HIV infections began to level off in 2013 at about 39,000 infections per year.

    Monthly shots control HIV as well as daily pills in two big studies


    Key political commitment documents for tuberculosis prevention and care and their intended influence in the WHO European Region
    A review of the potential role and influence of political commitment in implementing endorsements and conducting policy in the field of TB prevention and care. It compares and analyzes the extent to which selected international commitments, set out between 2000 and 2018, may have translated into sustainable action. Developed in view of the United Nations high level meeting on TB held in September 2018.


    One More Time, With Big Data: Measles Vaccine Doesn’t Cause Autism
    A 10-year look at more than 600,000 children comes at a time when anti-vaccine suspicion is on the rise again.


    The World’s Many Measles Conspiracies Are All the Same

    The deadly disease is spreading rapidly around the globe, fueled by a cratering of social trust.


    Ukraine: Red Cross deployed to help contain largest measles outbreak in Europe in four years

    Austerity, measles and mandatory vaccination: cross-regional analysis of vaccination in Italy 2000–14


    Report places cost of 10-healthcare worker measles outbreak at $792,000
    An outbreak of measles involving 10 healthcare workers (HCWs) in 2017 cost almost $800,000, according to an analysis published yesterday in Vaccine. The authors conclude, "Being able to identify immune HCW is an essential requirement for preventing outbreaks and protecting the health of patients and personnel in medical institutions and to restrict the economic costs of an outbreak."
    Mar 5 Vaccine study


    WHO agrees to extend public health emergency for polio
    The 20th meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations of WHO nanimously agreed last week that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
    "The current situation calls for unabated efforts and use of every tool available, to achieve the goal in these most challenging countries," the WHO said. "Particularly in the three remaining endemic countries, further engagement with senior levels of government and other key stakeholders is needed to advocate for polio eradication, and ensure all levels of government maintain a strong commitment until the job is done."
    Polio is endemic in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Several countries, including Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Somalia, have also reported recent cases.
    Mar 1 WHO statement

    One Health  

    Biodiversity and ecosystem

    New UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration
    The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, declared today by the UN General Assembly, aims to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems as a proven measure to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity. It offers unparalleled opportunity for job creation, food security and addressing climate change. Restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 could generate USD 9 trillion in ecosystem services and take an additional 13-26 gigatons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.
    Implementation of the One Health Approach to Fight Arbovirus Infections in the Mediterranean and Black Sea Region: Assessing Integrated Surveillance in Serbia, Tunisia and Georgia
    In the Mediterranean and Black Sea Region, arbovirus infections are emerging infectious diseases. Their surveillance can benefit from one health inter‐sectoral collaboration; however, no standardized methodology exists to study One Health surveillance.
    Go to article

    Food safety and security
    Extreme weather events (drought) and its impact on assets, livelihoods and gender roles: case study of small-scale livestock herders in Cauca, Colombia
    Research suggests that extreme weather events have a negative impact on agricultural income and wellbeing of smallholder households. Climate change induced shocks can also affect people's ability to work, thereby, infuence their decisions on labor or time allocation. Very few studies have considered this impact, mainly at the economy-wide level. There is a huge gap in the evidence of micro level impact of climate change on time-use among agricultural...

    The Daewoo-Madagascar land grab: Ten years on
    On 18 November 2008, The Financial Times exposed a massive deal being negotiated between Daewoo Logistics and the government of Madagascar. Through this deal, the South Korean company was seeking access to no less than 1.3 million hectares to grow maize for export back home while the local communities were uninformed. The breaking of this story helped lead to the overthrow of the Malagasy government a few months later, and woke the world up to an outrageous new trend of global land grabbing for agricultural production driven by the food and financial crises. Ten years later, what are we seeing?

    Supermarkets out of Africa! Food systems across the continent are doing just fine without them
    Africa's food systems are a final frontier for multinational food companies and retailers. Most Africans still consume a healthy diet of traditional foods, supplied by millions of small vendors and small farmers across the continent. But this is slowly changing as global food companies and retailers adopt new strategies to expand their presence on the continent, led by the aggressive actions of some multinational supermarket chains. The livelihoods of millions of small vendors and local farmers are at risk, as are people's health and the continent's diverse traditional food cultures. While African governments do little but facilitate this expansion of foreign supermarkets, small vendors, farmers and urban consumers are coming together to defend their local food systems.

    The impact of nutrient-rich food choices on agricultural water-use efficiency
    Warming oceans are hurting seafood supply—and things are getting worse
    Best practices for scientists working with policymakers


    When the Drugs Don’t Work – Antibiotic Resistance as a Global Development Problem
    A report on how antibiotic resistance is linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve progress to meet this challenge, political will and action is urgently needed.
    Genome-based Prediction of Bacterial Antibiotic Resistance
    Clinical microbiology has long relied on growing bacteria in culture to determine antimicrobial susceptibility profiles, but the use of whole-genome sequencing for antibiotic susceptibility testing is now a powerful alternative. This review discusses the technologies that made this possible and presents results from recent studies to predict resistance based on genome sequences.
    Go to article
    FDA Grants Breakthrough Device Designation for the T2Resistance Panel. 
    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Breakthrough Device Designation to the T2Resistance Panel, a diagnostic tool that detects resistance markers from a single patient blood sample. 
    (Contagion Live, 3/01/19)

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Mar 07, 2019

    • Outpatient surgery overprescribing
    • Resistance prevalence and sepsis
    • Resistant gonorrhea strain

    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Mar 05, 2019

    • Empiric antibiotics and UTI
    • Surgery-linked resistant Pseudomonas
    • Preventing healthcare-related infection

    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Mar 04, 2019

    • Resistance and sustainable development
    • New CARB-X funding
    • ESBL prediction models

    More »

    Audit preview: EU action to fight antimicrobial resistance
    The European Court of Auditors is conducting an audit on the Commission’s and relevant agencies’ management of key activities and resources to support Member States as well as EU research aimed at fighting AMR.

    Investing in antibiotics critical to saving lives during pandemic influenza outbreaks
    Researchers have developed a mathematical framework to estimate the value of investing in developing and conserving an antibiotic to mitigate the burden of bacterial infections caused by resistant Staphylococcus aureus during a pandemic influenza outbreak.

    Emergencies and Disasters

    WHO AFRO - Outbreaks and Emergencies Bulletin
    Week 09: 25 February - 03 March 2019
    The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 59 events in the region. This week’s edition covers key new and ongoing events, including:

    • Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Measles in Madagascar
    • Lassa fever in Nigeria
    • Humanitarian crisis in Nigeria
    • Humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.

    Chernobyl’s legacy imperils many thousands

    Flash floods add to emergencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan
    Days of intense rainfall have triggered flash floods in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, adding new challenges for humanitarian responders in both countries. At least 20 people were reported dead in Afghanistan. The floods have damaged at least 2,000 homes in Kandahar province alone, left 1,000 people stranded, and inundated 85 percent of the western city of Farah, according to the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan have been grappling with extreme drought in recent months, and heavy rainfall can increase the threat of floods on degraded land. Read more on the complications of responding to emergencies in conflict-hit Afghanistan: Oasis amid the drought.
    Alabama tornadoes: How lessons from deadly 2011 outbreak that killed hundreds help save lives now
    The US President approved a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Alabama on March 5, 2019 for Severe Storms, Straight-Line Winds, and Tornadoes that occurred March 3, 2019
    Federal Disaster Money Favors the Rich
    Disasters are becoming more common in America. In the early and mid-20th century, fewer than 20 percent of U.S. counties experienced a disaster each year. Today, it's about 50 percent. According to the 2018 National Climate Assessment, climate change is already driving more severe droughts, floods and wildfires in the U.S. And those disasters are expensive.
    Go to article
    Supporting Hospital Surge—Meeting Patient and Staff Needs
    Medical Surge and the Role of Practice-Based Primary Care Providers
    Gain insight on the perceived preparedness and response levels of primary care providers across the U.S. Following a comprehensive environmental scan and detailed literature review, YNHHS-CEPDR conducted interviews with leaders of primary care membership organizations.

    Social science training enhances community engagement in health emergencies in 11 countries of the European Region
    Under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) and the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) framework, WHO provides support to Member States to improve national capacity to engage communities through enhanced use of social science-based interventions (SSIs) before, during and after health emergencies. The SocialNET training, a global initiative of WHO, was the first of its kind in the European Region and was held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on 10–14 December 2018. It strengthens WHO/Europe’s efforts to build skills in emergency risk communication (ERC) and community engagement as part of the ERC five-step capacity-building package..
    Capacity-building toolkit for including aging & disability networks in emergency planning
    This Toolkit aims to serve as a resource to guide aging and disability networks in increasing their ability to plan for and respond to public health emergencies and disasters.

    Climate Change

    Air pollution, the ‘silent killer’ that claims seven million lives a year: rights council hears
    Shifting to renewable energy could save up to 150 million lives by the end of the century amid concerns that six billion people regularly inhale air “so polluted that it puts their life, health and well-being at risk”, a UN-appointed independent rights expert said on Monday.

    2015-2016 El Niño triggered disease outbreaks across globe

    Global disease outbreaks associated with the 2015–2016 El Niño event

    Wildfires rage across Britain after hottest winter day on record
    Britain recorded its warmest winter day on Tuesday with a temperature of 21.2 Celsius at Kew Gardens in London
    How dire climate displacement warnings are becoming a reality in Bangladesh
    “We managed a meal, skipped another. It was year-round suffering.”
    Two years have passed since extreme rains and flash floods inundated this fertile rice-growing region in northeastern Bangladesh, but the impact is still evident: farmers are abandoning their homes and fields.

    Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement: The Role of Regions and Cities 
    The Paris Climate Agreement has generated strong momentum for all actors to act collectively to achieve a global commitment, this paper argues that the development of National Determined Contribution (NDCs) provide a unique opportunity for coordinating and aligning national, regional and local climate action.

    Going one step further with air emission data
    To better link economic and environmental statistics, the OECD has developed a methodology to estimate Air Emission Accounts for CO2, CH4 and N2O in line with the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA).
    Access the data here
    Culture and Health webinar series 2019: Air pollution: local contexts, universal effects
    6 Mar 2019 / online
    Organiser: WHO-Europe,-universal-effects

    Urban Health

    Marine parks for coastal cities: A concept for enhanced community well-being, prosperity and sustainable city living

    An evidence-based urban DRR strategy for informal settlements

    Migration Health

    ‘Huge data gaps’ hampering ‘evidence-based’ national migration policies
    The First Objective of the Compact calls for the collection and utilization of “accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies”; commits signatory countries to strengthen the “global evidence base on international migration” under the guidance of the UN; and calls for a “comprehensive  strategy for improving migration data at local, national, regional and global levels.”
    Migrant parents separated from children return to US, plead to be reunited
    In a crackdown on illegal immigration, U.S. officials have separated thousands of children from migrant parents.

    Rohingya Refugee Crisis - WHO Bangladesh Bi-Weekly Situation Report #4, 28 February 2019


    Global Health

    The annual gathering for biotech CMOs to exchange best practices, benchmark ideas, and work through R&D challenges
    The Chief Medical Officer Summit, taking place on April 4-5, 2019 in Boston, attracts the largest gathering of physicians in biotech. Although the program is primarily designed for CMOs of emerging biotech companies, large pharma CMOs and other R&D decision-makers also attend to exchange best practices in drug development and business management. 
    Learn more.

    Call for papers
    The WHO Bulletin special issue on “Accelerating Universal Health Coverage”.  The deadline for submission is 15 June 2019.

    Lebanon withdraws World Bank nominee under pressure

    New WHO structure revealed




    Knowledge sharing

    We welcome receiving your reports, articles and studies to share widely within our network.
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