News Pouch, 25 March 2019

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

News Pouch: 24 March 2019


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


    Ebola Outbreak Situation

    An Epidemic and a War Doctors Face Two Enemies in Fight Against Ebola
    The second-largest outbreak of Ebola in history is ravaging the Democratic Republic of Congo. But as humanitarian organizations and the Congolese government struggle to fight the virus, they find themselves thwarted by the very people they are trying to help.

    Ebola Virus Disease - External Situation Report 33
    As of 17 March 2019, a total of 960 EVD cases, including 895 confirmed and 65 probable cases, were reported. A total of 603 deaths were reported (overall case fatality ratio 63%), including 538 deaths among confirmed cases. Of confirmed and probable cases with reported age and sex, 57% (542/959) were female, and 30% (287/960) were children aged less than 18 years. Three additional healthcare worker infections were confirmed this week; cumulatively 77 healthcare worker infections have been reported, including 26 deaths.
    Ebola outbreak spreads to new city in conflict-hit Congo
    Home to nearly one million people, Bunia is the latest Congolese city to report an Ebola infection. The patient is a six-month-old baby, but authorities are baffled that its parents "appear to be in good health."


    Ebola total approaches 1,000 as cases reappear in Beni

    Intradermal Syncon® Ebola GP DNA Vaccine Is Temperature Stable and Safely Demonstrates Cellular and Humoral Immunogenicity Advantages in Healthy Volunteers
    Non-live vaccine approaches that are simple to deliver and stable at room temperature or 2-8°C could be advantageous in controlling future Ebola virus (EBOV) outbreaks. Using an immunopotent DNA vaccine that generates protection from lethal EBOV challenge in small animals and NHPs, we performed a clinical study to evaluate both intramuscular (IM) and novel intradermal (ID) DNA delivery.
    Go to article


    Urgent funding needed to meet massive humanitarian needs in Democratic Republic of Congo, UN humanitarian chief and UNICEF Executive Director urge at end of country visit

    Animal Research Aids in War Against Ebola


    Doubling down on Ebola
    Over 900 people have contracted the virus, and close to 600 have lost their lives.cIn the midst of conflict, and in some of the most challenging conditions, Ebola responders are working round the clock to ensure people can get the information, the care and the treatment they need. Since the start of the outbreak, WHO has deployed nearly 700 staff to DRC

    Tackling river blindness in a country ravaged by Ebola

    Epidemiological Situation in the Provinces of North Kivu and Ituri 
    The Epidemiological Situation of the Ebola Virus Disease Dated March 18, 2019 : Since the Beginning of the Epidemic, the Cumulative Number of Cases Is 968, 903 Confirmed and 65 Probable. in Total, There Were 606 Deaths and 315 People Cured.
    Go to article

    What Needs to Be Done to End Congo's Ebola Crisis
    Now there's growing concern that the very steps the government and the World Health Organization are taking to curb the rising violence from organized groups — for instance, bringing in military, police and U.N. peacekeepers to provide protection — could sow further mistrust and fuel additional resistance from ordinary people. 
    Go to article

    Missing the Mark? People in Eastern DRC Need Information on Ebola in a Language they understand. A Rapid Language Needs Assessment in Goma, DRC
    Translators without Borders found that people in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo do not fully understand Ebola-prevention messages in French and standard Swahili. Responders should use the local form of Swahili in their Ebola-related communications in Goma to ensure people have the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe.
    Go to article

    World Water Day

    Celebrating World Water Day: Clean Water for All

    How clean water can be the most powerful weapon against superbugs
    Water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities Status in low- and middle-income countries and way forward

    On the question of water: a matter of life and death

    Closing the loop in India's sanitation campaign for public health gains
    Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG baselines.

    Children living in protracted conflicts are three times more likely to die from water-related diseases than from violence

    World’s largest companies using more water despite rising risks


    Treading water: Corporate responses to rising water challenges

    UN Report Finds Billions Still Lack Access to Water, Sanitation


    Poor people's right to water cut off by thirsty exports, unequal supply

    A novel way to purify water
    The 3D-printed chlorine injector is designed to automatically inject chlorine into household-level water systems, enabling high-quality drinking water in low-resource settings.
    For more on World Water Day see

    Priority Diseases

    When It Comes to Disease, Why Wait for a Pandemic to Respond?
    New Index Offers Tool to Monitor Global Disease Outlook
    A new global index offers an original way to monitor national-level preparedness for infectious disease, providing a holistic view of a country’s capacity to mitigate the spread of illness and pandemics. 
    Go to article

    World TB Day — March 24, 2019
    TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer. Each day, nearly 4500 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 54 million lives since the year 2000 and reduced the TB mortality rate by 42%. To accelerate the TB response in countries to reach targets – Heads of State came together and made strong commitments to end TB at the first-ever UN High Level Meeting in September 2018. The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a joint initiative “Find. Treat. All. #EndTB” with the Global Fund and Stop TB Partnership, with the aim of accelerating the TB response and ensuring access to care, in line with WHO’s overall drive towards Universal Health Coverage. 

    The theme of World TB Day 2019 -It’s time


    Educational materials on CDC web:


    Assessing tuberculosis control priorities in high-burden settings: a modelling approach


    Active and passive case-finding in tuberculosis-affected households in Peru: a 10-year prospective cohort study

    Building a tuberculosis-free world
    With smart investments based on sound science, accelerated research and development, and a shared responsibility, we can end tuberculosis within a generation.
    Read this Commission

    Leveraging health diplomacy to end the tuberculosis epidemic

    After the UNGA High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis—what next and how?
    Assessing tuberculosis control priorities in high-burden settings: a modelling approach
    Comprehensive care for all individuals with tuberculosis is needed now
    The A(H3N2) component of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2019-2020 northern hemisphere influenza season was announced by WHO on 21 March 2019. An A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus was recommended.  
    WHO Reveals Delayed Pick for H3N2 Flu Vaccine Strain
    After waiting an extra month to decide on the H3N2 strain, World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine advisors today finalized their recommendations on strains to include in the Northern Hemisphere 2019-20 flu vaccines.
    Go to article
    Influenza Update - 337 (WHO)
    Information in this report is categorized by influenza transmission zones, which are geographical groups of countries, areas or territories with similar influenza transmission patterns.
    Go to article
    Reworked Nasal Flu Vaccine Looks Good for Kids, Pediatricians' Group Says
    Good news for kids: Next flu season, you can avoid a painful needle jab and get the nasal vaccine spray instead, according to a leading US pediatricians' group.
    Go to article
    Viral pneumonia: etiologies and treatment

    Bioterror fears over Marburg virus, Ebola's deadlier 'cousin', as US begins $10m vaccine project
    Sudan Set to Protect Over 8 Million People with its Largest Ever Yellow Fever Vaccination Drive
    The Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and UNICEF has launched a large-scale mass vaccination campaign in Sudan to vaccinate over 8.3 million people aged from 9 months to 60 years against yellow fever in the states of Blue Nile, Gezira and Sennar during 10–29 March 2019.
    Go to article


    CDC eases travel restrictions for pregnant women looking to avoid Zika
    The CDC advises that pregnant women or those attempting pregnancy talk to their doctors before traveling to countries that had high levels of Zika activity in 2015 and 2016. But the agency also said the risk of contracting Zika in these countries is ultimately unknown.
    Zika is the only known mosquito-born virus to cause birth defects in fetuses and infants, which can include microcephaly, or a smaller-than-normal head and brain, with associated brain abnormalities.
    Mar 20 Washington Post story
    CDC Zika travel page
    As Zika Danger Wanes, Travel Warnings Are Eased for Pregnant Women
    US and international health officials are easing warnings against travel to regions with Zika virus because the threat has diminished markedly since the virus began to sweep across the globe four years ago.
    Go to article


    MERS-CoV situation update from FAO

    • Ongoing human clusters in Saudi Arabia (thirty-six new cases) and Oman (three new cases);
    • Updated epidemiological timeline (by exposure source) and global distribution map of MERS-CoV human cases;
    • Four new relevant publications;
    • Project updates by Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Jordan;
    • and more...



    Circumcision to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in men who have sex with men: a systematic review and meta-analysis of global data


    Estimates of case-fatality ratios of measles in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review and modelling analysis


    Africa’s first-ever mass typhoid fever vaccination campaign ends in Zimbabwe
    ASF Asia Update for 22 March from FAO/EMPRES - Animal Health.  
    African Swine Fever Reaches Central Vietnam
    Veterinary authorities on Monday detected African swine fever on a farm in Thua Thien-Hue Province after a few pigs were found dead there. 
    Go to article

    One Health  

    Biodiversity and ecosystem
    Special ‘Forests’ Issue Focuses on Role of Forests in Achieving SDGs
    Global Outlook Highlights Resource Extraction as Main Cause of Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss


    Monitoring our Blue Planet: First SDG indicator platform launched by Google, the JRC and UN Environment
    A web-based platform to monitor global freshwater ecosystems was endorsed at last weekend's United Nations Science-Policy-Business forum in Nairobi, ahead of the Fourth UN Environment Assembly.


    Free and open access to national, sub-national, basin and sub-basin aggregated data on water extent

    Wetlands help protect us from floods and purify our water
    Wetlands such as floodplains, marshes, mangroves and peatlands help decrease flooding by increasing the infiltration of excess water into the soil. Along coastlines, they can also act as a natural buffer and reduce the energy of waves and currents, reducing exposure to storms and surges. Wetlands also store a large amount of carbon, with peatlands “storing twice the carbon of the entire world’s forests”, according to UN Water

    Food security and safety

    Pesticide residues found in 70% of produce sold in US even after washing

    • Strawberries, spinach and kale among most pesticide-heavy
    • Conventionally farmed kale could contain up to 18 pesticides


    Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate
    Many people continue to think avoiding meat as infrequently as once a week will make a significant difference to the climate. But according to one recent study, even if Americans eliminated all animal protein from their diets, they would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by only 2.6 percent. According to our research at the University of California, Davis, if the practice of Meatless Monday were to be adopted by all Americans, we’d see a reduction of only 0.5 percent.

    Add cows, subtract chemicals: Organic farming a plus for climate-hit Indian farmers
    Farmers are producing biogas from cow manure to provide clean energy at home, and then using the leftover slurry to improve the soil in their fields


    Desperate plan to save oranges with antibiotics
    Florida citrus farmers are set to start a controversial experiment in a desperate bid to save their trees: they will spray their crops with hundreds of thousands of kilograms of antibiotics.
    They hope that regular treatments with two common drugs, streptomycin and oxytetracycline, will slow a bacterial disease that has crippled the industry. But there’s little evidence about what the spraying will do to the other microbes in the environment, how it might contribute to antibiotic resistance — or whether it will even work.

    Host adaptation and convergent evolution increases antibiotic resistance without loss of virulence in a major human pathogen

    Methodology for Whole Genome Sequencing of MRSA In A Routine Hospital Microbiology Laboratory
    There is growing evidence for the value of bacterial whole genome sequencing in hospital outbreak investigation. Our aim was to develop methods that support efficient and accurate low throughput clinical sequencing of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). 
    Go to article


    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Mar 21, 2019

    • New asymptomatic bacteriuria guidance
    • Resistant Enterococcus in wastewater
    • Stewardship in pet care
    • Fewer antibiotics in salmon

    More »

    Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Global Grand Challenges:
    Neglected Tropical Diseases Data Innovation Incubator
    Amount of funding:  
    Round 1: maximum budget of $200,000 USD for 6 months of work;
    Round 2: although they are not specifying a budget for Round 2, the objectives for that round must be achievable within 18 months from the start of Round 2 funding. 
    This program seeks innovative ideas for how to improve the quality, completeness, and timeliness of routine neglected tropical disease data to help target interventions to all at-risk populations and achieve high intervention coverage and maximal impact on infection and morbidity. Letter of inquiry deadline: March 25, 2019 11:30 am PDT
    You can download the RFP, LOI instructions, FAQs, from this webpage:

    Emergencies and Disasters

    Idai disaster: Stranded victims still need rescue from heavy rains as UN scales up response
    Cyclone Idai: Why disaster awareness and preparedness matters
    The storm, which has also affected neighbouring Malawi and Zimbabwe, has complicated the lives of Beira’s population - estimated at about 500,000 residents—as the coastal city has for years been susceptible to climate-related disasters such as violent storms and recurrent floods
    African cyclone survivors risk 'second wave' of loss with disease threatAt least half a million people are at risk of disease as clean water runs short in the disaster zone

    Cyclone Idai devastation in pictures

    ‘Massive and protracted’ humanitarian crisis in DR Congo can be ‘beaten back’ if donors step up

    Explaining heavy rains, floods in Indonesia
    The high intensity of rainfall was due to the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO).
    What, in fact, is the MJO, what distinguishes it from La-Niña and how can we get an early warning?

    Hunger, displacement and disease: 4.3 million people remain in dire need of aid in Chad
    USA: Midwestern flooding isn’t a natural disaster
    Integrating green and gray: creating next generation infrastructure
    Traditional infrastructure systems worldwide rely on built solutions to support the smooth and safe functioning of societies. in the face of multiplying environmental threats, this approach alone can no longer provide the climate resiliency and level of services required in the 21st century. Natural systems such as forests, floodplains, and soils can contribute to clean, reliable water supply and protect against floods and drought

    Nowruz tragedy in Mosul
    Dozens of people drowned when a ferry overturned in Iraq. The vessel was going from Mosul to an island amusement park in the Tigris river. Media reports say the boat was crowded with families celebrating the Nowruz New Year festival, and the river level was high. Mosul was heavily damaged in the coalition campaign to oust so-called Islamic State and rebuilding has a long way to go, as this report examines.

    APELL handbook: a process for improving community awareness and preparedness for technological hazards and environmental emergencies
    On the frontline of the Fukushima nuclear accident: workers and children
    Radiation risks and human rights violations
    In 2019, based on our latest survey, there clearly remains a radiological emergency within the areas of Namie and Iitate which were opened by the government in March 2017. To clarify the use of the word emergency: if these radiation levels were measured in a nuclear facility, immediate action would be required by the authorities to mitigate serious adverse consequences for human health and safety, property and the environment. Risking such exposures for decontamination workers and citizens of Namie and Iitate, including vulnerable populations of women and children, is unjustifiable.

    ‘Deep regret’ over quake-causing power plant
    A South Korean government panel has concluded that a 2017 earthquake that injured 135 people was probably caused by an experimental geothermal power plant. The ‘enhanced geothermal system’ plant worked by injecting fluid at high pressure into the ground to fracture the rock and release heat. The ministry announced that it would dismantle the power plant, restore the site to its original condition and repair infrastructure in the hardest-hit area.
    Nature | 3 min read

    Social Vulnerability (Re-)Assessment in Context to Natural Hazards: Review of the Usefulness of the Spatial Indicator Approach and Investigations of Validation Demands

    Science During Crisis: Best Practices, Research Needs, and Policy Priorities
    A rich literature on preparing for crises exists, but strategic deployment of scientific expertise and application of scientific information during crisis events is understudied. There is a critical need to develop best practices to collect relevant data; work together with affected communities; establish interdisciplinary teams; coordinate scientists, engineers, crisis managers, and decision-makers when disaster strikes; and ensure their collaboration through the crisis, response, and recovery. 
    Go to article

    Development and Performance of a Checklist for Initial Triage After an Anthrax Mass Exposure Event 
    Population exposure to Bacillus anthracis spores could cause mass casualties requiring complex medical care. Rapid identification of patients needing anthrax-specific therapies will improve patient outcomes and resource use.
    Go to article

    Emergent Biosolutions Launches Phase 3 Trial of Anthrax Vaccine
    Emergent BioSolutions said on Tuesday it will begin a Phase 3 trial of a new anthrax vaccine it is developing. The Phase 3 trial will evaluate the lot consistency, immunogenicity, and safety of the vaccine, called AV7909. AV7909 is designed to elicit a faster immune response than other anthrax vaccines that are currently available. 
    Go to article

    How Deadly Pathogens Have Escaped the Lab — over and over Again
    In 1977, the last case of smallpox was diagnosed in the wild. The victim was Ali Maow Maalin of Somalia. The World Health Organization tracked down every person he’d been in face-to-face contact with to vaccinate everyone at risk and find anyone who might have caught the virus already. Thankfully, they found no one had. Maalin recovered, and smallpox appeared to be over forever. That moment came at the end of a decades-long campaign to eradicate smallpox — a deadly infectious disease that killed about 30 percent of those who contracted it — from the face of the earth. Around 500 million people died of smallpox in the century before it was annihilated. But in 1978, the disease cropped back up — in Birmingham, in the United Kingdom. Janet Parker was a photographer at Birmingham Medical School. When she developed a horrifying rash, doctors initially brushed it off as chicken pox. After all, everyone knew that smallpox had been chased out of the world — right? 
    Go to article

    Climate Change

    Climate change making storms like Idai more severe, say experts
    Destructive power of storms likely to increase in future as world warms up   

    Mapped: How climate change affects extreme weather around the world

    Medical schools must prepare students to work in a world altered by climate change

    From Sweden to India, school climate strikes have gone global

    Climate Change Will Expose Half of World’s Population to Disease-Spreading Mosquitoes By 2050
    See more
    World Metrological Day

    World Meteorological Day celebrates the Sun, the Earth and the Weather

    Migration Health

    Adverse health effects of restrictive migration policies: building the evidence base to change practice

    Effects of non-health-targeted policies on migrant health: a systematic review and meta-analysis
    Restrictive entry and integration policies are linked to poor migrant health outcomes in high-income countries. Efforts to improve the health of migrants would benefit from adopting a Health in All Policies perspective.

    Behind the Wire – Migrants in Morocco
    “Every day, not even one day; every day it's hard.”
    The story of African migrants trying to reach Europe doesn’t begin or end with Libya. Thousands try to cross each year from Morocco into the heavily guarded Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta. The chances of success are slim, and last year Spain deported 116 migrants who made it across the border.  Hear migrants’ stories in this audio slideshow from our archives.

    UN concerned about the right to health for migrants in Germany
    In October, 2018, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights published its concluding observations on Germany, raising serious concerns about the implementation of the right to health for non-nationals. In July, 2018, in response to a list of issues raised by the UN body, the German Government stated that “[p]rompt access to high-quality health care and treatment is guaranteed in Germany”, and that the applicable rules also permit appropriate health-care provision for non-nationals.This view is, however, in stark contrast to the view of civil society and academia, which submitted a parallel report on the right to health for non-nationals, which was endorsed by more than 40 organisations. The report presents data on three groups of non-nationals without full access to health care in Germany: undocumented migrants, EU citizens without (formal) employment, and asylum seekers.

    Parallel report to the CESCR on the right to health for non-nationals in Germany.

    Deprived of the right to health: sick and without medical care in Germany.

    Global Health

    World Health Organization advisers call for registry of studies on human genome editing
    The WHO committee will work for the next 18 months to figure out a “comprehensive governance structure” for human genome editing, Hamburg said, “but in the meantime we wanted to make recommendations to WHO for actions that could be taken now,” starting with the registry.

    Do Proposed Reforms of the World Health Organization Go Far Enough?

    New female PIs get less money and staff
    Women starting their first research labs tend to be paid lower salaries, have fewer staff and have access to less laboratory space than their male peers do. A non-random survey of 365 early-career principal investigators in the United Kingdom found wide-ranging frustrations about lack of career support as well as significant gender differences in areas such as starting salaries. Major British funders, including the Wellcome Trust, have expressed interest in the findings.

    Female health workers drive global health

    Gender equity in the health workforce: Analysis of 104 countries

    Analysis reveals ties that bind anti-vaxxers
    People who took part in a coordinated anti-vaccination effort tended to be women who share four common concerns — but came from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Researchers analysed a random sample of nearly 200 anti-vaccine commenters on a video posted on a Pennsylvanian paediatric practice’s Facebook page. From publicly available Facebook data, the study found that 89% of the commenters identified as female and had concerns about safety, conspiracies and trust in science and modern medicine.
    The Washington Post | 7 min read
    Read more: The biggest pandemic risk? Viral misinformation (Nature, from October)
    Reference: Vaccine paper

    Gavi@20: What’s Next for Global Immunization Efforts
    The Board of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, will retreat next week to discuss a new strategy and replenishment. Ahead of its 20-year anniversary next year, the Board will reflect on key questions that will frame Gavi’s mandate, funding, and activities into the next five-year period. On the agenda: questions on Gavi’s role in addressing coverage gaps in immunization, how middle-income countries should be involved, and how the organization will shape vaccine markets and future innovation.
    Go to article

    Public–Private Partnerships in Global Health — Driving Health Improvements without Compromising Values
    Governments, UN Finalize Funding Compact for SDGs

    A practical approach to universal health coverage




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