News Pouch 29 March 2019

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

News Pouch: 29 March 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

    Mar 28 WHO Ebola update
    Attacks on ETCs in Katwa and Butembo represented the first large-scale and organized attacks targeted directly at the Ebola response, and were of a different order of magnitude to episodes of mistrust in communities or dangers of being caught in crossfire between fighting parties. In addition, the persistence of pockets of community mistrust, exacerbated by political tensions and insecurity, have resulted in recurrent temporary suspension and delays of case investigation and response activities in affected areas; reducing the overall effectiveness of interventions.
    The high proportion of community deaths reported among confirmed cases, persistent delays in detection and isolation in ETCs, challenges in the timely reporting and response to probable cases, collectively increase the likelihood of further chains of transmission in affected communities and increased risk of geographical spread within DRC and to neighbouring countries. As do the risk of increased population movement anticipated during periods of heightened insecurity.

    As Ebola rages in DRC, survey highlights wide mistrust Only 32% of residents trust that authorities represent their best interest, and 26% believe Ebola isn't real.
    More »
    Mar 27 Lancet Infect Dis abstract
    Mar 27 Lancet Infect Dis commentary

    'Chanjo'? Ebola warnings puzzle communities in Goma
    The availability of an experimental vaccine is seen as a game changer in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in northeastern Congo. But some residents in the North Kivu province capital Goma aren't so sure. For starters, they don't know what "vaccine" is, nor its equivalent in Swahili, "chanjo." The findings are part of a new report by Translators without Borders, which surveyed 216 residents of Goma and engaged 75 others in a group discussion to assess whether the information provided by aid organizations on Ebola prevention is understood.

    As Congo Ebola cases pass 1,000, growing calls to listen to locals when responding

    Disappearance of Some Dirty Hand Diseases Among the Positive Effects of Ebola in Mangina
    Several so-called dirty hand diseases no longer exist in Mangina commune located in the health zone of Mabalako, since the appearance of the Ebola virus disease. Finding local health care staff. And the civil society of Mangina commune encourages people to wash their hands regularly, even after Ebola.
    Go to article

    WHO Names New Ebola Chief in DRC as 7 More Cases Noted
    Peter Graaff is the new World Health Organization special representative for the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. WHO Director-General appointed Graaff, who previously served as the WHO's director of Ebola emergency response in Liberia and West Africa.
    Go to article

    Priority Diseases

    Diseases cost the African Region $2.4 trillion a year, says WHO

    The Compendium of Short Reports on Selected Outbreaks in the WHO African Region 2016 - 2018

    European countries sign pandemic vaccine contract with Seqirus
    The European Commission (EC) and 15 member states today signed framework contracts with Seqirus to produce and supply pandemic vaccine. The countries are Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.
    Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EC's commissioner for health and food safety, said in the statement, "Today's signature signals a new era in the access of EU citizens to pandemic influenza vaccines. Member States signing the contracts can rest assured that their citizens will have access to vaccines in case of an influenza pandemic at the best price available "
    Mar 28 EC statement
    The H5N8 HPAI Global Situation Update from FAO/EMPRES
    The H7N9 Disease Situation Update from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health.
    Prior vaccination and effectiveness of communication strategies used to describe infectious diseases
    View at Emerg Infect Dis
    Genetic relationship between poultry and wild bird viruses during the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N6 epidemic in the Netherlands, 2017‐2018
    View at Transbound Emerg Dis
    Avian influenza A (H9N2) virus infections among poultry workers, swine workers, and the general population in Beijing, China, 2013‐2016
    View at Influenza Other Respir Viruses
    Nipah Virus Sequences from Humans and Bats during Nipah Outbreak, Kerala, India, 2018 We retrieved Nipah virus (NiV) sequences from 4 human and 3 fruit bat (Pteropus medius) samples from a 2018 outbreak in Kerala, India. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that NiV from humans were 96.15% similar to a Bangladesh strain but 99.7%–100% similar to virus from Pteropus spp. bats, indicating bats were the source of the outbreak.
    Go to article
    Effects of Dengue Immunity on Zika Virus Infection
    Zika virus (ZIKV) was discovered in Africa in 1947. Its impact on public health seemed restricted to sporadic local outbreaks associated with an illness characterized by mild fever1. But in 2013–14, ZIKV was introduced into the Americas, where it spread quickly. The large number of infections that occurred during the resulting epidemic revealed a previously unappreciated link between ZIKV infection of pregnant women and a devastating congenital neurodevelopmental disease in their babies.
    Go to article

    Zika, dengue to threaten up to a billion more as climate warms

    Malaria’s ticking time bomb
    Scientists are racing to stamp out the disease in southeast Asia before unstoppable strains spread. The vast majority of deaths from malaria happen in Africa. But southeast Asia has given rise to several drug-resistant strains of the malaria parasite — sometimes with disastrous consequences.

    CDC switches first-line treatment for severe malaria to IV artesunate
    Today the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) switched its recommendation for first-line treatment for severe malaria to a drug not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because the previously recommended drug will no longer be produced by the manufacturer.
    About 300 people each year in the United States develop severe malaria, the CDC says.
    Mar 28 CDC news release
    CDC artesunate website

    Beyond birthweight: benefits and risks of preventing malaria in pregnancy

    Suppression of malaria vector densities and human infection prevalence associated with scale-up of mosquito-proofed housing in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: re-analysis of an observational series of parasitological and entomological surveys
    The True Cost of Measles Outbreaks During the Postelimination Era
    A large measles outbreak in Washington State has prompted officials to declare a state of emergency. As of March 4, 2019, the Washington State Health Department reported 71 confirmed cases, with the majority of cases among individuals who were not vaccinated or who had an unverified vaccination status.
    Go to article
    ASF Asia Update for 29 March from FAO/EMPRES - Animal Health.  
    Time to bring tuberculosis out of the shadows
    Inuit research raises concerns about tuberculosis eradication
    Picturing health: it's time to act on tuberculosis
    Building a tuberculosis-free world: The Lancet Commission on tuberculosis
    Building a tuberculosis-free world on a foundation of universal health coverage
    Christine Sekaggya-Wiltshire: prizewinner in HIV–tuberculosis research
    Shifting the Paradigm in HIV Prevention and Treatment Service Delivery Toward Differentiated Care for Youth

    One Health  

    One Health—Its Importance in Helping to Better Control Antimicrobial Resistance

    USDA Provides Information for Producers and Veterinarians to Help Guard Against African Swine Fever Through Sound Biosecurity and Disease Reporting.
    The US Department of Agriculture’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Jack Shere is reminding pig producers and veterinarians of the signs and symptoms of a deadly swine disease that could dramatically impact the US pig population. African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious foreign animal disease that affects both domestic and feral (wild) pigs. It does not affect human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans.
    (USDA APHIS, 3/21/19)

    Biodiversity and Ecosystems

    Laos has 'mortgaged' future at expense of people, U.N. expert says
    Government policies have paved the way for investments in mining and agriculture but have placed greater pressure on land and impoverished communities, said the U.N.

    The tree helping Kenyan farmers beat drought and poverty

    Fractured community as fracking takes hold in Britain's rural land

    Another piece of the puzzle: linking global environmental change, plant phenology, and health

    Food Security and Safety

    FEEDING 10 BILLION BY 2050: Creating a Sustainable and Healthy Food Future

    Global Food Policy Report
    A review of major developments in food policy around the world, highlighting the urgent need for rural revitalization to achieve the SDGs

    Organic agriculture could reduce the spread of food pathogens
     Farms that include wild habitat boost soil diversity and support more dung beetles: these could be a crucial first line of defence against foodborne pathogens that kill thousands globally.
    Read More
    Add cows, subtract chemicals: Organic farming a plus for climate-hit Indian farmers


    Turning plans into action for antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
    Since the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) was adopted in 2015, more than half the world’s countries have developed their own national action plan (NAP) to tackle AMR, establishing AMR coordination committees or equivalent to deliver them. But implementing NAPs at scale is proving a difficult task, especially in the resource-constrained settings of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The paper points to six key strategies for success and offers a series of practical tips and suggestions on how to implement each one.

    Antibiotics in water and the risk of drug-resistant bacteria
    Looking at data on 45 antibiotics from 13 countries worldwide, the report’s authors found sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim and ciprofloxacin to be the three most frequently found in the water that flows out of waste water treatment plants.

    The European Union summary report on antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic and indicator bacteria from humans, animals and food in 2017

    Molecular methods for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) diagnostics to enhance the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System

    Global resistance to antimicrobials and their sustainable use in agriculture

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Mar 28, 2019

    • Antibiotics in burger meat
    • Nationalizing antibiotic development
    • Cefazolin for staph bacteremia

    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Mar 27, 2019

    • Physician AMR disconnect
    • Oral vs IV antibiotics for UTI bacteremia
    • Ineffective molecular diagnostics

    More »

    Join the Global Health Security Action Package on AMR for a capacity building webinar on national action plans on 4th April 09:00 EST
    Topic: Developing and implementing national action plans: the view from the WHO and in-country
    Connect at:  
    The webinars are open to participation from beyond Action Package members and does not mean you have to become a member, so please do join and promote through your networks!
    Webinar recording: "Antibiotic resistance: a cultural contexts approach to addressing a global health challenge."
    This webinar sought to investigate the cultural factors that shape antibiotic use and help in understanding the transmission of antibiotic resistance, such as the way culture shapes the protocols defining how antibiotic resistance is researched and regulated.
    The recording can be accessed here:

    Emergencies and Disasters

    WHO AFRO - Outbreaks and Emergencies Bulletin - Week 12/2019
    The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 67 events in the region. This week’s edition covers key new and ongoing events, including:

    • Cyclone in Mozambique and Zimbabwe
    • Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Humanitarian crisis in Mali
    • Humanitarian crisis in Central African Republic.

    When medical workers behave badly during disease outbreaks, everyone suffers

    New York Suburb Declares Measles Emergency, Barring Unvaccinated Children from Public
    An executive order pulled close to 6,000 unvaccinated children out of schools. Nearly 17,000 doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (M.M.R.) vaccine were given in 26 weeks. There was a public health campaign in which community officials, doctors and rabbis testified to the importance of immunizations.
    Go to article

    Yemen hospital airstrike under investigation amid resurgence of deadly cholera

    Airstrike by Saudi-led coalition said to hit near Yemeni hospital, killing 8, including 5 children
    Yemen Cholera Spike Renews Fears of Another Huge Outbreak
    The World Health Organization Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office yesterday said a large increase in cholera activity has been under way in Yemen since the first of the year.
    Go to article

    Research Evidence in the Humanitarian Sector: A Practice Guide
    This guide is intended for humanitarian decision-makers and practitioners working in the field or with donor, international, national, or non-governmental organisations. It is intended to help with decisions around financing, supervision, delivery, or evaluation of humanitarian interventions. It defines evidence-informed decision making, explores when and which evidence may be of use, and advises how to choose evidence, where to source it from, and how to assess the quality.
    Read the full report in English here.
    Read the full report in Spanish here.

    Biological threats
    Global Catastrophic Biological Risks: Toward a Working Definition
    Read Now
    Brexit Threatens Biosecurity — From Data to Strategy
    Biosecurity is likely to be seriously compromised by the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. Common rules and safeguards, backed by a common judicial system, have for decades protected human, animal and plant health against biological hazards. Even so, ash dieback still threatens 60 million UK trees, and African swine fever has spread to Europe. Go to article

    Nuclear threats
    On the frontline of the Fukushima nuclear accident: workers and children
    Eight years after the start of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and two years after the Japanese government lifted evacuation orders in areas of Namie and Iitate, radiation levels remain too high for the safe return of thousands of Japanese citizen evacuees. This report summarizes information from Greenpeace’s latest extensive radiation survey in Namie and Iitate, Fukushima prefecture.
    Exploring Medical and Public Health Preparedness for a Nuclear Incident: Proceedings of a Workshop
    The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Disasters and Emergencies hosted a two-day public workshop on August 22-23, 2018 called Exploring Medical and Public Health Preparedness for a Nuclear Incident. Through the workshop, participants from government, NGO and private sector organizations explored current assumptions behind and the status of medical and public health preparedness for a nuclear incident, examined potential changes in assumptions and approach, and discussed challenges and opportunities for capacity building in the current threat environment.
    Go to article
    Unnatural disasters
    Mozambique Confirms Cholera Cases Among Cyclone Victims
    Dozens of fragile patients poured into a clinic in the wrecked Mozambican port city of Beira on Wednesday, as the government said it had confirmed the first five cases of cholera in the wake of deadly Cyclone Idai.
    Go to article

    900,000 doses of cholera vaccine on their way to Mozambique
    African cyclone survivors risk 'second wave' of loss with disease threat
    At least half a million people are at risk of disease as clean water runs short in the disaster zone
    Low-cost resilient houses could help Mozambique survive future storms

    As climate change worsens storms and flooding, we need to find ways to withstand them.
    Zimbabwe: Cyclone Idai: A time to reassess disaster management

    Africa Disaster Risk Financing Initiative: Activity report 2017-2018
    The activity report summarizes activities of Result Area 5, also known as the Africa Disaster Risk Financing (ADRF) Initiative, from July 2017 until June 2018. The report gives an overview of the achievements to date. So far, the ADRF Initiative has yielded results in supporting governments by strengthening their capacity to design and implement risk financing policies, instruments, and strategies at regional, national and local levels.
    After the Storm: 3 Types of Post-Disaster Poisonings to Know, Prepare For.
    National Poison Prevention Week (March 17-23) was started in 1962 to encourage Americans to “learn of the dangers of accidental poisoning and to take such preventive measures as are warranted by the seriousness of the danger.” Fifty-seven years later, those threats—and probably some new ones—to personal and public health persist. They can also be prepared for and—in many cases—prevented. Here are three types of post-disaster poisonings that you should be aware of, and three ways to prepare your health for each.
    (CDC Public Health Matters Blog, 3/18/19)
    Updating the costs of compliance for California's hospital seismic safety standards
    The 1994 Northridge earthquake led to legislation in California — Senate Bill (SB) 1953 — which requires upgrades to hospital buildings to enhance resilience to seismic events. Since the passage of SB 1953, hospitals have been implementing structural and nonstructural upgrades to comply with the standards. The potential costs of SB 1953 have raised significant concerns regarding both the financial burden on hospital systems and the opportunity...

    Climate Change

    Southern Asians unaware of deadly health risks from polluted air
    A study of media content found the public debate on air pollution largely focused on vehicle emissions, overlooking other causes and longer-term health issues

    London school-bag essentials: books, lunch and an air-pollution sensor
    Primary-school pupils are taking part in a study to understand better how their daily routines expose them to toxic air

    Managed retreat due to rising seas is a public health issue


    Temperature-related changes in airborne allergenic pollen abundance and seasonality across the northern hemisphere: a retrospective data analysis

    Finland: Last summer's heat wave increased the mortality of older people – prepare for hot weather in time

    AMC's action plan to beat the heat saved lives across India

    UNEP Report Finds “Good Progress” on 23% of Environment-related SDG Indicators
    The report finds “good progress” for 23% of the 93 environment-related SDG indicators, insufficient data to assess progress for 68%, and limited likelihood that the target will be met without increased action for 9%. More than 30% of the environment-related SDGs indicators still lack an agreed methodology. SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) is characterized by the least data availability and funding, and the lowest priority in countries’ Voluntary National Reviews and SDG prioritization processes.


    EU lawmakers back ban on single-use plastics, set standard for world
    Straws, forks and knives as well as cotton buds will be banned in the European Union by 2021

    Indonesia: Is our social protection system ready for natural disasters?

    Central Sulawesi tsunami revisited
    Six months ago this week more than 4,400 people died when a series of earthquakes sent tsunami waves crashing into coastal Central Sulawesi and liquefied entire neighbourhoods in the provincial capital, Palu. Ian Morse, who reported for us in the aftermath of the disaster, returned to see how survivors are faring. The answer is not very well. Four in five of the 170,000 people displaced still lack adequate shelter. Different layers of government blame each other for delays, while families are forced to live in makeshift accommodation or cram in with friends because hundreds of temporary shelters lack water and electricity. To combat the lack of media coverage – as even the national press moves on – one local group has set up its own “disaster news agency”, communicating with survivors, and holding official aid and rebuilding efforts accountable. At least someone is on the case.

    State of the Climate in 2018 shows accelerating climate change impacts

    Weather worries: the future of Europe depends on how it manages the risks of climate extremes
    see also White Paper on the Future of Europe – Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025

    Changing impact of weather and climate services in response to changing climate

    Urban Health

    The lopsidedness of urban climate research
    Cities are becoming a focus of climate change mitigation. But scientific studies of these efforts aren't focused on the cities where most people live, nor on the cities most at risk from the effects of climate change.
    Read More
    Low carbon, low risk, low density: Resolving choices about sustainable development in cities
    Urban areas face a conundrum, they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and consumption of resources, whilst also increasing their resilience to climate change and extreme weather, and improving wellbeing. However, it is widely recognized that well intended intervention to address one of these sustainability objectives in isolation can undermine other objectives.

    Half urban population of sub-Saharan Africa still living in slums
    Adaptation to health outcomes of climate change and variability at the city level: An empirical decision support tool

    Why U.S. cities need to learn from Copenhagen—fast

    By 2025, the Danish capital will be the first city to eliminate fossil fuels. American cities need to do the same

    Migration Health

    On the Migration Road
    "They beat us like they wanted to kill us."
    Before Macedonia made the news for agreeing to change its name, it became notorious as one of the most dangerous countries for migrants and asylum seekers on the Western Balkans route into the European Union. The route has since changed – Hungary erected razor-wire fences to keep migrants out, so they have ended up in Bosnia instead – but the abuses continue. Check out our three-part multimedia series from 2015 on the gangs, prisons, and guerrillas migrants encountered on their way through Bulgaria, Serbia, and Macedonia.

    Webinar slides and recording: Migrants, Refugees, and Health
    The Migrants, Refugees, and Health Webinar organized by WFPHA Working Group on Health in Emergencies and Disaster held on 25 March 2019. Multiple speakers including three members of the Working Group along with invited speaker from the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM), The Lancet Commission on Migration and Health and EchoHealth Alliance discussed the importance of refugee and migrant health, the challenges to implement international guidelines to promote refugee and migrant health, how environmental changes can lead to forced migration and to climate refugees, and what actions need to be taken in the future to ensure access to health for migrants and refugees.
    About 100 people attended the webinar!
    If you missed the webinar or would like to listen again, a recording can be found here, all you have to do is register and the recording will start playing.
    In addition, all slides can be accessed here and key documents referenced in the webinar can be found at the bottom of this page

    Global Health

    Oversight of Emerging Science and Technology: Learning from Past and Present Efforts Around the World
    By conducting ten case studies that examined emerging science and technology oversight around the world, researchers articulated lessons for policymakers and other stakeholders interested in encouraging and enabling emerging science and technology.

    Compendium: Improving the quality of health services – A compendium of tools and resources
    The WHO Department of Service Delivery and Safety (SDS) has produced a compendium of tools and resources on quality improvement, developed within the SDS, that are applicable for country support. It includes practical examples of how the tools and resources have been applied in-country, including relevant links with other areas, such as measurement. Addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) fits with measures to improve quality and as such, this compendium represents a valuable resource for AMR activities.




    Knowledge sharing

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

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