News Pouch 19 July 2019

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

News Pouch: 19 July 2019

Welcome to this issue of the newsletter where we highlight key latest news and literature relevant to health emergencies preparedness and response research and policy, tagged by thematic area.
We welcome receiving your reports, articles and studies to share widely within our network. Please contact Chadia Wannous via email at

wishing you useful reading!

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


    Ebola Outbreak Situation

    Ebola outbreak in DRC declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. hopefully this declaration will stimulate funding which have constrained the response. it is important to keep transport routes and borders open.

    Statement by the IHR committee

    Speech by WHO Director General

    A wake up call for the Ebola outbreak response

    External Situation Report 50: 16 July 2019
    On 14 July 2019, a confirmed case of EVD was reported in Goma, a city of two million inhabitants close to the Rwandan border. As of 14 July 2019, a total of 2501 EVD cases, including 2407 confirmed and 94 probable cases, were reported. A total of 1668 death were reported (overall case fatality ratio 67%), including 1574 deaths among confirmed cases. Of the 2501 confirmed and probable cases with known age and sex, 57% (1419) were female, and 29% (718) were children aged less than 18 years. Cases continue to rise among health workers, with the cumulative number infected increasing to 135 (5% of total cases).
    Two DRC nationals involved in the outbreak response, a community leader and local volunteer, were killed in separate locations in Beni, reportedly by local armed militia. The Director-General will convene the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR) to discuss whether the event constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), and if yes, propose Temporary Recommendations under the IHR.
    click here to download the complete situation report (PDF).

    High-level meeting on the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo affirms support for Government-led response and UN system-wide approach

    Speech by WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus High-Level Event on Ebola Virus Disease in DRC
    One of the key lessons of this outbreak is that we must fix the roof before the rains come. As the experience in Uganda demonstrates, countries that invest in preparedness will save lives – and save money. About $18 million has been spent on preparedness in Uganda, compared with more than $250 million – and counting – on the response in DRC.An outbreak of measles in DRC has killed almost 2000 children since January – more than Ebola in less time – and yet it gets little international attention. Malaria, the leading cause of death in DRC, kills more than 50,000 people every year.

    Measles vaccination begins in Ebola-hit Congo amid fears of 'massive loss of life'
    Deadly measles outbreak claims almost 2,000 lives, compounding strain on health system already reeling from Ebola

    DRC to stick with just 1 vaccine in Ebola outbreak

    ‘We won’t get to zero cases of Ebola without a big scale-up in funding,’ UN relief chief warns

    Congo: A journey to the heart of Africa - Full documentary - BBC Africa

    The Airplanes That Rescue Ebola Patients
    How a private airline in Cartersville, Georgia, became the government’s go-to evacuation system for Ebola, and, eventually, everything else.

    Priority Diseases

    Sierra Leone prepares to pioneer pre-service and in-service courses in disease surveillance and the international health regulations in Africa
    The ECDC Fellowship Training Programme
    It has two paths: EPIET and EUPHEM. For each path, there are two tracks: EU-track and MS-track. Both tracks follow an identical curriculum, but have a different application process. Before applying, please read the ECDC fellowship programme.
    Upcoming event

    WHO Consultation and Information Meeting on the Composition of Influenza Virus Vaccines for Use in the 2020 Southern Hemisphere Influenza Season

    WHO Consultation, 23-26 September 2019, Geneva, Switzerland


    ASF Asia Update for 18 July from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health.    

    The Philippines has declared a "national dengue alert" following a sharp increase in the number of cases in the country, with more than 450 deaths since January.
    [Nicola Smith, The Telegraph]

    Philippines: Dengue Cases Snapshot (January - June 2019)

    Scientists find new way to kill disease-carrying mosquitoes.
    The Associated Press

    The yellow fever vaccination certificate loophole in Nigeria

    Lyme Disease Risks in Europe under Multiple Uncertain Drivers of Change:
    Li et al. (2019) apply an integrated modeling approach to map various patterns of Lyme Disease distribution and consider changes in climate, socioeconomics and land use to project the complex interactions between pathogens, ticks and their host animals in Europe.

    WHO notes clusters in recent MERS cases, unveils environmental sampling guide
    In another development, Saudi Arabia today reported one new illness, which involves a man from Riyadh.
    More »

    A new Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) Situation Update from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health

    • Eight new human cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, including 3 fatalities;
    • Updated epidemiological timeline (by exposure source);
    • Three new relevant publications;
    • Project updates by Egypt, Ethiopia, and Kenya;

    Alaska records first measles case in years
    The case makes Alaska the 29th state to have at least one confirmed measles infection in 2019. The teen recently traveled from Alaska to Arizona via Seattle, officials said. Yesterday officials in El Paso, Texas also confirmed the fourth measles case in that city in the last 2 weeks. Three of the four cases are in toddlers, and the fourth case is one of the children’s mother. According to the El Paso Times, these are the first measles cases the city has seen in 25 years.
    Jul 16 HHS statement
    Jul 17 El Paso Times story
    The time of cholera.
    In Yemen, the rainy season's increased threat of cholera is looming — with over 200,000 children affected so far in 2019. As the death toll is set to rise, aid groups struggle to support the country's growing need for assistance.


    Greater urgency’ needed in fight against HIV/AIDS, warns UN agency, amidst $1 billion investment cuts
    UNAIDS press release

    Intensive anti-HIV efforts meet with mixed success in Africa.
    The New York Times

    One Health  

    Operationalizing One Health employing Social-Ecological Systems Theory: lessons from the greater Mekong sub-region
    Wilcox et al. (2019) describe two case studies from the Greater Mekong Subregion, one concerning the rise of Avian Influenza (H5N1) and the other about Liver Fluke's association with liver cancer, to illustrate the applicability of the Social-Ecology Systems Theory to One Health practice.

    One Health Fellowship Fund
    The World One Health Congress actively encourages the careers of promising researchers. The One Health Platform therefore established a One Health Fellowship Fund to provide fellowships to young scientists, with special attention for promising scientists from resource- challenged countries. The fellowship will provide young One Health advocates with a unique opportunity to interact with world experts, gain further insights into their fields of interest and get inspired with new ideas and possibilities. Applications are due January 15, 2020.
    Learn more. 
    Biodiversity and Ecosystem

    IUCN red list reveals wildlife destruction from treetop to ocean floor
    Latest list shows extinction now threatens a third of all assessed species, from monkeys to rhino rays

    Protecting seabirds could help protect coral reefs from climate change
    Coral reefs near islands with thriving seabird colonies may recover more quickly from climate change-induced die-offs, making the protection of these imperiled birds a practical strategy for reef protection, too.
    Read More

    Caribbean nations join forces against giant seaweed bloom

    Limits to agricultural land for retaining acceptable levels of local biodiversity:
    Usubiaga-Liaño et al. (2019) model four scenarios to estimate the maximum area of pasture and cropland that would maintain the biodiversity levels required for sustainable ecosystem functioning. Their findings indicate that less than 12% of ice-free land should be allocated to cropland and less than 16% to pasture and suggest actions for land-change reform.

    Sharing the land between nature and people:
    Erle C. Ellis. (2019) reflects on the growing interdependence of human societies in contrast to the heterogeneous and complex infrastructures that support these societies. Ellis calls on an evolution of agroecosystems that allow both natural systems and humans to thrive through social and material exchanges. 
    Upcoming event
    Fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health
    Belgrade, Serbia, 19-21 November 2019
    The Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health is a high-level intergovernmental meeting on advancing the water, sanitation and health agenda in the pan-European region in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
    Food Safety and Security

    Over 820 million people suffering from hunger; new UN report reveals stubborn realities of ‘immense’ global challenge

    El Niño linked to widespread crop failures
    A paper published in ScienceAdvances showed that the El Niño Southern Oscillation, a warm water wave that travels across the Pacific every three to five years, causes a variety of irregular weather patterns, which affect crops worldwide.

    Climate change could cause 29% spike in cereal prices: leaked UN report

    Global farming trends threaten food security

    True cost of cheap food is health and climate crises, says commission
    Radical change needed to make UK food and farming system sustainable within 10 years

    Can we feed 11 billion people while preventing the spread of infectious disease?

    Emerging human infectious diseases and the links to global food production
    synthesis of the literature suggests that, since 1940, agricultural drivers were associated with >25% of all — and >50% of zoonotic — infectious diseases that emerged in humans, proportions that will likely increase as agriculture expands and intensifies.

    Choosing one over the other will halve your dietary carbon footprint
    For meat-lovers in America, a simple dietary switch could lead to huge emissions savings for the planet.  Switching beef for a portion of chicken or turkey would cut the emissions of the average American diet by more than 50%, new research shows. This means that people wouldn’t necessarily have to forgo meat to substantially reduce their environmental impact: one simple, conscious change could bring about impressive emissions savings.
    Meat and dairy alone account for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
    Read More

    Antimicrobial resistance: a global crisis

    Prevalence, severity, and nature of preventable patient harm across medical care settings: systematic review and meta-analysis
    The pooled prevalence for preventable patient harm was 6% (95% confidence interval 5% to 7%). A pooled proportion of 12% (9% to 15%) of preventable patient harm was severe or led to death. Incidents related to drugs (25%, 95% confidence interval 16% to 34%) and other treatments (24%, 21% to 30%) accounted for the largest proportion of preventable patient harm. Compared with general hospitals (where most evidence originated), preventable patient harm was more prevalent in advanced specialties (intensive care or surgery; regression coefficient b=0.07, 95% confidence interval 0.04 to 0.10).

    Drug resistant TB: Africa’s forgotten health crisis.
    The bugs are a challenge in Africa, but DNA-based diagnostics can help.

    The scourge of antibiotics in animal feed.
    Antibiotics are routinely added to animal feed in poor nations, fuelling superbugs. But new solutions are emerging.

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Jul 16, 2019

    • Rise in Candida auris cases
    • New AMR plan in Wales

    More »

    In the face of slow progress, WHO offers a new tool and sets a target to accelerate action against antimicrobial resistance

    Chancellor urges global action to tackle antimicrobial resistance crisis

    New commitments in the fight against antimicrobial resistance
    FAO infographic: Top ten actions for farmers to keep animals and people healthy and antimicrobials working.
    Training course on control of multidrug-resistant micro-organisms in health care settings
    ECDC is organising a short course on “Control of multidrug-resistant micro-organisms (MDROs) in health care settings”. This training opportunity is addressed at healthcare professionals from European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) countries with current or future responsibility for the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) due to MDROs working at national or local level. The course is offered by invitation only and participants are identified through the ECDC Coordinating Competent Bodies.

    Latest Research from PLOS
    Cost-effectiveness analysis of ceftazidime/avibactam compared to imipenem as empirical treatment for complicated urinary tract infections
    Prosthetic valve endocarditis caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa with variable antibacterial resistance profiles: a diagnostic challenge
    Cordycepin kills Mycobacterium tuberculosis through hijacking the bacterial adenosine kinase
    Antibacterial activity of lysozyme-chitosan oligosaccharide conjugates (LYZOX) against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
    Heteroresistance: A cause of unexplained antibiotic treatment failure?
    Repeated isolation of ESBL positive Escherichia coli ST648 and ST131 from community wastewater - are sewage systems important sources of emerging clones of antibiotic resistant bacteria?
    Water-soluble exudates from seeds of Kochia scoparia exhibit antifungal activity against Colletotrichum graminicola
    Chemogenomic profiling in yeast reveals antifungal mode-of-action of polyene macrolactam auroramycin
    Whole genomic sequencing as a tool for diagnosis of drug and multidrug-resistance tuberculosis in an endemic region in Mexico
    Strong correlation of total phenotypic resistance of samples from household environments and the prevalence of class 1 integrons suggests for the use of the relative prevalence of intI1 as a screening tool for multi-resistance
    Covalent Plasmodium falciparum-selective proteasome inhibitors exhibit a low propensity for generating resistance in vitro and synergize with multiple antimalarial agents
    Government policy interventions to reduce human antimicrobial use: A systematic review and evidence map
    De Novo Emergence of Peptides That Confer Antibiotic Resistance
    Microdialysis combined with liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry for the quantitation of gemifloxacin and its application to a muscle penetration study in healthy and MRSA-infected rats
    Effect of antimicrobial nanocomposites on Vibrio cholerae lifestyles: Pellicle biofilm, planktonic and surface-attached biofilm
    Selection and co-selection of antibiotic resistances among Escherichia coli by antibiotic use in primary care: An ecological analysis
    Bridging the gap between HIV epidemiology and antiretroviral resistance evolution: Modelling the spread of resistance in South Africa
    Changes in resistance among coliform bacteraemia associated with a primary care antimicrobial stewardship intervention: A population-based interrupted time series study
    Antimicrobial peptide LL-37 is bactericidal against Staphylococcus aureus biofilms
    Elevated prevalence of azole resistant Aspergillus fumigatus in urban versus rural environments in the United Kingdom | Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
    Mutations in pmrB confer cross-resistance between the LptD inhibitor POL7080 and colistin in Pseudomonas aeruginosa
    Emergence of phylogenetically diverse and fluoroquinolone resistant Salmonella Enteritidis as a cause of invasive nontyphoidalSalmonella disease in Ghana
    Phylogenetic transmission clusters among newly diagnosed antiretroviral drug-naïve patients with human immunodeficiency virus-1 in Korea: A study from 1999 to 2012
    Emergence of an Australian-like pstS-null vancomycin resistant Enterococcus faecium clone in Scotland
    Emergence of Azithromycin Resistance Mediated by Phosphotransferase-Encoding mph(A) in Diarrheagenic Vibrio fluvialis



    Emergencies and Disasters

    WHO Africa bulletin on outbreaks and other emergencies
    Week 28: 08 - 14 July 2019
    The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 71 events in the region. This week’s edition covers key new and ongoing events, including:

    • Circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (environmental sample) in Ghana
    • Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Humanitarian crisis in Cameroon
    • Humanitarian crisis in Central African Republic.

    ECHO Daily Flash- 16 July 2019

    Conflict and insecurity driving spread of diseases like Ebola, WHO chief warns

    Sharing data can help prevent public health emergencies in Africa

    Guiding policy and practice to address mental disorders in conflict settings

    New WHO prevalence estimates of mental disorders in conflict settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis

    CDB, PAHO launch “Stronger Together” campaign, raising awareness about mental health and psychosocial support in disasters

    Cuban compassion: Training doctors for a Pacific island nation running out of time
    Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, proposed a climate-change refugee visa program for Pacific island states, including Kiribati. But the New Zealand government scrapped the plan in August 2018 in response to concerns from Pacific island leaders about the self-determination of their peoples.

    USA: Poll reveals lack of preparedness in the face of increasingly frequent disasters
    read the survey here:

    Unprecedented wildfires in the Arctic
    Vegetation Fire and Smoke Pollution Warning and Advisory System (VFSP-WAS): Concept Note and Expert Recommendations is here.
    Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service is here.
    Global fire danger forecast is available here.
    Europe Forest Fire Information System here

    USA: Can Twitter and Google help improve heat wave warning systems?
    Read the study here
    The results show that the number of heat-related illness and dehydration cases exhibited a significant positive relationship with web data. Specifically, heat-related illness cases showed positive associations with messages (heat, AC) and web searches (drink, heat stroke, park, swim, and tired). In addition, terms such as park, pool, swim, and water tended to show a consistent positive relationship with dehydration cases. However, we found inconsistent relationships between renal illness and web data. Web data also did not improve the models for cardiovascular and respiratory illness cases.

    "The Day the 2003 European Heatwave Record Was Broken":
    In a comment in The Lancet, Mitchell et al. (2019) reflect on the recent heatwave that placed June 2019 to be the hottest June on record and discuss the future of heatwaves and climate change. 
    Read here. 

    France: EDF is preparing its nuclear reactors for climate change

    The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have yet to deliver on their pledged $750 million aid for Yemen, according to U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock.
    [Michelle Nichols, Reuters]

    Climate Change

    After a nail-biting secret ballot, Ursula von der Leyen has been confirmed as the next president of the European Commission, winning by 383 votes to 327.
    Climate change played an unusually decisive role, with the German conservative promising stronger ambition to secure the progressive vote. Her commission is set to deepen the EU's CO2 cuts to at least 50% from 1990 levels by 2030, on a path to carbon neutrality in 2050.
    Read the full story here.

    Accounting for climate risks in the health sector

    USA: Communities take aim at health risks posed by climate change

    Pollution control and solar energy growth in China go hand in hand
    Rising air pollution in China has decreased the country's solar power potential by blocking sunlight from reaching the Earth. Reverting back to 1960s pollution levels would boost solar power by 13 percent, generating billions in revenue and helping the country meet its ambitious solar goals
    Read More

    Amazon population at risk from forest fire pollution

    Can planting trees save our climate?
    In recent weeks, a new study by researchers at ETH Zurich has hit the headlines worldwide (Bastin et al. 2019). It is about trees. The researchers asked themselves the question: how much carbon could we store if we planted trees everywhere in the world where the land is not already used for agriculture or cities? Since the leaves of trees extract carbon in the form of carbon dioxide – CO2 – from the air and then release the oxygen – O2 – again, this is a great climate protection measure. The researchers estimated 200 billion tons of carbon could be stored in this way – provided we plant over a trillion trees. Unfortunately, it’s also too good to be true.

    ‘Climate grief’: Fears about the planet’s future weigh on Americans’ mental health.
    Kaiser Health News

    European Healthcare Climate Summit:
    The first annual European Healthcare Climate Summit will take place in September in London and offer the opportunity to come together with other sustainable healthcare leaders to share experiences of tackling climate change in the European healthcare sector. Learn about proven solutions and opportunities for the sector to achieve measurable GHG reductions, gain inspiration from your peers to help enhance your own organisation’s response to climate change and contribute to the development of climate-smart healthcare in Europe by becoming part of our growing network. 
    September 11, 2019. London, United Kingdom.
    Learn more.

    Urban Health

    Heatwave Guide for Cities
    The Red Cross Climate Center has developed a new “Heatwave Guide for Cities” in collaboration with Global Disaster Preparedness Centre and many other partners. Given the impact of the heat waves affecting many cities, the guide may be useful for members of the MCR.  You can find it at the following links:

    Statement of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network and WHO Regions for Health Network (2019)
    WHO European Healthy Cities Network and WHO Regions for Health Network presented their joint statement the High-level Conference on Health Equity – Accelerating Progress towards Healthy and Prosperous Lives for all in the WHO European Region, 11–13 June

    Migration Health

    The Trump administration introduced new rules on Monday for claiming asylum in the U.S., in a move aimed at restricting migration from Central America.

    ‘Severe’ new US asylum restrictions will put vulnerable families at risk, UN refugee agency says

    A U.N. special rapporteur has urged Hungary to relocate asylum-seeking families from "prison-like" holding camps to almost empty facilities that could accommodate them. [Reuters]

    Global Health

    ‘Complacency’ a factor in stagnating global vaccination rates, warn UN health chiefs

    Almost 20 million children around the world have failed to receive life-saving immunization due to conflict, lack of access, and vaccine hesitancy.

    The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019
    SDG3: Major progress has been made in improving the health of millions of people. Maternal and child mortality rates have been reduced, life expectancy continues to increase globally, and the fight against some infectious diseases has made steady progress. In the case of other diseases, however, progress has slowed or stalled, including global efforts to eradicate malaria and tuberculosis. Far too many deaths occurred because trained health workers or routine interventions, such as immunizations, were not available. In fact, at least half the world’s population, many of whom suffer financial hardship, are still without access to essential health services. In rich and poor countries alike, a health emergency can push people into bankruptcy or poverty. Concerted efforts are required on these and other fronts to achieve universal health coverage and sustainable financing for health; address the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, including mental health; and tackle antimicrobial resistance and environmental factors contributing to ill health, such as air pollution and the lack of safely managed water and sanitation

    WHO updates global guidance on medicines and diagnostic tests
    WHO published new essential medicines and diagnostics lists 9 July 2019. The Essential Medicines Committee strengthened advice on antibiotic use by updating the AWARE categories, which indicate which antibiotics to use for the most common and serious infections to achieve better treatment outcomes and reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance.  The committee recommended that three new antibiotics for the treatment of multi-drug resistant infections be added as essential.
    World Health Organization model list of essential medicines: 21st list 2019
    World Health Organization model list of essential medicines for children: 7th list 2019

    The first List of Essential Diagnostics was published in 2018, concentrating on a limited number of priority diseases – HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and hepatitis. This year’s list has expanded to include more noncommunicable and communicable diseases. The list focuses on additional infectious diseases prevalent in low- and middle-income countries such as cholera, and neglected diseases like leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, dengue, and zika. The List is divided into two sections depending on the user and setting: one for community settings, which includes self-testing; and a second one for clinical laboratories, which can be general and specialized facilities.

    Prioritising disability in universal health coverage




    Knowledge sharing

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

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