News Pouch 29 July 2019

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

News Pouch: 29 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

    WHO External Situation Report 51: 23 July 2019
    Since our last external situation report (data reported by 14 July 2019), 91 new confirmed EVD cases with an additional 75 deaths have been reported across the two affected provinces. We continue to observe sustained local transmission with a large number of cases in Beni Health Zone. In addition, cases continue to be exported from Beni to other health zones via the movement of cases and their contacts.
    Intensive follow-up of contacts of the confirmed case who arrived in Goma on 14 July continues. No new cases have been reported in Goma to date. There are currently no confirmed cases of EVD outside of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
    The Director-General accepted the Emergency Committee’s recommendation that the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The decision was based on the recent developments in the outbreak, including the geographical expansion of the virus. The declaration of the PHEIC is not a reflection on the performance of the response team but rather a measure that recognizes the possible increased national and regional risks and the need for intensified and coordinated action to manage them. The Committee and WHO do not recommend any restrictions on travel or trade, which can hamper the fight against Ebola by affecting the movement of people and supplies. Further information is available in the Statement on the Emergency Committee meeting, and WHO recommendations for international traffic related to the EVD outbreak.
    As of 21 July 2019, a total of 2592 EVD cases, including 2498 confirmed and 94 probable cases, were reported. A total of 1743 death were reported (overall case fatality ratio 67%), including 1649 deaths among confirmed cases. Of the 2501 confirmed and probable cases with known age and sex, 56% (1458) were female, and 28% (737) were children aged less than 18 years. The cumulative number of health workers affected is 140 (5% of total cases).
     click here to download the complete situation report (PDF).
    DRC health minister resigns over Ebola response
    Tshisekedi’s administration announced on Saturday that direct supervision of the Ebola response was being placed with a team of experts under the direction of Jean Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, director-general of the DRC’s National Institute for Biomedical Research (NIBR)

    WHO recommendations for international traffic related to the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    WHO, preparing for the worst, makes plans for reduced doses of Ebola vaccine

    Science under fire: Ebola researchers fight to test drugs and vaccines in a war zone
    Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has interrupted clinical trials and forced scientists to change how they immunize people.

    Daily double-digit Ebola cases continue in DRC
    With 10 new cases yesterday and 14 today, the outbreak has grown to 2,546 cases, and deaths have topped 1,700.
    More »

    Ebola in the DRC one year later – Boiling the Frog?

    Don’t panic, support DR Congo in fight against deadly Ebola virus, UN health agency urges

    What the Ebola emergency means, what it doesn’t mean, and what’s next

    The World Bank Has the Money to Fight Ebola but Won’t Use It
    In Congo, thousands of people have died due to a misguided finance-driven approach to fighting pandemics that puts investors before victims.

    Ebola Funding Need to Triple as International Risk Escalates
    WHO has requested a tripling in funding for the Ebola response in DRC, estimating $324 million is needed in the next six months to support vaccination, surveillance, and treatment.

    Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: ECDC updates assessment for Europe

    Investigation and public health management of people with possible Ebola virus disease infection

    Ebola: How a disease is prevented from spreading

    Efforts to control Ebola epidemic continue, UN food relief agency doubles assistance to affected people

    Saudi Arabia bans travellers from Congo before haj over Ebola fears
    Comprehensive list of Ebola resources

    Priority Diseases

    Preparing for emerging infections means expecting new syndemics

    Using “outbreak science” to strengthen the use of models during epidemics

    Bolivian arenavirus cluster prompts epidemiologic alert from PAHO
    Health officials in Bolivia are investigating a hemorrhagic fever outbreak linked to an arenavirus that has sickened some healthcare workers, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said yesterday in an epidemiologic alert.
    Jul 18 PAHO epidemiologic alert

    The H5N8 HPAI Global Situation Update from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health 
    South Africa reported H5N8 HPAI in ostriches;
    Updated maps on H5N8 and H5Nx HPAI events worldwide;
    4 relevant publications;
    Accelerating the Development of a Universal Influenza Vaccine- A Report from The Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science & Policy Group


    New malaria maps

    Multidrug-resistant malaria spreading in Southeast Asia -study
    A strain of malaria resistant to two key drugs has spread rapidly from Cambodia and has become dominant in Vietnam, Laos and northern Thailand, with a "terrifying prospect" that it could reach Africa, scientists warned on Monday, Using genomic surveillance to track the spread of drug-resistant malaria, the scientists found that the strain, known as KEL1/PLA1, had also evolved and picked up new genetic mutations that may make it yet more resistant.

    Drug-resistant malaria spreading fast out of Indo-China

    Short-course primaquine malaria treatment shown similar to longer treatment
    A study yesterday in The Lancet suggests that a 7-day course of primaquine may be as effective in treating malaria caused by Plasmodium vivax as a 14-day treatment of the drug. The authors said a shorter treatment may improve patient adherence.
    Jul 18 Lancet study
    Jul 18 Lancet commentary

    Mosquitos rendered infertile by biological engineering

    The Mosquitoes Are Coming for Us
    They are our apex predator, the deadliest hunters of human beings on the planet.

    MERS infects 1 more in Saudi Arabia
    The Saudi Arabia ministry of health (MOH) yesterday reported one more MERS-CoV infection, which involves a 59-year-old man from Riyadh, according to an official statement.
    The man had a history of contact with camels, and his exposure to MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) isn't thought to be from another known patient.
    His is the sixth MERS-CoV case in Saudi Arabia in July.
    Jul 25 Saudi MOH report
    ASF China Update for 25 July 2019 from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health.   
    * Lao PDR detected ASF outbreaks in Phongsaly Province for the first time.
    * Viet Nam updated regulation for pig transportation into/out of/across epidemic areas including the submission of a pig transportation roadmap.






    Updated Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Measles in Healthcare Settings
    CDC's updated Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Measles in Healthcare Settingscan help clinicians protect against the spread of measles. Measles is most commonly spread from person to person either at home or in public settings, but it can also spread in healthcare settings. While the most important way to prevent the spread of measles is community vaccination, core measles prevention in healthcare settings requires a multi-faceted approach

    GPEI: 19 new polio cases this week as multiple countries report outbreaks
    Jul 19 GPEI report

    DRC reports 4 more vaccine-derived polio cases
    The DRC has reported four more illnesses involving circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2), according to the latest weekly update today from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).
    Jul 26 GPEI weekly update

    Merck unveils early data on HIV drug it says could be ‘a game changer’

    WHO recommends dolutegravir as preferred HIV treatment

    • WHO recommends dolutegravir (DTG) for all living with HIV, including pregnant women
    • Drug had previously been named as a possible cause of neural tube defects
    • New evidence shows risks are ‘significantly lower’ than thought: WHO

    HIV drug resistance report 2019, WHO.
    Combatting AMR, including the threat posed by drug-resistant HIV, is a major goal for the global community. This report presents findings from 44 nationally representative HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) surveys implemented in 24 low- and middle-income countries using WHO standard survey methods.

    One Health  

    Rabies Kills Tens of Thousands Yearly. Vaccinating Dogs Could Stop It.
    Sometimes the interests of humans and animals are the same, but humans have to save the animals first.

    One Health Summer School, Approaches to One Health Operationalisation
    August 19-30, 2019  
    London, England. Hosted by the One Health European Joint Program (EJP), the U of Surrey, Wageningen U and Chatham House. All Bachelor’s, Masters and PhD Students and researchers who have experience in a relevant health related field are eligible to apply by June 7. Travel / accommodation expenses and a small stipend are provided.
    M ore information
    New Challenges of Applying One Health Approach in a Changing Environment
    September 24-26, 2019  
    Quebec City, Canada. 5th International Congress of Pathogens at the Human-Animal Interface (ICOPHAI). Organized by The Ohio State University and University de Montreal. Registration now open.
    One Health: Creating Our Shared Future - Humans, Animals, and the Environment
    2019 Triangle Global Health Consortium Annual Conference
    October 16, 2019 
    Durham, North Carolina, USA. Hosted by the Triangle Global Health Consortium.  Abstract submission deadline for speakers, panels, workshops, story-tellers, and a One Health Challenge Question - July 15, August 15 for posters.
    ''Rabies in the Americas'' 2019 Conference
    October 27-31, 2019 
    Kansas State U, Kansas City Missouri. Abstract deadline July 31, 2019.  
    Public Health Institute/CDC Global Health
    Fellowship Program
    This is a CDC-funded fellowship that supports recent global public health graduates from Council on Education in Public Health accredited schools to develop technical skills needed to respond to today’s public health needs and challenges. Fellows work with leading CDC experts to contribute to real projects around the world across the areas of epidemiology, HIV prevention, surveillance, strategic information, monitoring and evaluation and program management.
    Biodiversity and Ecosystem

    Scientists in the crosshairs at US border
    Scientists who study the ecosystem that straddles the southern border of the United States say that fieldwork, collaboration and personal safety are under threat — especially for researchers who are (or are perceived to be) Hispanic. Scientists describe being harassed by US law enforcement and armed amateur border guards, being delayed at the US–Mexico border and seeing US visas denied to Mexican collaborators.
    Public Radio International | 7 min read or 11 min listen

    Amazon deforestation accelerating towards unrecoverable 'tipping point'
    Data confirms fears that Jair Bolsonaro’s policy encourages illegal logging in Brazil

    Global Consultation Workshop on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework in Relation to Access and Benefit-sharing and the Nagoya Protocol
    This global consultation workshop, organized by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), is expected to discuss access and benefit-sharing under the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, prior to the first meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. This workshop is one of the main steps in the development of access and benefit-sharing aspects under the new framework.
    date: 25 August 2019
    location: Nairobi, Kenya

    Pulse of the Planet Webinar Series

    Mainstreaming and Safeguarding Biodiversity in Multilateral Development Bank Finance
    with Dr. Robert Langstroth, Senior Biodiversity Specialist in the Environmental and Social Safeguards Unit of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC.
    Friday, August 2, 2019 at 12:00 noon (EDT, UTC-4)
    Register now
    Food Safety and Security

    Zimbabwe: Droughts leave millions food insecure, UN food agency scales up assistance
    Donors need to mobilize funds now for drought-hit East Africa to avoid a repeat of the 2011 famine that killed more than 260,000 people in Somalia, according to aid agencies.
    [Nita Bhalla, Reuters]

    CRISPR conundrum for food-testing labs
    A landmark European court ruling means that food-testing laboratories must spot-check freighters and supermarkets for gene-edited food — but how do you detect edits that affect just a few letters of DNA? And even if you could, how would you know that it’s the result of gene editing, rather than a natural mutation? “Some of these alterations are small enough that they are simply indistinguishable from naturally occurring organisms,” says legal analyst Martin Wasmer.
    Nature | 4 min read

    Colistin banned in animal food industry
    Indian authorities ban the use of colistin in the animal food industry The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India has issued an order prohibiting the manufacture, sale and distribution of colistin and its formulations for food-producing animals, poultry, aqua farming and animal feed supplements.

    Deadly Germs, Lost Cures: Urinary Tract Infections Affect Millions. The Cures Are Faltering.
    This The New York Times article describes how asminfections become increasingly resistant to antibiotics, some standard treatments no longer work for an ailment that was once easily cured.

    Infectious disease fatalities rise in Australia as overall death rate falls
    reports on mortality data recently released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, noting that the proportion of deaths due to infectious diseases has been increasing since the 1980s and featuring commentary from Peter Collignon, MBBS, PhD, on potential expected increases in sepsis mortality associated with AMR and aging.    

    Emotional, cognitive and social factors of antimicrobial prescribing: can antimicrobial stewardship intervention be effective without addressing psycho-social factors.
    In the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Valeria Donisi, PhD, et al describe staffing options for addressing the psycho-social determinants of prescribing as part of a multidisciplinary antimicrobial stewardship team.

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Jul 26, 2019

    • NYC stewardship initiative
    • BARDA funds for new antibiotic

    More »

    Call For Papers: “Antibiotic Resistance - Where are the prevention opportunities?” A Special issue from Global Health Action.
    Global Health Action are welcoming documented international, national, and local approaches for the control and prevention of antibiotic resistance. Global Health Action welcome different types of contributions: empirical research, theoretical papers, methodological articles, commentaries reflecting on action, and systematic reviews. These can use qualitative, quantitative and mixed methodologies.
    Open until 31st December 2019.  

    Emergencies and Disasters

    WHO AFRO - Outbreaks and Emergencies Bulletin - Week 29/2019
    15 - 21 July 2019
    The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 70 events in the region. This week’s edition covers key new and ongoing events, including:

    • Humanitarian crisis in Burkina Faso
    • Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Measles in Chad
    • Cholera in Cameroon.

    Yemen: Health Cluster Bulletin, June 2019

    In Fragile States, Disease Outbreaks Don’t Stay Local for Long

    Explosions, floods and hurricanes: dealing with a lab disaster
    Planning ahead and staying flexible are key to coping with the unexpected.

    How to recover from a lab disaster
    You hope it will never happen: losing your lab, or priceless artefacts or samples, to a fire, equipment failure or natural disaster. Researchers who have experienced explosions, floods, hurricanes and other calamities tell Nature how they moved on by diving into reconstruction, learning from the experience or even taking advantage of a blank slate to drive their research in a different direction.
    Nature | 11 min read
    Listen to researchers tell their stories of recovering from disaster in this week’s Nature Podcast.

    How to Use Social Media to Better Engage People Affected by Crises
    Together with ICRC, and with the support of OCHA, IFRC have published a brief guide on how to use social media to better engage people affected by crisis. The guide is geared towards staff in humanitarian organisations who are responsible for official social media channels. This brief guide, trying to address this gap, provides advice on how to use social media effectively to engage with, and be accountable to, affected people through practical tips and case studies from within the Movement and the wider sector.
    Download: How to Use Social Media to Better Engage People Affected by Crises

    Uncontrolled Chemical Releases: A Silent, Growing Threat
    Uncontrolled releases of household, industrial, and agricultural chemicals during natural disasters pose an underappreciated hazard to humans and ecosystems. Here’s what we can do.
    IPSA 2019 Natural and Manmade Disaster Recovery Symposium
    The International Public Safety Association (IPSA) is hosting an educational training symposium September 18-19, 2019, in the Washington, DC, metro area. This event is for all first responders (law enforcement, corrections personnel, firefighters, EMS, 911 dispatchers), allied emergency responders, government officials and communities of practice.
    For details on the agenda, session topics, and to register, see the IPSA

    Climate Change

    Heat Wave

    'Hell is coming': Western Europe battles unprecedented heat wave as France records its highest temperature in history
    Countries including France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and Portugal are experiencing a massive heat wave that began on Wednesday, with hot air coming from the Sahara.

    June 2019 was hottest on record for the globe
    Antarctic sea ice coverage shrank to new record low

    USA: Record high temperatures far exceed record lows—a trend of the climate crisis

    Increased frequency of and population exposure to extreme heat index days in the United States during the 21st century
    The National Weather Service of the United States uses the heat index—a combined measure of temperature and relative humidity—to define risk thresholds warranting the issuance of public heat alerts. The authors of this paper use statistically downscaled climate models to project the frequency of and population exposure to days exceeding these thresholds in the contiguous US for the 21st century with two emissions and three population change...

    Killer heat in the United States: Climate choices and the future of dangerously hot days
    This UCS analysis provides a detailed view of how extreme heat events caused by dangerous combinations of temperature and humidity are likely to become more frequent and widespread in the United States over this century. It also describes the implications for everyday life in different regions of the country. The authors have analyzed where and how often the heat index—also known as the National Weather Service “feels like” temperature—is...

    Using web data to improve surveillance for heat sensitive health outcomes
    Elevated and prolonged exposure to extreme heat is an important cause of excess summertime mortality and morbidity. To protect people from health threats, some governments are currently operating syndromic surveillance systems. However, a lack of resources to support time- and labor-intensive diagnostic and reporting processes makes it difficult to establish region-specific surveillance systems.

    Swiss railway field tests white paint to keep tracks from buckling

    Climate change could raise the risk of deadly fungal infections in humans
    Outbreaks of Candida auris have recently erupted around the world

    Climate crisis might be behind the rise of mysterious superbug C. auris, study suggests

    Potential Impact of Climate Change on Schistosomiasis Transmission in China

    Turning climate change legislation into public health policy

    Two new platforms offer the latest knowledge on green finance and green business
    A global partnership of some of the world’s largest organizations today launched two new knowledge platforms – the Green Industry Platform and the Green Finance Platform – at the High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development in New York. These platforms provide the financial and private sectors with the latest research, data, guidance, and tools from leading experts and institutions to help green their operations.

    Researchers warn of 'unexpected implications' as climate risks converge

    'Only you know' if we did enough, says memorial to Iceland's lost glacier
    All the world's glaciers are set to vanish within 200 years, says a memorial to future generations, which invites them to judge whether the world did enough

    The U.K. spent £678 million in foreign aid on fossil fuel projects from 2010-2017, a new study shows, highlighting a misalignment between trade and aid policies and the Paris climate agreement.

    Urban Health

    Heatwaves like that being experienced in America are more dangerous in cities
    Pavement and plants can counter the urban heat-island effect
    AMERICA HAS been baking this weekend. An estimated 128m people along the East Coast and in the Midwest were affected by excessive-heat warnings on July 20th. This particular heatwave is likely to fade quickly, but such events are becoming more common.

    Experts call for ban on glass skyscrapers to save energy in climate crisis
    Air conditioning is used to avoid greenhouse effect but cooling buildings adds to carbon emissions

    Sustainability and resilience for transformation in the urban century

    Major U.S. cities are leaking methane at twice the rate previously believed

    2019 US Cities Sustainable Development Report
    The 2019 US Cities Sustainable Development Report is UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network's (SDSN) third city-level report ranking 105 US cities on progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. This year’s report highlights the many urgent challenges facing America’s cities, including substantial and rising inequalities of income, persistent poverty, unsafe physical environments, and climate change. 
    Read more.

    Migration Health

    EU countries agree to new migrant influx mechanism
    Fourteen member countries of the European Union have agreed to a new "solidarity mechanism" proposed by Germany and France to allocate migrants across the bloc, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday. Macron did not spell out specifics but said the new initiative would be "quick" and "automatic".

    Migrant boat survivors transferred to Libya detention centre
    Dozens of survivors from a migrant boat disaster on the Mediterranean have been taken to a detention centre in Libya where at least 53 people were killed by an airstrike earlier this month. A spokesman from the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, confirmed that 84 people pulled from the waters off Libya had been taken to the Tajoura detention centre in Tripoli. Up to 150 people are missing feared dead after two boats carrying some 300 migrants capsized on Thursday. "The worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year has just occurred," said Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees.
    For more, read recent briefing on the situation in Libya.

    The European Commission has taken Hungary to its highest court
    over the country's law that criminalizes helping asylum-seekers and sets new restrictions on claiming asylum.
    [Deutsche Welle]




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    Please contact Chadia Wannous via email at 

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