News Pouch: 20 August 2019

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

News Pouch: 20 August 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 appreciate 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: 15 August 2019
    As of 13 August, a total of 2842 EVD cases were reported, including 2748 confirmed and 94 probable cases, of which 1905 cases died (overall case fatality ratio 67%). Of the total confirmed and probable cases, 57% (1608) were female, and 29% (815) were children aged less than 18 years.
    Pillar 1 of the fourth Strategic Response Plan (SRP4) for the control of the EVD outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is now available on the WHO website. Other pillars of the plan and their funding needs are being finalized by response partners and will be progressively released. Pillar 1 covers the core public health response to the outbreak; the funding requirement for all partners to sustain the health response as outlined in this plan is 287 million US dollars, including 120-140 million US dollars for WHO. So far, 15.3 million US dollars have been received, with further funds pledged but not yet received. Despite recent announcements of new contributions, WHO’s operations are impacted by a lack of cash flow. The funding shortfall is immediate and critical. A summary of funding received by WHO since the start of this outbreak can be found here.

    Ebola outbreak spreads to third province in eastern Congo
    Congo’s yearlong Ebola outbreak has spread to a new province, with two cases, including one death, confirmed in South Kivu, according to the government health ministry.
    Congo Ebola outbreak spreads to new province as epidemic continues to spiral
    One woman dead after two cases are confirmed in South Kivu’s Lwindi district, near DRC’s border with Rwanda

    DRC struggles with deadly measles outbreak amid ongoing Ebola crisis
    The impact of reactive mass vaccination campaigns on measles outbreaks in the Katanga region, Democratic Republic of Congo
    The Katanga region in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been struck by repeated epidemics of measles, with large outbreaks occurring in 2011 and 2015. In many of the affected health zones, reactive mass vaccination campaigns were conducted in response to the outbreaks.

    Independent Monitoring Board Recommends Early Termination of Ebola Therapeutics Trial in DRC Because of Favorable Results with Two of Four Candidates

    Ebola now curable after trials of drugs in DRC, say scientists
    Congo results show good survival rates for patients treated quickly with antibodies
    Anthony Fauci, the director of the US NIAID, said the overall mortality of those given ZMapp in the trial in four centres was 49% while that of Remdesivir was 53%. A monoclonal antibody drug made by Regeneron had the lowest overall death rate, at 29%, while the monoclonal antibody 114 made by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics had a mortality rate of 34%.
    But the results in people who arrived at a treatment centre soon after they became sick, rather than staying at home, were even more impressive – with death rates of 24% on ZMapp, 33% with Remdesivir, 11% with 114 and just 6% with Regeneron’s drug.

    Ebola: calls for vigilance despite treatment breakthrough
    The Ebola Effect: The economic impacts of a public health crisis
    The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is currently battling the second worst ever outbreak of Ebola, in the conflict-affected and densely populated provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. As of 4 August 2019, more than 2,763 people have been infected, and 1,849 people have died from Ebola virus disease (EVD).

    Investors Cash In on Ebola Bonds That Haven't Paid Out
    A new way of financing the fight against global diseases lured investors with annual returns of more than 11%. The deadly Ebola outbreak in Africa is highlighting shortcomings of so-called pandemic bonds in halting contagions.PEF
    Ituri: Police Disperse Protest Against Ebola Response Team
    Police on Tuesday (August 13th) dispersed a demonstration by residents of the Mputu district in Mambassa Center (Ituri) against the Ebola response team. In fact, a resident of the neighborhood, suffering from Ebola, died Monday, August 12 at the treatment center of Makayanga. According to protesters who develop a conspiracy theory around this case, this death is orchestrated by the response team to obtain funding for its activities.
    Number of children orphaned or left unaccompanied by Ebola in the DR Congo rising fast
    The number of children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who have been orphaned or left unaccompanied due to the Ebola epidemic has more than doubled since April, requiring a rapid ramp-up of specialized care in the Ebola-hit provinces of Ituri and North Kivu.

    Modern science has delivered the world powerful tools to defeat Ebola. It is not enough

    Ebola Could Be Eradicated — But Only if the World Works Together
    New treatments for Ebola and drug-resistant tuberculosis offer hope, but they won’t be successful on their own.

    Burundi begins Ebola vaccine campaign
    Burundi yesterday began vaccinating front-line workers against Ebola, part of efforts to prepare for possible Ebola cases. The country's border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is southeast of the main outbreak area, and vaccination with VSV-EBOV began at the Gatumba entry point. People vaccinated include health workers at entry points and other people who could potentially be exposed, including lab workers, surveillance teams, and burial teams.
    Aug 14 WHO statement

    Priority Diseases

    Pandemic bonds: designed to fail in Ebola
    The final toll of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014–16 was more than 11,000 lives, plus an estimated US$53 billion from economic disruption and collapse of health systems. In the outbreak’s wake, the global health community scrambled to deliver initiatives for increased health security.
    Monthly risk assessment on influenza at the human-animal interface

    Improved country preparedness through implementation of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework partnership contribution, 2018
    The biweekly global influenza update
    The latest FluNet summary of lab-confirmed data from GISRS
    The Review of 2018-2019 influenza season in the northern hemisphere  
    Airborne transmission may have played a role in the spread of 2015 highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks in the United States
    The unprecedented 2015 outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N2 in the U.S. devastated its poultry industry and resulted in over $3 billion economic impacts. Today HPAI continues eroding poultry operations and disrupting animal protein supply chains around the world.
    A new Sub-Saharan Africa HPAI Situation Update from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health
    Upcoming Events
    1-2 October 2019
    Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework Partnership Contribution Independent Technical Expert Mechanism Meeting
    Geneva, Switzerland

    8-11 October 2019
    Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework Advisory Group Meeting
    Geneva, Switzerland
    Vector-Borne Diseases (VBD)

    CEPI announces support for fourth Nipah virus vaccine

    The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Public Health Vaccines (PHV), LLC, have announced a partnership agreement worth up to $43.6 million to support the development and manufacturing of a Nipah virus vaccine.
    Aug 12 CEPI press release

    Malaysia reports dengue increase as part of global trend

    Malaysia joins several other countries in Southern Asia, including Bangladesh and the Philippines, that are documenting increasing dengue counts in 2019. 
    Several countries in South America are also reporting increased dengue cases, according to the latest update from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
    Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua have declared epidemiological alerts at the national level because of rising dengue counts, and Brazil is also tracking an increase in dengue activity, PAHO said.  
    Aug 10 Reuters story
    Aug 9 PAHO report

    Fighting the World’s Deadliest Animal

    Video: Battling the mosquito-borne diseases: why it matters
    Update 1- Seriba Reports Suspected African Swine Fever Cases, Neighbours Ban Imports Serbia has reported four suspected outbreaks of African swine fever among backyard pigs, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Monday, prompting neighbouring countries to ban imports of the animals.

    ASF Asia Update for 15 August from FAO/EMPRES - Animal Health.
    * Myanmar reported ASF outbreak for the first time.
    * China detected ASF virus in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in pigs being transported by a vehicle.
    * The area with high-level movement restriction has been reduced to 5 provinces/region in China.     
    Packed dorm may have spurred MERS spread, study says
    New findings from an investigation into a large MERS-CoV cluster in a women's dormitory revealed that crowded living conditions can lead to higher attack rates and hints that even healthcare workers who don't directly care for patients can play a role in disease spread.

    Global measles outbreaks make 2019 a record-setting year
    In US developments, the CDC reported 10 more cases in its regular update, and New York reported a new outbreak in an Mennonite community.
    More »

    US measles cases top 1,200 as UK loses 'measles free' status
    With 21 new cases, 2019 US measles totals rise to 1,203 in 30 states.
    More »
    Measles in England
    The UK initially achieved WHO measles elimination status in 2017, based on data from 2014-2016. However, in 2018, there was a marked increase in the number of confirmed measles cases, with 991 confirmed cases in England and Wales, compared with 284 cases in 2017. Furthermore, the same strain of measles virus (called B3 Dublin) was detected for more than 12 months across 2017 and 2018. Based on this, WHO determined that the UK could no longer be consider as ‘eliminated’ and that transmission of measles had been re-established.

    Could the world see a resurgence of polio? Experts fear a cautionary tale in measles The effort to eradicate polio is nearly two decades past its original target date for completion, and there are concerns about what could happen if funding dries up or the political will to persevere towards the elusive goal erodes.

    One Health  

    FDA approves new drug for highly resistant tuberculosis

    The shorter, simpler regimen with the new drug is poised to improve treatment against a difficult disease and lower costs.
    More »

    UN’s latest report on climate change provokes mixed coverage on livestock
    Biodiversity and Ecosystem
    Opinion: Harmful invasive species are on the move, we need a global alliance to stop them
    Defined as any organism that is non-native and poses economic or environmental threat to an area, there are a number of invasive species traveling the globe responsible for a large portion of the earth’s  biodiversity loss.
    The economic costs of invasive species--some USD 33.5 billion per year in Southeast Asia. In Africa, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warns fall armyworm could cost smallholder farmers US $5 billion in lost maize and threaten the food security of 300 million people in 44 countries. With its ability to spread quickly over long distances, the damage in Asia could be much greater.

    Report: There's A Growing Water Crisis In The Global South
    Many major cities in Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America are falling dangerously behind in their efforts to provide residents with reliable and affordable access to clean water, according to a new report by the World Resources Institute. The data in the report offer a stark new account of the scale of the threat posed by unsafe and unaffordable water to public health and the economy in the Global South's quickly-expanding urban centers.

    Trump Administration Makes Major Changes To Protections For Endangered Species
    The U.S. Department of Interior on Monday announced a suite of long-anticipated revisions to the nation's premier wildlife conservation law, which is credited with bringing back the bald eagle and grizzly bears, among other species.

    Insect 'apocalypse' in U.S. driven by 50x increase in toxic pesticides

    Food Safety and Security
    Eat less meat to save the world
    Plant-based diets are a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change, says a high-level report commissioned by the United Nations. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report emphasises that land, and how we use it, is pivotal to our efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and the impacts of global warming. “We don’t want to tell people what to eat,” says ecologist Hans-Otto Pörtner, who co-chairs an IPCC working group. “But it would indeed be beneficial, for both climate and human health.”
    Nature | 6 min read
    Reference: Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report

    'Green gold': Kenyan farmers abandon food crops to grow herbal stimulant
    Struggling to get decent maize harvests as drought bites, farmers are turning to fast-growing, less-thirsty muguka to make money. A variety of khat, which produces a mild high when chewed, muguka is fast-growing, making it less vulnerable to large swings in weather conditions, and uses about half as much water as maize "But the long-term consequences could lead to food insecurity due to reduced production."

    To Find The Next Antibiotic, Scientists Give Old Drugs A New Purpose
    A recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that they can repurpose bithionol — a drug formerly used to treat parasitic infections in horses — to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including MRSA, a common hospital-acquired infection.

    Sugary Western Diets Fuel Newly Evolving Superbug
    Trial in Africa probes antibiotic’s effects on child mortality. 
    The Scientist

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Aug 13, 2019

    • Combo therapy for MRSA infections
    • EMR-driven stewardship

    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Aug 14, 2019

    • Antibiotic resistance legislation
    • Urinary tract infection treatment

    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Aug 15, 2019

    • Antibiotic resistance in Europe
    • Antibiotic pipeline gaps

    More »

    Consultation on SDG Indicators - proposed AMR indicator
    In accordance with GA Resolution 71/313, the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) is conducting a Comprehensive Review of the global indicator framework. They have now opened their consultation on the proposed changes, which includes an AMR Indicator proposed by the WHO:“Reduce the percentage of bloodstream infections due to selected antimicrobial resistant organisms”
    To support the inclusion of an AMR Indicator in the SDGs – which will be a first –, please go to the consultation at the link below and add your comments against proposed indicator 3.d.2 before 8th September.

    Madhya Pradesh second state to have plan for antimicrobial resistance
    Madhya Pradesh has become the second Indian state, after Kerala, to develop a One Health action plan on AMR.

    Overcoming Access Barriers to Antibiotics
    Antibiotic Use in the United States: Progress and Opportunities, 2018 Update
    The CDC releases Antibiotic Use in the United States: Progress and Opportunities, 2018 Update, which is an update to CDC's 2017 antibiotic stewardship report. Improving antibiotic use is important to effectively treat infections, protect patients from harms caused by unnecessary antibiotic use, and combat antibiotic resistance, one of the most urgent threats to the public's health. Progress has been made in improving antibiotic prescribing and use, but many opportunities remain.
    How will you lead in the fight to slow the spread of AMR? Join the Challenge by making a commitment today. 
    See the rest of the nearly 300 commitments received to date and learn how to make a commitment on the AMR Challenge website! Send your inquiries to

    Emergencies and Disasters

    WHO AFRO - Outbreaks and Emergencies Bulletin - Week 33: 12 - 18 August 2019
    The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 66 events in the region. This week's edition covers key new and ongoing events, including:
    • Circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 in Benin
    • Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Hepatitis E in Namibia
    • Humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia.

    Concern regarding access to health care in Jammu and Kashmir, India.

    Disaster preparedness to reduce anxiety and post-disaster stres
    This report focuses on disaster mental health preparedness, which is a significant reduction method to protect individuals from detrimental psychological effects arising from disasters. Disasters are stressful events not only for individuals who suffer from personal loss but also for the community at large. During the past two decades, natural hazards have affected more than 3 million families around the world.

    Aid worker kidnappings 'big business' as criminals wade in - ex-hostage
    Although kidnapping aid workers is a crime under international law, it is rarely punished, which is fuelling the violence, says senior UN official and former hostage
    More than 37 attacks targeting health workers and facilities,
    which resulted in at least 11 deaths and 33 injuries, have been reported since the military offensive to capture Tripoli in April, according to the U.N.
     [Edith M. Lederer, AP]
    Emergency Water Supply Planning Guide for Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities
    To maintain daily operations and patient care services, health care facilities need to develop a water supply plan in advance of an emergency. This 2019 revised Emergency Water Supply Planning Guide, available in both English and Spanish, can provide a road map for health care facilities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a total or partial water supply interruption. It provides guidance to assess water usage, response capabilities, and water supply alternatives.

    Climate Change

    Meat and potatoes: international media majors on diet in IPCC coverage

    Reporting on latest science around climate change and land use focused on rich nations’ eating habits, but did it miss the bigger picture?

    The growing threat of heat disasters
    Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States and indoor exposure is responsible for a significant portion of the resulting fatalities. Evolving construction practices combined with urban development in harsh climates has led building occupants in many cities to rely on air conditioning (AC) to a degree that their health and well-being are compromised in its absence.

    Assessing the magnitude and uncertainties of the burden of selected diseases attributable to extreme heat and extreme precipitation under a climate change scenario in Michigan for the period 2041–2070. Extreme heat (EH) and extreme precipitation (EP) events are expected to increase with climate change in many parts of the world. Characterizing the potential future morbidity and mortality burden of EH and EP and associated costs, as well as uncertainties in the estimates, can identify areas for public health intervention and inform adaptation strategies.

    Tens of thousands additional deaths annually in cities of China between 1.5 °C and 2.0 °C warming
    The increase in surface air temperature in China has been faster than the global rate, and more high temperature spells are expected to occur in future. Here, the authors assess the annual heat-related mortality in densely populated cities of China at 1.5 °C and 2.0 °C global warming. For this, the urban population is projected under five Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, and 31 General Circulation Model runs, and temperature-mortality...

    Heat and health: a forthcoming Lancet Series  
    The Lancet will publish in 2020 a new multidisciplinary series of papers on heat and health. Led jointly from the University of Sydney and the University of Washington, the series will synthesize evidence and make recommendations to improve public health responses during heatwaves and support sustainable human adaptation to extreme heat.  
    Learn more.

    Climate expert at CDC poised to file whistleblower complaint over treatment
    Regional leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum failed to reach an agreement on stronger climate goals, with Australia and New Zealand expressing objections during negotiations.

    Teenage climate hunger striker: “People should be terrified”
    A college student and activist is calling attention to the food shortages that climate change will cause with his own 10-day hunger strike and a "die-in" at the US Capitol

    Fires, Smoke Exposure, and Public Health: An Integrative Framework to Maximize Health Benefits From Peatland Restoration
    Marlier et al. (2019) estimate that exposure to air pollution from Indonesian fires causes 36,000 yearly excess deaths. The authors developed an online tool to help with designing and assessing peatland restoration  and other land management strategies.

    Human Health as a Motivator for Climate Change Mitigation: Results from Four European High-Income Countries
    Amelung et al. (2019) suggest that providing direct information on individual health co-benefits may motivate households to adopt climate mitigation actions, reducing both the individual's carbon footprint and also improving public acceptance and adherence.

    Urban Health

    Rapid urbanisation and implications for indigenous knowledge in early warning on flood risk in African cities
    By 2050, 3.2 million people in urban areas could be at risk from pluvial flooding, an increase of 1.2 million from 2015. It is, thus, imperative to understand existing coping strategies because such strategies play critical roles in developing adaptation strategies to climate change. Current studies demonstrate the role of indigenous knowledge (IK)—gathered through observations of plant indicators, animal behaviour and astronomy—in the...

    Citizen science helping to map U.S. Urban Heat Islands
    CityLab's Linda Poon explores what the urban heat island effect means for cities on the US east coast in this update on a citizen science campaign spearheaded by NOAA in 2018 to create detailed maps of the effect in cities across the country. 
    Read more >

    'Climate Change and Urban Health: The case of Hong Kong as a sub-tropical city'
    Hong Kong is an urban metropolis heavily impacted by heat. In this new book by Network member Emily Ying Yang Chan, insights and technical skills for investigating and responding to climate change and its public health consequences in urban subtropical cities are presented. 
    Find it here >

    Cities confront climate
    Because they can't move out of the way, cities tend to stand and fight climate change by developing cutting edge adaptation strategies. It still isn't enough to deal with climate change on a global scale

    Migration Health

    How U.S. citizens’ health could suffer under Trump’s new rule aimed at immigrants

    The Trump administration is scaling back public benefits for immigrants who are in the U.S. legally, but doing so may negatively affect the health and wellness of young American citizens, according to analysts.
    On Monday, Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services office, told reporters during a White House press briefing that this policy “encourages and ensures self-reliance and self-sufficiency” for those who want to settle permanently in the U.S.

    Doctors say new rule will mean sicker immigrants. 
    The Associated Press
    Immigration advocates filed a class action lawsuit against the Trump administration over poor medical care in detention centers, leading to permanent harm and 24 deaths of those in detention in the past two years.
    [Renuka Rayasam, Politico]

    Global Health

    Criteria for Selecting the Leading Health Indicators for Healthy People 2030
    The health and well-being of all people and communities are essential to a thriving, equitable society. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health has charged the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to convene an ad hoc committee to assist in the development of Leading Health Indicators (LHIs) for Healthy People 2030. In its first report, the committee discusses the background materials relevant to the charge and makes recommendations regarding the criteria for selecting LHIs.

    Vaccines that don’t need refrigeration could save a ton of lives
    Vaccination is one of the biggest public health triumphs of our era, the rise of anti-vaxxers in rich countries notwithstanding. Globally, 85 percent of 1-year-olds have been vaccinated — usually for diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, measles, and hepatitis B. That’s a huge deal; it has saved millions of lives and been one of the biggest drivers of dramatic reductions in infant mortality over the past 50 years.

    UNAIDS welcomes the appointment of Winnie Byanyima as its new Executive Director

    UK faces food, fuel and drug shortages, says contested leaked document
    Britain will face shortages of fuel, food and medicine if it leaves the European Union without a transition deal, according to leaked official documents reported by the Sunday Times whose interpretation was immediately contested by ministers.


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    Please contact Chadia Wannous via email at 

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