News Pouch: 6 September 2019

To view images in this newsletter, please allow images and html options. 
View this email in your browser

Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

News Pouch: 6 September 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 AFRO - Situation Report - Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in DRC - Sitrep 57 (2019)
    As of 1 September 2019, a total of 3036 EVD cases were reported, including 2931 confirmed and 105 probable cases, of which 2035 cases died (overall case fatality ratio 67%). Of the total confirmed and probable cases with reported sex and age, 58% (1763) were female, and 28% (857) were children aged less than 18 years, and 5% (156) were healthcare workers.
    Under Pillar 1 of the current Strategic Response Plan, the estimated funding requirement for all partners for the period July to December 2019 is US$ 287 million, including US$ 120-140 million for WHO. As of 27 August 2019, US$ 45.3 million have been received by WHO, with further funds committed or pledged. Current available funds will close the financing gap up until the end of September 2019.
    Further resources are needed to fund the response through to December 2019 and WHO is appealing to donors to provide generous support. A summary of funding received by WHO since the start of this outbreak can be found here.
    click here to download the complete situation report (PDF).

    Africa Public Health Foundation to Address Epidemic Preparedness and Response
    The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), in partnership with the African Union and World Economic Forum, today announces the establishment of the Africa Public Health Foundation (APHF). The foundation will facilitate public-private cooperation on supporting Africa CDC’s mission to strengthen health and economic security.
    Duty of care and health worker protections in the age of Ebola: lessons from Médecins Sans Frontières
    Protecting health workers from preventable illness, disability and death must become a fundamental first step in building resilient health systems capable of planning for and effectively responding to public health emergencies while maintaining core services.

    Former Congo health minister questioned over Ebola spending

    To Cure Ebola Will Take More Than a Pill
    Two experimental drugs used to treat the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are working, medical researchers say. Infected people who took the medications as part of a trial survived at rates of 66–71 percent, compared with 30 percent for those who were not vaccinated and did not receive medication. Ninety percent of patients who received treatment within the first days of showing symptoms survived. These therapies have the potential to transform Ebola from a near-certain death sentence into a difficult but survivable disease.

    Why women and children are at greatest risk as Ebola continues to spread in Congo

    GlaxoSmithKline drops out of Ebola vaccine development as R&D shifts resources to franchise drugs
    The pharma giant has handed over experimental vaccines for two varieties of Ebola as well as the Marburg virus that they were forced to shelve after the last big outbreak in Africa ran its course from 2014 to 2016. The Sabin Vaccine Institute will now take over the work as a new outbreak spurs headlines around the world

    USAID announces $21 million in Ebola assistance to DRC
    The new aid package brings USAID's total funding for the DRC's Ebola outbreak to almost $158 million. The United States has not had personnel on the ground in the DRC's outbreak area since September 2018, when all staff were pulled amid growing insecurity threats. The Centers for Disease Control and Preventioni, however, has been assisting a USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team in the DRC. In addition to helping in the DRC, USAID's money will reach preparedness efforts in Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda.
    Sep 4 USAID press release

    Increased mortality in survivors of Ebola virus disease
    the high case fatality associated with Ebola virus infection, together with the long-term sequelae and late mortality associated with the infection, highlight the importance of preventive and early therapeutic clinical interventions against severe acute infections.

    Subsequent mortality in survivors of Ebola virus disease in Guinea: a nationwide retrospective cohort study
    Guinean Ebola survivors’ mortality rates five times higher than the general population
    Mortality was high in people who recovered from Ebola virus disease and were discharged from Ebola treatment units in Guinea. The finding that survivors who were hospitalised for longer during primary infection had an increased risk of death, could help to guide current and future survivors' programmes and in the prioritisation of funds in resource-constrained settings. The role of renal failure in late deaths after recovery from Ebola should be investigated.

    Priority Diseases

    Technology to advance infectious disease forecasting for outbreak management Forecasting is beginning to be integrated into decision-making processes for infectious disease outbreak response. We discuss how technologies could accelerate the adoption of forecasting among public health practitioners, improve epidemic management, save lives, and reduce the economic impact of outbreaks.
    Advances in 3D Printing Technology: Increasing Biological Weapon Proliferation Risks?
    The states parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) gathered in Geneva from 29 July to 8 August for a series of Meetings of Experts. Among other topics, states reviewed scientific and technological developments that impact the objectives of the treaty.

    Do we keep waiting for the next pandemic or try to prevent it?

    HHS Purchases Smallpox Vaccine to Enhance Biodefense Preparedness
    As part of ongoing preparedness efforts against biodefense threats, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will purchase smallpox vaccine, called ACAM2000, to build and replenish vaccine stored in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) over the next decade. Under the agreement announced today, the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), which oversees the SNS, will award approximately $170 million to Emergent BioSolutions of Gaithersburg, Maryland, for the purchase this year. ASPR can purchase additional vaccine over the next 10 years, with a target of $2 billion in procurement and surge options for up to a total of nearly $2.8 billion.
    WHO biweekly global influenza update
    The latest FluNet summary of lab-confirmed data from GISRS
    N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Health Care Personnel: A Randomized Clinical Trial
    In this pragmatic, cluster randomized clinical trial involving 2862 health care personnel, there was no significant difference in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza among health care personnel with the use of N95 respirators (8.2%) vs medical masks (7.2%).
    Comparison of adjuvants to optimize influenza neutralizing antibody responses
    Seasonal influenza vaccines represent a positive intervention to limit the spread of the virus and protect public health. Yet continual influenza evolution and its ability to evade immunity pose a constant threat.

    New H7N9 Disease Situation Update from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health 
    No new outbreaks in birds reported;
    No new human cases reported;
    4 new relevant publications;

    Comparison of Respiratory Specimen Collection Methods for Detection of Influenza Virus Infection by Reverse Transcription-PCR: a Literature Review
    The detection of influenza virus in respiratory specimens from ill individuals is the most commonly used method to identify influenza virus infection. A number of respiratory specimen types may be used, including swabs, brush, aspirate, and wash, and specimens may be collected from numerous sites, including the anterior and posterior nasopharynx, oropharynx, and nares.

    Oseltamivir prophylaxis for the prevention of influenza in healthy healthcare workers: Tolerability and compliance challenges

    The evolution and characterization of influenza A(H7N9) virus under the selective pressure of peramivir
    View at Virology

    Pregnancy as a risk factor for severe influenza infection
    View at BMC Infect Dis
    Vector-Borne Diseases (VBD)

    Critics ‘alarmed by lack of interest’ in studying children put at risk by dengue vaccine

    Liberia declares Lassa health emergency
    Liberia health officials yesterday declared a health emergency due to a Lassa fever outbreak that has affected four counties and resulted in 21 deaths so far this year, according to media reports. Affected counties include Nimba, Grand Bassa, Bong, and Grand Cru. Officials said another cause for concern is that cases are expending outside an area already identified as the "Lassa belt".
    Sep 2 Xinhua story
    Drug-resistant malaria genes are spreading across Africa.

    Malaria breakthrough as scientists find ‘highly effective’ way to kill parasite
    Ivermectin, a medication for parasitic diseases, has been found to reduce malaria transmission rates, by making the blood of a human who received repeated vaccinations lethal to mosquitoes, and could pave the way for new antimalarial drugs could be available within two years
    The Need for a National Strategy to Address Vector-Borne Disease Threats in the United States
    Vector-borne diseases (VBDs) cause significant morbidity and mortality each year in the United States. Over the last 14 yr, over 700,000 cases of diseases carried by ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas have been reported from U.S. states and territories to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    Tularemia: significant rise in Sweden
    As of [Mon 26 Aug 2019], about 560 human cases have been reported, much more this time of year than usual and even more than 2015 when 859 people across the country suffered from the illness. Most cases of illness are reported from central Sweden (the Dalarna region, Gavleborg and Orebro), but an increasing number of reports are also starting to come in from other regions, especially in northern Sweden.
    ASF Asia Update for 5 September from FAO/EMPRES - Animal Health.
    * In Viet Nam, ASF outbreak was detected in the last province (Ninh Thuan Province).
    * A slaughterhouse in Hong Kong SAR, China, detected ASF infection in pigs from a farm registered for Hong Kong supply.
    * China officially posted a Q&A on illegal ASF vaccine on the Ministry of Agriculture website.     

    US measles cases hit 1,234 as Brooklyn outbreak called over
    Officials confirm 19 new cases and declare the outbreak in Brooklyn over after almost a year.
    More »

    HIV drug resistance report 2019, WHO.

    Trends of latent MDR tuberculosis across the globe.

    One Health  

    EID Journal September 2019 includes articles relevant to One Health
    Putting the “A” into WaSH: a call for integrated management of water, animals, sanitation, and hygiene
    propose a paradigm shift in WaSH terminology, by upgrading the currently diminutive and redundant “a” to “A”—Water, Animals, Sanitation, and Hygiene—highlighting that reducing exposure to animals and their faeces also needs to be central to WASH approaches. Current programmes focus on containment of human faeces and so do not avert two-thirds of potential faecal hazards, meaning they are unlikely to achieve the large-scale reductions in microbial exposure that we believe are necessary.
    FAO/IAEA International Symposium on Sustainable Animal Production and Health More information at
    Biodiversity and Ecosystem

    Experts on the sustainable use of biodiversity are invited to review the First Order Draft of the IPBES SustainableUse of Wild Species Assessment Register for access here:
    Review period now open until 20 October

    Fostering human health through ocean sustainability in the 21st century

    Lessons from Kenya on how to restore degraded land

    Addressing the Land Degradation – Migration Nexus: The Role of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

    65 million agreement for R. Congo forest signed in Paris
    The agreement will support land use plans for a sustainable management and the protection of peatlands by prohibiting any drainage and drying. Discovered in 2017 in the Congo Basin, these peatlands are vitally important in the fight against climate change, as they contain nearly three years of global greenhouse gas emissions.
    In the deal signed, Congo-Brazza commits to avoid conversion of more than 20,000 hectares of forest per year, and this only outside of forests that boast high carbon stocks and high conservation value
    Talks on High Seas Treaty Address Marine Genetic Resources, Environmental Impact Assessments
    CITES Parties Revise Trade Rules for Dozens of Threatened Wildlife Species 
    IUCN Discusses Policy Convergence on Forest and Land Restoration
    Food Safety and Security

    Bacterial discovery could help crops withstand salty soils
    Transferring salt-loving bacteria onto crops could help them thrive in toxic soils.
    Read More

    Stronger nutrition could save 3.7 million lives by 2025
    CDC/STRIVE Release Additional Free Infection Control Training Courses
    CDC announces the launch of the Building a Business Case for Infection Prevention andPatient and Family Engagement courses, the latest in a series of 11 new infection control training courses. These courses are part of the new States Targeting Reduction in Infections via Engagement (STRIVE) curriculum intended for the infection prevention team, hospital leaders, clinical educators, nurse and physician managers, environmental services managers, all patient care staff, and patient/family advisors. Additional courses will be launched in the coming months. These training courses were developed by national infection prevention experts led by the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
    All courses are free and offer continuing education (CE). Access the new courses at theSTRIVE training page.
    Knowing antimicrobial resistance in practice: a multi-country qualitative study with human and animal healthcare professionals
    Overcoming Access Barriers to Antibiotics
    Quick fix for care, productivity, hygiene and inequality: reframing the entrenched problem of antibiotic overuse
    FREE Online course: Effective Livestock Production with Low Use of Antibiotics.
    Call for Papers: “Antibiotic Resistance - Where are the prevention opportunities?”
    A Special issue from Global Health Action. Open until 31st December 2019.

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Sep 03, 2019

    • Group A Strep vaccine candidate
    • Value of pre-op urine tests
    • Stewardship training for medical residents

    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Sep 05, 2019

    • Antibiotics on citrus trees
    • Telehealth-based stewardship

    More »

    Tackling AMR in Europe’s healthcare facilities
    This free webinar will present the results of a recent survey conducted by HCWH Europe to identify best practice to tackle AMR in healthcare facilities across Europe - 26 September 15:00-16:00 CEST

    Emergencies and Disasters

    Hurricane Dorian made landfall on North Carolina’s Outer Banks as a Category 1 storm. It’s on track to move away from the coast.
    After devastating the Bahamas, the hurricane passed over Cape Hatteras while moving rapidly northeast, according to the National Weather Service.
    Read More »

    Hurricane Dorian: Bahamas death toll expected to rise as thousands remain missing

    Initial assessments in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas put more than 60,000 people in need of food.
    Here's how you can help. [U.N. News]
    Northern Bahamas ravaged by 'disaster of epic proportions' as UN releases $1 million in emergency funds
    Following the “terrible devastation” of parts of the northern Bahamas in the Caribbean caused by Hurricane Dorian, Secretary-General António Guterres has said he “remains deeply concerned” for those thousands impacted by the giant storm. The UN's relief chief, Mark Lowcock, travelled to the island nation on Wednesday, to meet Government leaders and help expedite a life-saving aid operation.
    Climate change exacerbates hurricane flood hazards along US Atlantic and Gulf Coasts in spatially varying patterns
    One of the most destructive natural hazards, tropical cyclone (TC)–induced coastal flooding, will worsen under climate change. Here we conduct climatology–hydrodynamic modeling to quantify the effects of sea level rise (SLR) and TC climatology change (under RCP 8.5) on late 21st century flood hazards at the county level along the US Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
    The Sub-Saharan Africa Risks Landscape
    Sub-Saharan Africa is going through huge demographic, political and social changes. As climate change adds to the uncertainties, what are the main threats to the region? Read
    full report on the risk landscape here:

    Women and babies at risk in Yemen as funds crunch forces clinics to shut
    More than half of UNFPA reproductive health facilities in Yemen face closure by month's end due to lack of funding.

    Climate Change
    WHO Guide Details Climate Impacts on Nutrition
    The guide titled, ‘Adapting to Climate Sensitive Health Impacts: Undernutrition,’ is part of a WHO technical series, and is intended for use in conjunction with general WHO guidance on ‘Protecting Health from Climate Change: Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment.’

    Leveraging partnerships for health climate services in the Caribbean

    Hospitals fighting climate change and disease with plants
    HCWH Europe's Food Projects and Policy Officer Paola reflects on her time spent in Montefiore Moses Campus in New York City learning  about their innovative and sustainable food service.
    Future heat stress during Muslim pilgrimage (Hajj) projected to exceed “extreme danger” levels
    The Muslim pilgrimage or Hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Muslim faith, takes place outdoors in and surrounding Mecca in the Saudi Arabian desert. The U.S. National Weather Service defines an extreme danger heat stress threshold which is approximately equivalent to a wet‐bulb temperature of about 29.1 °C—a combined measure of temperature and humidity. Here, based on results of simulations using an ensemble of coupled atmosphere‐ocean...

    Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to Advance Environmental Health Research and Decisions
    Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief (2019)
    Scientists are beginning to apply AI and machine learning to characterize sources of pollution, predict chemical toxicity, estimate human exposure to contaminants, and predict health outcomes that result from human exposure to contaminants. Yet, these emerging applications also raise many questions about transparency, interpretability, and the reproducibility and replicability of AI and machine learning. These issues could deliver misleading or inaccurate results, and potentially diminish social trust in research and decisions based on AI and machine learning.

    Toward Understanding the Interplay of Environmental Stressors, Infectious Diseases, and Human Health
    Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief (2019)

    Human Health on an Ailing Planet — Historical Perspectives on Our Future

    A New Era of Climate Medicine — Addressing Heat-Triggered Renal Disease

    Ambient Particulate Air Pollution and Daily Mortality in 652 Cities
    Data show independent associations between short-term exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 and daily all-cause, cardiovascular, and respiratory mortality in more than 600 cities across the globe. These data reinforce the evidence of a link between mortality and PM concentration established in regional and local studies.

    Renewable power pays for itself with better health
    A new study adds to a growing body of work suggesting that the health benefits of moving away from fossil fuels are often greater than the costs of doing so.
    Read More

    Norway Sami community fights for survival as temperatures rise

    Greenland's ice faces melting 'death sentence'


    Urban Health

    Nature-based solutions for urban climate change adaptation: Linking science, Policy, and practice communities for evidence-based decision-making
    A Novel International Partnership for Actionable Evidence on Urban Health in Latin America: LAC‐Urban Health and SALURBAL

    Device cools buildings without electricity by sending heat into space
    A new electricity-free cooling system that relies on inexpensive, easy-to-manufacture materials could help cool buildings in an urban setting.
    Read More

    SIDS Launch Initiative to Tackle Chemical and Waste Management 
    Program to develop and implement regional legislation on chemicals and waste management, including sound management of e-waste and end-of-life vehicles. 

    Study to look at intersection of climate, transportation, and health
    Through its Transportation, Equity, Climate, and Health Study (TRECH Study), the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) is analyzing how different policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions could improve people’s lives in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

    Podcast: Hot in the city
    Cities are generally hotter than their surroundings, but what are the causes of these ‘heat islands’? On the Nature Podcast, environmental engineer Gabriele Manoli tells how he was able to link the intensity of urban heat islands to only two variables: population and mean annual precipitation in the region. He also explores how more vegetation in cities could help to even out the effect in some places.
    Nature Podcast | 25 min listen
    Reference: Nature paper

    Migration Health

    UN: Half of Refugee Children Do Not Go to School
    Lack of investment in refugees is keeping more than half of the 3.7 million refugee children around the world from attending school, according to UNHCR.


    US watchdog: Separated migrant children suffered trauma. 
    The Associated Press

    Migration influenced by environmental change in Africa: A systematic review of empirical evidence
    Background: Despite an increase in scholarly and policy interest regarding the impacts of environmental change on migration, empirical knowledge in the field remains varied, patchy, and limited. Generalised discourse on environmental migration frequently oversimplifies the complex channels through which environmental change influences the migration process

    Global Health

    The original anti-vaxxers

    How the zeal of Edward Jenner contributed to today’s culture wars

    Facebook to direct vaccine searches to public health pages
    Estimating the health impact of vaccination against 10 pathogens in 98 low and middle income countries from 2000 to 2030
    The last two decades have seen substantial expansion of childhood vaccination programmes in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Here we quantify the health impact of these programmes by estimating the deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) averted by vaccination with ten antigens in 98 LMICs between 2000 and 2030.
    Restrict use of riot-control chemicals
    In the past few months, tear gas and pepper spray have been deployed to break up street protests in Hong Kong, Gaza, Paris and on the US–Mexico border. Police forces use these riot-control chemicals to clear crowds or to stop fighting. In theory, exposure should be minimal — a group should disperse within minutes to avoid the gas.

    Few women make up senior faculty at scientific institutions
    A new study finds a lack of women among senior faculty at scientific institutions. Starting in 2016, the New York Stem Cell Foundation piloted a program requiring certain grant applicants to submit reports of gender parity at their institutions. Reports from 541 institutions across 38 countries indicated that although women made up more than half of the undergraduate and graduate student population, their numbers fell as the seniority of positions rose. Some 40% of women were assistant professors, a third were associate professors, and about a quarter were full professors. Women were also in the minority when it came to faculty committees and other activities, including being seminar speakers. Based on the findings of this report, the foundation now hopes to outline best practices for institutions to improve gender parity.
    Read the study here
    The oversecuritization of global health: changing the terms of debate
    The health–security nexus has become a dominant narrative within health policy over the past two decades. While debates on this topic vary in levels of analysis from the global to the national to the individual, as well as in the definition of what can be considered a security threat and in the treatment of the process of becoming securitized, I argue that more recently the global health security narrative, associated governance regime, and the ensuing path dependencies have shifted in three ways.


    Knowledge Sharing

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

    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences