News Pouch: 20 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: 20 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 External Situation Report 59: 15 September 2019
    In the 21 days from 26 August to 15 September 2019, 52 health areas in 15 health zones reported new cases. During this period, a total of 149 confirmed cases were reported, with the majority coming from the health zones of Mambasa (19%, n=29), Kalunguta (19%, n=28), Mandima (19%, n=28), and Beni (10%, n=15). Fourteen health zones that have previously reported cases of EVD since the beginning of the outbreak have not reported a case in more than 21 days. As of 15 September 2019, a total of 3129 EVD cases were reported, including 3018 confirmed and 111 probable cases, of which 2096 cases died (overall case fatality ratio 67%). Of the total confirmed and probable cases with reported sex and age, 56% (1755) were female, 29% (893) were children aged less than 18 years, and 5% (159) 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 17 September 2019, close to US$ 60 million have been received by WHO, with further funds committed or pledged. Currently available funds will close the financing gap up until the end of October 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 foundhere.
    click here to download the complete situation report (PDF).

    WHO deploys technical team to Tanzania to support investigation of a rumour of unknown illness The World Health Organization (WHO) is aware of a rumour related to the death of a person due to an unknown illness in Tanzania. We have reached out to Ministry of Health officials for further details and have offered our support.

    Tanzanian authorities inform WHO they have no cases of Ebola
    The Ebola Virus Is Winning in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo
    Hard barriers to access lie at the very heart of the agonizing struggle by international and Congolese responders to contain and ultimately arrest the Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
    As Congo’s Ebola Outbreak Drags On, Untracked Cases Sow Confusion
    The United States remains committed to fighting Ebola in Africa, American health officials said on Monday, but the scope of the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has become somewhat unclear.

    US officials end visit to DRC Ebola region; cases rise to 3,129
    US officials said other outbreak indicators such as deaths in the community need to improve before they feel more confident about the recent drop in cases.
    More »
    Violence, 15 New Ebola Cases Reported in DRC Outbreak
    After yesterday's warning by the World Health Organization's (WHO) African regional office to not be overly optimistic about a recent drop in Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the agency today reported 15 new infections on its Ebola online dashboard.
    WHO Ebola dashboard
    Sep 17 WHO situation report
    Sep 17 CMRE update

    Inside the nurseries caring for children impacted by Ebola
    In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nurseries are providing a safe space for children and babies facing the terrifying prospect of separation from their parents.

    Researchers find building mutations into Ebola virus protein disrupts ability to cause disease
    Creating mutations in a key Ebola virus protein that helps the deadly virus escape from the body’s defenses can make the virus unable to produce sickness and activate protective immunity in the infected host, according to a study by the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University. The mutated virus even works as a vaccine to protect animals from infection with the virulent Ebola virus
    Uninfected patients key to improving Ebola response
    Research on the logistics of responding to Ebola outbreaks has revealed that an often-overlooked, but critical, factor in resource deployment to treat victims of the disease is how many of the people in treatment centers are Ebola-negative...Individuals who test negative take up bed space and treatment capacity needed for those who have contracted the disease. More accurate forecasts of Ebola-negative cases, coupled with streamlined testing procedures to reduce their stay, increases the efficiency of treatment facilities and makes response programs more effective.

    Priority Diseases

    GPMB Annual Report
    From the foreword by Co-Chairs H.E. Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland and Mr Elhadj As Sy: “For its first report, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board reviewed recommendations from previous high-level panels and commissions following the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak, along with its own commissioned reports and other data. The result is a snapshot of where the world stands in its ability to prevent and contain a global health threat.
    Are the multilaterals ready to act on pandemic prevention and other global public goods?
    Read the report here
    Sierra Leone launches a comprehensive five-year national action plan for health security in compliance with international health regulations
    Sierra Leone is now the seventh country in the African region to launch a National Action Plan for Health Security. The National Action Plan for Health Security outlines activities that will be carried out over the coming years (2018-2022) to accelerate attainment of Health Security in the country. In 2018, Sierra Leone also launched a one health platform to holistically address human, animal and environmental health challenges.
    Italy: Superbug NDM-1 outbreak reported in Tuscany
    Health officials in Tuscany, Italy are reporting (computer translated) an outbreak of the superbug bacterium, New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae in hospitals since November 2018.
    See also:
    PAHO Epidemiological Update: Situation Summary
    In the Region of the Americas, between epidemiological week (EW) 1 and EW 351 of 2019, a total of 2,384,029 cases of dengue (244.1 cases per 100,000 population) have been reported, including 949 deaths. Of the total cases, 1,065,701 (44.7%) were laboratory-confirmed and 17,794 (0.7%) were classified as severe dengue.

    Burden of influenza-associated respiratory hospitalizations in the Americas, 2010–2015
    Despite having influenza vaccination policies and programs, countries in the Americas underutilize seasonal influenza vaccine, in part because of insufficient evidence about severe influenza burden. We aimed to estimate the annual burden of influenza-associated respiratory hospitalizations in the Americas.
    WHO biweekly global influenza update
    The latest FluNet summary of lab-confirmed data from GISRS

    Hand sanitizer shown less effective than hand washing against flu
    The problem appears to be a mucus barrier that takes awhile to overcome.
    More »

    Gates Foundation awards up to $2 million for universal flu vaccine research
    Earlier this week a team of researchers from the University of Chicago, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, and the Scripps Research Institute, received a Grand Challenge for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development grant—part of a $12 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Flu Lab.
    Sep 16 University of Chicago press release
    Vector-Borne Diseases (VBD)
    Armed with tech tools, Colombian cities combat mosquito-borne diseases
    Armed with a mobile app, Glenis Barragan has been knocking from door to door in the poor neighbourhoods of Colombia’s northern city of Cucuta, aiming to combat the spread of the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease. In the past year, Barragan has helped fellow residents identify and destroy mosquito breeding grounds - from water stored in containers and buckets in homes to puddles of water, rubbish and discarded tyres in city streets and parks. Using a phone app and platform created by Premise, a U.S.-based data and analytics company, the information collected was recorded, georeferenced and photographed and then passed on to city health authorities.

    Malaria vaccine launched in Kenya
    The aim is to vaccinate about 120 000 children per year in Kenya across the selected introduction areas. Within the eight counties, some sub-counties will introduce the vaccine into immunization schedules while others are expected to introduce the vaccine later.

    An Africa free of malaria

    The malaria eradication challenge
    Countries and territories certified malaria-free by WHO.
    UPDATE on IV Artesunate: CDC/FDA Joint Statement: Access to New Front-Line Treatment for Severe Malaria is a Top Priority for U.S. Agencies
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) are aware of concerns about the availability of intravenous artesunate for treatment of severe malaria. CDC and FDA are committed to working with clinicians and public health partners to provide the best possible care and access to treatment for patients with severe malaria.
    View the joint statement here

    Dengue surges in the Americas as Florida reports more local cases
    With about 2.4 million dengue cases reported in the Americas so far, the 2019 total will probably top the number for the last epidemic year, which occurred in 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said its latest update late last week.
    Sep 13 PAHO dengue update

    Bangladesh dengue outbreak tops 80K cases, Getting worse outside Dhaka

    Ethiopia chikungunya outbreak skyrockets
    Themis Raises €40M to Run Phase 3 Chikungunya Vaccine Trial
    Themis has raised €40 million ($44 million). The Merck-backed series D positions Themis to take its chikungunya vaccine through a phase 3 trial and move the lead candidate from its immuno-oncology R&D program into humans.

    Expert Group Formed to Prevent ASF in Americas
    Given the gravity of the situation and following the request of member countries at the OIE General Session in May, OIE launched a global initiative for the control of ASF with the objective to control the disease, strengthen countries’ prevention and preparation efforts and minimize the adverse effects on animal health, animal welfare and international trade.
    ASF China Update for 20 September 2019 from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health.   
    * The Republic of Korea reported ASF for the first time.
    * More deaths of pigs reported in the Philippines.
    * Deaths of pigs also found in Thailand, test pending.


    New Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) Situation Update fromFAO/EMPRES – Animal Health

    • Three new human cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, all of them fatal;
    • Updated epidemiological timeline (by exposure source);
    • Four new relevant publications;
    • Project updates by Egypt, Ethiopia, and Kenya;
    See also Sep 19 WHO EMRO monthly MERS-CoV report
    Measles Cases and Outbreaks
    From January 1 to September 12, 2019, 1,241** individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 31 states. No new cases were reported September 6 – 12, 2019.

    Air disinfection in measles transmission hotspots

    The Philippines Declares Polio Outbreak
    The Philippines health department has declared a polio outbreak in the country nearly two decades after the World Health Organisation declared it to be free of the highly contagious and potentially deadly disease.
    Sep 19 WHO statement

    Batavia Biosceinces receives grant for novel oral polio vaccine
    The Gates Foundation has awarded Batavia Biosciences $6.5 million to develop a manufacturing process for making a novel oral polio vaccine to protect against the type 2 strain(nOPV2).
    Sep 16 Batavia Biosciences press release
    Sep 13 GPEI update  

    How close are we to a ‘workable’ HIV vaccine?

    One Health  

    The surprising ways that city and country kids think about wildlife
    It's widely assumed that rural children are closer to nature than their urban counterparts. But is that really true? Read More

    Open access and data accelerate ILRI’s innovation and research

    Managing epidemics- Key facts about major deadly diseases
    This manual provides concise and up-to-date knowledge on 15 infectious diseases that have the potential to become international threats, and tips on how to respond to each of them.
    The 21st century has already been marked by major epidemics. Old diseases - cholera, plague and yellow fever - have returned, and new ones have emerged - SARS, pandemic influenza, MERS, Ebola and Zika. These epidemics and their impact on global public health have convinced the world's governments of the need for a collective and coordinated defense against emerging public health threats and accelerated the revision of the International Health Regulations (2005), entered into force in 2007.
    Biodiversity and Ecosystem

    Biodiversity touches every aspect of our lives – so why has its loss been ignored?
    From our environment to our economies, our security to our societies, biodiversity is vital. But preserving it will require transformative change

    Trouble at the top of the world
    Arctic sea ice is at a near-record low — but that’s just one of the north’s problems. From raging wildfires to melting ice in Greenland, the top of the world is screaming for help. Discover some of the shocking records broken this year, and the effect the changes are having on everything from carbon emissions to wildlife.
    Nature | 6 min read

    'Respect dirt and dung' to combat desertification

    How to save coral reefs, for real
    Coral reefs cover only a tiny fraction of the ocean floor, but they support almost 30% of the world’s marine fish species — and roughly 400 million people depend on them for work, food and protection. Yet every single reef could be gone by 2070 if global heating continues on its current path. Six researchers describe in detail how a bolder, scaled-up approach to the stewardship of land and sea could save reefs much more effectively than desperate, piecemeal initiatives.
    Nature | 10 min read
    Food Safety and Security

    Time for complete transparency about conflicts of interest in public health nutrition research

    Dietary change could save a quarter of tropical forest from destruction
    New research reveals the benefits of plant based diets not just in reducing land-use and greenhouse gases, but also in protecting vulnerable animal species in the tropics.
    Read More

    The Problem With Sugar-Daddy Science
    The pursuit of money from wealthy donors distorts the research process—and yields flashy projects that don’t help and don’t work. The “food computer” was the flagship technology at the Media Lab’s Open Agriculture Initiative. The purpose of the hydroponic device was to rapidly grow plants to exact specifications. Program the right amounts of water, nutrients, and light into the plastic box, and it would automatically grow plants up to four times faster than normal. How do we stop sugar-daddy science? The only long-term solution is to bring back federal funding so researchers can stop relying on donations from the beneficiaries of widening inequality
    Five avoidable deaths per minute shows urgent need for action on patient safety
    With at least five people dying every minute due to unsafe health care, the World Health Organization (WHO) is urging medical professionals, policy makers, caregivers and patients to take urgent action to ensure no one is harmed while receiving treatment.

    Rising levels of antibiotic resistance noted in dolphins
    Many of the findings parallel increases detected recently in hospital settings.
    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Sep 17, 2019

    • Early diagnostics in sepsis
    • CARB-X funds novel antibiotic

    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Sep 19, 2019

    • Antibiotic resistance in pork chops
    • XDR Salmonella in DRC

    More »


    Emergencies and Disasters

    WHO AFRO - Outbreaks and Emergencies Bulletin - Week 37/2019
    09 - 15 September 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:

    • Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Measles outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Lassa fever outbreak in Liberia
    • Humanitarian crisis in South Sudan

    Center for Health Security Report assesses preparedness for high-impact respiratory pathogen
    The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security was commissioned by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) to assess the state of readiness for a high-impact respiratory pathogen pandemic—that is, pathogens with the potential for widespread transmission and high observed mortality. If a high-impact respiratory pathogen were to emerge, either naturally or as the result of accidental or deliberate release, it would likely have significant public health, economic, social, and political consequences.
    Go to report
    One million facing food shortages, nutrition crisis after Mozambique cyclones: UNICEF
    Such was the extent of devastation caused by two back-to-back cyclones in Mozambique earlier this year, nearly one million people, including 160,000 children under five, are still facing food shortages and a nutrition crisis, the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, said on Monday.

    Real-Time Information for People Displaced by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas
    African nations push for drought research
    Scientists from African countries attending the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification have called for help with research and data collection so that they can better identify and prepare for drought. The UN estimates that by 2030, 700 million people will be forced to leave their homes because of drought. But there isn’t even a scientific consensus on what ‘drought’ means.
    Nature | 4 min read
    How extreme weather threatens people with disabilities
    IOM Launches Manual on Community-Based Mental Health and Psychosocial Support inEmergencies and Displacement
    Read more

    The mental health imperative of children in conflict
    Opinion: Water and sanitation are unexpected life savers for children in war zones

    The World’s Children Need Clean Water, Clean Air And A Safe Climate
    Climate change has the potential to undermine most of the gains made in child survival and development over the past 30 years. There is perhaps no greater threat facing the rights of the next generation of children.

    Air pollution particles found on foetal side of placentas – study
    Research finds black carbon breathed by mothers can cross into unborn children

    ECHO Daily Flash Archive

    Disaster victims to double by 2050 in climate-battered world
    Punishing droughts and more severe storms, floods and wildfires driven by climate change could contribute to twice as many people requiring international humanitarian assistance by mid-century, an IFRC warned on Thursday.
    HOT Summit 2019: Improving humanitarian mapping
    Date: 19-20 Sep 2019
    Organizer: Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT/OSM)
    Some sessions of particular interest include:

    • The power of OpenStreetMap and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to anticipate disasters
    • Integration of (digital) volunteers in disaster management

    Event website:

    Climate Change

    Global Climate Strike → Sep. 20–27
    In over 150 countries, people are stepping up to support young climate strikers and demand an end to the age of fossil fuels. The climate crisis won’t wait, so neither will we.

    Climate change is one of the greatest threats to global health, experts warn
    Climate change poses a range of health threats, the 619 experts polled by the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene warned. Half of those polled said that mass migration, emerging infectious diseases such as dengue and a shortage of food would be the biggest health-related implications of climate change. Earlier this year the UK Department of Health announced a£56million research fund to investigate the health implications of climate change. However, the survey respondents - 40 per cent of whom are based in Africa - overwhelmingly thought that governments and health bodies were not doing enough in preparation.

    WHO Director-General urges world leaders to protect health from climate change - including heatwaves
    In advance of the upcoming Climate Action Summit, WHO Director-General urges all nations to join those who have pledged action to protect people from the devastating heatwaves, floods and cyclones linked with climate change, and to reduce the risk of malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress. 
    Read more >
    UN climate summit aims to speed up transition to cleaner, greener future
    New measures to speed up the transition to clean energy and green economies are among the initiatives to be unveiled during the UN Climate Change Summit next week.

    Climate Change Will Create 1.5 Billion Migrants by 2050 and We Have No Idea Where They'll Go
    The climate crisis has already created millions of invisible refugees and could create up to 1.5 billion more in the next 30 years. But under international law no country is obliged to take them in.

    Inequality and climate change: the double threat to life on Earth
    The twin threats of climate change and rising inequality are challenging and unprecedented obstacles for our species.

    The danger of heat and cold across Australia
    Cold temperatures are not nearly as deadly as heat, with around 2% of all deaths nationwide related to heat. The study is the first to use a national data set of mortality records to calculate the number of deaths linked to heat and cold in Australia. A key part of the analysis was estimating temperature-related deaths across six climate zones.

    Launch of European Heat Health System Website
    Network partners at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health's (ISGlobal) Climate and Health Program recently launched the European Heat Health System at The system calibrates temperature-mortality models with DLNM, and uses ECMWF weather forecasts (from 1 to 15 day lead times) to study the decay in the predictability of heat and cold attributable numbers. 
    Visit and learn more >
    How extreme weather threatens people with disabilities

    We must rethink health care to include social and environmental costs of treatment

    Americans believe in climate change, but aren’t sure that scientists do, too
    Two-thirds of people in the United States believe climate change is either a crisis or a serious problem, says a representative poll of 2,000 people by CBS News. But almost half of respondents did not accept that there is a scientific consensus about the human causes of global warming. “Our own and others’ research has repeatedly found that this is a critical misunderstanding, promoted by the fossil fuel industry for decades, in order to sow doubt, increase public uncertainty and thus keep people stuck in the status quo,” says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
    The Guardian | 6 min read or see the poll results as cartoons!
    Air Pollution and flood in Assam-India
    Ozone on track to heal completely in our lifetime, UN environment agency declares on World Day.
    At the current momentum, scientists predict the planet’s protective shield of gas - or ozone layer as we know it - will be completely healed as far as some regions of the planet are concerned, by the 2030’s, the UN’s environmental agency (UNEP) revealed on Monday.

    Follow the climate money
    An estimated half a trillion dollars is being spent each year to help deal with the effects of climate change. But it’s not enough, it’s not all going to where it’s needed most — and almost as much cash is going to subsidize fossil fuels. Economic analysts say we need firm commitments from wealthy nations, promises to the low-income communities that will suffer most, and nothing short of a total transformation in how we think about the carbon impact of every dollar spent.
    Nature | 12 min read


    Urban Health

    Cities: a 'cause of and solution to' climate change
    Cities around the world are the “main cause of climate change” but can also offer a part of the solution to reducing the harmful greenhouses gases that are causing global temperatures to rise according to UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif.

    Natural ways of cooling cities
    Urban heat islands are a phenomenon where the temperature in a city is noticeably higher than in the surrounding rural area. When combined with the sort of heatwave that hit many parts of Europe at the beginning of July, urban heat can pose a real threat to the elderly, sick or other vulnerable people. The urban heat island phenomenon is more pronounced the bigger the city and the more rainfall in that region. As a general rule, more rain encourages plant growth in the surrounding area, making this cooler than the city.
    read the study here
    H2020 Funding Opportunity: Innovative actions for improving urban health and wellbeing  
    A new Horizon 2020 funding opportunity is now open for Innovative actions for improving urban health and wellbeing - addressing environment, climate and socioeconomic factors (ID: SC1-BHC-29-2020). Deadline: 24 September 2019.  
    Learn more.

    C40 World Mayors Summit
    9-12 October 2019 / Copenhagen, Denmark
    Healthy City Design 2019
    14-15 October 2019 / London, UK

    Migration Health

    Child Immigration Detention is Not Only Wrong, It Is Ineffective
    Read here
    Better Health for Migrants. Better Health for All.
    Read more
    Watch a visual summary here

    Health monitoring should account for diversity of people with a migration background

    Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 63,417 in 2019; Deaths Reach 953

    Global Health

     World must redouble efforts to meet SDGs, scientists warn

    • UN report on SDGs progress calls for greater international collaboration
    • Urgent change needed in cities, energy and food production systems
    • World at risk of being ‘altered beyond recognition’ through failure to act

    10 key issues in ensuring gender equity in the global health workforce

    Health Inequalities amongst People of African Descent in the Americas, 2005–2017: A Systematic Review of the Literature

    While China embraces the SDGs, the US government would rather not talk about them
    In the “2030 Agenda Talking Points” memo, officials are instructed to differentiate between the SDGs as a platform, which the U.S. government “recognizes,” and the SDGs as a set of specific goals, which the U.S. government cannot individually endorse.

    Investing in leadership for universal health coverage

    Opinion: Reflections on a youth-led approach to health, tech, and the 2030 agenda
    Africa’s population is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050 — a growth that must be met with sustainable health systems. We know that many countries do not have the infrastructure in place to understand where the gaps are and, as a result, they are falling behind on their 2030 targets. This is where digital technologies offer an opportunity we simply cannot afford to miss. By better integrating and scaling systems for real-time data collection and analysis, we can better equip our policymakers and health workers to respond to the population’s needs.

    Opinion: The real problem with vaccine hesitancy
    If we stopped vaccinating children, how long would it take before a host of deadly diseases came back with a vengeance? If the news that Albania, Czechia, Greece, and the United Kingdom have all now lost their official measles elimination status is anything to go by, the answer is not long at all. The reality is that there are very few diseases that can be completely eradicated, like smallpox. For the vast majority of them, we can at best keep them at bay. The fundamental failure to understand this is what lies behind vaccine hesitancy.

    Opinion: The hidden drain on universal health coverage gains and health care budgets
    The global maternal mortality rate has decreased
    But the current pace will not be enough to meet the SDG target of fewer than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030, according to the U.N




    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