News Pouch: 20 December 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 December 2019

Season's Greetings
Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season and New Year!


Newsletter holiday schedule
The newsletter will be taking a break over the holidays starting 23 December, 2019 and will be back on 6 January, 2020 with new stories from around the world.


News Pouch: 20 December 2019

Welcome to this issue of the newsletter where we highlight latest research and policy news and literature on health emergencies preparedness and response, tagged by thematic area.

Please send your feedback, articles and reports, or questions you would like to share to Dr. Chadia Wannous via email  

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 72: 17 December 2019
    In the week of 9 to 15 December 2019, 24 new confirmed Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases were reported from three health zones in two affected provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The majority of these new confirmed cases are from Mabalako (22/24; 92%), and the other cases were reported from Biena (1/24; 4%) and Mandima (1/24; 4%) health zones. In the past 21 days (25 November to 15 December 2019), 45 confirmed cases were reported from 13 of the 87 health areas within five neighboring active health zones in North Kivu and Ituri provinces: Mabalako (67%; n=30 cases), Mandima (16%; n=7), Beni (13%; n=6), Oicha (2%; n=1), and Biena (2%; n=1). More than half (53%, n=24) of the cases over the last 21 days have a known epidemiological link to the same transmission chain from Aloya health area in the Mabalako health zone.
    As of 15 December 2019, a total of 3348 EVD cases, including 3230 confirmed and 118 probable cases have been reported, of which 2213 cases died (overall case fatality ratio 66%). Of the total confirmed and probable cases, 56% (1883) were female, 28% (941) were children aged less than 18 years, and 5% (169) were healthcare workers.
    click here to download the complete situation report .
     Weekly Ebola cases spike, involve 3 transmission chains
    One of the chains involves a patient who has a 2nd Ebola illness, the WHO says.
    More »
    Guidance for Using Rapid Diagnostic Tests for Ebola in the United States
    In October 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed marketing of the OraQuick® Ebola Rapid Antigen Test, a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for detecting Ebola virus in both symptomatic patients and recently deceased people.
    Experts breathe sigh of relief as WHO say Ebola patient was not reinfected with the deadly disease There is relief in Democratic Republic of Congo as authorities have said that a man thought to be reinfected with the Ebola virus was in fact suffering from a “resurgence” of the disease - that is, the virus was still lurking in his immune system.

    Priority Diseases


    Influenza at the human-animal interface monthly risk assessment

    The biweekly global influenza update
    The latest FluNet summary of lab-confirmed data from GISRS

    Does having a seasonal influenza program facilitate pandemic preparedness? An analysis of vaccine deployment during the 2009 pandemic  
    National seasonal influenza programs have been recommended as a foundation for pandemic preparedness. During the 2009 pandemic, WHO aimed to increase Member States’ equitable access to influenza vaccines through pandemic vaccine donation.

     Global AIV with Zoonotic Potential Situation Update from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health
    10 new outbreaks reported across Eastern Asia and Africa;
    Updated map of the global situation of AIV with zoonotic potential in the current wave;
    17 new relevant publications;
    Vector-Borne Diseases (VBD)

    Dengue fever finds breeding ground in war-weary Yemen
    Why Dengue Fever Cases Are Hitting Record Highs In Latin America
    2019 is a record year for dengue fever in Latin America. The mosquito-borne disease has surged across the continent, from Mexico down to Chile and Argentina, with nearly 3 million cases reported. That's more than 20% higher than the previous record in 2015.

    New study develops forecasting tools for better detection and control of dengue in Vietnam

    Yellow fever outbreak intensifies in Nigeria
    Cases have almost tripled in Nigeria compared with 2018 levels, and Mali is also coping with an outbreak.
    More »

    ASF Asia Update for 19 December from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health.
    * Indonesia reported details of the first ASF outbreak in WAHIS; 28,136 pigs in 16 regencies in North Sumatra Province have died of the disease.
    * Viet Nam organized a Review Conference on Animal Health 2019; 412 (61.7%) of the 667 ASF affected districts in 56 provinces/cities have passed 30 days without recurrence.
    * The Republic of Korea reported additional 2 wild pig ASF cases in Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon-do within fenced areas. 
    FAO: Indonesia Confirms African Swine Fever Outbreak
    For well over two months we've been following reports of unusual pig mortality (`Babi Mati') in North Sumatra carried by the Indonesian press - and while the very strong suspicion has been that African Swine Fever is the culprit - officially the government has not confirmed the cause.
    Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) Situation Update from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health

    • Five new human cases have been reported in KSA, including two fatalities;
    • Updated epidemiological timeline (by exposure source);
    • Two new relevant publications;
    • Project updates by Egypt, Ethiopia, and Kenya;

    Samoa extends measles emergency
    In other updates, measles cases are on the rise in the Americas, but showed another decline in Europe.
    More »

    Global surge in measles should be “a wake-up call”
    Travelers at LAX were exposed to measles last week by three infected people, health officials say
    Three people with measles passed through Los Angeles International Airport last week, Los Angeles County health officials said Monday — and it is unclear how many people were exposed to one of the most contagious viruses in the world.

    Drop in cholera cases worldwide, as key endemic countries report gains in cholera control The number of cholera cases decreased globally by 60% in 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced in a report that points to an encouraging trend in cholera prevention and control in the world’s major cholera hotspots, including Haiti, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    Over 300 children and adolescents die every day from AIDS-related causes

    Only half of children living with HIV have access to life-saving treatment

    The elusive end to HIV in the USA

    Stigma, politics, and an epidemic: HIV in the Philippines

    Estimates of the global population of children who are HIV-exposed and uninfected, 2000–18: a modelling study
    In 2018, there were an estimated 14·8 million children who were HIV-exposed uninfected (HEU), 13·2 million (90%) of whom resided in sub-Saharan Africa and 760 000 (5%) of whom resided in the Asia and Pacific region.
    Five countries accounted for 50% of all 14·8 million children who were HEU globally: South Africa (3·5 million [23·8%]), Uganda (1·1 million [7·5%]), Mozambique (1·0 million [6·6%]), Tanzania (910 000 [6·1%]); and Nigeria (880 000 [6·0%]). In five southern African countries, the prevalence of children who were HEU exceeded 15% of the general child population: eSwatini (32·4%), Botswana (27·4%), South Africa (21·6%), Lesotho (21·1%), and Namibia (16·4%).

    One Health  

    2020: a crucial year for neglected tropical diseases
    One in five people worldwide are at risk of NTDs, which generally affect the poorest 1·6 billion people living in the most marginalised communities, resulting in substantial disability, stigma, and loss of livelihood, in addition to the deaths caused. Lymphatic filariasis, dracunculiasis, trachoma, and snake bite envenoming are just some of the NTDs that cause substantial disease burdens. Another NTD, dengue, is causing major outbreaks in the Americas, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Philippines

    Choosing between supermarkets and wet markets
    The 6th World One Health Congress
    It will be held in Edinburgh, Scotland, from 14 to 18 June 2020.  The congress will be co-organized by the One Health Platform, the University of Edinburgh, Africa CDC and the Southern African Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance.
    The Call for abstracts is now open! Deadline for submissions January 15, 2020. Go to the Conference Tool website to apply now. Or you can download the full list here.
    One health fellowship fund
    Deadline: January 15, 2020
    The World One Health Congress actively encourages the careers of promising researchers and wants to provide young One Health advocates with a unique opportunity to interact with world experts, gain further insights into their fields of interest and get inspired with new ideas and possibilities. The One Health Platform therefore established a One Health Fellowship Fund to provide fellowships to young scientists, with special attention for promising scientists from resource-challenged countries.
    Read More 
    Biodiversity and Ecosystem

    Incorporating Health Outcomes into Land-Use Planning
    The global trend toward increased agricultural production puts pressure on undeveloped areas, raising the question of how to optimally allocate land. Land-use change has recently been linked to a number of human health outcomes, but these are not routinely considered in land-use decision making. We review examples of planners’ currently used strategies to evaluate land use and present a conceptual model of optimal land use that incorporates health outcomes. We then present a framework for evaluating the health outcomes of land-use scenarios that can be used by decision makers in an integrated approach to land-use planning.

    Contribution of the land sector to a 1.5 °C world
    Transforming the land sector and deploying measures in agriculture, forestry, wetlands and bioenergy could feasibly and sustainably contribute about 30%, or 15 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) per year, of the global mitigation needed in 2050 to deliver on the 1.5 °C target, but it will require substantially more effort than the 2 °C target. This boiled down to a powerful mix of reductions to deforestation, increasing carbon capture through reforestation and better soil management on farms, slashing food waste, and shifting appetites in developed countries to the point where one in five people is consuming a largely plant-based diet.
    Read the study at

    Editorial: Can the Health Implications of Land-use Change Drive Sustainability?

    Land-Use Change Alters Host and Vector Communities and May Elevate Disease Risk

    These 160 species went extinct this decade
    From Lonesome George — the last of the Pinta Island tortoises — to the ‘microjewel’ snail Plectostoma sciaphilum, which was wiped out by a cement company from its single hilltop habitat in Malaysia: these are the species that the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared extinct in the 2010s.
    Gizmodo | 35 min read
    Food Safety and Security

    Affordability of the EAT–Lancet reference diet: a global analysis
    The most affordable EAT–Lancet diets cost a global median of US$2·84 per day (IQR 2·41–3·16) in 2011, of which the largest share was the cost of fruits and vegetables (31·2%), followed by legumes and nuts (18·7%), meat, eggs, and fish (15·2%), and dairy (13·2%). This diet costs a small fraction of average incomes in high-income countries but is not affordable for the world's poor. We estimated that the cost of an EAT–Lancet diet exceeded household per capita income for at least 1·58 billion people. The EAT–Lancet diet is also more expensive than the minimum cost of nutrient adequacy, on average, by a mean factor of 1·60 (IQR 1·41–1·78).

    Double-duty actions: seizing programme and policy opportunities to address malnutrition in all its forms
    ummarising evidence on common drivers of different forms of malnutrition; documenting examples of unintended harm caused by some undernutrition-focused programmes on obesity and DR-NCDs; and highlighting examples of double-duty actions to tackle multiple forms of malnutrition. We find that undernutrition, obesity, and DR-NCDs are intrinsically linked through early-life nutrition, diet diversity, food environments, and socioeconomic factors.
    One third of poorer countries face both undernutrition and obesity: WHO report
    With one in three low and middle-income countries facing the two extremes of malnutrition – undernutrition and obesity – the UN’s health agency WHO is calling for a new approach to deal with rapidly changing food systems.
    Low-income countries hit by ‘double burden’ of malnutrition extremes
    ‘Societal shift’ is needed to tackle double blow of undernutrition and obesity in poorer countries, Lancet report warns.

    A healthy diet could save $50 billion in treating cardiovascular disease
    The detrimental effects of not eating a proper diet could cost up to $50 billion per year for treating cardiometabolic disease, according to a new study.

    A locust invasion has damaged about 70,000 hectares of farmland in Somalia and neighboring Ethiopia, and is likely to spread to other countries in the region.

    Global conference on food safety meets in Abu Dhabi, calls for stronger steps to protect people’s health

    Scientists hope to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria by targeting their ‘alarm proteins’
    Antimicrobial resistance in hospital wastewater in Scotland: a cross-sectional metagenomics study.
    Scientists Find a Weak Spot in Some Superbugs' Defenses

    Antibiotic prescribing sky-high for kids in poorer nations
    By the age of 5, children in these countries receive 25 antibiotic courses on average.
    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Dec 16, 2019

    • BARDA funding for antibiotic candidates
    • Drug-resistant TB treatment recommendations
    • Disposable duodenoscope approval

    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Dec 18, 2019

    • Resistant Campylobacter and puppies
    • CRE outbreak in Lithuania
    • Extra-intestinal E coli carriage

    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Dec 19, 2019

    • Diagnostics in low-resource nations
    • Combined stewardship strategies

    More »

    Emergencies and Disasters

    WHO AFRO - Outbreaks and Emergencies Bulletin - Week 50/2019
    The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 66 events in the region. This week’s main articles cover key new and ongoing events, including:

    • Yellow fever in Mali
    • Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Floods in Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Humanitarian crisis in Cameroon.
    The Agenda for Humanity Annual Synthesis Report 2019
    The Report 2019, provides a synthesis of collective achievements and challenges. It includes new visual summaries per chapter (in addition to a global one) and an ‘Assessing progress’ section which explores indicators and methodologies that could be used to measure collective progress.The Executive Summary provides an overview of trends in progress and gaps that need to be addressed.

    ‘As impact of climate crisis worsens, Caribbean islands see six-fold increase in number of children displaced by storms, new UNICEF report shows

    Climate Change and Health

    Scientists endorse mass civil disobedience to force climate action
    Almost 400 scientists have endorsed a civil disobedience campaign aimed at forcing governments to take rapid action to tackle climate change, warning that failure could inflict “incalculable human suffering.” In a joint declaration, climate scientists, physicists, biologists, engineers and others from at least 20 countries broke with the caution traditionally associated with academia to side with peaceful protesters courting arrest from Amsterdam to Melbourne.

    U.N. Climate Talks End With Few Commitments and a ‘Lost’ Opportunity

    Paris climate agreement limps forward
    The longest climate-change negotiations in United Nations history has ended with a compromise deal that delays many key decisions. After going 40 hours into extra time, diplomats at COP25 in Madrid agreed on foundations for the rulebook to the Paris agreement and a raft of new national climate pledges. Long-standing issues remain unresolved, including a framework for a global carbon market and funding mechanisms for countries facing loss and damage as a result of climate change. Negotiators will meet again in November.
    Business Green | 8 min read

    Cop25: What was achieved and where to next?
    After two weeks of talks, many issues remain unresolved. Here we break down the major fights and minor breakthroughs of the UN conference in Madrid

    A Framework for Alignment with the Paris Agreement: Why, What and How for Financial Institutions?

    Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2019

    Air pollution and chronic airway disease: is the evidence always clear?
    New Report highlights heat health risks of Australia's 'Dangerous Summer'
    The Climate Council’s new report, ‘Dangerous Summer: Escalating Bushfire, Heat and Drought Risk‘, has found this summer is shaping up as a terrible trifecta of heatwaves, drought and bushfires, made worse by climate change. 
    Read more >

    Forecasting Heatwaves and Health Impacts in the Sahel
    A workshop in Senegal December 3-5, 2019 showcased the predictability of heatwaves at least 8 days in advance in the Sahel region, suggesting that heatwave forecasts at this time scale are reliable enough to develop heat health early warning systems.

    Assessing the health effects of extreme temperatures and the development of adaptation strategies to climate change in the Asia-Pacific region
    Not all weather disasters trigger climate conversations
    Experiencing a weather disaster doesn’t necessarily focus a community’s attention on the climate crisis, a series of case studies of communities in the United States suggests. The reasons include a lack of bandwidth in the aftermath of a disaster, and politics.

    Mapping public health policies for healthy living environments – A quick guide to a new EPHA initiative
    A new initiative to map the implementation of promising policies across Europe that help create health-enabling living environments.

    Urban Health

    UNEP Report Identifies Emissions Reductions Options in Cars, Homes

    High-Rise Urban Form and Microclimate: Climate-Responsive Design for Asian Mega-Cities
    This book explores the relationship between critical urban form and fabric parameters and urban microclimate in the high-rise urban environment that prevails in Asian megacities. It reviews the latest advances in urban climate research, with a focus on the challenges in terms of outdoor space comfort, health, and livability posed by the high-rise and high-density development in emerging Asian megacities. It proposes an integrated framework, includes a series of studies on high-rise residential and non-residential urban neighborhoods and districts, and suggests the thermal atlas methodology as a useful climate-responsive design tool for both urban designer and architects. 
    Read more >

    Heat & Habitat in Cities Symposium
    H2CS - Heat and Habitat in Cities Symposium (9-10 December 2019) brought together diverse international and national experts in Adelaide Australia to exchange and to discuss concrete ideas for planning, designing, developing and improving our cities. Look out for the forthcoming recommendations report and special issue of Energy and Buildings (Elsevier). 
    Read more >

    US Urban Heat Island Mapping Campaign 2020
    NOAA's Climate Program Office and the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS), in partnership with CAPA Strategies, will continue support for UHI mapping efforts in up to 20 new cities in summer 2020. Applications for new cities will open in early January 2020. 

    EU port cities cooperate in CO2 emissions reduction
    The ports of Hamburg, Nantes Saint-Nazaire, Varna, Livorno and Monfalcone will be exchanging ideas and good practices

    Glasgow with ambitious anti-plastics strategy
    All single-use plastics will be phased out by 2022 and any unnecessary plastics will be replaced by 2030

    Migration Health

    Bold, innovative measures for refugees and their hosts sought, at first ever Global Forum
    As refugee numbers approach 26 million, heads of state, top UN diplomats, powerful figures from the private sector and civil society are heading to Geneva to agree on “bold, new” ways to help, at the first ever Global Refugee Forum, which got underway on Monday.

    Can the Global Refugee Forum deliver what the UN compact is missing?
    Trump Administration Proposes Rule to Collect DNA From Detained Noncitizens
    The Department of Justice on Oct. 15 proposed a rule that would enable the DNA collection of noncitizens in immigration detention and the transfer of that information into a national criminal database.

    Harmful myths about migration and health used to justify policies of exclusion are unfounded
    New report shows how migration benefits national and global economies
    Climate migration myths
    Misleading claims about mass migration induced by climate change continue to surface in both academia and policy. This requires a new research agenda on ‘climate mobilities’ that moves beyond simplistic assumptions and more accurately advances knowledge of the nexus between human mobility and climate change.
    International Migrants Day 2019
    Mounting evidence indicates international migration is generally positive, both for countries of origin and of destination.
    Atlas of Migration
    Migration in EU member states and non-EU countries and territories
    full report

    Global Refugee Forum pledges collective action for better refugee inclusion, education, jobs

    World Bank pledges $2.2B for refugees and host communities
    Global Refugee Forum ends with hundreds of pledges
    The first-ever Global Refugee Forum concluded in Geneva on Wednesday with more than 770 pledges of support, covering areas such as protection, employment, and education, for refugees and the communities which have taken them in.

    Global Health

    The Lancet Global Health Commission on High Quality Health Systems 1 year on: progress on a global imperative

    WHO Global Meeting to Accelerate Progress on SDG target 3.4 on NCDs and Mental Health

    NIH faces up to inappropriate conduct
    Nearly 40% of women trainees polled by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported being sexually harassed at work, found a staff survey. A report released alongside the survey revealed that this year the agency reviewed more than 100 allegations of professional misconduct, including sexual harassment, at institutions that receive NIH funding. The NIH could implement some of the reports’ recommendations immediately — such as improving safety at conferences it funds — but says others could be a long time coming, or legally out of reach.
    Nature | 4 min read
    Left Behind: The State of Universal Healthcare Coverage in Europe.
    How Artificial Intelligence Will Change Medicine
    The biomedical world is awash in data. We have terabytes of genomic information from mouse to human, troves of health metrics from clinical trials, and reams of so-called real-world data from insurance companies and pharmacies. Using powerful computers, scientists have scrutinized this bounty with some fine results, but it has become clear that we can learn much more with an assist from artificial intelligence. Over the next decade deep-learning neural networks will likely transform how we look for patterns in data and how research is conducted and applied to human health. This special report explores the promise of this nascent revolution.



    Knowledge Sharing

    Thank you for reading. If you have thoughts, feedback, story ideas, or questions you would like to share or interested in partnering with us on a special event coverage, please send a note to Chadia Wannous via email  


    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences