Newspouch- 2019-nCOV: 27 January 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

News Pouch: 27 January 2020

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
  • Spotlight: nCOV outbreak in China
  • 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 76: 21 January 2020
    From 13 to 19 January 2020, 15 new confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) were reported from North Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The cases were reported from Beni (9 cases) and Mabalako (6 cases) Health Zones and all were linked to a confirmed case in a known chain of transmission. The origins of a cluster of five cases in Kalunguta, a cluster of four cases in Mambasa , and a single case in Katwa (all reported in External Situation Report 74, issued on 7 January 2020), are currently still under investigation. As of 19 January 2020, a total of 3414 EVD cases, including 3295 confirmed and 119 probable cases have been reported, of which 2237 cases died (overall case fatality ratio 66%). Of the total confirmed and probable cases, 56% (1911) were female, 28% (963) were children aged less than 18 years, and 5% (171) were health workers.
    click here to download the complete situation report

    New Ebola patients include vaccinated health worker
    A vaccinated health worker is among the 5 new Ebola cases recorded since late last week in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which raise the outbreak total to 3,416, including 2,237 deaths. A total of 394 suspected cases are still under investigation, and raising the number of health professionals infected in this outbreak to 167 (5% of all confirmed and probable cases). To date, 270,138 people have been vaccine with Merck's rVSV-ZEBOV, and 6,317 have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson's Ebola vaccine.
    WHO Ebola dashboard
    Jan 20 CMRE report
    Jan 19 WHO African office weekly bulletin
    Joint UN-Congolese strategy needed to address insecurity following deadly attacks
    Authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the UN peacekeeping operation in the country, MONUSCO, are being urged to develop a comprehensive joint strategy to address insecurity in Beni territory, located in the east.

    No new Ebola in DRC; recent cases linked to known transmission chains
    According to the latest situation report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday, the 15 most recent Ebola cases reported from Jan 13 to 19 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) all came from a known transmission chain and were all recorded in Beni (9 cases) and Mabalako (6 cases). In other positive developments, the WHO said new case-patients are getting medical treatment more promptly compared with other times during the outbreak.
    "Of the 37 people confirmed with Ebola virus disease in the past 21 days, 29 (78%) were isolated within the first two days after the onset of symptoms, meaning they have better chances of survival and are less likely to infect contacts in the community," the WHO said.
    The WHO said, however, that the origins of a cluster of five cases in Kalunguta, a cluster of four cases in Mambasa, and a single case in Katwa all reported in the first week in January are still unknown.
    Jan 21 WHO situation report
    WHO Ebola dashboard
    Jan 21 CMRE update
    The complex logistics of Ebola response
    How do you deliver nearly three tons of supplies every day to halt Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) conflict-affected north-eastern region? For the World Health Organization (WHO), a 40-strong operations support and logistics team works almost non-stop to speedily dispatch materials across an area four times the size of neighbouring Rwanda. Every day, 2.89 metric tons of medical and non-medical supplies and equipment leave WHO hubs in Kinshasa and in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, to hubs in Beni and Butembo towns and five district warehouses. More than 800 vehicles, one plane, two helicopters, four trucks, 410 motorcycles (for accessing remote villages) and 37 ambulances are needed to move the supplies and team members.
    Navigating insecurity, bad roads
    However, operating in such a vast area which suffers regular armed attacks and insecurity is a complicated undertaking. Dilapidated roads and a hilly terrain add to the immense hurdles in supplying far-flung areas with urgently-needed materials. “The Ebola epidemic is won by the public health response, and the field is won by the work of the logistics teams,” says Dr Abdou Salam Gueye, WHO Incident Manager for the DRC.  “As most of the difficulties we encounter are because of the environment, it tells the importance of logistics in this operation. Operations Support and Logistics (OSL) is delivering beyond WHO’s own activities as part of a concerted strategy to confine the virus and end the outbreak as soon as possible.”
    Read More

    Ebola vaccinator scaling the hurdles to save lives
    “From the moment I arrived, my mission was to save lives. I am proud of it,” says Dr Aissatou Bah, a member of the World Health Organization Ebola vaccination team in Beni, a town in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). She has crisscrossed this part of DRC, from Beni to the furthest reaches of North Kivu Province, travelling to some of the remotest communities to track people who may have been in contact with an Ebola patient and vaccinating residents. Dr Bah, from Guinea, has been involved in the Ebola response in the DRC for more than a year. She and her team spent eight months carrying out ring vaccination of people at high risk of Ebola. “With Ebola, there is not a minute to lose,” she says, also pointing out the hurdles. “There were always two issues we had to deal with: security and the resistance of the community.”
    Read More

    Winning community trust in Ebola control
    Butembo, DRC - “Why is Ebola taking so long to end?” a man in a community meeting outside Butembo town in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) wants to know. Listening to community concerns such as these, Hamadou Boiro, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) social anthropologists team leader, responds concisely: “It’s because there are some in your community who refuse to believe that Ebola exists and refuse to seek treatment.”
    Lingering distrust and doubts
    Since the outbreak was declared in August 2018, response teams have faced difficulties in their efforts to bring the epidemic under control. In 2019, WHO recorded around 390 attacks on health care facilities. The attacks killed 11 and injured 83 health workers. In February 2019, Ebola treatment centres in Butembo and Katwa towns were twice set ablaze, and in March, both were burned to the ground. Richard Mouzoko, a doctor working for the WHO, was attacked and killed in April during a meeting at Butembo University Hospital. These attacks have often severely curtailed operations, allowing Ebola to flare up. Recent armed attacks in Beni, Biakato and Mangina threaten the efforts made to control the spread of the virus in the hotspots.
    Read More

    Priority Diseases

    2019-nCOV outbreak 
    Check out two special editions of the newsletter focusing on 2019-nCOV:

    26 Jan 2020

    25 Jan 2020

    Influenza at the human-animal interface monthly risk assessment

    WHO: More than a third of recent global flu cases caused by influenza B
    Jan 20 WHO update
    WHO biweekly global influenza update
    The latest FluNet summary of lab-confirmed data from GISRS

    More high-path avian flu outbreaks strike birds in 6 countries
    In the latest highly pathogenic avian flu outbreak developments, four European countries reported more detections, while China confirmed the disease in wild birds and South Africa reported more outbreaks at commercial ostrich farms.
    Jan 20 OIE report on H5N8 in the Czech Republic
    Jan 18 OIE report on H5N8 in Romania
    Jan 20 OIE report on H5 in Ukraine
    Jan 20 Deutsche Welle report on H5N8 in German wild bird
    In other parts of the world, China reported another H5N6 outbreak in wild swans in Xinjiang province, an area where other recent outbreaks have been reported, according to an agriculture ministry notification reported by Reuters today. And South Africa reported two more H5N8 outbreaks at commercial ostrich farms in Western Cape province, part of ongoing activity there since 2017. The latest events began at the end of October, infecting 10 of 7,577 birds, according to a report yesterday from the OIE. None of the ostriches died.
    Jan 21 Reuters story
    Jan 20 OIE report on H5N8 in South Africa

    Phase 2 trial demonstrates good protection by oral flu vaccine
    Results of a phase 2 trial demonstrate that Vaxart's oral flu vaccine provides similar protection as Fluzone quadrivalent in adults and produces a strong immune response with a good safety profile, according to a study yesterday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
    Jan 21 Lancet Infect Dis study
    Jan 21 Lancet Infect Dis commentary
    Oct 4, 2018, CIDRAP News scan on preliminary results
    Vector-Borne Diseases (VBD)

    Marburg virus found in Sierra Leone bats.
    Scientists have detected Marburg virus in fruit bats in Sierra Leone, marking the first time the deadly virus has been found in West Africa. Eleven Egyptian rousette fruit bats tested positive for active Marburg virus infection. Research teams caught the bats separately in three health districts.
    Nigeria reports increasing confirmed Lassa fever cases.
    The Lassa fever case count and death toll continues to rise in Nigeria this January. The Nigerian CDC reported an additional 81 confirmed Lassa cases during the week ending Jan. 19, bringing the case tally for 2020 to 163 to date.
    Brazil: Confirmed case of arenavirus hemorrhagic fever in São Paulo state  
    The last case report of Brazilian hemorrhagic fever was more than 20 years ago. During this period, there were four cases in humans, three cases acquired in a wild environment in the state of São Paulo and one due to infection in a laboratory environment, in Pará.
    Lyme disease vaccine for mice might help prevent human infections
    Hartford Courant
    What changes in temperature mean for Africa’s tsetse fly
    High temperatures have been shown to kill more than 50% of tsetse pupae and newly emerged adults. We calculated that the low birth rate coupled with such high death rates could lead to the extinction of tsetse populations.’s-tsetse-fly
    Even an imperfect Zika vaccine
    It could be worthwhile and cost-saving in areas where the risk is comparable to other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
    CUNY School of Public Health

    New experimental vaccine for African swine fever virus shows promise.
    Government and academic investigators have developed a vaccine against African swine fever that appears to be far more effective than previously developed vaccines.

    MERS-CoV infects Saudi healthcare worker
    Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday reported a new MERS-CoV case, involving a 38-year-old female healthcare worker in Abha, located in the southwest.
    The WHO said in its latest monthly update that 2,499 cases have been lab-confirmed, including 861 fatalities. The vast majority of the cases have been in Saudi Arabia.
    Jan 20 Saudi MOH report

    Another MERS case in Abha, Saudi Arabia, suggests possible cluster
    Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported another new MERS-CoV case in a healthcare worker from Abha. Yesterday the MOH said a 38-year-old female healthcare worker in the same city had also been infected, which suggests Abha may be the site of a healthcare-associated cluster.
    Jan 22 MOH report
    Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) Situation Update from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health

    • Ten new human cases have been reported: six in KSA, including four fatalities, three in Qatar and one in the United Arab Emirates;
    • Updated epidemiological timeline (by exposure source);
    • Four new relevant publications;
    • New FAO guidelines online: Swab and tissue sample collection procedures enhancing MERS-CoV detection in camels;
    • Project updates by Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Jordan;

    Researchers estimate high cost of local US measles outbreaks
    A study today in Clinical Infectious Diseases from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used data from 11 measles outbreaks in the United States between 2001 and 2018 to estimate that each outbreak cost a median $152,308 (range, $9,862 to $1,063,936).
    The median cost per case was $32,805 (range, $7,396 to $76,154), and median cost per contact was $223 (range, $81 to $746).
    Jan 22 Clin Infect Dis study
    Sep 3, 2019, CIDRAP News story "US measles cases hit 1,234 as Brooklyn outbreak called over"

    Haiti cholera outbreak ‘stopped in its tracks’
    After a nine-year long cholera outbreak in Haiti that killed close to 10,000 people, this week the country reached the milestone of an entire year free from any new cases of the deadly waterborne disease.

    Luring HIV out of hiding
    Two treatments in animals offer the most robust and reproducible evidence so far that they can draw out the last vestiges of HIV that survive antiretroviral therapy. This is the essential first half of the ‘shock and kill’ strategy for curing an HIV infection: once the sleeper HIV are shocked into activity, they can be utterly wiped out. Infectious-disease physician Mathias Lichterfeld outlines how two teams of researchers were able to reactivate HIV hiding in immune cells in rhesus macaques and ‘humanized’ mice, making the virus vulnerable to elimination by other cells of the immune system.
    Nature | 7 min read
    Indonesia needs faster progress towards ‘90-90-90’ HIV targets, OIG says
    In the Office of the Inspector General’s second country audit of Indonesia, shortcomings in HIV program design, in particular, were emphasized as needing major improvement if the country is to reach its 2020 program targets. Some TB program-related issues were also identified. Major improvements noted by the OIG since the 2015 country audit highlighted Government commitment to fighting the three diseases, with domestic resources accounting for more than two thirds of the budgets for those national programs.
    Global Fund adds five countries to its 2020 Eligibility List
    The Global Fund included five new upper-middle income countries in its 2020 Eligibility List, while excluding Albania, Palau, and Panama, which were eligible in the 2017–2019 period. The new countries are Fiji, Nauru, North Macedonia, Russian Federation, and Venezuela. In the 2020 Eligibility List, the malaria components for Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan were ineligible, though they were eligible in the 2017 list. According to the Global Fund’s projections, 12 lower-middle income and 11 upper-middle income countries are projected to transition from Global Fund support by 2028.
    New report highlights key transition and sustainability issues in the Latin American and Caribbean response to the three diseases
    A recent report commissioned jointly by the Latin American and Caribbean delegation to the Global Fund Board and a seperate LAC initiative, the Horizontal Technical Cooperation Group, details the experiences and opinions of stakeholders engaged in the response to the three diseases in the region, focusing on Global Fund-supported processes and mechanisms. The report highlights transition and sustainability as critical issues, and is intended to advance the dialogue on how to harmonize and optimize the many regional coordination structures that are currently operating.
    Mapping evidence on the implementation of the WHO’s collaborative framework for the management of tuberculosis and diabetes: a scoping review protocol

    One Health  

    Public–private partnerships: a winning strategy to sustainably improve national Veterinary Services
    The OIE is committed to working towards fruitful public–private partnerships…
    Read more
    Biodiversity and Ecosystem

    In new bird extinction estimates, a dark picture—and a glimmer of hope
    To prevent a wave of bird extinctions, nature-loving people need to protect common species, too.
    Read More

    Contrary to popular belief, fish stocks are not declining in all parts of the ocean
    The difference between declining and recovering regions is intensive fishery management.
    Read More

    UNEP, IUCN to launch new €20m programme on ecosystem-based adaptation
    Food Safety and Security
    Insurance as an agricultural disaster risk management tool: evidence and lessons learned from South Asia
    Pilot projects in India and Bangladesh demonstrate that index-based weather insurance products, developed using satellite technology, can reduce the financial risks to smallholder farmers from floods and droughts. Scaling up such schemes has the potential to meet the needs of very vulnerable groups, especially women and assist governments in meeting global development goals.
    Proactive approaches to drought preparedness: Where are we now and where do we go from here?
    Climate variability and droughts affect all regions of the world. Drought can occur in virtually any climatic regime, in both high and low rainfall areas. In contrast to aridity, which is a permanent feature of the climate and is restricted to low rainfall areas, drought is a temporary condition brought on by water shortage. There are several definitions of drought, however all of them include a climate variability component.
    The IPCC’s special report on climate change and land: What’s in it for Latin America?
    This report distils the richest material available on Latin America from the 1,300 pages of the Special Report. Some of the IPCC’s key messages, which are explored in the CDKN guide include: The climate and land interact with and influence each other. Dryland areas are expected to become more vulnerable to desertification in Latin America. Desertification has implications for food security and poverty in Latin America.
    The IPCC’s special report on climate change and land: What’s in it for South Asia?
    The IPCC’s own Summary for Policy-Makers focuses principally on global issues and trends. This report distils the richest material available on South Asia from the 1,300 pages of the Special Report. Some of the IPCC’s key messages, which are explored in the CDKN guide include: The climate and land interact with and influence each other. Dryland areas are expected to become more vulnerable to desertification in South Asia.

    FAO Guidelines on environmental flows within indicator 6.4.2
    The Guidelines for Incorporating Environmental flows into “water stress” indicator 6.4.2 intend to assist countries in the assessment on water stress by contributing data on environmental flows (EF) which are necessary for the calculation of SDG 6.4.2.

    How a deadly outbreak unveiled the key to safer food
    The AMR Benchmark: independent report on pharma’s response to AMR.
    The 2020 Antimicrobial Resistance Benchmark compares how pharmaceutical companies are bringing AMR under control. It evaluates pharmaceutical companies in areas where they have the biggest potential and responsibility to limit AMR, such as R&D, managing manufacturing waste and ensuring appropriate access and stewardship. The 30 companies evaluated include eight large R&D-based pharmaceutical companies, nine generic medicine manufacturers and 13 small and medium-sized enterprises.  The report was presented at the 2020 World Economic Forum Annual meeting in Davos on 23rd January.
    The antimicrobial crisis: enough advocacy, more action
    The Lancet (editorial)

    WHO calls antibiotic pipeline insufficient
    In 2 reports, the WHO said most antibiotics in development offer little benefit over existing ones, and too few are truly innovative.
    More »

    Studies diverge on link between early antibiotics, obesity
    On study found a link, but the other, when it focused on siblings and twins, found none.
    More »
    More pharmaceutical companies join the leaders, yet progress on AMR is slow. 
    With antimicrobial resistance (AMR) on the rise, action is needed to keep antibiotics effective for longer, and replace those that no longer work. The Antimicrobial Resistance Benchmark evaluates pharmaceutical companies in areas where they have the biggest potential to limit AMR. In 2020, GSK and Entasis lead their groups once again, ahead of Pfizer and Wockhardt respectively, which both improved. The top 3 generics manufacturers, Cipla, Teva and Fresenius Kabi, stand out in stewardship. Yet, the pace of change does not match the scale of the AMR challenge. A few companies deserve recognition for continuing to step up their efforts across multiple areas, yet others have rolled back good practice since 2018, or have taken steps to leave the market.
    Read more.
    Signs of movement in access and stewardship planning in R&D, from a low base. 
    Pharmaceutical companies have plans for access and stewardship for 8 out of 32 key candidate antibiotics (25%), up from 2 of 28 (7%) in 2018. 
    Read more
    Pharma companies are missing opportunities to make antibiotics available. 
    Pharmaceutical companies are not registering new antibiotics where need is greatest. Older, clinically useful antibiotics are not widely supplied. 
    Read more
    Progress in how pharma companies tackle overselling antimicrobials. 
    10 pharmaceutical companies decouple bonuses from sales volume or avoid using sales agents altogether, up from 5 in 2018. 
    Read more.
    Antibiotic resistance: How to tackle AMR in Africa
    Experts from 10 African countries are meeting in Lusaka, Zambia (January 22-24, 2020) to figure out ways to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The Pan-Africa Workshop on Effective Implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) on Antimicrobial Resistance is being organised by Zambia National Public Health Institute, under the country’s health ministry, and Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a non-profit based in New Delhi, India.
    France- Germany call for projects on antimicrobial resistance
    The French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI) via the French National Research Agency (ANR), and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) are launching their second joint call for projects on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), specifically:
    a)    Innovative research on AMR in environmental reservoirs (water, soil, wild animals, plants, biofilms on plastic waste, etc.)
    b)    Innovative research on antibiotic resistant bacteria colonizing humans, farm animals, pets and food products
    Only bilateral projects will be funded. Each consortium submitting a proposal must involve one French and one German coordinator eligible to receive funding from their respective funding agency, ANR or BMBF. Additional research partners, eligible to receive funding from either agency, may join the consortium. Application deadline is Feb 28.
    Impact of national interventions to promote responsible antibiotic use: a systematic review
    The second-hand effects of antibiotics: communicating the public health risks of drug resistance
    The incidence and prevalence of hospital-acquired (carbapenem-resistant) Acinetobacter baumannii in Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis
    General practitioners’ accounts of negotiating antibiotic prescribing decisions with patients: a qualitative study on what influences antibiotic prescribing in low, medium and high prescribing practices
    Effect of Pediatric Influenza Vaccination on Antibiotic Resistance, England and Wales
    Implementation and impact of pediatric antimicrobial stewardship programs: a systematic scoping review
    Veterinary use of bacteriophage therapy in intensively-reared livestock

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Jan 21, 2020

    • Award for gene library, diagnostics
    • Decision support stewardship

    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Jan 22, 2020

    • Pets and C diff protection
    • C diff antibiotic exposure risk

    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Jan 24, 2020

    • BARDA funding for new C diff drug
    • Investing to tackle antibiotic resistance

    More »

    Emergencies and Disasters

    WHO AFRO - Outbreaks and Emergencies Bulletin - Week 3/2020: 13 - 19 January 2020
    The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 68 events in the region. This week's edition covers key new and ongoing events, including:

    • Measles in Chad
    • Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Humanitarian crisis in Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Humanitarian crisis in Mali
    Nigeria: Weekend Attack an Effort to Intimidate Humanitarian Actors
    Read more
    IOM Reporter Video
    A forgotten crisis: half a million people displaced by drought in Ethiopia
    Eruption fear in the Philippines
    The Taal volcano in the Philippines has become less active since it began spewing steam and ash more than a week ago, butscientists are warning people that there is still a threat of a large-scale eruption. Some 2 million people live within 35 kilometres of the volcano. “This eruption may last months or more,” says geophysicist Jacques Zlotnicki.
    Nature | 3 min read
    The European Union has set up €900 million ($998 million) for humanitarian aid crises in 2020, the bulk of which will go to Africa.
    The economic effects of financial relief delays following a natural disaster
    In the U.S. the economic damages of natural disasters have increased substantially over time. While private insurance payouts tend to arrive relatively quickly, federal recovery monies are often allocated unevenly, with some communities waiting years to receive previously designated funds.

    Why we need a globally coordinated approach to preparing for epidemics
    At $60 billion a year, not preparing for epidemics costs far more than putting the systems in place to prevent infectious diseases from spreading around the globe. Here’s why.
    WHO mourns passing of Dr Peter Salama

    Millions at risk after toxins found in Harare water supply, study finds
    Unpublished report claims water from contaminated reservoir leaves 3 million in Zimbabwe’s capital at risk of disease

    Zimbabwe says grain stocks running out after drought

    Interpersonal violence and mental health outcomes following disaster
    East Africa's battles devastating locust swarms
    There's growing alarm in East Africa about huge swarms of desert locusts which are spreading across the region. The swarms have been destroying vegetation, forcing farmers into desperate measures.The Food and Agriculture Organisation says the crisis threatens food security across the region. It’s the worst invasion of desert locusts in the Horn of Africa in 25 years, and in Kenya for 70 years. Aerial spraying is going on in Kenya and Ethiopia.
    Epi-Brain: a global platform that allows experts in data and public health to analyse large datasets for emergency preparedness and response

    Climate Change and Health

    Climate change and Australian fires
    Researchers have started an ‘attribution study’ to determine the extent to which global warming is to blame for the record bushfires that have ravaged Australia. Evidence has been growing for decades that climate change exacerbates Australia’s fire seasons and nine of Australia’s ten hottest years on record have occurred in the past 15 years. But researchers are seeking to quantify the role of climate change in particular extreme events, so they can better forecast the chances that such catastrophes will strike again.
    Nature | 9 min read

    Australia Bushfires Cost 1.8 million Work Days, Leave 5 Million Sick from Smoke
    UN human rights ruling could boost climate change asylum claims
    The UN Human Rights Committee has determined that countries cannot deport people who have sought asylum due to climate-related threats.
    Thailand: Learning to live with the weather
    Drought impact and vulnerability assessment: A rapid review of practices and policy recommendations
    National policies should take a proactive approach to direct and coordinate drought vulnerability assessments with vulnerable groups. This rapid review explores the application of available approaches and methods for assessing drought impacts and vulnerability. It is based on a series of interviews with expert practitioners from different drought-affected regions of the world.

    Ozone killer contributes to Arctic warming
    Gases that ripped the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica might also explain why the Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the globe. Climate simulations show that the mass emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) beginning in the 1950s could be responsible for up to half of the effects of climate change observed in the Arctic from 1955 to 2005. The good news: the 1987 Montreal Protocol nearly eliminated CFC production, and global concentrations of the gases are dropping.
    Nature | 3 min read
    Reference: Nature Climate Change paper

    Australia: show what a climate leader can do
    The Australian bush fires should be a wake-up call for the country’s leaders, argues a Nature editorial. Adaptation is not enough: to protect its citizens and its country, the government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison must join wholeheartedly in the global effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
    Nature | 3 min read
    Climate finance: Is BlackRock going green? Or greenwashing?
    The CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, announced that the firm would fundamentally shift its investing policy to focus on climate change. BlackRock will likely remain one of the world's largest fossil-fuel investors for now, but the move could put needed pressure on other financial firms.
    Read more.
    Warning: Climate change will bring major new health risks for kids
    A study in a prestigious medical journal found a link between climate change and human health. Bottom line: If it's bad for the planet's health, it's bad for you — and especially bad for your kids.
    Read more.

    Oslo court backs Arctic oil exploration in defeat for environmentalists
    Greenpeace says it will appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing oil exploration violates Norway’s constitutional guarantees of a healthy environment

    UK to stop funding coal abroad but will help Africa with oil, gas
    The UK largely stopped financing new coal mines overseas in the early 2000s but spent billions of public funds supporting oil and gas projects abroad since then

    Should health professionals participate in civil disobedience in response to the climate change health emergency?

    Urban Health

    How cities are using architecture to combat flooding
    This massive new rooftop farm helps keep Bangkok from flooding
    The 236,000-square-foot roof can store as much as 3 million gallons of water. It’s the largest rooftop farm in Asia. A massive new green roof is designed to help capture rainwater in one neighborhood, on the Bangkok campus of Thammasat University.

    How a neighborhood can influence its residents’ future health
    Your neighborhood can influence your health — both present and future — and a new report finds that Black and Hispanic children are much less likely than white children to live in neighborhoods that allow for healthy growth.

    Erosion crisis swallows homes and livelihoods in Nigeria
    Climate change is aggravating an erosion crisis in Nigeria that is wrecking buildings, roads and farmland. Damage may cost up to $100 million a year

    Migration Health

    IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre launches its newest regional page focusing on migration data in Northern Africa at IFMS 2020.
    At mid-year 2019, the sub-region hosted an estimated 2.9 million international migrants, nearly 59 per cent of whom were either from the same sub-region or other African sub-regions (UN DESA, 2019). An estimated 46.2 per cent of all international migrants in the region were refugees and asylum seekers. Globally, an estimated 11.9 million international migrants – 4.4 per cent of the global migrant population – were from Northern Africa. Of these, 48 per cent and 33 per cent were hosted in Europe and Western Asia respectively (ibid.).
    Global Migration Data Portal
    Global Migration: Can World Prepare for Another Emergency?
    Read more
    Guided self-help intervention reduces refugee’s psychological distress and improves wellbeing in humanitarian crises

    Global Health

    Healthcare’s a human right, not ‘a privilege for the rich’ UNAIDS argues at Davos
    The UN agency devoted to ending AIDS as a public health threat is calling on top politicians and governments across the world to ensure the right to quality healthcare is upheld, and not just a privilege to be enjoyed by the wealthy.

    Only two of the top 12 medical schools offer fully paid childbirth leave
    A small study looking at childbirth and family leave at a dozen top medical schools finds that just two provide fully paid childbirth leave. Of the 12 institutions — based on highest NIH funding and U.S. News & World Report rankings — the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Johns Hopkins University were the only ones to offer staff, faculty, and residents six weeks of fully paid childbirth leave and at least four weeks of fully paid family leave — which can be taken by non-birth parents. Eight institutions offered partially paid childbirth policies, while five institutions didn’t offer any paid childbirth or family leave.
    E-course Strengthening stakeholder engagement for the implementation and review of the 2030 Agenda  has been launched!
    This massive open online course (MOOC) is designed to strengthen the capacities of Governments representatives and stakeholders to engage in an effective and meaningful way with major groups and other stakeholders in the implementation and review of progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
    Participants can follow the course at their own pace for free of charge and earn a UN certificate upon meeting certification requirements.
    register for the course here:
    Working hours, common mental disorder and suicidal ideation among junior doctors in Australia: a cross-sectional survey
    Update on the state of Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and sanitation, from a human rights lens, as 2020 begins.



    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  


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