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WHO to convene ethical review of experimental treatment for Ebola

WHO News - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 19:01
Early next week, WHO will convene a panel of medical ethicists to explore the use of experimental treatment in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Currently there is no registered medicine or vaccine against the virus, but there are several experimental options under development.

The recent treatment of two health workers from Samaritan’s Purse with experimental medicine has raised questions about whether medicine that has never been tested and shown to be safe in people should be used in the outbreak and, given the extremely limited amount of medicine available, if it is used, who should receive it.

Ebola virus disease update - West Africa

WHO Disease Outbreak News - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 17:00
Between 2 and 4 August 2014, a total of 108 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 45 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

A mission briefing with representatives from Member States was held on 5 August at the World Health Organization (WHO). Information about the nature of Ebola virus disease (EVD) was highlighted. This was followed by outlining the essential components for control, including the need for national leadership, improved care and case management, identifying transmission chains and stopping disease spread, and preventing further outbreaks. Among the critical issues are: cross-border infections and travelers; partners reaching the limits of their capacity and ability to respond rapidly, safely, and effectively; and concerns about the socio-economic impact of continued transmission.

Ebola virus disease update - West Africa

WHO Disease Outbreak News - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 17:00
Between 31 July and 1 August 2014, a total of 163 new cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD; laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 61 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Three of these cases are in Nigeria and include two new probable cases — one is a health-care worker and one is a Nigerian who travelled to Guinea — and a suspected case in a nurse.

National authorities in Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo continue to work closely with WHO and its partners in identification of contacts and contact tracing as well as in preparing response plans as a result of the recent visit by and death of a Liberian national to Nigeria from EVD and the new Nigerian EVD probable case, who travelled to Guinea.

WHO statement on the second meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee concerning the international spread of wild poliovirus

WHO News - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 01:01
On 5 May 2014 the Director-General declared the international spread of wild poliovirus in 2014 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) under the International Health Regulations [IHR 2005], issued Temporary Recommendations to reduce the international spread of wild poliovirus, and requested a reassessment of this situation by the Emergency Committee in 3 months. The 2nd meeting of the Emergency Committee was held by teleconference on Thursday 31 July 2014 from 13:00 to 17:15 Geneva time (CET) 1.

The affected States Parties that met the criteria for ‘States currently exporting wild poliovirus’ participated in the informational session of the meeting and were as follows: Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Pakistan and the Syrian Arab Republic.

WHO Director-General assesses the Ebola outbreak with three West African presidents

WHO Director-General Speeches - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 17:15
Excellencies, honourable ministers, members of the press, ladies and gentlemen,

West Africa is facing its first outbreak of Ebola virus disease. This is an unprecedented outbreak accompanied by unprecedented challenges. And these challenges are extraordinary.

Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update

WHO Disease Outbreak News - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 17:00
Between 24 and 27 July 2014, a total of 122 new cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD; laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 57 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. The Ebola epidemic trend in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone remains precarious with ongoing community and health-facility transmissions of infection. The surge in the number of new EVD cases calls for concentrated efforts by all to address the identified problems, such as health facility transmission and effective contact tracing.

On 29 July 2014, the National IHR Focal Point for Nigeria confirmed that the probable EVD case notified to WHO on 27 July 2014 was symptomatic at the time of arrival in Nigeria and that 59 contacts (15 from among the airport staff and 44 from the hospital) have been identified so far. The report also confirms that the patient travelled by air and arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, on 20 July via Lomé, Togo, and Accra, Ghana. The sample from this case is yet to be sent to the WHO Collaborating Centre at the Institute Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, due to refusal by courier companies to transport this sample. Though only one probable case has been detected so far in Nigeria, Ebola virus infection in this country represents a significant development in the course of this outbreak.

WHO Director-General, west African presidents to launch intensified Ebola outbreak response plan

WHO News - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 16:00
The Director-General of WHO and presidents of west African nations impacted by the Ebola virus disease outbreak will meet Friday in Guinea to launch a new joint US$ 100 million response plan as part of an intensified international, regional and national campaign to bring the outbreak under control.

“The scale of the Ebola outbreak, and the persistent threat it poses, requires WHO and Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to take the response to a new level, and this will require increased resources, in-country medical expertise, regional preparedness and coordination,” says Dr Chan. “The countries have identified what they need, and WHO is reaching out to the international community to drive the response plan forward.”

WHO appalled by attacks on health-care facilities in Gaza

WHO Emergencies and Disasters - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 19:01
WHO has been appalled by the continuing trend for health-care facilities, staff and vehicles to come under direct fire in Gaza since the escalation of violence on 8 July 2014.

Sustained calm is needed so thousands of injured people can receive urgently needed health care. It is vital for health facilities and staff to be able to perform their life-saving work without fear of attack.

WHO appalled by attacks on health-care facilities in Gaza

WHO News - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 19:01
WHO has been appalled by the continuing trend for health-care facilities, staff and vehicles to come under direct fire in Gaza since the escalation of violence on 8 July 2014.

Sustained calm is needed so thousands of injured people can receive urgently needed health care. It is vital for health facilities and staff to be able to perform their life-saving work without fear of attack.

Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update

WHO Disease Outbreak News - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 17:00
WHO continues to monitor the evolution of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. The Ebola epidemic trend remains precarious, with community and health-facility transmissions of infection still taking place. Between 21 and 23 July 2014, 96 new cases and 7 deaths were reported from Liberia and Sierra Leone. In Guinea, 12 new cases and 5 deaths were reported during the same period. These include suspect, probable, and laboratory-confirmed cases. The surge in the number of new EVD cases in Guinea after weeks of low viral activity demonstrates that undetected chains of transmission existed in the community. This phenomenon is retrogressive to the control of the EVD outbreak; and calls for stepping up outbreak containment measures, especially effective contact tracing.

In addition, the Ministry of Health of Nigeria has reported the first probable case of EVD. According to the Nigeria authorities, the case is a 40-year-old Liberian male national who recently travelled to Nigeria where he presented in hospital with symptoms of EVD. The patient travelled by air and arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, on 20th July via Lomé, Togo. He was symptomatic while traveling, was admitted to a private hospital immediately on arrival, and died on 25 July. On 22 July, a sample was taken and preliminary laboratory analysis was conducted in the virology laboratory of Lagos University Teaching Hospital and tested positive for Ebola virus. The sample from this case is being referred to the WHO Collaborating Centre at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, for confirmation. The national authority in Nigeria is working closely with WHO and partners to ensure that this incident case is contained at the source.

Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update

WHO Disease Outbreak News - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 17:00
WHO continues to monitor the evolution of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. Between 18 – 20 July 2014, 45 new cases and 28 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. These include suspect, probable, and laboratory-confirmed cases. The respective Ministries of Health continue to work with WHO and its partners to implement outbreak containment measures.

The Regional Director, WHO African Region, began official visits to the three West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone on 21 July 2014. On the first leg of his mission, the Regional Director visited Liberia from 21 - 22 July 2014. The goal of the visit is to make a first-hand assessment of the EVD outbreak, review the current outbreak response and challenges, and explore the best ways to rapidly contain the EVD outbreak in West Africa. The Regional Director held official meetings with the President of Liberia and the Minister of Health, including senior government officials. The President and the Regional Director also participated in the Ebola national coordination meeting at the Ministry of Health. During this meeting, the Regional Director emphasized the need to step up implementation of key outbreak containment strategies, including community engagement and involvement, effective contact tracing, cross-border collaboration and effective coordination. Discussions were also held with international and local non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, and other stakeholders to enhance collaboration and effective coordination. The Regional Director called upon all partners to be fully involved in the EVD outbreak response. Following his visit to Liberia, significant financial contributions and commitments were made, including from the Government and partners.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update

WHO Disease Outbreak News - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 19:15
On 12 July 2014, the National IHR Focal Point of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported to WHO an additional laboratory-confirmed case of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The patient is a 67-year-old woman from Kerman Province. The patient had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and was admitted to a hospital on 6 June 2014 due to a COPD exacerbation. The patient was discharged on 14 June 2014 and continued treatment at home. She was in a stable condition until she developed severe acute respiratory symptoms and was readmitted to a hospital on 25 June 2014. The patient was laboratory-confirmed with MERS-CoV on 5 July 2014 and died on the same day. The patient had no history of travel and no known history of contact with animals or consumption of raw camel milk products in the 14 days prior to becoming ill. The patient did not have known contact with a previously reported MERS-CoV case. However, during her first hospitalisation, the patient had close contact with another patient with severe acute respiratory infection.

WHO welcomes global momentum on viral hepatitis

WHO News - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 16:00
On World Hepatitis Day, 28 July, WHO welcomes new progress in tackling one of the world’s most serious diseases. Viral hepatitis – a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E – affects millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.4 million people every year.

“For years, viral hepatitis has been largely neglected,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General at WHO. “But now we are beginning to see greater awareness and global momentum building to tackle it.”

WHO Director-General addresses conference on cervical cancer in Africa

WHO Director-General Speeches - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 17:15
Excellencies, honourable ministers, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

I thank the government of Namibia for hosting this event and for bringing so much hope to the cancer situation in Africa.

Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update

WHO Disease Outbreak News - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 17:00
WHO continues to monitor the evolution of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. The current epidemic trend of EVD outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia remains serious, with 67 new cases and 19 deaths reported from 15 – 17 July 2014. These include suspect, probable, and laboratory-confirmed cases. The EVD outbreak in Guinea continues to show a declining trend, with no new cases reported during this period. Critical analyses and review of the current outbreak response is being undertaken to inform the process of developing prioritized national operational plans. Effective implementation of the prioritized plans will be vital in reversing the current trend of EVD outbreak, especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

WHO has been working with national authorities and partners in the affected countries to analyse and review the current outbreak response. An assessment of the outbreak response conducted in Liberia identified several gaps and challenges. Some of the gaps identified include low coverage of contact tracing; persisting denial and resistance in the community; weak data management; inadequate infection prevention and control practices, especially in peripheral health facilities; and weak leadership and coordination at sub-national levels. Underpinning these challenges were limited financial resources and human technical capacity. Comprehensive mapping of the financial, logistics, and human resource needs will be articulated in the national operational plan under development. This exercise of developing prioritized operational plans is also being conducted in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

WHO Statement on Mr Glenn Thomas, WHO Media Officer who died in the MH17 plane

WHO News - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 19:01
It is with deep sadness that we have to inform you that WHO lost one of our colleagues on the Malaysian Airlines crash yesterday. Glenn Thomas from the Department of Communications was travelling to the International AIDS Conference in Australia. His twin sister says he died doing what he loved.

Glenn had been with WHO for more than a decade. He came here from the BBC and spent many years providing communications support to the TB Department. Since 2012 he had been working on the media team in DCO, regularly hosting press conferences and working with you at the Palais and with other journalists to promote the work of WHO. Glenn will be remembered for his ready laugh and his passion for public health.

Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update

WHO Disease Outbreak News - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 17:00
WHO continues to monitor the evolution of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. New cases and deaths attributed to EVD continue to be reported from the three countries. Between 13 – 14 July 2014, 18 new cases and 11 deaths were reported from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. These include suspect, probable, and laboratory-confirmed cases. The occurrence of community deaths, still being reported in Guinea, remains a serious concern. The respective Ministries of Health are working with WHO and its partners to step up outbreak containment measures.

The national authorities in the three affected countries are scaling up outbreak containment measures. In Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Health has established an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) aimed at ensuring effective coordination and accelerating implementation of the EVD outbreak response. The EOC is chaired by the Minister of Health and co-chaired by the WHO Representative for Sierra Leone, with members including heads of the different sub-committees of the task force, other senior staff, and key partners. The EOC will oversee the development of the prioritized operational plan in line with the Accra inter-country strategy, ensure that priority interventions are implemented as planned, and streamline communication and information flow.

Update on polio in Equatorial Guinea

WHO Disease Outbreak News - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 17:00
As of 16 July 2014, Equatorial Guinea has reported a total of 5 wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) cases, with onset of paralysis between 28 January 2014 (first case) and 3 May 2014 (most recent case). Genetic sequencing indicated that the cases are linked to the ongoing outbreak in Cameroon.

A national emergency action plan to respond to the polio outbreak was developed by the Ministry of Health and polio partner agencies and is being implemented. Three nationwide campaigns with bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) have already been conducted in the country - two campaigns targeting children under 15 years old in April 2014 and early May 2014, and one in late May 2014 targeting children under 5 years old. Two nationwide bOPV campaigns are planned for mid-July 2014 and mid-August 2014; the July 2014 round will target the entire population, and the August 2014 round will target children under 15 years old.

WHO Director-General opens a meeting of the childhood obesity commission

WHO Director-General Speeches - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 16:15
Distinguished members of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to Geneva. Thank you for giving us your time. I will be brief. We all want to move quickly.

Stop TB Partnership Board to move secretariat

WHO News - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 19:01
WHO welcomes the decision by the Stop TB Partnership (STBP) Board to move its secretariat’s hosting and administrative arrangements, which have been provided by WHO since the partnership was founded in 2001, to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). The move will occur early in 2015.

The move will not change the close and complementary collaboration and working relationship between WHO and the STBP as they fulfil their respective mandates. WHO will continue its leading role in the fight against tuberculosis, setting global policy and targets, leading work to establish norms and standards, monitoring burden and global response, and providing technical support to Member States. The Partnership will continue to lead the global advocacy effort to raise awareness, funding and action against TB, coordinating the efforts of its 1000 partner organizations.

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