WHO urges countries to ensure the continuity of malaria services in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

3 months 2 weeks ago

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the resilience of robust health systems around the world. Recognizing the heavy toll that malaria exacts on vulnerable populations in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the region’s fragile health infrastructure, WHO underlines the critical importance of sustaining efforts to prevent, detect and treat malaria.

“As COVID-19 continues its rapid spread, WHO would like to send a clear message to malaria-affected countries in Africa,” said Dr Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme. “Do not scale back your planned malaria prevention, diagnostic and treatment activities. If someone living in a place with malaria develops a fever, he or she should seek diagnosis and care as soon as possible.”

Ensuring access to core malaria prevention measures is an important strategy for reducing the strain on health systems; these include vector control measures, such as insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying, as well as chemoprevention for pregnant women and young children (intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy, intermittent preventive treatment in infants and seasonal malaria chemoprevention). Additional special measures could ease the burden on health systems in the context of COVID-19, such as presumptive malaria treatment and mass drug administration.

Any interventions must consider the importance of both lowering malaria-related mortality and ensuring the safety of communities and health workers. WHO will provide guidance for countries to safely maintain essential health services in the context of the COVID-19 response.

About COVID-19

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Essential information on the COVID-19 pandemic can be found in a dedicated WHO site.

About malaria

Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. In 2018, there were an estimated 228 million cases of malaria worldwide and 405 000 malaria-related deaths. For more on malaria, visit: www.who.int/malaria

Ensuring continuity of TB services during the COVID-19 pandemic

3 months 2 weeks ago

GENEVA  As the world comes together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to ensure that essential health services and operations are continued to protect the lives of people with TB and other diseases or health conditions. Health services, including national programmes to combat TB, need to be actively engaged in ensuring an effective and rapid response to COVID-19 while ensuring that TB services are maintained.
 
In the lead- up to World TB Day, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General emphasized in a news release, “COVID-19 is highlighting just how vulnerable people with lung diseases and weakened immune systems can be. The world committed to end TB by 2030; improving prevention is key to making this happen.”
 
The World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB Programme, along with WHO regional and country offices, has developed an information note, in collaboration with stakeholders. This note is intended to assist national TB programmes and health personnel to urgently maintain continuity of essential services for people affected with TB during the COVID-19 pandemic, driven by innovative people-centred approaches, as well as maximizing joint support to tackle both diseases.
 
“We stand in solidarity with those affected by COVID-19 and those at the frontlines of the fight to combat the disease,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of the WHO Global TB Programme. “We need to act with urgency to ensure that in line with our vision of Health for All, no one with TB, COVID-19 or any health condition will miss out on the prevention and care they need.  It’s time for action.”

 

New WHO recommendations to prevent tuberculosis aim to save millions of lives

3 months 2 weeks ago

Geneva –  New World Health Organization (WHO) guidance will help countries accelerate efforts to stop people with tuberculosis (TB) infection becoming sick with TB by giving them preventive treatment.

A quarter of the world‘s population is estimated to be infected with TB bacteria. These people are neither sick nor contagious. However, they are at greater risk of developing TB disease, especially those with weakened immunity. Offering them TB preventive treatment will not only protect them from becoming sick but also cut down on the risk of transmission in the community.  

As we mark World TB Day 2020, the disease remains the world’s top infectious killer. In 2018, 10 million people fell ill with TB worldwide and 1.5 million people lost their lives to this disease.

“COVID-19 is highlighting just how vulnerable people with lung diseases and weakened immune systems can be,“ said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “The world committed to end TB by 2030; improving prevention is key to making this happen. Millions of people need to be able to take TB preventive treatment to stop the onset of disease, avert suffering and save lives".

Dr Tedros highlighted the importance to continue efforts to tackle longstanding health problems, including TB during global outbreaks such as COVID-19. At the same time, programmes already in place to combat TB and other major infectious diseases can be leveraged to make the response to COVID-19 more effective and rapid.

Although some progress has been made towards targets set at the UN high-level Meeting on TB in 2018, TB preventive treatment has been largely neglected. Global leaders committed to ensuring access to TB preventive treatment to at least 24 million contacts of people with active TB and 6 million people living with HIV by 2022.  To date only a fraction of that target has been reached, with countries putting less than 430,000 household contacts and 1.8 million people living with HIV on TB preventive treatment in 2018.*

TB remains the top cause of death among people with HIV. TB preventive treatment works synergistically with antiretroviral therapy to prevent TB and save lives. Reinvigorated efforts by governments, health services, partners, donors and civil society will be needed to increase access to TB preventive treatment to the levels targeted.

The new consolidated guidelines recommend a range of innovative approaches to scale up access to TB preventive treatment:

  • WHO recommends a scale-up of TB preventive treatment among populations at highest risk including household contacts of TB patients, people living with HIV and other people at risk with lowered” immunity or living in crowded settings.
  • WHO recommends an integration of TB preventive treatment services into ongoing case finding efforts for active TB. All household contacts of TB patients and people living with HIV are recommended to be screened for active TB. If active TB is ruled out, they should be initiated on TB preventive treatment.
  • WHO recommends that either a tuberculin skin test  or interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) be used to test for TB infection. Both tests are helpful to find people more likely to benefit from TB preventive treatment but should not become a barrier to scale-up access. Testing for TB infection is not required before starting TB preventive treatment in people living with HIV, and children under 5 years who are contacts of people with active TB.
  • WHO recommends new shorter options for preventive treatment in addition to the widely used 6 months of daily isoniazid. The shorter options that are now recommended range from a 1 month daily regimen of rifapentine plus isoniazid to 3 months weekly rifapentine plus isoniazid, 3 months daily rifampicin plus isoniazid, or 4 months of daily rifampicin alone.

“As people around the globe come together to commemorate World TB Day, WHO is calling on governments, affected communities, civil society organizations, health-care providers, donors, partners and the industry to unite forces and step up the TB response - notably for TB preventive treatment - to ensure no one is left behind,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “The new WHO guidance shows the way forward for millions to rapidly access new tools and shorter, safer options for preventive treatment. The time for action is now.”

TB preventive treatment is an affordable intervention that can prevent families from sliding into poverty and preserve the health and economy of whole communities. WHO anticipates that as new and safer drugs come onto the markets, and as prices fall, it will become a highly-cost effective way to save millions of lives.

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

WORK BY WHO AND PARTNERS

WHO works closely with Member States including the US Government and technical and funding partners such as UNITAID to enhance access to shorter TB preventive treatment regimens. UNITAID-supported projects such as IMPAACT4TB and Cap-TB projects enabled by WHO with partners in Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe are leading the way. The new treatment options are also now more affordable, thanks to the significant price drop of rifapentine - a key drug - facilitated recently by UNITAID, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and global biopharmaceutical company Sanofi, along with forthcoming arrangements underway with generic manufacturers.

MORE ABOUT THE GUIDELINES

The new consolidated WHO guidelines come with an operational handbook to help guide countries step-by-step as they take TB preventive treatment to scale. This includes guidance on how to prioritize and invest from demand creation for TB prevention to supervision and monitoring of the programme.

The guidelines and operational handbook are also accompanied by an innovative mobile application – Prevent TB –to help health-care workers manage TB preventive treatment in their communities. Its online dashboard allows programme managers to visualize and monitor data in real time. The application can be customized by countries to suit their specific settings and is currently being adopted in India and Philippines.

WORLD TB DAY

The new guidelines and tools are being released ahead of World TB Day. World TB Day is observed on March 24 each year to raise public awareness and understanding about the world’s deadliest infectious killer – TB and its devastating health, social and economic impact on people around the world. Under the theme “It’s Time”, the spotlight this year is on urgently accelerating the TB response to save lives and end suffering.

*Erratum - an error in this sentence was corrected on 25 March

 

Pass the message: Five steps to kicking out coronavirus

3 months 2 weeks ago

 

Geneva, 23 March 2020: FIFA, the international governing body of football, and the World Health Organization (WHO) have teamed up to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) by launching a new awareness campaign led by world-renowned footballers, who are calling on all people around the world to follow five key steps to stop the spread of the disease. 

The “Pass the message to kick out coronavirus” campaign promotes five key steps for people to follow to protect their health in line with WHO guidance, focused on hand washing, coughing etiquette, not touching your face, physical distance and staying home if feeling unwell. 

“FIFA and its President Gianni Infantino have been actively involved in passing the message against this pandemic since the very beginning,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the virtual launch of the campaign at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. “Be it through campaigns or funding, FIFA has stood up to the coronavirus, and I am delighted that world football is supporting WHO to kick out the coronavirus. I have no doubt with this type of support that together we will win.” 

“We need teamwork to combat the coronavirus,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “FIFA has teamed up with WHO because health comes first. I call upon the football community worldwide to join us in supporting this campaign to pass the message even further. Some of the greatest players to have played the beautiful game have put their names to the campaign and are united in their desire to pass the message to kick out COVID-19.”

Twenty-eight players are involved in the video campaign, which is being published in 13 languages.

Sami Al Jaber (KSA), Alisson Becker (BRA), Emre Belözoğlu (TUR), Jared Borgetti (MEX), Gianluigi Buffon (ITA), Iker Casillas (ESP), Sunil Chhetri (IND), Youri Djorkaeff (FRA), Han Duan (CHN), Samuel Eto’o (CMR), Radamel Falcao (COL), Laura Georges (FRA), Valeri Karpin (RUS), Miroslav Klose (GER), Philipp Lahm (GER), Gary Lineker (ENG), Carli Lloyd (USA), Lionel Messi (ARG), Mido (EGY), Michael Owen (ENG), Park Ji-sung (KOR) , Carles Puyol (ESP), Célia Šašić (GER), Asako Takakura (JPN), Yaya Touré (CIV), Juan Sebastián Verón (ARG), Sun Wen (CHN) and Xavi Hernández (ESP).

A video campaign, which will be published on player and FIFA digital channels, is also being provided as individual localized files to the 211 FIFA member associations and media agencies, together with a graphics toolkit for implementation on social media to further pass the message. 

 

Hands:

“It starts with your hands,” says Alisson Becker, WHO Goodwill ambassador for health promotion, Liverpool FC and Brazil goalkeeper, and The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper, 2019. “Please wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based solution.”

Such frequent washing with soap and water, or preferably with an alcohol-based hand solution, kills viruses that may be on your hands. It is simple, but it is very important.

Elbows:

“Cover your nose and mouth with a bent elbow or tissue when you sneeze or cough,” says Carli Lloyd two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup winner from the United States. “Dispose of tissue immediately and wash your hands.”

Droplets spread the coronavirus. By following respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from contracting viruses, such as cold, flu and coronavirus.

Face:

“Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose or mouth to prevent the virus from entering your body,” adds FC Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi, The Best FIFA Men’s Player in 2019, and a multiple FIFA Ballon d’Or winner.

Hands touch too many surfaces and can quickly pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your face, from where the virus can move inside your body, making you feel unwell.

Distance:

“In terms of social interaction, take a step back,” says Han Duan, who represented China PR 188 times in an international career that spanned 11 years. “Stay at least one metre distance from others.”

By maintaining such social distancing, you are helping to avoid breathing in any droplets from someone who sneezes or coughs in close proximity.

Feel – know your symptoms:

“If you feel unwell, stay home,” concludes Samuel Eto’o, former FC Barcelona and Cameroon striker, who represented his country 114 times. “Please follow all instructions provided by your local health authorities.”

If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.

Keep informed as local health authorities provide the latest information on the situation in your area. Please follow their specific instructions, and call in advance to allow them to direct you to the appropriate local health facility. This serves to protect you and to help prevent the spread of virus and other infections.

FIFA have also pledged $10 million to support the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO.

For more information, please consult @WHO and follow the latest information online

 

 

Dracunculiasis eradication: intensifying surveillance amid continued zero human cases in Ethiopia and Mali

3 months 3 weeks ago
In 2019, Ethiopia and Mali reported zero human cases of dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease), although the total number of human cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) last year peaked at 54 cases. While surveillance activities have been stepped-up in countries reporting cases, hundreds more field workers and volunteers are being trained, and, cross-border vigilance are being carried out to prevent transmission.

Water and Climate Change

3 months 3 weeks ago

World Water Day 2020 is about water and climate change – and how the two are inextricably linked. This year’s campaign shows how our use of water will help reduce floods, droughts, scarcity and pollution, and will help fight climate change itself. By adapting to the water effects of climate change, we will protect health and save lives. And, by using water more efficiently, we will reduce greenhouse gases. Our key messages are clear:

  • We cannot afford to wait. Climate policy makers must put water at the heart of action plans.
  • Climate change effects water supplies and human health.
  • Health systems need to prepare for more water-related disease associated with climate change.
  • Water can help fight climate change and protect health. There are sustainable, affordable and scalable water and sanitation solutions.
  • Everyone has a role to play. In our daily lives, there are surprisingly easy steps we can all take to address climate change, and protect health.

ICC-WHO Joint Statement: An unprecedented private sector call to action to tackle COVID-19

3 months 3 weeks ago

In a coordinated effort to combat the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have agreed to work closely to ensure the latest and most reliable information and tailored guidance reaches the global business community.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health and societal emergency that requires effective immediate action by governments, individuals and businesses. All businesses have a key role to play in minimising the likelihood of transmission and impact on society. Early, bold and effective action will reduce short- term risks to employees and long-term costs to businesses and the  economy.

To aid this collective effort, ICC will regularly send updated advice to its network of over 45 million businesses so that businesses everywhere can take informed and effective action to protect their workers, customers and local communities and contribute to the production and distribution of essential supplies.

ICC will also contribute to enhancing information flows on the coronavirus outbreak by surveying its global private sector network to map the global business response. This will both encourage businesses to adopt appropriate precautionary approaches and generate new data and insights to support national and international government efforts.

As an immediate priority, businesses should be developing or updating, readying or implementing business continuity plans. Business continuity plans should aim to reduce transmission, including by: promoting understanding of the disease, its symptoms and appropriate behavior among employees; setting up a reporting system for any cases and contacts; preparing essentials; limiting travel and physical connectivity; and planning for measures such as teleworking when necessary.

Calls to Action

  • ICC strongly endorses WHO’s call on national governments everywhere to adopt a whole-of- government and whole-of-society approach in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reducing the further spread of COVID-19 and mitigating its impact should be a top priority for Heads of State and Government. Political action should be coordinated with actors in the private sector and civil society to maximize reach of messaging and effectiveness.
  • Governments should commit to making available all necessary resources to combat COVID-19 with the minimum of delay and to ensure that cross-border medical and other essential goods supply chains are able to function effectively and efficiently
  • ICC and the WHO encourage national chambers of commerce to work closely with UN country teams, including WHO country offices where they exist, and to designate mutual focal points to coordinate this collaboration.
  • ICC encourages its members to support their country’s national response efforts and to contribute to the global response efforts coordinated by the WHO through www.covid19responsefund.org.


As the pandemic evolves, ICC Secretary General John W.H Denton AO and WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will continue to coordinate their efforts.

Essential information on the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on the WHO’s dedicated site.

 

WHO, UN Foundation and partners launch first-of-its-kind COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund

3 months 4 weeks ago
A new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Solidarity Response Fund will raise money from a wide range of donors to support the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund, the first-of-its-kind, enables private individuals, corporations and institutions anywhere in the world to come together to directly contribute to global response efforts, and has been created by the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, together with WHO.

Mid-term review of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition

4 months ago
The joint FAO/WHO Nutrition Decade Secretariat has developed the Mid-term Review Foresight paper, which will serve as the background paper for the consultation process. Reflecting on the broader development in nutrition globally, this paper develops a vision on actions to be taken in the different areas of the Work Programme of the Nutrition Decade, considering specific advances and opportunities in individual policy areas.

COVID-19: IFRC, UNICEF and WHO issue guidance to protect children and support safe school operations

4 months ago

GENEVA/NEW YORK - The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) today issued new guidance to help protect children and schools from transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The guidance provides critical considerations and practical checklists to keep schools safe. It also advises national and local authorities on how to adapt and implement emergency plans for educational facilities. 

In the event of school closures, the guidance includes recommendations to mitigate against the possible negative impacts on children’s learning and wellbeing. This means having solid plans in place to ensure the continuity of learning, including remote learning options such as online education strategies and radio broadcasts of academic content, and access to essential services for all children. These plans should also include necessary steps for the eventual safe reopening of schools.

Where schools remain open, and to make sure that children and their families remain protected and informed, the guidance calls for:

  • Providing children with information about how to protect themselves;
  • Promoting best handwashing and hygiene practices and providing hygiene supplies;
  • Cleaning and disinfecting school buildings, especially water and sanitation facilities; and
  • Increasing airflow and ventilation.

The guidance, while specific to countries that have already confirmed the transmission of COVID-19, is still relevant in all other contexts. Education can encourage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school, and in their community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread of viruses. Maintaining safe school operations or reopening schools after a closure, requires many considerations, but if done well, can promote public health.

For example, safe school guidelines implemented in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone during the outbreak of Ebola virus disease from 2014 to 2016 helped prevent school-based transmissions of the virus.

UNICEF is urging schools – whether open or helping students through remote learning – to provide students with holistic support. Schools should provide children with vital information on handwashing and other measures to protect themselves and their families; facilitate mental health support; and help to prevent stigma and discrimination by encouraging students to be kind to each other and avoid stereotypes when talking about the virus.

The new guidance also offers helpful tips and checklists for parents and caregivers, as well as children and students themselves. These actions include:

  • Monitoring children’s health and keeping them home from school if they are ill;
  • Encouraging children to ask questions and express their concerns; and
  • Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow and avoid touching your face, eyes, mouth and nose.



WHO statement on cases of COVID-19 surpassing 100 000

4 months ago
As of today’s reports, the global number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has surpassed 100 000. As we mark this sombre moment, the World Health Organization (WHO) reminds all countries and communities that the spread of this virus can be significantly slowed or even reversed through the implementation of robust containment and control activities.

Medical Product Alert N° 1/2020 (English version)

4 months ago
Falsified antimalarials in West and Central Africa displaying an outdated WHO Essential Drugs Programme logo

This Medical Product Alert relates to a series of confirmed falsified antimalarials circulating in West and Central Africa. Medicines subject of this alert display a similar logo to the outdated
WHO Essential Drugs Programme logo.
 

Since 2013, different falsified medicines, all displaying the outdated WHO Essential Drugs Programme logo, have been reported to the WHO Global Surveillance and Monitoring System by various stakeholders. The continued and widespread availability of these falsified medicines highlights a strong need for additional vigilance. WHO previously published two alerts on this issue (No.132 in Oct 2014, and No.131 in March 2014)

This WHO medical product alert N°1/2020 refers to falsified Quinine Sulphate 300mg presented in six different combinations of batch numbers, expiry and manufacturing dates (see Table 1). The fraudulent use of the outdated WHO Essential Drugs Programme logo may create a false sense of product quality.

Table 1: List of identified falsified Quinine Sulphate 300mg, subject of WHO Alert N°1/2020

Recently received results of analysed samples show they do not contain any of the expected active ingredients.

Quinine sulphate is referenced on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, to manage and treat severe malaria. At this stage, no adverse reactions attributed to these falsified products have been reported to WHO.    

All the above falsified products claim to be manufactured by REMEDICA LTD - Cyprus and to contain 300mg of quinine sulphate. Remedica Ltd has confirmed that:

  • they did not manufacture the above falsified products; and
  • the variable data (batch number and dates) on the above products has never been used by Remedica.

 These falsified medicines display the following common characteristics (please see photographs):

  • grey or white plastic containers which contain 1000 loose circular tablets each;
  • display the outdated WHO Essential Drugs Programme logo;
  • English and French labelling with mistakes and inconsistencies; and
  • discovered at patient level in both regulated and unregulated outlets.

Product details, photographs and advice to the public are available on the following pages.

Outdated WHO Essential Drugs Programme logo 

Photographs of confirmed falsified Quinine Sulphate 300mg tablets subject of
Medical Product Alert N°1/2020

1.       Falsified Quinine Sulphate Tablets B.P 300mg identified in Chad (Batch 44680)

2. Falsified Quinine Sulphate Tablets B.P 300mg identified in Nigeria and Cameroon (Batch 44680)

WHO requests increased vigilance within the supply chains of countries likely to be affected by these falsified products. Increased vigilance should include hospitals, clinics, health centres, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies and any other suppliers of medical products.

If you are in possession of the above products, please do not use. If you have used these falsified products, or if you suffer an adverse event having used these products, please seek immediate advice from a qualified healthcare professional, and ensure they report the incident to your local Ministry of Health/National Medicines Regulatory Authorities/National Pharmacovigilance Centre.

All medical products must be obtained from authentic and reliable sources. Their authenticity and condition should be carefully checked. Seek advice from a healthcare professional in case of doubt.

National health authorities are asked to immediately notify WHO if these falsified products are discovered in their country. If you have any information concerning the manufacture, distribution, or supply of these products, please contact [email protected]

WHO Global Surveillance and Monitoring System for Substandard and Falsified Medical Products

For further information, please visit our website: www.who.int/medicines/regulation/ssffc/en/

 

COVID 19: Occupational Health

4 months ago
WHO resources for protection of health workers and emergency responders

The protection of health workers is one of the priorities for the response to COVID19 outbreaks. Occupational health services in health care facilities have an important role for protecting health workers and ensuring the business continuity of health care services.

WHO resources for non-healthcare workplaces

Non-healthcare workplaces, such as businesses and enterprises have also the responsibility to protect the health and safety of their workers and those affected by their operations.

Infographics

Prevention COVID-19 at the workplace

End in sight, but flare-ups likely in the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

4 months ago

Remarks by Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall, World Health Organization Assistant Director-General, Emergency Response

 

Good afternoon. 

I hope that your busy week was interrupted, like mine, with a moment of joy on Tuesday.

That moment was the celebration of a woman being discharged from an Ebola treatment centre in Beni. Her name is Masika.

She was the last person in the Democratic Republic of the Congo confirmed to have Ebola.

Health workers and other responders sacrificed a lot to get to this point. 

Since the outbreak was declared in August 2018 there have been 420 attacks on health facilities in DRC, resulting in 11 deaths and 86 injuries among health care workers and patients.

It’s been a huge amount of work. At the peak of the outbreak, more than 120 cases were being reported each week. 28 health zones were affected, with cases appearing 1200 kilometres apart. In response:

  • 11 labs have been set up to test around 3500 samples each week
  • 11 Ebola treatment centres were set up to care for people with Ebola
  • 300 000 people have been vaccinated
  • 250 000 contacts have been registered
  • 26 000 safe and dignified burials have been conducted
  • More than 3000 health facilities were identified for infection prevention and control support
  • More than 1000 metric tonnes of supplies have been delivered
  • An Ebola vaccine has been licensed, and two treatments found to be highly effective
  • Almost 160 million people have been screened for Ebola symptoms at borders or other points of control

This work is continuing. The outbreak isn’t over. WHO recommends waiting two full incubation periods - that’s 42 days - after the last person tests negative a second time before declaring the end of the outbreak.

We must stay in active response mode to get us over that finish line.

We have to be prepared for other cases emerging. It’s is a very real risk.

Remember that during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa flare-ups of new cases occurred after the end of the outbreak.

There are four reasons why new cases may emerge during this 42-day period, or even after the end of the outbreak.

  • First, because of the complex security environment, Ebola transmission outside of groups under monitoring is possible.  
  • Second, Ebola virus can persist in used needles, syringes or vials for several weeks.
  • Third, Ebola virus can persist in the body fluids of survivors for many months, and can be transmitted well after recovery, or in rare cases can result in relapse - as we’ve already seen during this outbreak.
  • Finally, Ebola virus is present in an animal reservoir in the region, and there is always a risk of a new spillover to humans.

This is why it’s critical to maintain surveillance and rapid response capacities.

And that’s what we are doing. We’re still in full response mode.

In addition to the activities I already mentioned, I have to underline how critical it is to continue supporting the Survivor Programme, which provides follow-up care for almost all of the 1169 survivors in 26 health areas in North Kivu and Ituri. The programme also helps reduce the risks of re-introduction events. 

We need to continue this work until the end of the outbreak, to keep the capacity in place to rapidly respond to flare-ups, to keep supporting survivors after the outbreak, and to transition the capacities built in this response toward building a stronger health system. 

But to be very frank, right now the world risks dropping the baton at the finish line. WHO faces an immediate US $20 million funding gap. If no new resources are received, we will run out of money before the end of the outbreak.

We appreciate the generosity of donors who have supported the response since August 2018. Now we need to get over the finish line. WHO is calling on the international community to help us end this outbreak, and keep our promises to communities to build a stronger health system.

If we are forced to scale back operations because of a lack of funds, and then a new case emerges, we might not have the people and resources on the ground that we need to shut down transmission quickly. Just a single case could re-ignite the epidemic.

That would be a tragedy. An avoidable tragedy. 

It is important that the global community doesn’t only focus efforts when there is an immediate threat, then walk away when the threat subsides.

The health system has to be strong to stop much more than Ebola. It has to stop malaria, measles, cholera, and now COVID-19.

There is a lot more work to do.

Thank you.

 

Corporate news releases, statements, and notes for media issued by the World Health Organization.