Offers measures against spread of epidemic
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has disclosed that $98 million (N35.28 billion) is needed to contain the ravaging Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda as well as other susceptible nations in Africa and parts of the world.
It, however, regretted the availability of only less than one-third of the sum, leaving behind a shortfall of $54 million (N19.4 billion).
Besides, the global agency rolled out containment measures. A meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by its Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) at the weekend, urged countries and responding partners to heed a number of counsel.
They include improving preparedness for detecting and managing exported cases; continuous cross-border screening; risk-detecting population movements and sociological patterns; approvals for investigational medicines and vaccines and rapid implementation of optimal vaccine strategies sanctioned by WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE).
The panel identified factors that contributed to the outbreaks in the two African nations to include population movement; health-seeking behaviours towards traditional healers; poor infection prevention and control measures; security challenges and aloofness by political leaders.
Moreover, a research published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases yesterday noted that half of the occurrences had gone undetected since 1976.
Although this tends to affect fewer than five patients, the study, led by Emma Glennon at Cambridge University, stressed the need for improved detection and rapid response on a consistent basis.
The WHO working group expressed worry over the epidemic, which, despite some positive epidemiological trends, especially in the epicentres of Butembo and Katwa, showed that the extension and/or re-infection of the disease in other areas like Mabalako, presents once again challenges around community acceptance and security. In addition, the response had been hampered by a lack of adequate funding and strained human resources.
It said the cluster of cases in Uganda was not unexpected, as the rapid response and initial containment were a testament to the importance of preparedness in neighbouring countries. The committee, nonetheless, commended the communication and collaboration between DRC and Uganda.
It submitted that the exportation of cases into Uganda was a reminder that, as long as this outbreak continues in DRC, there was a risk of spread to neighbouring nations, though low.
The panel lauded the good work of responders who continued to work under extremely challenging and stressful conditions. The group extensively debated the impact of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) declaration on the response, possible unintended consequences and how these might be managed.
Differing views were expressed, as it acknowledged that recent cases in Uganda constituted international spread of the disease. The committee concluded that the outbreaks in DRC and the region were a health emergency but did not meet all the three criteria for a PHEIC under the IHR.
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