Liberian voter turnout low as Ebola overshadows senate election

REUTERS  by James Harding Giahyue                                                                                     Dec. 20, 2014

MONROVIA--Turnout for Liberian parliamentary elections on Saturday appeared to be low as concerns about Ebola kept many voters at home.

 

Bystanders read the headlines illustrating the battle over the holding of elections in Liberia amid the Ebola crisis at a street side chalkboard newspaper in Monrovia, December 2, 2014. Credit: Reuters/James Giahyue

Polling stations were largely empty after voting began at 8 a.m. (3.00 a.m. ET) in the seafront capital Monrovia, with voters occasionally drifting in, despite precautions put in place by the National Elections Commission (NEC).

Staff with temperature guns at polling stations checked voters for any signs of the hemorrhagic fever, which is spread via bodily fluids. Voters were obliged to wash their hands with chlorine solution, to stand at least three feet apart in the queue, and bring their own pens to mark the ballot paper, officials said.

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Ebola death toll close to 7,400, says World Health Organisation

The Guardian    by Chris Johnston                                        Dec. 20, 2014

(Two items, scroll below.)

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone --The death toll from the worst ever outbreak of Ebola has reached nearly 7,400, with just over 19,000 people infected across west Africa, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, addresses health workers in Sierra Leone. Photograph: Evan Schneider/AFP/Getty Images

Sierra Leone reported 400 new fatalities this week, bringing the death toll there to 2,500. As of 18 December, it had the highest number of people infected by the virus – 8,800 cases, of which 6,900 were confirmed, according to the country’s health ministry.

The WHO is attempting to curb an outbreak in the west of the country, where the disease is spreading fastest, by sending a “massive surge of staff and resources” to the area.

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UN's Ban urges end to discrimination against Ebola workers

REUTERS --By Matthew Mpoke Bigg                                 Dec.20, 2014
CONAKRY--U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday urged countries affected by the Ebola virus to avoid discriminating against healthcare workers fighting to end the disease.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has his temperature checked upon arrival at the Roberts International airport in Liberia's capital Monrovia December 19, 2014. Credit: Reuters/James Giahyue

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic....

Ban's tour began in Liberia and Sierra Leone on Friday and will end later on Saturday in Ghana, site of the U.N. Ebola response mission (UNMEER), after a visit to Mali.

"There should be no discrimination for those who have been working or helping with Ebola. Those people are giving all of themselves," Ban told U.N. officials in Conakry.

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Ebola-Stricken Families to Receive Cash Payments

TIME MAGAZINE by ALexandra Sifferlin                                                                            Dec. 19, 2014

In 2015, the three Ebola-affected countries will start offering cash payments for families hit by Ebola, as well as survivors having trouble re-acclimating to society out of stigma for the disease.

Dudu Kromah’s husband died from Ebola. She is looking after ten children, many of them orphans including a 3-month-old baby. She has no income. Carly Learson—Carly Learson / UNDP

Every aspect of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone’s societies have taken a hit from Ebola, and the disease has shocked what were once fragile but growing economies....Every aspect of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone’s societies

“We are seeing a backwards slide of development of about 10 years,” says Boaz Paldi, chief of media and advocacy at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “The outlook is not good. We are fearful for these countries.”

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CSIS Podcast - Ebola in West Africa

csis.org - Center for Strategic and International Studies

The CSIS podcast “Ebola in West Africa” has been named by Apple as one of its “Best of 2014” podcasts on iTunes U.

“Ebola in West Africa” was produced by Sahil Angelo, a young professional who works in the CSIS Global Health Policy Center in conjunction with our team of multi-media professionals in the CSIS Ideas Lab.

CSIS multimedia is available on iTunes, iTunes U and on www.CSIS.org/multimedia

CLICK HERE - iTunes - Ebola in West Africa

CLICK HERE - Tweet - iTunes U - Best of 2014

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State Ebola Protocols

CDC                                                                                                                Dec. 19, 2014

 The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Two imported cases, including one death, and two locally acquired cases in healthcare workers have been reported in the US. CDC and partners are taking precautions to prevent the further spread of Ebola within the US

CDC/OSTLTS Public Health Law Program and Office of the Associate Director for Policy compiled an Interim Table of State Ebola Screening and Monitoring Policies for Asymptomatic Individuals[PDF 826KB] to help law and policy makers prepare for and respond to Ebola-related situations.

See complete report.

http://www.cdc.gov/phlp/publications/topic/ebola.html

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Ebola: limitations of correcting misinformation

THE LANCET                                                                                                              Dec.18, 2014
Communication and social mobilisation strategies to raise awareness about Ebola virus disease and the risk factors for its transmission are central elements in the response to the current Ebola outbreak in west Africa.1 A principle underpinning these efforts is to change risky "behaviour" related to "traditional" practices and "misinformation".

 Populations at risk of contracting Ebola virus disease have been exhorted to “put aside, tradition, culture and whatever family rites they have and do the right thing”....Such messages follow logically from clinical and epidemiological framings of contagion.

They pay little attention, however, to the historical, political, economic, and social contexts in which they are delivered....

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http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2814%2962382-5/fulltext

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In Sierra Leone, the ghosts of war haunt an Ebola graveyard

WASHINGTON POST      by Kevin Sieff                                                                                      Dec. 19, 2014

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — To find Andrew Kondoh, walk through the gates of this city’s largest cemetery, where teams in moonsuits bury more than 50 bodies in white plastic bags each day. Look for the man with the wispy goatee and big belly, who is overseeing one of the world’s most chaotic, dangerous graveyards as if he’s done it all before.

That’s because he has.

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Ebola: ‘Regrettable loss’ caused by warehouse fire in Guinea

UNITED NATIONS NEWS CENTRE                                Dec. 18, 2014
A fire engulfed a United Nations warehouse in Guinea Thursday today that contained medicines and laboratory materials used for the fight against Ebola, causing no casualties but “a regrettable loss” in supplies, which the UN mission there vowed to quickly replace. An investigation into the fire was underway.
UN warehouse with EbolaResponse supplies catches fire in Guinea. Emergency personnel seen here try to contain the flames. Photo: UNMEER

"This is a regrettable loss, but no one was hurt and we will move quickly together with our partners to replace the lost supplies", said Anthony Banbury, Head of the UN Mission for Emergency Ebola Response (UNMEER).

UNMEER reported that the fire in the warehouse, mainly containing medicines and laboratory materials, was discovered around 8:00 a.m. local time when workers arrived at facility in the main humanitarian logistics base of the airport and of the city of Conakry, the capital of Guinea – one of the three most affected countries by Ebola in West Africa.

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GSK Ebola vaccine trial seen moving to wider phase in February

REUTERS                                                                                              Dec. 19, 2014

Trials of GlaxoSmithKline's experimental Ebola vaccine are likely to move to a second phase in February, later than previously suggested, after a meeting of national regulators said they needed more information.

The World Health Organization, which hosted a meeting of national regulatory authorities and ethics committees earlier this week, said they had thoroughly discussed all aspects of the proposed trials at the two-day meeting.

"Reviewing countries requested additional documentation from the manufacturer of the vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline, before authorization of the trials," the WHO said in a statement.

Countries where the trials are planned -- Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal -- should receive and review the additional information by the end of January.

"If these steps are completed to the satisfaction of the national authorities, Phase II trials are likely to begin in February," the statement said.

The GSK vaccine is already undergoing Phase I trials, to check its safety in humans, in Switzerland, Britain, Mali and the United States, and is one of the two leading candidate vaccines for Ebola already undergoing tests.

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The Ebola Treatment You Haven't Heard Of

FORBES       by David Kroll                                                                                              Dec. 19, 2014

Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology-derived products have attracted the greatest public and professional interest in treating victims of Ebola virus disease. But a privately-held, small company with a treatment for shock and multi-organ failure may be the dark horse victor in the race to stop the West African outbreak. LB1148 from San Diego-based Leading BioSciences is starting Phase 2 clinical trials that build on 12 years of NIH-funded research to address an underappreciated, common denominator in shock and organ failure, including shock caused by Ebola infection.

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkroll/2014/12/19/the-ebola-treatment-you-havent-heard-of/

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One More Drug For Ebola Treatment Pipeline?

NBC NEWS by Maggie Fox                                                                                                      Dec. 19, 2014

German doctors think they have another possible drug to add to the Ebola treatment pipeline. It's one already shown to be safe and in trials to treat heart attack victims.

The drug, called FX06, is made using a natural human blood-clotting protein called fibrin. The hope is it can help reduce the leaking of blood vessels that can seriously threaten people with advanced Ebola infections.

The team at Frankfurt University Hospital say it may have helped save a Ugandan doctor they treated, although they note it failed to save a second patient.

Nonetheless, it should be tested, they wrote in the Lancet medical journal.

"Even though the patient was critically ill, we were able to support him long enough for his body to start antibody production and for the virus to be cleared by his body's defenses," said Dr. Timo Wolf, who helped lead the research team. "FX06 could potentially be a valuable agent in contribution to supportive therapy."

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Ebola total tops 18,000, with hints of slowing in Sierra Leone

CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY   by Lisa Schnirring                                   Dec. 17, 2014
            
Sierra Leone's rising Ebola activity seems to be slowing as a major effort to knock down the disease gets under way; disease incidence is still fluctuating in Guinea and cases continue to decline in Liberia, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today in its latest update.

The global Ebola total as of Dec 14 has reached 18,603 cases, along with 6,915 reported deaths, the WHO said. Numbers reflect an increase of 661 infections and 527 deaths since the last report Dec 10. Sierra Leone, with 327 new cases, accounted for more than half the increase, while Guinea reported 76 more. Liberia reported eight new confirmed cases, but its total includes only those reported as of Dec 9.

The WHO said progress is occurring in all three of the hardest-hit countries toward the United Nations' goal of isolating and treating 100% of Ebola patients and safely burying 100% of those who die from the disease by Jan 1. All countries now have enough treatment beds, though some are unevenly distributed, resulting in shortages in some areas, the WHO said.

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Ebola leaves hundreds of thousands facing hunger in three worst-hit countries

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO)                                                            Dec. 17, 2014

The number of people facing food insecurity due to the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone could top one million by March 2015 unless access to food is drastically improved and measures are put in place to safeguard crop and livestock production, two UN agencies warned today.

The disease's impact is potentially devastating in the three countries already coping with chronic food insecurity, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said in three country reports published today.

Border closures, quarantines, hunting bans and other restrictions are seriously hindering people's access to food, threatening their livelihoods, disrupting food markets and processing chains, and exacerbating shortages stemming from crop losses in areas with the highest Ebola infection rates, the FAO-WFP reports stressed.

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http://www.fao.org/emergencies/fao-in-action/stories/stories-detail/en/c/273018/

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African Union Jets in 101 Ethiopian Medics to Fight Ebola in Sierra Leone

ETHIOSPORTS  by Raphael Simon                                                                 Dec. 18, 2014    
Freetown, Sierra Leone: - The Africa Union has aided Sierra Leone with 101 Ethiopian Medical personnel in the fight against Ebola. The medical team comprised Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists, Epidemiologists, Public Health Officers, and Information and Communication Specialists...

Welcoming the Medical team on arrival at the Freetown International Airport, Deputy Health and Sanitation Minister I, Mr. Foday Sawi Lahai, on behalf of the Ministry, the government and people of Sierra Leone, expressed gratitude and appreciation over the visit, describing the Medical team as brave men and women of Africa.

...He said with support from development partners structures have been put in place to eradicate the disease, but the biggest problem facing Sierra Leone is human resource capacity, adding that their coming is timely and significant.

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