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Vaccines Face Same Mistrust That Fed Ebola

NEW YORK TIMES  by and         March 14, 2015

MONROVIA, Liberia — West Africa’s Ebola epidemic may be waning, but another outbreak in the future is a near certainty, health officials say.

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How big data is beating Ebola

Computational epidemiologists at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) have been working to combat the world’s largest and deadliest outbreak of Ebola. - See more at:
Computational epidemiologists at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) have been working to combat the world’s largest and deadliest outbreak of Ebola. VBI’s Bryan Lewis writes - See more at:
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Africa tourism acts to shake off Ebola stigma

AFP  by Marie Julie                                                                                                        March 7, 2015
Berlin - - The impact of the deadly Ebola virus fell mainly on three African countries but tourism has taken a hit across the continent of more than 50 nations as fear has kept many visitors away, tourism chiefs say.

Visitors pass by a poster of flight route information at the 49th International Tourism Fair (ITB Berlin 2015) in Berlin on March 4, 2015 (AFP Photo/Tobias Schwarz)

Some 56 million tourists visited Africa in 2014, a two-percent rise from the previous year, according to UNWTO figures, but growth in Africa lagged behind that in Europe, Asia or the Americas.

Africa had seen a robust 4.8-percent increase in tourists a year earlier.

"Africa... did well (last year) in spite of suffering from the Ebola symptoms which were associated unfairly" with Africa as a whole, Taleb Rifai, head of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), said at the Berlin tourism fair (ITB).

He said Africa needed support, especially after the Ebola crisis, adding: "It was very unfair the generalisation that happened."

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South African brothers create app to help fight Ebola

PALO ALTO WEEKLY by My Nguyen                      March 6, 2015
PALO ALTO, California -- 

...Malan and Philip Joubert, brothers from South Africa who recently moved to Palo Alto to expand their app-development company, Journey, saw the demand for mobile solutions, so they created the Ebola Care app to help aid organizations in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. 

 The app has several core functions, including contact tracing, which identifies and diagnoses people who may have come into contact with an infected person; quarantine management, which tracks and manages the 21-day quarantine period of a patient; psychological assessments to determine the well-being of health workers; social work to build case files for orphaned children; survivor surveys, which are assessments of Ebola survivors upon leaving treatment centers; verification that supplies have been distributed; and event feedback, which captures thoughts from the community after educational events.

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Ebola halts HIV progress in Sierra Leone, says UN

Thomson Reuters Foundation by Misha Hussain                                                        Feb.27, 2015

 DAKAR -- The West African Ebola outbreak has halted progress in tackling HIV in Sierra Leone, shutting health clinics and scaring patients from being tested or seeking treatment, the United Nations has said.

In an internal document seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) raised concerns that HIV prevalence and drug resistance in the country could increase as a result.

"Hospitals have closed down because they have been overrun by Ebola patients and non-Ebola patients are too afraid to go to them for fear of catching the virus," said Hakan Bjorkman, who manages UNDP's AIDS programme.

"HIV prevention activities in schools and awareness raising for the general population has been suspended due to the restriction of movement, the closure of all education institutions and the overall ban on public gathering."

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Texas Ebola quarantine success depended on help with daily needs: CDC

REUTERS      by Lisa Rapaport                                                                                Feb. 19, 2015

Effectively monitoring people exposed to Ebola requires more than just checking symptoms. A quarantine plan also needs to help people keep up with work and school and pay for essentials like housing and food, a U.S. report concludes.

To understand the challenges encountered by ordinary citizens exposed to Ebola, a team led by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed concerns raised by people monitored as part of an Ebola cluster in Dallas last year.

If yet-to-be-identified contacts notice that those who come forward as Ebola contacts are shunned from society and quarantined in their homes, with no way to provide for themselves and their families, they will be less likely to come forward," said lead study author Dr. Charnetta Smith, a CDC epidemic intelligence service officer.

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Sierra Leone: Increasing Community Engagement for Ebola On-Air


Zainab Akiwumi in the radio studio of Radio Maria talking about the need to suspend cultural and traditional practices in times of Ebola, Sierra Leone.  WHO/S. Saporito

WHO’s social mobilization team is using radio to reach communities with information about how to prevent the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone. - February 2015

Reaching communities not just physically, but psychologically and emotionally as well

“My work as a social mobilizer is to pass on key messages to convince people to stop the cultural and traditional practices that are fuelling the spread of Ebola,” says Zainab Akiwumi, who leads the WHO social mobilization team in Sierra Leone.

One way to convey Ebola messages is using local radio stations to reach out to the community. “On radio I tell the listeners, you who are listening to me now, take this message and go outside to tell those who did not hear me what I said, as a way to spread it on,” she continues.

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MSF says lack of public health messages on Ebola "big mistake"

THOMPSON REUTERS By Misha Hussain                   Feb. 4, 2015

CONAKRY -- Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) made the "big mistake" of focusing too much on treatment early on in the Ebola epidemic rather than speaking to people about tackling the disease, a senior member of the medical charity said.

 ...With 20 years of experience of treating Ebola, MSF deployed hundreds to the Ebola "hot zones" and was quick to isolate patients and trace their contacts.

However, Claudia Evers, MSF's Ebola emergency coordinator in Guinea, said: "MSF made a big mistake. We advocated for an increase in beds for too long, and everyone listened to MSF."

"Instead of asking for more beds we should have asked for more sensitisation activities," Evers told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview. Evers said the next stage of the Ebola response required a new approach if the disease was to be brought under control, centred on the promotion of good hygiene practices.

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Good Fences, Good Neighbors

EBOLA WEEKLY  by   Cinnatus Dumbaya                                                          Feb. 2, 2015

The Mano River Union, which works across the Ebola-affected countries, held a meeting this weekend designed to tackle the challenges of halting the spread of disease at West Africa's porous land borders. Cinnatus Dumbaya spoke to the Reverend Linda Koroma, deputy secretary general of the Mano River Union Secretariat in Freetown, to find out more.

Excerpt from interview:
...."We want to ensure that our border communities are provided with health facilities they can access in the event of another epidemic or any other kind of disease. And so the idea the technical people came up with is to allow people to cross over borders easily in order to access fully equipped health centers that would be built in each of the border towns...."
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Ebola - is culture the real killer?

IRIN  Humanitarian News and Analysis  by Obinna Anyadike                                                            Jan. 29, 2015

NAIROBI, Kenya --Why do people persist with risky funeral rites, eat Ebola-harbouring bushmeat, and occasionally attack the very health workers sent to help, the news reports leave us wondering. What is the value of “traditional beliefs” when they are harmful: why can’t people just act more rationally?

A pregnant women suspected of having Ebola is taken away to an ETU in Freetown, Sierra Leone

The simple answer is; ask the communities. The growing number of researchers that do, find that people are acting as responsibly as they can in desperate circumstances. The lack of a properly functioning Ebola response and weak healthcare services has forced communities into rough and ready self-reliance. Faced with hotlines going unanswered, overcrowded Ebola Treatment Units (ETU), militarized quarantine areas, communities are actually looking for more information, not less.

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