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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: Winning the War, but Battles Remain


A worker at a UNICEF-supported Interim Care Center plays with 19-month-old Ebola survivor Tamba in Gueckedou, Forest Region, Guinea on January 11, 2015.  Tamba's mother died of Ebola, then his father abandoned him for fear of catching the disease himself.  UNICEF is working to break down the stigma around Ebola so children like Tamba still have homes to go to. - by Diana Magnay - January 30, 2015

Liberia (CNN) - First, the good news: Ebola is in decline.

2014 was a year of profound fear for communities living with -- and dying of -- the disease; of health workers making the ultimate sacrifice, dying as they tried to save; of apocalyptic forecasts as to the disease's possible spread. . .

. . . Ebola is still critically dangerous. Hotspots remain.


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'Good virus' believed to help increase survival chances in Ebola and HIV infections

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS NEWS by Jayalaksmi K      Feb. 2, 2015

A common virus that infects billions at some point of their lives is believed to deliver some protection against other deadlier viruses like HIV and Ebola.

David O'Connor, a pathology professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, found the genetic fingerprints of the virus GBV-C in the records of 13 samples of blood plasma from Ebola patients.

While six of the 13 people who were co-infected with Ebola and GBV-C died, seven survived.

Combined with earlier studies that have hinted persistent infection with the virus slowed disease progression in some HIV patients, researchers think the virus could be beneficial.

"We're very cautious about over-interpreting these results," O'Connor told NPR. He is now waiting to get a bigger sample, to see if there really is a strong connection between GBV-C infection and survival.
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As Ebola Ebbs in Africa, Focus Turns From Death to Life

NEW YORK TIMES  by Normitsu Onishi                                                                Feb. 1, 2015

MONROVIA, Liberia — Life is edging back to normal after the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history....

FEAR FADING Beachgoers in Monrovia, Liberia, recently ravaged by Ebola. As fear of the virus ebbs, Liberians are slipping back into their daily rhythm. John Moore/Getty Images

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Estimating Food Consumption and Poverty Indices with Mobile Phone Data

submitted by George Hurlburt - November 22, 2014
Adeline Decuyper, Alex Rutherford, Amit Wadhwa, Jean-Martin Bauer, Gautier Krings, Thoralf Gutierrez, Vincent D. Blondel, Miguel A. Luengo-Oroz
arXiv:1412.2595 [cs.CY]

Recent studies have shown the value of mobile phone data to tackle problems related to economic development and humanitarian action. In this research, we assess the suitability of indicators derived from mobile phone data as a proxy for food security indicators. We compare the measures extracted from call detail records and airtime credit purchases to the results of a nationwide household survey conducted at the same time. Results show high correlations (> .8) between mobile phone data derived indicators and several relevant food security variables such as expenditure on food or vegetable consumption. This correspondence suggests that, in the future, proxies derived from mobile phone data could be used to provide valuable up-to-date operational information on food security throughout low and middle income countries.

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Estimating Food Consumption and Poverty Indices with Mobile Phone Data

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Global Health Security: The Next Five Years - Andrew C. Weber - Christine Parthemore

The next five years will see crucial changes in the global health security landscape, profoundly shaped by two key events in 2014:

The Ebola response in West Africa, and the successful first year of the Global Health Security Agenda, an initiative of dozens of countries and non-governmental organizations to make tangible commitments for preventing, rapidly detecting, and effectively responding to infectious disease threats.(1) 

Both events brought to light signs of measurable progress, and profound gaps that must be prioritized in the years ahead. Pressing needs include expanding emergency operations center capacity, better leveraging technological innovation, and closing the gap between the health and security communities.


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Do Ebola educators make a difference?

THE GUARDIAN by                        Jan. 29. 2015

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone -- The initial Ebola case in Tambakha [a remote chiefdom near the Guinea border] coincided with the proper training of the first set of Ebola educators. They were deployed in mid-October to educate local people on the prevention and control of Ebola and to help monitor the advent of newcomers into their communities, possible carriers.


Health workers conduct a campaign raising awareness of the Ebola virus in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photograph: Tanya Bindra/EPA

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An experimental Ebola vaccine looks promising in a human trial

Vaccine  was made by introducing an Ebola gene in a chimpanzee cold virus

THE VERGE    by Arielle Duhaime-Ross                                                             Jan. 28, 2015

An Ebola vaccine produced using a chimpanzee common cold virus appears to be safe to use on humans, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Three different doses of vaccine were tested on healthy humans in the UK, and it was well-tolerated; it triggered high levels of antibody formation without also triggering serious side effects. But until the vaccine is tested in an area where an Ebola risk actually exists, it’s efficacy against the disease will remain a mystery.

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A Monovalent Chimpanzee Adenovirus Ebola Vaccine — Preliminary Report

 New England Journal of Medicine

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African Union vows Ebola fund as Oxfam calls for 'Marshall Plan'

AFP                                                                                                             Jan. 28, 2015
Addis Ababa - The African Union plans to launch an Ebola fund and disease control centre, officials said Wednesday, as aid agency Oxfam warned leaders needed to keep their promises to boost healthcare systems on the continent.

 Oxfam called for a "massive post-Ebola Marshall Plan", referring to the United States aid package to rebuild Europe after World War II....

AU Commissioner for Social Affairs Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko on Wednesday said an African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention would be set up by mid-2015.

"It is a reality, it is going to happen," Kaloko said, with the first phase concentrating on setting up "an early warning system" for the detection of epidemics. "We should be ready the next time. We shouldn't be caught unprepared."

However, its exact location remains undecided.

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Lessons from Ebola: Toward a Post-2015 Strategy for Pandemic Response

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

This event has concluded. View the replay above. - Date: January 27th 2015 - Location: Georgetown University & Online Time: 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. ET (21:00 - 22:00 GMT)

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, will deliver Georgetown’s inaugural Global Futures lecture.

The lecture, “Lessons from Ebola: A post-2015 strategy for pandemic response,” will kick off a semester-long conversation about the “Global Future of Development” at Georgetown as part of the university’s new Global Futures Initiative.

His talk on Jan. 27 will connect ongoing efforts to stop the spread of infection in West Africa with longer-term efforts to improve public health systems that support economic and social development in countries vulnerable to future pandemics.

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