In many African societies, traditional healers are solicited for many reasons. They are called healers or witch doctors for their talents in hunting evil spells and for their mastery of medicinal plants. They are listened to and respected by communities who have full confidence and trust in their skills. It is how these men and women earn a living.
During the Ebola epidemic response, traditional healers were quickly identified as key actors to help raise awareness about the disease in communities, particularly in remote areas where they maintain close relationships with the people they serve.
Doumbouya Idrissa is a traditional healer and President of the Traditional Healers Network of the Lower Guinea region in Guinea. Known as Simbo, which means “strong man” in Sussu, one of the local languages, he played a key role in the mobilization of traditional healers and their commitment to help end the outbreak through the sharing of knowledge on symptoms and preventive measures.
Community engagement helped turn the tide of Ebola, and will be critical in combatting this latest outbreak.
This is no secret. Getting trusted community members, religious leaders, and local media on board increased adoption of difficult, often alien preventive behaviors like safe burials, which ultimately helped stop the spread of the disease.
But there’s a broader lesson here. If we are to prevent future epidemics, communities need to remain actively engaged in efforts to strengthen the health sector.
SUNDAY, April 10, 2016 -- The cost of health care that could save the lives of millions of children and their mothers every year would be less than $5 per person, researchers report.
The money would expand basic health services -- such as birth control, nutritional supplements and medication to treat serious illnesses such as pneumonia and malaria -- in 74 low- and middle-income countries. Those countries account for more than 95 percent of mother and child deaths each year, according to the study published April 9 in The Lancet.
The researchers reported that, worldwide, in 2015 nearly 6 million children under age 5 died, as did more than 300,000 women from pregnancy-related causes.
An edes aegypti mosquito is seen inside a test tube as part of a research on preventing the spread of the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at a control and prevention center in Guadalupe, neighbouring Monterrey, Mexico, in this March 8, 2016
file photo: REUTERS/DANIEL BECERRIL/FILES
Scientists in Brazil have uncovered a new brain disorder associated with Zika infections in adults: an autoimmune syndrome called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM, that attacks the brain and spinal cord.
Zika was first noticed in Africa, in Uganda's Ziika forest (yes it's spelled with two i's) in 1947. It spread slowly at first, and seemed to be a pretty harmless virus, causing hardly any symptoms at all in most people. But it picked up speed in around 2007 when it started spreading in the South Pacific and it showed up inBrazil in 2013, according to the latest research. Because hardly anyone in the Americas has immunity to Zika, it's spread explosively since then.
Ebola. Pandemic flu. And now the Zika virus. These emergencies all test the mettle of the world’s public health officials.
Those who would face such a challenge must have some sense of what to do.
“We need to be prepared, and quite frankly, the country is underprepared,” said U.S. Rep Susan Brooks, who Wednesday convened a group of about 40 public health workers and other would-be first responders to run through a training exercise at the Fishers Public Library.
Dr. W. Craig Vanderwagen, former assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, led the thought experiment into how to handle a blossoming smallpox outbreak that starts in Europe and rapidly spreads overseas.
With 33 countries in the Americas now identified as carrying the Zika virus, the need for a solution to the epidemic is great. But with limited funds in the regions where it’s spreading the fastest, the need for a cost-effective one is even greater.
05 APRIL 2016 -WHO and partners need US$ 2.2 billion to provide lifesaving health services to more than 79 million people in more than 30 countries facing protracted emergencies this year, according to WHO’s Humanitarian Response Plans 2016 launched today.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is to announce Wednesday it will transfer leftover money from the largely successful fight against Ebola to combat the growing threat of the Zika virus, congressional officials say.
Roughly 75 percent of the $600 million or so would be devoted to the Centers for Disease Control, which is focused on research and development of anti-Zika vaccines, treating those infected with the virus and combating the mosquitoes that spread it. The rest would go to foreign aid accounts to fight the virus overseas.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter before the White House announcement.
nytimes.com - by The Editorial Board - April 4, 2016
Some world leaders, especially in developing countries like India, have long said it’s hard to reduce the emissions that are warming the planet because they need to use relatively inexpensive — but highly carbon-intensive — fuels like coal to keep energy affordable. That argument is losing its salience as the cost of renewable energy sources like wind and solar continues to fall.