A panel of independent experts to assess WHO's response in the Ebola outbreak

WHO PRESS RELEASE                                                March 10, 2015

The WHO Director-General has commissioned a panel of outside independent experts to undertake an assessment on all aspects of WHO’s response in the Ebola outbreak. This is in response to a resolution passed during the Ebola Special Session of the Executive Board in January 2015.

Dame Barbara Stocking will chair the panel. She was formerly Chief Executive of Oxfam GB (2001-13) and during this time led major humanitarian responses. Currently she is President of Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, UK.

The other panel members are: Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfun, Director-General of the National Institute for Biomedical Research, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Dr Faisal Shuaib, Head of the National Ebola Emergency Operations Center, Nigeria; Dr Carmencita Alberto-Banatin, independent consultant and advisor on health emergencies and disasters, Philippines; Professor Julio Frenk, Dean of the Faculty, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; and Professor Ilona Kickbusch, Director of the Global Health Programme at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland.

The panel will present a first progress report on its work to the 68th World Health Assembly in May 2015.

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Ebola crisis could force Sierra Leone to diversify away from mining

THE GUARDIAN  by                                                          March 10, 2015

As Sierra Leone looks to rebuild after the Ebola epidemic, it may be forced to diversify from a mining-heavy economic base. Falling iron ore prices and the effects of Ebola on the industry signal the need for change, according to the chairman of the Chamber of Mines, who said the diversification could be beneficial.

A mine in Koidu, Sierra Leone. Falling iron ore prices and the Ebola crisis could force changes in the mining sector.Photograph: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

 John Bonoh Sisay said mining companies will also have to change the way they interact with local people, placing a greater emphasis on supporting healthcare systems as part of corporate social responsibility.

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Economist: Some high-tech solutions fail with fight against Ebola in West Africa

THE ECONOMIST                                                                                                   March 9, 2015

As in all Ebola episodes, preventing infection in West Africa during what has been the worst outbreak in history has placed a lot of effort on looking after those dealing with the victims. New high-tech equipment is now available for use by health care workers, but in some countries it may be inappropriate....

Health care workers inside a USAID-funded Ebola clinic in Liberia wearing protective gear. Some of the best protective gear or technology is not available to African countries because of high costs or other conditions.  Photos by Abbas Dulleh • Associated Press,

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Can Mental Health Services Spur Economic Recovery in Ebola-ravaged Liberia?

MAD in AMERICA                                                                                        March 9, 2015

What's the key to rebuilding Liberian communities and igniting the country's economic recovery in the wake of the devastation of the Ebola epidemic and civil war? Expanding mental health services, reported articles in Nature, Devex, StarAfrica and other outlets.

A new three-year, $3 million effort to expand mental health services in Liberia is being funded by the government of Japan through a World Bank-administered trust fund, reported Devex. "Developers of the project hope that an increased focus on mental health will help spur economic recovery and growth in the devastated region by helping build social capital and community trust, while fostering positive coping behaviors," stated Devex. "A new squad of child mental health clinicians will be deployed to approximately 60 schools, while community-based interventions beyond Ebola-affected communities will be strengthened...."

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First look at hospitalized Ebola survivors' immune cells could guide vaccine design

MEDICALXPRESS                                                                                                 March 9, 2015
Researchers from Emory and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have now obtained a first look at the responses in four Ebola disease survivors who received care at Emory University Hospital in 2014, by closely examining their T and B cells during the acute phase of the disease. The findings reveal surprisingly high levels of , and have implications for the current effort to develop vaccines against Ebola.

The Ebola virus, isolated in November 2014 from patient blood samples obtained in Mali. The virus was isolated on Vero cells in a BSL-4 suite at Rocky Mountain Laboratories. Credit: NIAID

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Postmortem Stability of Ebola Virus

A CDC study suggests that the Ebola virus may still be able to cause disease a week after a person infected with the virus has died.

CDC  EMERGING INFECTIOUSNESS DISEASE JOURNAL        March, 2015
Abstract

The ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has highlighted questions regarding stability of the virus and detection of RNA from corpses. We used Ebola virus–infected macaques to model humans who died of Ebola virus disease. Viable virus was isolated 7 days posteuthanasia; viral RNA was detectable for 10 weeks.

Read complete study.

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/21/5/15-0041_article

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Liberia removes Ebola crematorium after last patient is cured, country's outbreak is contained

MONROVIA, Liberia — Marking the progress in controlling its Ebola outbreak, the Liberian government dismantled a crematorium and removed drums containing the ashes of more than 3,000 Ebola victims cremated during the height of the epidemic, whose last patient was discharged last week.

 Liberia resorted to cremating the bodies of Ebola victims when communities rejected burials in their areas for fear the disease could spread and contaminate their soil and affect them. The cremations were very controversial because they were against traditional burial practices. But those customs, including washing and touching the dead, spread the deadly Ebola which brought the government to impose cremations.

Religious leaders gathered Saturday at the former crematorium outside Monrovia and prayed for the victims who came from many different religious groups, Acting Information Minister Isaac Jackson told The Associated Press.

The 19 barrels of remains will be buried on a 25-acre plot bought by the government as a cemetery for Ebola victims.

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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: http://www.information-age.com/technology/information-management/123459120/how-big-data-beating-ebola#sthash.CTk2zlgo.dpuf
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: http://www.information-age.com/technology/information-management/123459120/how-big-data-beating-ebola#sthash.CTk2zlgo.dpuf
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Wind Power Beats Nuclear Again in China

A chart demonstrating the rise in wind vs. nuclear energy in China from 1995-2014.

Image: A chart demonstrating the rise in wind vs. nuclear energy in China from 1995-2014.

earth-policy.org - March 5th 2015 - J. Matthew Roney

China, the country that is building more nuclear reactors than any other, continued to get more electricity from the wind than from nuclear power plants in 2014. This came despite below-average wind speeds for the year. The electricity generated by China’s wind farms in 2014—16 percent more than the year before—could power more than 110 million Chinese homes.

(VIEW COMPLETE ARTICLE)

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Canadian government pushing First Nations to give up land rights for oil and gas profits

A rally against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline on Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia, Canada, in November, 2014. Photograph: Mark Klotz/flickr

Image: A rally against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline on Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia, Canada, in November, 2014. Photograph: Mark Klotz/flickr

theguardian.com - March 4th 2015 - Martin Lukacs

The Harper government is trying to win support for its pipelines and resource agenda by pushing First Nations to sideline their aboriginal rights in exchange for business opportunities, documents reveal.

The news that Canada’s Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs is working to this end by collaborating with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is sparking strong criticism from grassroots Indigenous people.

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Ebola: No Lasting Recovery Without a Special Focus on Women, Says UNDP

      

africa.undp.org - February 27, 2015

CLICK HERE - STUDY - CONFRONTING THE GENDER IMPACT OF EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE IN GUINEA, LIBERIA, AND SIERRA LEONE (9 page .PDF report)

Women need to be at the center of all efforts to help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone recover from the Ebola crisis, according to a study by UNDP.

The epidemic has affected women disproportionately because of the essential role they play as caretakers, health personnel, farmers and small traders. For instance, as of December 2014, women represented 62 percent of the sick in Guéckédou, Guinea where the epidemic first appeared, and up to 74 percent in Télémilé, north of the capital Conakry.

“Buried in the aggregated impact is the plight of Ebola’s voiceless victims and agents of change—women and children,” say the authors of the study, adding that “Ebola response and recovery, and national development strategies must be gender-sensitive in addressing the associated negative impacts on women and girls.”

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World Bank - The Economic Impact of the 2014 Ebola Epidemic : Short- and Medium-Term Estimates for West Africa

College Kids Make Robotic Arms for Children Without Real Ones

      

Albert Manero and a team of engineering students at University of Central Florida designed a prototype for an electronic arm.  Six-year-old Alex Pring was the first recipient.  Rather than profiting from the designs, the students uploaded them to the internet for anyone to use.

cnn.com - by Daphne Sashin - March 7, 2015

. . . a team of University of Central Florida (UCF) students and graduates that made an electronic arm for 6-year-old Pring using a three-dimensional printer on campus . . .

. . . got in touch with the Orlando students through E-Nable, an online volunteer organization started by Rochester Institute of Technology research scientist Jon Schull to match people who have 3-D printers with children in need of hands and arms. The organization creates and shares bionic arm designs for free download at EnablingTheFuture.org that can be assembled for as little as $20 to $50. . .

(READ COMPLETE ARTICLE)

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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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Sierra Leone's Ebola-quarantined VP expelled from party

AFP                                                                                                                    March 6, 2015

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AFP) — Sierra Leone's Vice President Sam Sumana was expelled from the ruling party on Friday as he spent a sixth day confined to his home under Ebola quarantine.

                                                  Vice-President Samuel Sam-Sumana

The ruling All People's Congress told a news conference in Freetown the action was unconnected to the outbreak and was the result of an investigation lasting several weeks into Sumana's conduct and background.

"The VP has said he was a Muslim but investigations found this to be incorrect," said the party's secretary-general Osman Yansaneh as he laid out a number of accusations against the vice president.

Yansaneh said Sumana's claim to hold a degree from a US university had turned out to be false, and that he was also accused of being responsible for "frequent unrest" in his eastern home district of Kono.

The fourth allegation against Sumana was that he was plotting to set up a breakaway political party, Yansaneh told reporters at the party headquarters.

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