Ebola diaries: Changing health worker culture WHO

WHO                                                                                                 April 10, 2015
"The Ebola Diaries" is a series of first-person accounts describing what it has been like working on the front lines of a global health crisis of unprecedented proportions.

Dr Cota Vallenas talks about her experiences in the early days of the Ebola outbreak as an expert in infection prevention and control. She reminds us that health-care workers are among the most vulnerable and a cultural change is needed around self-protection to ensure these frontline workers don’t become infected.

It was Spring Break in the United States and WHO infection prevention and control (IPC) expert Dr Constanza (Cota) Vallenas was visiting her sons in New York. In late March 2014, she began seeing emails from WHO epidemiologist, Dr Pierre Formenty, about an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Guinea. Although a French-speaking IPC specialist had been deployed, more were needed. On 4 April, she was deployed to Guinea to train health-care professionals in IPC practices that would prove critical to the health and safety of hundreds of frontline workers.


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CDC to Launch Ebola Mobile Training App for Clinicians

hitconsultant.net - April 10, 2015

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will soon launch an Ebola mobile app that provides intuitive coaching to clinicians on CDC’s guidelines for proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent transmission of Ebola. 

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Risk of Ebola spreading to other countries seems to lessen: WHO

REUTERS  by Stephanie Nebehay                   April 10, 2015

GENEVA  West Africa's Ebola epidemic still poses a threat to other countries, but the risk of it spreading internationally appears to be diminishing, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

The U.N. agency declared in August 2014 that the world's worst Ebola outbreak -- which began in December 2013 -- represented a "public health emergency of international concern" that forced all health officials to shore up defenses.

The WHO's Emergency Committee, comprising independent experts who held talks on Thursday, was "absolutely firm" in maintaining that view, said Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO Special Representative for the Ebola Response.

"They did note, however, that they believe the risk of international spread appeared to be reducing, this was a result of the work being done in the countries," Aylward told a news briefing at WHO headquarters. He cited control measures and exit screening of travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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Ebola virus: Liberia watchdog says $800,000 in funding for fight against outbreak unaccounted for


Liberia's anti-corruption watchdog says some $800,000 in funding to fight the Ebola epidemic has not been properly accounted for, most of it passing through the defence ministry.

A report by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) covering the height of the outbreak last year analysed more than $13 million spent by the National Ebola Trust Fund (NETF).

"The conduct of the affairs of the ... [NETF] were marred by financial irregularities and material control deficiencies," read the report, published on the GAC web site....

The audit did not include donations from international organisations including the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign donors whose contribution did not flow through the NETF.
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Partners in Health clinician declared Ebola-free

BOSTON HERALD by Lindsay Kalter                                                                   April 9, 2015

 A volunteer from Boston-based nonprofit Partners in Health who was sickened with Ebola while volunteering in Sierra Leone last month has been released from the hospital and deemed Ebola-free, according to the organization.

“We’re heartened by the news that our colleague is heading home, free of Ebola, and making his way toward a full recovery,” said Sheila Davis, chief of Ebola response for PIH. “His commitment to strengthening the quality of health care in some of the world’s poorest communities is something we should all be proud of."

The worker, whose name has not been released, was admitted to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., March 13 in serious condition. He recently underwent two consecutive tests to confirm that he was indeed rid of the virus.

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Obama briefed on receding Ebola epidemic

THE HILL                                                                                           April 8, 2015
Washington --President Obama was briefed Wednesday on the diminishing Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the first time the White House has publicly addressed the disease in several weeks.

Obama met with a team of health and national security advisers in the Situation Room on Wednesday to discuss “what more can be done to get to zero Ebola cases in West Africa,” according to a brief summary of the meeting provided by the White House.

“The President emphasized the urgency of getting to zero, and directed his team to staying engaged to prevent future outbreaks from becoming epidemics,” the statement said....

Money is flowing from the president’s emergency funding request last fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has allocated about $350 million out of the $1.2 billion to fight Ebola, its director said in a recent interview.

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Liberia names new health minister as it seeks to beat Ebola

REUTERS                                               April 8, 2015

MONROVIA  - Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has named new ministers for health and education as her government seeks to bring an end to the Ebola outbreak in the West African country and focus on reconstruction.

Sirleaf promoted Bernice Dahn to be the new minister of health after she won plaudits for her role in tackling the Ebola outbreak in Liberia as chief medical officer.

Dahn placed herself in quarantine in September for nearly a month after one of her assistants died of Ebola. She tested negative for the disease....

George Werner, the former head of the civil service agency, was appointed as minister of education. Liberia reopened its schools in February after a six-month hiatus designed to stem the spread of the outbreak. [

Having weathered the outbreak more successfully than its two neighbours, Liberia's economy is expected to grow by 3 percent this year, according to the World Bank.

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Japanese Ebola test gives results in 11 minutes: researcher

AFP     April  9, 2015

Tokyo  A Japanese research team said on Thursday it had developed a field test for Ebola that gives results in just over 11 minutes -- down from the 90-minute test used now.

The breakthrough by Nagasaki University's Institute of Tropical Medicine will allow medics to move much more quickly in treating people with the haemorrhagic fever, Professor Jiro Yasuda told AFP.

"The result time was unexpectedly short," said Yasuda of the trial conducted in Guinea last month on 100 samples, of which 47 proved positive.

The Guinean government has now asked the institute and its collaboration partner Toshiba to supply equipment to roll out the test, he added.

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2 new ebola vaccines pass important early test, researchers say

NEW YORK TIMES   by Denis Grady                                                                 April 9. 2015

Two  new Ebola vaccines have passed an important test, protecting monkeys against the strain of the virus responsible for the current deadly outbreak, researchers reported on Wednesday. Only one dose was needed, and there were no apparent side effects..

Thomas W. Geisbert, an Ebola expert at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, in his office. Credit Michael Stravato for The New York Times

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Conference Summary: Using Lessons Learned from Previous Ebola Outbreaks to Inform Current Risk Management

CENTER FOR DISEASES CONTROL by Dickmann P, Kitua A, Kaczmarek P, Lutwama J, Masumu J, Karimuribo E, et al             April 8,2015 

Summary of conference on lessons learned from Ebola crisis

"...A major conclusion was that infectious disease management will work only when it is established with and within the community and not directed against it. This lesson requires community engagement in formulating infection control measures, as well as implementation, dissemination, and promotion of these measures. Infection control procedures are generally perceived as intrusive and, as such, often interfere with local social, cultural, and religious practices.... Building on this process of finding the right, appropriate containment measures, communication and health promotion work best when they involve community and religious leaders, traditional healers, and other advocates.

National and cross-border Ebola outbreaks are a new development, and engagement with various communities has presented a particular challenge throughout the current outbreak. A key aspect of this engagement is to devise and elaborate solutions for infection control that are consistent with local realities and practices. International health and aid organizations must strive to work in concert with communities to find adequate infection-control solutions....

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30 new Ebola cases, lowest weekly figure in nearly a year: WHO

REUTERS                                                                                                           April 8, 2015

GENEVA -- Thirty confirmed cases of Ebola were reported in West Africa in the past week, the smallest number in nearly a year of the worst ever outbreak of the deadly fever, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

"This is the lowest weekly total since the third week of May 2014," the WHO said in its latest update.

The virus is receding in Liberia, which reported no cases in the week to April 5, and in Sierra Leone, which reported nine, its fifth consecutive weekly decrease, it said.

But the picture was "mixed" in Guinea, which had 21 new infections, the WHO said. Unsafe burials of bodies continued in Guinea and "unknown chains of transmission could be a source of new infections in the coming weeks", it warned.

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For Ebola patients, a way to see the faces of those helping

PUBLIC RADIO INTERNATIONAL  by Andrea Crossan                 April 7, 2015

...for those in hospitals suffering, all they see are masks and robot-looking suits of doctors and nurses caring for them. The medics must wear those protective suits to stop them from coming in contact with a patient. But some humanity is stripped away with the intimidating get-up.

Until now.

                      Jianjay Potter and Grace Zardon in Monrovia, Liberia.Credit: Marc Campos

Los Angeles-based artist Mary Beth Heffernan saw the Ebola suits on news reports. She thought about how isolating it was for the patients. And she came up with the idea of taking photos of health workers that could be attached to their protective clothing.

In late February, Heffernan travelled to Monrovia, Liberia to do just that.

She brought cameras, six printers, ink cartridges and sticky labels to print the photos on.

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UN envoy: Expect Ebola vaccine in coming months

INQUIRER.NET  by Kristine Angeli Sabillo                  APRIL 8, 2015

MANILA --As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa winds down, the United Nations is optimistic that a vaccine against the deadly virus will be made available in the next several months.

“Clinical trials have have now been undertaken of candidate vaccines, two of them. They are now at an advanced stage,” Dr. David Nabarro, UN secretary general special envoy on Ebola, told reporters in Manila on Wednesday.

“I believe that we will have a vaccine against Ebola that is available and can be used particularly for doctors and nurses who provide treatment for people with the disease in the coming months,” he added.

According to the World Health Organization, the two vaccine candidates undergoing efficacy trials are ChAd3-ZEBOV, developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and rVSV-ZEBOV, developed by NewLink Genetics and Merck Vaccines USA. The first is being developed in collaboration with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the second with the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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Ebola Vaccine 2015: Guinea Seen As Best Hope For Preventative Drug Trials, But Time Is Running Out

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES by Philip Roth       April 7, 2015

(Two stories. Scroll down)
Health officials’ best bet for discovering a vaccine for Ebola lies with the West African country of Guinea, where the outbreak that has killed an estimated 10,500 over the past year began, and the place that researchers largely ignored when it came time for drug trials. As researchers race to find a vaccine before the window of opportunity closes – essentially, before the epidemic is brought to an end -- scientists with the World Health Organization are beginning to test a vaccine in Guinea manufactured by researchers in the U.S. and Canada.


The race to find a vaccine for Ebola is in its final lap. Pictured, research assistant Georgina Bowyer works on a vaccine for Ebola at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, southern England, Jan. 16, 2015. Reuters

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Ebola: media ‘overlooked Africa's role in combating crisis’

THE GUARDIAN by Sam Jones                                                              April 7, 2015

Africa’s efforts to tackle the Ebola crisis have been largely overlooked even though Africans have taken the lead in providing frontline staff and shown themselves “better placed to fight infectious diseases in their continent than outsiders”, according to the African Union (AU).

A Liberian health worker checks the temperature of students to curb the spread of Ebola in Caldwell, outside the capital Monrovia. Photograph: Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA

Dr Olawale Maiyegun, director of social affairs at the AU commission, said that despite the fact that Africans had proved both willing and able to deal with Ebola, the focus had been on the work of international agencies and those with the greatest media clout.

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