Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for July, 2017

Australia: The group of two middle-aged men and their two adult sons were allegedly working on an “elaborate” plot to build an improvised explosive device that could take down a plane.

Sydney Morning Herald



Human Trafficking: The 147 people rescued in Veracruz — whose ranks included 48 minors, including 14 unaccompanied children

US News

LA Times



Barcelona, Spain: A spectacular fire at a music festival forced the evacuation of over 20,000 concertgoers



Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this morning confirmed raids carried out in Sydney yesterday “disrupted” what appeared to be an “elaborate” conspiracy to bring down a plane.


“…..police found items that could be used to make a homemade bomb when they raided the house at Surry Hills.
It is understood that authorities believe the group was intending to smuggle the device onto a plane in order to blow it up…..”


Post-ISIS: Yazidi women after 3 years of captivity displaying extraordinary signs of psychological injury.

NY Times



Somalia has 3 new cholera deaths & more than 1,000 new cases


Cholera in Somalia, 27 July 2017

27 July 2017 – The Ministry of Health of Somalia has reported 1068 AWD/cholera cases and 3 deaths for week 28 (10 – 16 July 2017) with a case-fatality rate of 0.3%. Of these, the highest number of cases (286/27%) was reported in Middle Shebelle region, followed by Mudug, Sool and Banadir.

The cumulative number of cases stands at 58 524, including 812 deaths, in 15 regions across the country. The overall case-fatality rate of 1.4% remains above the emergency threshold of 1%. However, the cholera outbreak which started in January 2017 is slowing down, thanks to timely interventions by WHO, national health authorities and health partners.

WHO and health partners have been working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and local authorities to bring much needed relief to the populations.

Cholera response and prevention efforts are being continued throughout the country. With improvements to the surveillance systems in the country, a total of 265 sentinel health facilities are now able to report on health alerts, in addition to existing reporting mechanisms.

Chlorination of water sources was conducted in selected villages and IDP camps in Lower Jubba among returnees. Community sensitisation was conducted in IDP camps in Kismayo. Nearly 60 tonnes of essential medical supplies have been distributed to all regions since the start of the outbreak.

Somalia has been experiencing a severe drought due to lack of rains for consecutive seasons and poor rainfall. With livestock and crops destroyed and hundreds of thousands of Somalis displaced, around 6.7 out of 12.3 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Nearly 5.5 million people are at risk of contracting water-borne diseases like cholera.

Related Links

Weekly cholera updates

Somalia situation updates

SFTS (severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome): A Japanese woman has died from a tick-borne virus after being bitten by a stray cat in what is possibly the world’s first animal-to-human transmission of the disease.

Daily Mail

  • “….In Japan some 60 people contract the disease every year from tick bites with a fatality rate of some 20 percent….”
  • Zhao L, Zhai S, Wen H, Cui F, Chi Y, Wang L, et al. Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome Virus, Shandong Province, China. Emerg Infect Dis. 2012;18(6):963-965.
  • Park S, Han M, Yun S, Park C, Lee W, Ryou J, et al. Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome Virus, South Korea, 2013. Emerg Infect Dis. 2014;20(11):1880-1882.

Isolation of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV) from case-patients, South Korea, 2013. A, B) Indirect immunofluorescent features of Vero E6 cells primed with SFTSV N protein monoclonal antibody and reacted with fluoresce in isothiocyanateconjugated anti-mouse IgG. B) Transmission electron microscopy image of Vero E6 cells infected with SFTSV. Scale bar indicates 500 nm.

Isolation of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV) from case-patients, South Korea, 2013. A, B) Indirect immunofluorescent features of Vero E6 cells primed with SFTSV N protein monoclonal antibody and reacted with fluoresce in isothiocyanateconjugated anti-mouse IgG. B) Transmission electron microscopy image of Vero E6 cells infected with SFTSV. Scale bar indicates 500 nm.


54 people received medical treatment (51 hospitalized) after a Spanish commuter train crashed into the buffers in a station in northeastern Barcelona early Friday



Viral hepatitis in the world

Global hepatitis report - infographics

World Hepatitis Day


Eliminate hepatitis: WHO

News release

New WHO data from 28 countries – representing approximately 70% of the global hepatitis burden – indicate that efforts to eliminate hepatitis are gaining momentum. Published to coincide with World Hepatitis Day, the data reveal that nearly all 28 countries have established high-level national hepatitis elimination committees (with plans and targets in place) and more than half have allocated dedicated funding for hepatitis responses.

On World Hepatitis Day, WHO is calling on countries to continue to translate their commitments into increased services to eliminate hepatitis. This week, WHO has also added a new generic treatment to its list of WHO-prequalified hepatitis C medicines to increase access to therapy, and is promoting prevention through injection safety: a key factor in reducing hepatitis B and C transmission.

From commitment to Action

“It is encouraging to see countries turning commitment into action to tackle hepatitis.” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Identifying interventions that have a high impact is a key step towards eliminating this devastating disease. Many countries have succeeded in scaling-up the hepatitis B vaccination. Now we need to push harder to increase access to diagnosis and treatment.”

World Hepatitis Day 2017 is being commemorated under the theme “Eliminate Hepatitis” to mobilize intensified action towards the health targets in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. In 2016, the World Health Assembly endorsed WHO’s first global health sectors strategy on viral hepatitis to help countries scale up their responses.

The new WHO data show that more than 86% of countries reviewed have set national hepatitis elimination targets and more than 70% have begun to develop national hepatitis plans to enable access to effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care services. Furthermore, nearly half of the countries surveyed are aiming for elimination through providing universal access to hepatitis treatment. But WHO is concerned that progress needs to speed up.

“The national response towards hepatitis elimination is gaining momentum. However, at best one in ten people who are living with hepatitis know they are infected and can access treatment. This is unacceptable,” said Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, WHO’s Director of the HIV Department and Global Hepatitis Programme.

“For hepatitis elimination to become a reality, countries need to accelerate their efforts and increase investments in life-saving care. There is simply no reason why many millions of people still have not been tested for hepatitis and cannot access the treatment for which they are in dire need.”

Viral hepatitis affected 325 million people worldwide in 2015, with 257 million people living with hepatitis B and 71 million people living with hepatitis C – the two main killers of the five types of hepatitis. Viral hepatitis caused 1.34 million deaths in 2015 – a figure close to the number of TB deaths and exceeding deaths linked to HIV.

Improving access to hepatitis C cure

Hepatitis C can be completely cured with direct acting antivirals (DAAs) within 3 months. However, as of 2015, only 7% of the 71 million people with chronic hepatitis C had access to treatment.

WHO is working to ensure that DAAs are affordable and accessible to those who need them. Prices have dropped dramatically in some countries (primarily in some high-burden, low-and lower middle income countries), facilitated by the introduction of generic versions of these medicines. The list of DAAs available to countries for treating hepatitis C is growing.

WHO has just prequalified the first generic version of one of these drugs: sofosbuvir. The average price of the required three-month treatment course of this generic is between US$260 and US$280, a small fraction of the original cost of the medicine when it first went on the market in 2013. WHO prequalification guarantees a product’s quality, safety and efficacy and means it can now be procured by the United Nations and financing agencies such as UNITAID, which now includes medicines for people living with HIV who also have hepatitis C in the portfolio of conditions it covers.

Global hepatitis report - infographics

Hepatitis B treatment

With high morbidity and mortality globally, there is great interest also in the development of new therapies for chronic hepatitis B virus infection. The most effective current hepatitis B treatment, tenofovir, (which is not curative and which in most cases needs to be taken for life), is available for as low as $48 per year in many low and middle income countries. There is also an urgent need to scale up access to hepatitis B testing.

Improving injection safety and infection prevention to reduce new cases of hepatitis B and C

Use of contaminated injection equipment in health-care settings accounts for a large number of new HCV and HBV infections worldwide, making injection safety an important strategy.Others include preventing transmission through invasive procedures, such as surgery and dental care; increasing hepatitis B vaccination rates and scaling up harm reduction programmes for people who inject drugs.

Today WHO is launching a range of new educational and communication tools to support a campaign entitled “Get the Point-Make smart injection choices” to improve injection safety in order to prevent hepatitis and other bloodborne infections in health-care settings.

World Hepatitis Summit

World Hepatitis Summit 2017, 1–3 November in São Paulo, Brazil, promises to be the largest global event to advance the viral hepatitis agenda, bringing together key players to accelerate the global response. Organised jointly by WHO, the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) and the Government of Brazil, the theme of the Summit is “Implementing the Global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis: towards the elimination of hepatitis as a public health threat”.

For more information, please contact:

Pru Smith
Communications Officer
Telephone: +41 22 791 4586
Mobile: +41 794 771 744

Tunga (Oyuntungalag) Namjilsuren
Information Manager
WHO Department of HIV, Global Hepatitis Programme
Mobile: +41 79 203 3176


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