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Archive for the ‘WHO’ Category

Ebola: “….If the outbreak goes unchecked, it could threaten the health and stability of neighboring countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan. Such spread would lead to travel, trade, economic, and security implications reaching far beyond the region, which would exacerbate the toll of the outbreak and increase the cost of response…..”

NEJM

“……We therefore believe that the U.S. government should allow CDC staff to return to the field for as long as the WHO and others deem necessary. Security arrangements should be made to ensure that any deployed teams could operate safely in affected areas. Options for the safe deployment of CDC personnel may include using existing security forces, such as the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO), which is currently protecting WHO staff. Ideally, epidemic response agencies and organizations from other countries with Ebola experience that are not already engaged in the current response would similarly offer assistance to the WHO and the DRC.

The WHO has transformed its ability to respond to emergencies, but it remains dependent on international support, both technical and financial. It has requested that member states create a Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE) to support its work in responding to disease and other crises. To date, however, the CFE has received less than a third of its $100 million annual target. More support is clearly needed; it’s estimated that the response to the DRC Ebola outbreak alone will cost $44 million……”


WHO: Putting stalled malaria control efforts back on track

WHO

Reductions in malaria cases have stalled after several years of decline globally, according to the new World malaria report 2018. To get the reduction in malaria deaths and disease back on track, WHO and partners are joining a new country-led response, launched today, to scale up prevention and treatment, and increased investment, to protect vulnerable people from the deadly disease.

For the second consecutive year, the annual report produced by WHO reveals a plateauing in numbers of people affected by malaria: in 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria, compared to 217 million the year before. But in the years prior, the number of people contracting malaria globally had been steadily falling, from 239 million in 2010 to 214 million in 2015.

“Nobody should die from malaria. But the world faces a new reality: as progress stagnates, we are at risk of squandering years of toil, investment and success in reducing the number of people suffering from the disease,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “We recognise we have to do something different – now. So today we are launching a country-focused and -led plan to take comprehensive action against malaria by making our work more effective where it counts most – at local level.”

Where malaria is hitting hardest

In 2017, approximately 70% of all malaria cases (151 million) and deaths (274 000) were concentrated in 11 countries: 10 in Africa (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania) and India. There were 3.5 million more malaria cases reported in these 10 African countries in 2017 compared to the previous year, while India, however, showed progress in reducing its disease burden.

Despite marginal increases in recent years in the distribution and use of insecticide-treated bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa – the primary tool for preventing malaria – the report highlights major coverage gaps. In 2017, an estimated half of at-risk people in Africa did not sleep under a treated net. Also, fewer homes are being protected by indoor residual spraying than before, and access to preventive therapies that protect pregnant women and children from malaria remains too low.

High impact response needed

In line with WHO’s strategic vision to scale up activities to protect people’s health, the new country-driven “High burden to high impact” response plan has been launched to support nations with most malaria cases and deaths. The response follows a call made by Dr Tedros at the World Health Assembly in May 2018 for an aggressive new approach to jump-start progress against malaria. It is based on four pillars:

  • Galvanizing national and global political attention to reduce malaria deaths;
  • Driving impact through the strategic use of information;
  • Establishing best global guidance, policies and strategies suitable for all malaria endemic countries; and
  • Implementing a coordinated country response.

Catalyzed by WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, “High burden to high impact” builds on the principle that no one should die from a disease that can be easily prevented and diagnosed, and that is entirely curable with available treatments.

“There is no standing still with malaria. The latest World malaria report shows that further progress is not inevitable and that business as usual is no longer an option,” said Dr Kesete Admasu, CEO of the RBM Partnership. “The new country-led response will jumpstart aggressive new malaria control efforts in the highest burden countries and will be crucial to get back on track with fighting one of the most pressing health challenges we face.”

Targets set by the WHO Global technical strategy for malaria 2016–2030 to reduce malaria case incidence and death rates by at least 40% by 2020 are not on track to being met.

Pockets of progress

The report highlights some positive progress. The number of countries nearing elimination continues to grow (46 in 2017 compared to 37 in 2010). Meanwhile in China and El Salvador, where malaria had long been endemic, no local transmission of malaria was reported in 2017, proof that intensive, country-led control efforts can succeed in reducing the risk people face from the disease.

In 2018, WHO certified Paraguay as malaria free, the first country in the Americas to receive this status in 45 years. Three other countries – Algeria, Argentina and Uzbekistan – have requested official malaria-free certification from WHO.

India – a country that represents 4% of the global malaria burden – recorded a 24% reduction in cases in 2017 compared to 2016. Also in Rwanda, 436 000 fewer cases were recorded in 2017 compared to 2016. Ethiopia and Pakistan both reported marked decreases of more than
240 000 in the same period.

“When countries prioritize action on malaria, we see the results in lives saved and cases reduced,” says Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “WHO and global malaria control partners will continue striving to help governments, especially those with the highest burden, scale up the response to malaria.”

Domestic financing is key

As reductions in malaria cases and deaths slow, funding for the global response has also shown a levelling off, with US$ 3.1 billion made available for control and elimination programmes in 2017 including US$ 900 million (28%) from governments of malaria endemic countries.  The United States of America remains the largest single international donor, contributing US$ 1.2 billion (39%) in 2017.

To meet the 2030 targets of the global malaria strategy, malaria investments should reach at least US$6.6 billion annually by 2020 – more than double the amount available today.

Editors note

Download the WHO World malaria report 2018 app for an interactive experience with the report’s country data: App Store (iOS devices) | Google Play (Android devices).


WHO: 2018’s World Malaria Report at a Glance

WHO

This year’s World malaria report at a glance

19 November 2018

The WHO’s 11th World malaria report summarizes global progress in the fight against malaria up to the end of 2017. The 2017 report showed that progress against malaria has stalled in many countries, and that the world was unlikely to achieve the WHO Global technical strategy for malaria 2016–2030 (GTS) morbidity and mortality targets for 2020. One year on, the 2018 report describes progress since then, including efforts to intensify the response in the highest burden countries.

Global and regional malaria burden, in numbers

Malaria cases

In 2017, an estimated 219 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide (95% confidence interval [CI]: 203–262 million), compared with 239 million cases in 2010 (95% CI: 219–285 million) and 217 million cases in 2016 (95% CI: 200–259 million).

Although there were an estimated 20 million fewer malaria cases in 2017 than in 2010, data for the period 2015–2017 highlight that no significant progress in reducing global malaria cases was made in this timeframe.

Most malaria cases in 2017 were in the WHO African Region (200 million or 92%), followed by the WHO South-East Asia Region with 5% of the cases and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region with 2%.

Fifteen countries in sub-Saharan Africa and India carried almost 80% of the global malaria burden. Five countries accounted for nearly half of all malaria cases worldwide: Nigeria (25%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (11%), Mozambique (5%), India (4%) and Uganda (4%).

The 10 highest burden countries in Africa reported increases in cases of malaria in 2017 compared with 2016. Of these, Nigeria, Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had the highest estimated increases, all greater than half a million cases. In contrast, India reported 3 million fewer cases in the same period, a 24% decrease compared with 2016.

The incidence rate of malaria declined globally between 2010 and 2017, from 72 to 59 cases per 1000 population at risk. Although this represents an 18% reduction over the period, the number of cases per 1000 population at risk has stood at 59 for the past 3 years.

The WHO South-East Asia Region continued to see its incidence rate fall – from 17 cases of the disease per 1000 population at risk in 2010 to 7 in 2017 (a 59% decrease). All other WHO regions recorded either little progress or an increase in incidence rate. The WHO Region of the Americas recorded a rise, largely due to increases in malaria transmission in Brazil, Nicaragua and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of). In the WHO African Region, the malaria incidence rate remained at 219 cases per 1000 population at risk for the second year in a row.

Plasmodium falciparum is the most prevalent malaria parasite in the WHO African Region, accounting for 99.7% of estimated malaria cases in 2017, as well as in the WHO regions of South-East Asia (62.8%), the Eastern Mediterranean (69%) and the Western Pacific (71.9%). P. vivax is the predominant parasite in the WHO Region of the Americas, representing 74.1% of malaria cases.

Malaria deaths

In 2017, there were an estimated 435 000 deaths from malaria globally, compared with 451  000 estimated deaths in 2016, and 607 000 in 2010.

Children aged under 5 years are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria. In 2017, they accounted for 61% (266 000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.

The WHO African Region accounted for 93% of all malaria deaths in 2017. Although the WHO African Region was home to the highest number of malaria deaths in 2017, it also accounted for 88% of the 172 000 fewer global malaria deaths reported in 2017 compared with 2010.

Nearly 80% of global malaria deaths in 2017 were concentrated in 17 countries in the WHO African Region and India; 7 of these countries accounted for 53% of all global malaria deaths: Nigeria (19%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (11%), Burkina Faso (6%), United Republic of Tanzania (5%), Sierra Leone (4%), Niger (4%) and India (4%).

All WHO regions except the WHO Region of the Americas recorded reductions in mortality in 2017 compared with 2010. The largest declines occurred in the WHO regions of South- East Asia (54%), Africa (40%) and the Eastern Mediterranean (10%). Despite these gains, the malaria mortality reduction rate has also slowed since 2015, reflecting the estimated trends in malaria case incidence.

Malaria-related anaemia

This year’s report includes a section on malaria-related anaemia, a condition that, left untreated, can result in death, especially among vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children aged under 5 years.

Anaemia was once a key indicator of progress in malaria control, and its prevalence was used to evaluate the efficacy of interventions. Recent years have seen a decline in awareness of the burden of malaria-associated anaemia

Despite its importance as a direct and indirect consequence of malaria, the prevalence of anaemia among populations vulnerable to the disease has not been reported consistently as a metric of malaria transmission and burden.

Data from household surveys conducted in 16 high-burden African countries between 2015 and 2017 show that, among children aged under 5 years, the prevalence of any anaemia was 61%, mild anaemia 25%, moderate anaemia 33% and severe anaemia 3%. Of children who tested positive for malaria, the prevalence of any anaemia was 79%, mild anaemia 21%, moderate anaemia 50% and severe anaemia 8%.


Investments in malaria programmes and research

Malaria control and elimination investments

In 2017, an estimated US$ 3.1 billion was invested in malaria control and elimination efforts globally by governments of malaria endemic countries and international partners – an amount slighter higher than the figure reported for 2016.

Nearly three quarters (US$ 2.2 billion) of investments in 2017 were spent in the WHO African Region, followed by the WHO regions of South-East Asia (US$ 300 million), the Americas (US$ 200 million), and the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Pacific (US$ 100 million each).

In 2017, US$ 1.4 billion was invested in low-income countries, US$ 1.2 billion in lower-middle income countries and US$ 300 million in upper-middle-income countries. International funding represented the major source of funding in low-income and lower-middle-income countries, at 87% and 70%, respectively.

Governments of endemic countries contributed 28% of total funding (US$ 900 million) in 2017, a figure unchanged from 2016. Two thirds of domestically sourced funds were invested in malaria control activities carried out by national malaria programmes (NMPs), with the remaining share estimated as the cost of patient care.

As in previous years, the United States of America (USA) was the largest international source of malaria financing, providing US$ 1.2 billion (39%) in 2017. Country members of the Development Assistance Committee together accounted for US$ 700 million (21%). The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland contributed around US$ 300 million (9%) while the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided US$ 100 million (2%).

Of the US$ 3.1 billion invested in 2017, US$ 1.3 billion was channelled through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Investment outlook

Although funding for malaria has remained relatively stable since 2010, the level of investment in 2017 is far from what is required to reach the first 2 milestones of the GTS; that is, a reduction of at least 40% in malaria case incidence and mortality rates globally by 2020, compared with 2015 levels.

To reach the GTS 2030 targets, it is estimated that annual malaria funding will need to increase to at least US$ 6.6 billion per year by 2020.

Stepping up investments in malaria research and development is key to achieving the GTS targets. In 2016, US$ 588 million was spent in this area, representing 85% of the estimated annual need for research and development.

Although research and development funding for malaria vaccines and drugs declined in 2016 compared with 2015, investments in vector control products almost doubled, from US$ 33 million to US$ 61 million.

Deliveries of malaria commodities

Insecticide-treated mosquito nets

Between 2015 and 2017, a total of 624 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs), mainly long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), were reported by manufacturers as having been delivered globally. This represents a substantial increase over the previous period 2012–2014, when 465 million ITNs were delivered globally.

An estimated 552 million ITNs were distributed by NMPs globally, with most (459 million or 83%) being delivered in sub-Saharan Africa over the period 2015–2017.

Globally, 85% of ITNs were distributed through free mass distribution campaigns, 8% in antenatal care facilities and 4% as part of immunization programmes.

Rapid diagnostic tests

An estimated 276 million rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) were sold globally in 2017.

In 2017, 245 million RDTs were distributed by NMPs. Most RDTs (66%) were tests that detected P. falciparum only and were supplied to sub-Saharan Africa.

In sub-Saharan Africa, RDTs are becoming increasingly the most used method to test for malaria diagnosis among suspected malaria patients in public health facilities. In 2017, an estimated 75% of malaria tests were conducted using RDTs, up from 40% in 2010.

Artemisinin-based combination therapy

An estimated 2.74 billion treatment courses of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) were procured by countries over the period 2010–2017. An estimated 62% of these procurements were reported to have been made for the public sector.

During the period 2010–2017, 1.45 billion ACT treatment courses were delivered by NMPs, of which 1.42 billion (98%) were in the WHO African Region.

With increases in diagnostic testing in recent years, ACT treatment courses are becoming more targeted towards patients who tested positive for malaria. This is demonstrated by a substantially reduced ratio of ACTs to tests (0.8 in 2017 compared with 2.5 in 2010). Nevertheless, this implies that an estimated 30% of patients who received ACTs were not tested for malaria.


Preventing malaria

Vector control

Half of people at risk of malaria in Africa are sleeping under an ITN: in 2017, 50% of the population was protected by this intervention, an increase from 29% in 2010. Furthermore, the percentage of the population with access to an ITN increased from 33% in 2010 to 56% in 2017. However, coverage has improved only marginally since 2015 and has been at a standstill since 2016.

Households with at least 1 ITN for every 2 people doubled to 40% between 2010 and 2017. However, this figure represents only a modest increase over the past 3 years, and remains far from the target of universal coverage.

Fewer people at risk of malaria are being protected by indoor residual spraying (IRS), a prevention method that involves spraying the inside walls of dwellings with insecticides. Globally, IRS protection declined from a peak of 5% in 2010 to 3% in 2017, with decreases seen across all WHO regions.

In the WHO African Region, IRS coverage dropped from 80 million people at risk in 2010, to a low point of 51 million in 2016 before rising to 64 million in 2017. In other WHO regions, the number of people protected with IRS in 2017 was 1.5 million in the Americas, 7.5 million in the Eastern Mediterranean, 41 million in South-East Asia, and 1.5 million in the Western Pacific.

The declines in IRS coverage are occurring as countries change or rotate insecticides (changing to more expensive chemicals), and as operational strategies change (e.g. decreasing at-risk populations in malaria elimination countries).

Preventive therapies

To protect women in areas of moderate and high malaria transmission in Africa, WHO recommends “intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy” (IPTp) with the antimalarial drug sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. Among 33 African countries that reported on IPTp coverage levels in 2017, an estimated 22% of eligible pregnant women received the recommended 3 or more doses of IPTp, compared with 17% in 2015 and 0% in 2010.

In 2017, 15.7 million children in 12 countries in Africa’s Sahel subregion were protected through seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) programmes. However, about 13.6 million children who could have benefited from this intervention were not covered, mainly due to a lack of funding.


Diagnostic testing and treatment

Accessing care

Prompt diagnosis and treatment is the most effective way to prevent a mild case of malaria from developing into severe disease and death. Based on national household surveys completed in 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa between 2015 and 2017, a median of 52% (interquartile range [IQR]: 44–62%) of children with a fever (febrile) were taken to a trained medical provider for care. This includes public sector hospitals and clinics, formal private sector health facilities and community health workers.

Although more febrile children were brought for care in the public health sector (median: 36%, IQR: 30–46%) than in the formal medical private sector (median: 8%, IQR: 5–10%), a high proportion of febrile children did not receive any medical attention (median: 40%, IQR: 28–45%). Poor access to health care providers or lack of awareness of malaria symptoms among caregivers are among the contributing factors.

The national surveys reveal disparities in access to health care based on household income and location: the percentage of febrile children brought for care was higher in wealthier households (median: 72%, IQR: 62–75%) compared with poorer households (median: 58%, IQR: 47–67%), and was higher among those living in urban areas (median: 69%, IQR: 59–76%) compared with rural areas (median: 60%, IQR: 51–71%).

Diagnosing malaria

According to 58 surveys conducted in 30 sub-Saharan African countries between 2010 and 2017, the percentage of children with a fever that received a diagnostic test in the public health sector has increased, hitting a median of 59% (IQR: 34–75%) over the period 2015– 2017, up from a median of 33% (IQR:18–44%) for 2010–2012.

Data collected from 56 surveys carried out in sub-Saharan Africa reveal that the percentage of febrile children attending public health facilities who received a malaria diagnostic test before antimalarial treatment has gone up from a median of 35% (IQR: 27–56%) in 2010–2012 to 74% (IQR: 51–81%) in 2015–2017. A similar increase has been recorded in the formal private health sector, from 41% (IQR: 17–67%) in 2010–2012 to 63% (IQR: 41–83%) in 2015–2017.

Treating malaria

Based on 19 household surveys conducted in sub-Saharan Africa between 2015 and 2017, the percentage of children aged under 5 years with a fever who received any antimalarial drug was 29% (IQR: 15–48%).

Children are more likely to be given ACTs – the most effective antimalarial drugs – if medical care is sought in the public sector compared with the private sector. Data from 18 national surveys conducted in sub-Saharan Africa show that for the period 2015–2017, an estimated 88% (IQR: 73–92%) of febrile children brought for treatment for malaria in the public health sector received ACTs, compared with 74% (IQR: 47–88%) in the formal medical private sector.

To bridge the treatment gap among children, WHO recommends the uptake of integrated community case management (iCCM). This approach promotes integrated management of common life-threatening conditions in children – malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea – at health facility and community levels. In 2017, of 21 African countries with high malaria burden, 20 had iCCM policies in place, of which 12 had started implementing those policies.


Malaria surveillance systems

Effective surveillance of malaria cases and deaths is essential for identifying the areas or population groups that are most affected by malaria, and for targeting resources for maximum impact. A strong surveillance system requires high levels of access to care and case detection, and complete reporting of health information by all sectors, whether public or private.

In 2017, among 52 moderate to high-burden countries, reporting rates of malaria were 60% or more. In the WHO African Region, 36 out of 46 countries indicated that at least 80% of public health facilities had reported data on malaria through their national health information system.


Malaria elimination

Globally, the elimination net is widening, with more countries moving towards zero indigenous cases: in 2017, 46 countries reported fewer than 10 000 such cases, up from 44 countries in 2016 and 37 countries in 2010. The number of countries with less than 100 indigenous cases – a strong indicator that elimination is within reach – increased from 15 countries in 2010 to 24 countries in 2016 and 26 countries in 2017.

Paraguay was certified by WHO as malaria free in 2018, while Algeria, Argentina and Uzbekistan have made formal requests to WHO for certification. In 2017, China and El Salvador reported zero indigenous cases.

One of the key GTS milestones for 2020 is elimination of malaria in at least 10 countries that were malaria endemic in 2015. At the current rate of progress, it is likely that this milestone will be reached.

In 2016, WHO identified 21 countries with the potential to eliminate malaria by the year 2020. WHO is working with the governments in these countries – known as “E-2020 countries” – to support their elimination acceleration goals.

Although 11 E-2020 countries remain on track to achieve their elimination goals, 10 have reported increases in indigenous malaria cases in 2017 compared with 2016.


Challenges in getting the malaria response back on track

The challenges facing the global malaria response are many, and as highlighted in this year’s report, immediate barriers to achieving the fast-approaching GTS milestones for 2020 and 2025 are malaria’s continued rise in countries with the highest burden of the disease and inadequate international and domestic funding. At the same time, the continued emergence of parasite resistance to antimalarial medicines and mosquito resistance to insecticides pose threats to progress.

High-burden countries

In 2017, 11 countries accounted for approximately 70% of estimated malaria cases and deaths globally: 10 in sub-Saharan Africa and India. Among these countries, only India reported progress in reducing its malaria cases in 2017 compared to 2016.

To get the global malaria response back on track, a new country-driven approach – “High burden to high impact” – will be launched in Mozambique on 19 November 2018, alongside the release of the World malaria report 2018.

Catalyzed by WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, the approach is founded upon 4 pillars: galvanize national and global political attention to reduce malaria deaths; drive impact in country through the strategic use of information; establish best global guidance, policies and strategies suitable for all malaria endemic countries; and implement a coordinated country response.

Funding

In 24 out of 41 high-burden countries, which rely mainly on external funding for malaria programmes, the average level of funding available per person at risk declined in 2015–2017 compared to 2012–2014. This ranged from a 95% reduction in the Congo (highest) to a 1% decrease in Uganda (lowest) over the time points compared.

In the countries that experienced a 20% or more decrease in total funding per person at risk, international financing declined, at times combined with lower domestic investments.

Among the 41 high-burden countries, overall, funding per person at risk of malaria stood at US$ 2.32.

Drug resistance

ACTs have been integral to the recent success of global malaria control, and protecting their efficacy for the treatment of malaria is a global health priority.

Most studies conducted between 2010 and 2017 show that ACTs remain effective, with overall efficacy rates greater than 95% outside the Greater Mekong subregion (GMS). In Africa, artemisinin (partial) resistance has not been reported to date.

Although multidrug resistance, including artemisinin (partial) resistance and partner drug resistance, has been reported in 4 GMS countries, there has been a massive reduction in malaria cases and deaths in this subregion. Monitoring the efficacy of antimalarial drugs has resulted in prompt updating of malaria treatment policies in most GMS countries.

Insecticide resistance

The recently released WHO Global report on insecticide resistance in malaria vectors: 2010– 2016 showed that resistance to the four commonly used insecticide classes – pyrethroids, organochlorines, carbamates and organophosphates – is widespread in all major malaria vectors across the WHO regions of Africa, the Americas, South-East Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Pacific.

Of the 80 malaria endemic countries that provided data for 2010–2017, resistance to at least 1 of the 4 insecticide classes in 1 malaria vector from 1 collection site was detected in 68 countries, an increase over 2016 due to improved reporting and 3 new countries reporting on resistance for the first time. In 57 countries, resistance to 2 or more insecticide classes was reported.

Resistance to pyrethroids – the only insecticide class currently used in ITNs – is widespread and was detected in at least 1 malaria vector in more than two thirds of the sites tested and was highest in the WHO regions of Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Resistance to organochlorines was detected for at least 1 malaria vector in almost two thirds of the sites and was highest in the WHO South-East Asia Region. Resistance to carbamates and organophosphates was less prevalent and was detected in 33% and 27% of the tested sites, respectively. Prevalence was highest for carbamates in the WHO South-East Asia Region and for organophosphates in the WHO Western Pacific Region.

In view of the current situation, resistance monitoring and management plans are essential, in line with the WHO Global plan for insecticide resistance management in malaria vectors. To date, 40 countries have completed these plans.

ITNs continue to be an effective tool for malaria prevention, even in areas where mosquitoes have developed resistance to pyrethroids. This was evidenced in a large multicountry evaluation coordinated by WHO between 2011 and 2016 across study locations in 5 countries.

 


Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, the WHO’s director-general: “Nobody should die from malaria.”

CIDRAP

  • Last year, about 70% of malaria cases and deaths were concentrated in 11 countries:  Ten are in Africa (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, and Tanzania), and the other is India.
  • The 10 African nations had 3.5 million more malaria infections than in 2016
  • India showed progress in reducing its disease burden.
  • Possible reasons for the increase in vulnerable countries:  Major coverage gaps in use of insecticide-treated bed nets and other tools for preventing the mosquito-borne disease.
  • WHO estimated that for 2017, half of Africa’s at-risk populations did not sleep under a treated bed net.  Fewer homes in the region were protected by indoor residual spraying and that use of therapies for protecting pregnant women and children from malaria was still too low.
  • Funding for the global response has leveled off. For 2017, there was $3.1 billion for malaria control and elimination programs, 28% of it from the governments of malaria-endemic countries.
  • The United States was still the single largest international donor, contributing $1.2 billion (39%) toward malaria efforts in 2017.
  • At least $6.6 billion annually by 2020 is needed, which the WHO said is more than double the amount currently available.

Glimmers of progress elsewhere

  • More countries are nearing malaria elimination. There were 46 in 2017, compared with 37 in 2010.
  • China and El Salvador, two malaria-endemic countries, reported no local transmission in 2017
  • This year, the WHO certified Paraguay as malaria-free, the first Americas country to achieve the status in 45 years.
  • The WHO said three other countries have requested WHO malaria-free certification: Algeria, Argentina, and Uzbekistan.
  • India reported a 24% reduction in cases for 2017 compared with the previous year.
  • Other nations reporting declines in cases last year included Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Pakistan.

 


WHO is releasing more than a million doses of yellow fever vaccine from its emergency stockpile after the deadly mosquito-borne disease killed 10 people in southwestern Ethiopia

Reuters

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86w2i9b2Bf4

 


Cholera in Somalia: The cumulative total of cases is 6394, including 42 associated deaths (case-fatality rate 0.7%) since the beginning of the current outbreak in December 2017

WHO

Outbreak update – Cholera in Somalia, 4 October 2018

04 October 2018 – The Ministry of Health of Somalia has announced 30 new cases of cholera and no deaths for week 38 (17 to 23 September) of 2018. Since week 28, there has been a decreasing trend in the number of cholera cases reported. The cumulative total of cases is 6394, including 42 associated deaths (case-fatality rate 0.7%) since the beginning of the current outbreak in December 2017. Of 276 stool samples collected since the beginning of this year and tested in the National Public Heatlh Laboratory in Mogadishu, 80 tested positive for Vibrio cholerae, serotype O1 Ogawa.
The cholera outbreak started in December 2017 in Beletweyne along river Shabelle and has spread to Jowhar, Kismayo, Afgoye Merka and Banadir. Over the past five weeks, there has been a decrease in the number of cases reported in Banadir and Lower Jubba, while during week 38 active transmission was reported in Kismayo district of Lower Jubba, and 7 districts of Banadir region (Darkenly, Daynile, Hodan, Madina, Waberi, Hamarjabjab, and Heliwa districts).
During week 38, Banadir accounted for 90% (27) of the newly reported cases. Banadir also has the highest concentration of IDPs living with limited safe water and sanitation. Among the new cases, 44% are children below 5 years old. The oral cholera vaccination campaign that was implemented in 11 high risk districts in 2017 and 2018 across Somalia has greatly contributed to the reduction in the number of new cholera cases compared to the same period in 2017. All cases reported for week 38 had not received vaccination before.
WHO provides leadership and support for activities with the Ministry of Health (MoH) to respond to this outbreak. Coordination meetings were held in the flood-affected districts with MoHs at Federal and State levels including Health Cluster partners for effective collaboration on the outbreak response.
WHO has continued to support clinical care delivery, including building capacity for health care workers. On-the-job trainings on case management were conducted at cholera treatment centers (CTCs) in Kismayo, Farjano, Banadir and Marka. Disease surveillance data was collected through the early warning alert and response network (EWARN) with support from WHO, contributing to early detection of new cases and a prompt response to outbreaks.
WHO worked with WASH cluster partners on chlorination of water sources in cholera-affected areas, including Hnati-wadaaq, Bulo-sheikh, Allenley and Fanole, to ensure safe water in the communities.  1500 hygiene kits were distributed in villages in Kismayo, and hygiene promotion for cholera prevention and control is on-going in Farjano, Allanley, Gulwada, Shaqalaha and Kismayo district.

WHO: Prioritizing Emerging Infectious Diseases in Need of Research and Development

The World Health Organization R&D Blueprint aims to accelerate the availability of medical technologies during epidemics by focusing on a list of prioritized emerging diseases for which medical countermeasures are insufficient or nonexistent. The prioritization process has 3 components: a Delphi process to narrow down a list of potential priority diseases, a multicriteria decision analysis to rank the short list of diseases, and a final Delphi round to arrive at a final list of 10 diseases.

A group of international experts applied this process in January 2017, resulting in a list of 10 priority diseases. The robustness of the list was tested by performing a sensitivity analysis. The new process corrected major shortcomings in the pre–R&D Blueprint approach to disease prioritization and increased confidence in the results.

Multicriteria scores of diseases considered in the 2017 prioritization exercise for the development of the World Health Organization R&D Blueprint to prioritize emerging infectious diseases in need of research and development. A) Disease final ranking using the geometric average of the comparison matrices. B) Disease final ranking using the arithmetic average of the raw data. Error bars correspond to SD, indicating disagreement among experts. C) Disease final ranking using the SMART Vaccines

Multicriteria scores of diseases considered in the 2017 prioritization exercise for the development of the World Health Organization R&D Blueprint to prioritize emerging infectious diseases in need of research and development. A) Disease final ranking using the geometric average of the comparison matrices. B) Disease final ranking using the arithmetic average of the raw data. Error bars correspond to SD, indicating disagreement among experts. C) Disease final ranking using the SMART Vaccines prioritization tool (56). P1, Ebola virus infection; P2, Marburg virus infection; P3, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus infection; P4, severe acute respiratory syndrome; P5, Lassa virus infection; P6, Nipah virus infection; P7, Rift Valley fever; P8, Zika virus infection; P9, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever; P10, severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome; P11, South American hemorrhagic fever; P12, plague; P13, hantavirus infection.

Si Mehand M, Millett P, Al-Shorbaji F, Roth C, Kieny MP, Murgue B. World Health Organization methodology to prioritize emerging infectious diseases in need of research and development. Emerg Infect Dis. 2018 Sep [date cited]. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2409.171427


WHO: Cholera and Conflict

WHO

Crisis-driven cholera resurgence switches focus to oral vaccine

Oral rehydration was once the mainstay of treatment for cholera, but today’s cholera outbreaks fuelled by conflict and instability require a new approach. Sophie Cousins reports.

Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2018;96:446-447. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2471/BLT.18.020718

Residents queue up to receive the oral cholera vaccine in he city of Nampula in Mozambique during the vaccination campaign in 2016.

WHO/L. Pezzoli

On a hot, humid afternoon at the world’s largest diarrhoeal disease hospital, dozens of patients are filing in, many being carried in the arms of loved ones, frail and barely alive.

Inside the Cholera Hospital – as it is commonly known – in Dhaka, at the icddr,b (formerly the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh or ICDDR, B), hundreds of patients receive rehydration treatment.

Up to 1000 patients can be admitted each day at this time of the year, as the rains peak and temperatures soar. Outside the hospital, the ward has extended into circus-size tents in the car park. Most patients recover quickly and go home within 24 hours.

“We don’t say no to anyone and we don’t charge anyone,” says Dr Azharul Islam Khan, who is the chief physician and head of hospitals at the icddr,b.

The bacterium Vibrio cholerae has wreaked havoc for hundreds of years. Originating in the Ganges delta in India, the first recorded cholera epidemic started in 1817 and travelled along trade routes through Asia and to the shores of the Caspian and Mediterranean seas. Since then, regular outbreaks across the world have killed millions of people.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with Vibrio cholerae. If left untreated, the infection can kill within hours. Each year between 1.3 to 4 million cases, and up to 143 000 deaths are reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). But the true burden of cholera is unknown.

“Reporting of cholera is not reliable. The number of cholera cases reported to us is considered to be the tip of the iceberg,” says Dr Dominique Legros, from WHO’s health emergencies programme.

There are many reasons for this, he says. For one, it’s difficult to confirm cases in large outbreaks where diagnostic capacity is limited. Second, the symptoms of less severe cholera are similar to those of other diarrhoeal diseases. Third, some countries may be reluctant to report cases of cholera for fear this will affect trade or tourism, Legros adds.

Bangladesh, an impoverished country of 162 million people, where cholera is endemic, has been at the forefront of the global fight against this ancient disease.

In the past 30 years, oral rehydration solution (ORS) – a mixture of salt, sugar and clean water – has saved an estimated 50 million lives worldwide, particularly those of children who are most vulnerable to diarrhoea-related dehydration.

The simple and inexpensive mixture was first formulated to treat cholera by researchers at the icddr,b in Dhaka and their colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Center for Medical Research and Training in Kolkata, India in the late 1960s.

“ORS is the mainstay in the prevention of dehydration,” Khan says. “Bangladesh has come a long way in terms of promoting ORS and raising awareness about how to treat cholera.”

ORS has helped Bangladesh to make huge strides in improving child health in recent decades. From 1988 to 1993, diarrhoea was the cause of almost one in five deaths among children under the age of five years. Between 2007 and 2011, only 2% of these deaths were related to diarrhoea, according to the Bangladesh Demographic and health survey 2011.

Today the United Nations Children’s Fund distributes around 500 million ORS sachets a year in 60 low and middle-income countries at a cost of around US$ 0.10 each.

Yet, while ORS has saved millions of lives, cholera shows no sign of waning, even in the region where it originated. Cholera still persists for very simple reasons: a lack of access to safe water, and poor sanitation and hygiene.

For Munirul Alam, senior scientist at the Infectious Diseases Division at the icddr,b, people living in conditions of overcrowding, poor hygiene and lack of access to safe water risk contracting cholera.

Around the world, as wars, humanitarian crises and natural disasters, such as flooding and droughts, uproot millions of people, destroy basic services and health-care facilities, cholera is surging.

Cholera broke out in conflict-torn Yemen almost two years ago. It has since claimed almost 2500 lives and infected about a million people in the country of 30 million. In Nigeria, three cholera outbreaks have already been declared this year in the country’s north-east, where millions have been displaced by conflict.

If ORS is so effective in preventing death, why are people still dying of cholera? “It’s the problem of access to care,” Legros says. “Cholera starts as acute diarrhoea and can quickly become extremely severe.”

“In emergency situations, where hospitals have been destroyed, are inaccessible or lack the basic resources, people with severe dehydration do not always receive intravenous rehydration treatment that they need.”

Severely dehydrated people need the rapid administration of intravenous fluids plus ORS during treatment, along with appropriate antibiotics to reduce the duration of diarrhoea and reduce the V. cholerae in their stool.

In Yemen, Dr Nahla Arishi, paediatric co-ordinator at Alsadaqah Hospital in Aden, a port city in the south of the country, is treating up to 300 cholera cases a day.

Last year the Yemeni paediatrician travelled to Dhaka’s icddr,b to participate in a week-long training on cholera and malnutrition case management and take back the skills and knowledge to her country.

Arishi, one of a team of 20 doctors and nurses from Yemen, learnt about the assessment of dehydration, food preparation, severe acute malnutrition and observed how the Cholera Hospital manages patients.

“They will be acting as good master trainers,” Khan says, adding that the icddr,b regularly deploys its experts to assist WHO and governments with the response to diarrhoeal diseases in emergencies.

While Arishi brought knowledge home with her, there are limits in applying these lessons. Battling cholera in Yemen is extremely challenging and the situation differs from that in Bangladesh.

Alsadaqah Hospital has ORS and intravenous fluids but the provision of these simple services is constantly disrupted – disruptions that can mean a matter of life and death, she says. “Electricity is on and off and is worse in summer, [it’s the] same with water [supplies].”

In emergencies such the one in Yemen, the oral cholera vaccine is playing an increasingly important role.

Currently there are three WHO pre-qualified oral cholera vaccines, two of which are used in areas experiencing outbreaks. They require two doses at least 14 days apart and can provide protection for up to five years.

In the last five years the use of these vaccines has increased exponentially, Legros says. The reason being that the vaccine is available, easy to use, well tolerated and addresses “a disease which people fear a lot.” “If you come with a vaccine, people will take it,” he says.

Rohingas in Cox Bazaar in south eastern Bangladesh receive the oral cholera vaccine in 2017.

WHO/W. Owens

In 2013, WHO established a stockpile of two million doses of oral vaccine financed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to respond to cholera outbreaks and to reduce the risk of outbreaks in humanitarian crises.

These settings include refugee camps, such as those for the Rohingyas in south-eastern Bangladesh, where two vaccination campaigns were completed between October and November 2017 and in May of this year.

The oral cholera vaccine has also been deployed in outbreaks in Haiti, Iraq and South Sudan, and recently in Malawi and Uganda.

“We’ve just started using the vaccine as a first stop for sustainable cholera control, followed up with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions,” Legros says, referring to WASH measures that include improved water supply and sanitation, provision of safe drinking water and handwashing with soap.

But, Firdausi Qadri, a vaccine scientist and acting senior director of icddr,b’s Infectious Diseases Division, warns there aren’t enough vaccines stockpiled.

Last year an ambitious strategy to reduce cholera deaths by 90% by 2030 was launched by the Global Task Force on Cholera Control, a partnership of more than 30 health and development organizations including WHO, established in 2011.

According to Ending cholera: a global roadmap to 2030, which targets 47 countries, prevention and control can be achieved by taking a multisectoral approach and by combining the use of oral cholera vaccines with basic water, sanitation and hygiene services in addition to strengthening health-care systems and surveillance and reporting.

The roadmap also calls for a focus on cholera “hotspots,” places that are most affected by cholera – like the high risk areas in Bangladesh – that play an important role in the spread of cholera to other regions.

Bangladesh now has plans for a more systematic prevention and control of cholera, in line with the global strategy. To boost oral cholera vaccine supplies in the country, a local company is producing a vaccine, via technology transfer from India, and this could result in up to 50 million doses a year for the country, Qadri says.

But she recognizes that greater reliance on the vaccine will come at the expense of investing in water and sanitation hygiene services.

“Water, sanitation and hygiene interventions are what we need,” she says. “We have to change the whole environment and we have to educate people.”

Dr Khairul Islam, country director of WaterAid Bangladesh, agrees.

“No one would disagree that water, sanitation and hygiene interventions are ultimately the best way to prevent cholera and other water-borne gastrointestinal diseases,” he says.


WHO’s latest research: Heat-stable carbetocin is as safe and effective as oxytocin in preventing postpartum haemorrhage.

WHO

WHO study shows drug could save thousands of women’s lives

27 June 2018

News Release
Geneva
A new formulation of a drug to prevent excessive bleeding following childbirth could save thousands of women’s lives in low- and lower-middle-income countries, according to a study led by the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with MSD for Mothers and Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
Currently WHO recommends oxytocin as the first-choice drug for preventing excessive bleeding after childbirth. Oxytocin, however, must be stored and transported at 2–8 degrees Celsius, which is hard to do, in many countries, depriving many women of access to this lifesaving drug. When they can obtain it, the drug may be less effective because of heat exposure.

The study, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, has shown an alternative drug – heat-stable carbetocin – to be as safe and effective as oxytocin in preventing postpartum haemorrhage. This new formulation of carbetocin does not require refrigeration and retains its efficacy for at least 3 years stored at 30 degrees celsius and 75% relative humidity.

“This is a truly encouraging new development that can revolutionize our ability to keep mothers and babies alive,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.

Approximately 70 000 women die every year because of post-partum haemorrhage – increasing the risk that their babies also die within one month.

The clinical trial, the largest of its kind, studied close to 30 000 women who gave birth vaginally in 10 countries: Argentina, Egypt, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda and the United Kingdom.

Each woman was randomly given a single injection of either heat-stable carbetocin or oxytocin immediately following the birth of her baby. The study found that both drugs were equally effective at preventing excessive bleeding after birth.

Since both drugs in the study were kept in at the temperatures required to ensure maximum efficacy of oxytocin, the trial may underestimate the benefit expected with heat-stable carbetocin use in real-life settings where oxytocin may have degraded due to exposure to higher temperatures.

“The development of a drug to prevent postpartum haemorrhage that continues to remain effective in hot and humid conditions is very good news for the millions of women who give birth in parts of the world without access to reliable refrigeration,” says Dr Metin Gülmezoglu, from the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at WHO.

The next step is regulatory review and approval by countries.

WHO will ask its Guideline Development Group to consider whether heat-stable carbetocin should be a recommended drug for the prevention of postpartum haemorrhage.

About the study

This WHO study, also referred to as the CHAMPION (Carbetocin HAeMorrhage PreventION) trial, was funded by MSD for Mothers. Heat-stable carbetocin was provided by Ferring Pharmaceuticals, the product innovator and oxytocin was provided by Novartis for the study. The study was conducted under a collaborative arrangement between WHO, MSD for Mothers and Ferring Pharmaceuticals. Following the positive results from the trial, the parties will now work to advance affordable access to this lifesaving drug in countries that have a high burden of maternal deaths.

WHO: Ebola outbreak in Congo is stabilizing

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