After Ebola, world still unprepared for global pandemic: MSF

REUTERS by Maria Caspani                                                                                                June 4, 2015                     

NEW YORK -- The global health system is unable to handle another mass epidemic like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Médecins Sans Frontières said, urging wealthy nations to develop coordinated response plans and drugs to fight neglected diseases.

Late and slow international response, the absence of solid leadership as well as the lack of treatments and vaccines are a recurrent scenario in many of today's health emergencies and are not unique to the Ebola epidemic, the medical charity said.

"If a global pandemic were to strike tomorrow, there is still no well-resourced, coordinated international response in place to kick in," Joanne Liu, the international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said in a statement on Wednesday.

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MERS Is Going to Spread in South Korea, the WHO Says


There are now 30 confirmed MERS cases in the country - by Helen Regan - June 3, 2015

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that South Korea could expect further cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, USA Today reports.

The disease has killed two people since the first case was confirmed on May 20.

According to Reuters, South Korea’s health ministry confirmed five new cases of the virus Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 30—the largest outbreak outside of Saudi Arabia.



WHO - Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the Republic of Korea

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Zoloft Could Be a Treatment for Ebola Virus

Researchers have identified two FDA-approved drugs that may be effective against the Ebola virus. This could shorten the time for developing new treatments.

HEALTHLINE NEWS  by  Shawn Radcliffe                                                         June 3, 2015

With a fast-moving epidemic like Ebola, doctors need to make use of every tool at their disposal. This includes giving a second life to already-approved drugs....

One research team is hoping to ease the epidemic by shortening the lengthy drug development process.

Their approach? Sifting through hundreds of existing drugs and other compounds for ones that might work against the Ebola virus....

Additional screening narrowed the list down to two potential drug candidates: Bepridil, a calcium channel blocker used to treat heart disease, and sertraline, an antidepressant more commonly known as Zoloft.

Both drugs are already approved by the FDA, although not for use against the Ebola virus.

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Ebola outbreak thrusts MSF into new roles

 Relief agency sees its mission expanding after leading response to West Africa epidemic.

NATURE by  Erika Check Hayden                          June 3, 2015

GENEVA -- Joanne Liu, president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), is not overly concerned with diplomacy. Participating in a panel in Geneva, Switzerland, on 20 May with officials from the United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO), Liberia and Sierra Leone, she propped her head on her hand, stared into space and rolled her eyes during another speaker’s remarks. When she spoke, she excoriated the world for leaving West Africa vulnerable to the largest Ebola epidemic in history. “We’re failing, guys,” she said.

Joanne Liu visiting an MSF trauma centre in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

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Chikungunya is On the Move

                                                        (CLICK ON MAP IMAGE TO ENLARGE)


GETTING AROUND  The chikungunya virus spreads via mosquitoes in tropical regions. Now it has found a way to hijack a second mosquito, posing a threat to people in Europe, North America and China. - by Nathan Seppa - June 2, 2015

A crippling virus has slipped its bonds in Africa and Asia and is invading whole new continents faster than people canlearn to pronounce its name. In one decade, chikungunya (chihk-uhn-GUHN-yuh) fever has gone from an obscure tropical ailment to an international threat, causing more than 3 million infections worldwide. The virus has established itself in Latin America and may now have the wherewithal to inflict its particular brand of misery in cooler climates.


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Sierra Leone: Health Ministry Official Admits Early Wrong Ebola Methods

CONCORD TIMES  by Samuel Ben Turay                                                                   June 2, 2015

FREETOWN -- Programme Manager, Public Health Division, in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Mr. Lansana Conteh, has admitted that the public was given wrong methods to stop the spread of the Ebola virus, during the early days of the outbreak.

Conteh said that because the Ebola virus was new in the country they lacked ideas as to how to control its spread after it was first confirmed in Kailahun, eastern Sierra Leone.

He said the ministry got it wrong in many respect, including the method of recruiting burial team members, how to bury the dead, training of staff, involvement of community leaders, and the media, adding that the ministry lacked experts who knew about the disease in the early days.

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Scientists Release Ebola Sequencing Data to Global Research Community Online

BUSINESS WIRE                                                                       June 3, 2015
CARLSBAD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A team of scientists that is part of an international, multi-organizational effort to curb further spread of deadly Ebola in Sierra Leone has released their first dataset of the virus’ genetic structure online.

The genetic analysis is now on virological.organd available for the global scientific community to monitor the pathogen’s evolution in real-time and conduct research that can lead to more effective strategies against further outbreaks.

The team of British scientists, funded by the Wellcome Trust, is using semi-conductor next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology to generate data in a lab facilitated by Public Health England and International Medical Corps.

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New Thinking on Countering Outbreaks


If Ebola has taught us anything, it is that there is room for innovation in the way we respond to outbreaks. - by Paul G. Allen - April 30, 2015

It has been more than a year since we began tackling this latest epidemic and, while significant progress has been made, there are still challenges to be overcome and gaps to be filled. . . .

. . . Just last week, I partnered with Skoll Global Threats Fund and USAID to host the Ebola Innovation Summit — an interactive event, designed to bring new tools, people, ways of thinking and ultimately innovations to the forefront.

The event drew a diverse group of people from around the world — from the tech and private sectors to nonprofits, government and academia. The collective commitment of this group is a great example for how we should collaborate to tackle global problems like Ebola.

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Ban to convene international Ebola recovery conference in New York

UN NEWS CENTRE                                                                                June 2, 2015

To help mobilize needed resources “in the last mile of the response” against the Ebola outbreak and to start the affected West African countries on the path of early recovery, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced that he will convene an international conference next month.
In Sierra Leone, local health workers plan for the day ahead, as they continue their vigilance against Ebola. Photo: WHO/S. Aranda

“All of your investments, all of the sacrifices and lives lost, and all of the risks that the relief workers took would be squandered if the outbreak recurs,” Mr. Ban cautioned in his remarks to an informal plenary of the UN General Assembly on the Organization’s Ebola response efforts.

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UNMission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) External Situation Report 1 June 2015

UNMission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) External Situation Report  June 1,2015
Further preparedness measures taking place in Guinea Bissau, following newly confirmed Ebola
cases in adjacent border areas of Guinea
Response efforts continue in Boké prefecture, as preparations for the forthcoming sensitisation and
early Ebola case search campaign progress in Dubréka.
UNMEER Comment: In Kamsar (Boké prefecture, Guinea)...: the number of burial teams may still
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Mining Ebola tweets yields valuable outbreak information

MEDICAL NEWS TODAY                                                    June 2, 2015
(Scroll down for study.)
Last year, in the 3 days before the outbreak was officially announced, over 60 million people received tweets about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, say the authors of a new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control that investigates the useful role that Twitter can play in outbreak monitoring and control.

In the 3 days prior to Nigeria's official announcement about Ebola, Twitter users had already shared around 1,500 tweets about the outbreak....

Social media allow users to play active roles in spreading news. Users can share insights, opinions, fears and ideas, outside the contexts of conventional public health channels.

For their study, two researchers from Columbia University School of Nursing in New York, analyzed Ebola-related tweets posted over a week in the early stages of the West African outbreak - from July 24th to August 1st 2014....

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Shaking Up the Status Quo in Nepal



Hand image - Status Quo Nepal, NYT

“Ke garne?” an old lady said to us, tears pouring down her cheeks, as we visited her earthquake-battered village in the Dhading district of Nepal last month: “What to do?” With a history of repeated crises — political, economic and natural — it has become the Nepali way to shrug one’s shoulders and hope for the best.

Sadly, people have been hoping for a long time: even before the earthquakes, Nepal was one of the poorest, most corrupt and least equal countries in the world. 

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Ebola threat to Guinea Bissau rises as border zone heats up

REUTERS                                                                                                    June 2, 2015

DAKAR --Violent protests against Ebola controls in a north Guinea town have prompted the Red Cross to withdraw workers, undermining efforts to stop the spread of Ebola into neighbouring Guinea Bissau.

 The Ebola epidemic was detected in Guinea over a year ago and has since killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa.

 But in a huge relief to officials and aid workers, it has not yet spread to Guinea Bissau, whose health system is deemed vulnerable even by low regional standards.

 Now, a spike in new cases in Guinea's Boke border province combined with violent resistance to efforts to control it there are stoking concerns it could spread.

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UN Official Says Ebola Will End in Sierra Leone in Weeks

ASSOCIATED PRESS by Edith M. Lederer                                           June 1, 2015

The U.N. Ebola chief said Monday he believes "it's only a matter of weeks" before the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone ends, but stopping the deadly disease in Guinea will take more time because in some areas unsafe traditions still hold sway over what's good for people's health.

Dr. David Nabarro stressed in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday that the Ebola epidemic "absolutely isn't over" though Liberia has been Ebola free since May 9.

"We have cases occurring, not in huge numbers but enough to be very disturbing, in Sierra Leone and in Guinea," he said, and the situation in Guinea is especially troubling because surprise cases have been popping up that are not part of known chains of transmission.

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Climate Change: Six Major Energy Companies Write to United Nations to Request Help in Setting Up Carbon Pricing Scheme


A carbon pricing scheme would involve a fee being charged to emit the greenhouse gas and the proceeds would probably go to companies that reduce them - by Ian Johnston - May 31, 2015

Six major energy companies have written to the United Nations asking for help in setting up a carbon pricing scheme to help tackle climate change.

BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Statoil, Eni and the BG Group asked Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to help them hold “direct dialogue with the UN and willing governments” about developing a scheme to charge those who produce carbon emissions. . . .

. . . The companies’ chief executives revealed the move in a letter to the Financial Times, which said: “We owe it to future generations to seek realistic, workable solutions to the challenge of providing more energy while tackling climate change.”

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