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Congo Start Trials For Drugs Against Ebola

This is Congo's tenth outbreak since the virus was identified there in 1976.

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Congolese and WHO officials prepare equipment before the launch of vaccination campaign against the deadly Ebola virus near Mangina village, DRC, Aug. 8, 2018. Congo has now begun the first-ever trial to test the effectiveness and safety of four experimental Ebola drugs. VOA

Congo has begun the first-ever trial to test the effectiveness and safety of four experimental Ebola drugs, the first time scientists have directly compared such treatments, the World Health Organization said Monday.

The U.N. health agency described the multi-drug trial as “a giant step” that would “bring clarity about what works best.”

“While our focus remains on bringing this outbreak to an end, the launch of the randomized control trial in DRC [Congo] is an important step toward finally finding an Ebola treatment that will save lives,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, center, speaks to a health official at a newly established Ebola response center in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA
Since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu province in August, four therapeutic drugs have been used to treat patients, namely mAb 114, ZMapp, Remdesivir and Regeneron, according to Congo’s Health Ministry.

To date, more than 160 people have been treated with these experimental drugs. Patients won’t be treated much differently than before, but scientists will now have a clinical trial framework to collect data on the three antibody treatments and the antiviral.

Congo’s Health Ministry said the clinical trial began last week in Beni with Zmapp, mAb 114 and Remdesivir. The test could be extended to other sites and include the fourth medicine, it said. The number of patients who participate “will depend on the evolution of the epidemic and the willingness of patients to participate.”

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A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. VOA

Congo, with poor infrastructure, presents a difficult environment for administering these treatments. ZMapp is difficult to use; it takes three infusions, given over hours. If patients are treated with Remdesivir, their liver function must be analyzed regularly.

Because the data collected in the North Kivu epidemic is unlikely to be sufficient for a complete study, the ministry said that the clinical trial may extend over a five-year period to cover several Ebola outbreaks in several countries.

So far in the current outbreak in Congo, there have been 365 confirmed Ebola cases with 189 deaths, according to figures provided by the health ministry Sunday.

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– Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, minister of health of the Democratic Republic of Congo, addresses residents at the town all of Mbandaka, May 21, 2018, during the launch of the Ebola vaccination campaign. VOA
“Our country is struck with Ebola outbreaks too often, which also means we have unique expertise in combatting it,” said Congo’s Minister of Health Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga. “These trials will contribute to building that knowledge, while we continue to respond on every front to bring the current outbreak to an end.”
Also Read: WHO Ships Vaccination For Yellow Fever in Ethiopia

This is Congo’s tenth outbreak since the virus was identified there in 1976. The outbreak has been plagued by security problems, with health workers attacked by rebels in districts where the virus has been spreading. (VOA)

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Just Spending 2 Hours a Week in Nature can Work Wonders for Health, Well-Being

It's well known that getting outdoors in nature can be good for people's health

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Nature, Health, Well-Being
People who spend at least 120 minutes a week with nature are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological wellbeing than those who do not visit nature at all during an average week. Pixabay

If you are looking for that elusive secret to good health and wellbeing, your search may stop now as a new large-scale study has found that spending just two hours a week in the neighbourhood park may do wonders for your mind and body.

People who spend at least 120 minutes a week with nature are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological wellbeing than those who do not visit nature at all during an average week, said the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“It’s well known that getting outdoors in nature can be good for people’s health and wellbeing but until now we’ve not been able to say how much is enough,” said lead researcher Mat White of the University of Exeter Medical School in Britain.

“The majority of nature visits in this research took place within just two miles of home so even visiting local urban green spaces seems to be a good thing,” White said.

Nature, Health, Well-Being
If you are looking for that elusive secret to good health and wellbeing, your search may stop now as a new large-scale study has found that spending just two hours a week in the neighbourhood park may do wonders for your mind and body. Pixabay

However, no such benefits were found for people who visited natural settings such as town parks, woodlands, country parks and beaches for less than 120 minutes a week.

The study used data from nearly 20,000 people in England and found that it didn’t matter whether the 120 minutes was achieved in a single visit or over several shorter visits.

It also found that the 120 minute threshold applied to both men and women, to older and younger adults, across different occupational and ethnic groups, among those living in both rich and poor areas, and even among people with long term illnesses or disabilities.

“There are many reasons why spending time in nature may be good for health and wellbeing, including getting perspective on life circumstances, reducing stress, and enjoying quality time with friends and family,” said study co-author Terry Hartig of Uppsala University in Sweden.

Also Read- Countries Approved Projects Worth $1 Billion for Environment, Climate Change

“The current findings offer valuable support to health practitioners in making recommendations about spending time in nature to promote basic health and wellbeing,” Hartig said. (IANS)