Monday August 19, 2019

Ebola response is definitely getting better, eliminating possible in near future: WHO

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Geneva:  World Health Organisation (WHO) Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward said here on Tuesday that the “Ebola response is definitely getting better”, adding that though many challenges remain, eliminating the deadly disease is possible in the near future.

Photo Credit: www.cdc.gov This colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by an Ebola virus virion. See PHIL 1832 for a black and white version of this image. Where is Ebola virus found in nature?The exact origin, locations, and natural habitat (known as the "natural reservoir") of Ebola virus remain unknown. However, on the basis of available evidence and the nature of similar viruses, researchers believe that the virus is zoonotic (animal-borne) and is normally maintained in an animal host that is native to the African continent. A similar host is probably associated with Ebola-Reston which was isolated from infected cynomolgous monkeys that were imported to the United States and Italy from the Philippines. The virus is not known to be native to other continents, such as North America.
Photo Credit: www.cdc.gov

With crucial improvements in care for contacts, case investigation, and contact tracing being observed, Aylward said that “there is a huge shift now from what was before a report on how many contacts were being seen daily to who are the missing contacts”.

According to Aylward, “this is a very different response to what you would have seen if you were on the ground a month ago”.

“We have gone over the last four weeks from 30 cases, to 25, to seven, and in the last week to two,” said Aylward, who iterated that this decline represents real progress in the fight against the disease which has killed over 11,000 people mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, according to Xinhua news agency.

Aylward added that each transmission chain is now being managed on a case by case basis, as “we’re able to treat each chain as an event and look at all the geographies associated with that event”.

This also means that each chain can be ranked by health officials according to the level of risk posed to populations, with experts estimating that there are currently some six transmission chains across the three West African countries.

Despite these trends, Aylward warned that “the biggest risk now is irrational exuberance, or unrealistic expectations”, as unsafe burials or missing contacts infecting new areas may still occur and create new infection points.

He also said that operational challenges linked to the region’s rainy season are hindering response efforts, while dwindling support and reduced financing is further compounding the situation.

(IANS)

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Children Orphans by Ebola in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo Doubles

The U.N. children's fund reports the number of children orphaned by Ebola or separated from their parents because of the disease

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FILE - Two-month-old Lahya Kathembo, whose mother and father died of Ebola, is carried by a nurse waiting for test results at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, DRC, July 17, 2019. VOA

The U.N. children’s fund reports the number of children orphaned by Ebola or separated from their parents because of the disease in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has more than doubled since April.

Since the epidemic was declared more than one year ago, aid agencies have registered 1,380 children who have lost one or both parents to Ebola. During the same period, nearly 2,470 children have been separated from parents undergoing treatment for the disease or isolated because they have come in contact with an infected person.

World Health Organization figures put the number of Ebola cases at 2,831, including nearly 1,900 deaths. UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado says more children are getting sick and dying in this epidemic than in previous ones.

“In this epidemic, about 30 percent of the cases are among children, whereas in previous epidemics, the proportion was about 20 percent,” Mercado  said. “As of the fourth of August, there were 787 children below 18 who were infected with Ebola and there have been 527 deaths.”

Children, Orphans, Ebola
FILE – Health workers begin their shift at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 16, 2019. VOA

Mercado says the children are under enormous stress and need extensive physical, psychosocial and social care. Given the more than doubling of children in need, she says these specialized services must be urgently scaled up, especially in Beni, where the largest number of children are affected.

“For children with no surviving parents, the needs are longer term,” she said. “The teams work to place children with relatives or foster families, which is not easy given the economic burden of raising extra children and the fear of catching the disease or being associated with it. It often requires delicate mediation, as well as financial support for food, school fees and other basic necessities.”

The work being done by psychosocial assistants is critical because stigma against Ebola orphans is pervasive, Mercado told VOA. She added that children who have been in contact with someone infected with the virus often are rejected by families and communities who believe they will become sick.

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This, she said, is when social workers step in to convince these people they have nothing to fear and that providing loving care for the children will help them thrive. (VOA)