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Video- Congo Gets New Medical Tools To Contain Ebola

The outbreak is near Rwanda and Uganda, and people travel back and forth between the countries to sell and trade goods, so they could also spread Ebola.

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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
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The Democratic Republic of Congo has yet another Ebola outbreak, its 10th since the virus was first identified in 1976. This latest outbreak started in early August in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the fatality rate is 70 percent.

But this outbreak is far different from the one that devastated West Africa a few years ago.

Experimental treatments

Dr. Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes of Health points to experimental treatments for those who have Ebola, one thing that didn’t exist during the outbreak in West Africa.

“We have five therapeutics that are available, three of which were being used actively,” he said.

Cells in our blood, called B cells, fight off infections. Two of the experimental treatments involved copies of antibodies of the B cells that could fight off the Ebola virus.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during an interview in his office at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. VOA

“A person was infected in the 1995 Kikwit outbreak in the DRC,” Fauci said. “The person recovered from Ebola, and we brought the person here to the United States at the NIH. We drew their blood. We cloned B cells and then we made the antibody.”

The treatment is called monoclonal antibody 114. Fauci says it’s being given to Ebola patients in the DRC.

“So far it’s been given to at least 13 people, and 11 of them have been discharged from the hospital,” he said, “which is pretty good odds.”

Many more people need to receive this treatment — and the two others — before we know if any of them actually work.

“We’re proposing a trial to compare one treatment to another treatment to another treatment,” Fauci said.

Another tool that doctors have this time is a vaccine that protects people from getting Ebola. The vaccine wasn’t available during the height of the outbreak in West Africa.

Frustrating factors

But, there are other factors in this outbreak that frustrate the efforts to control the Ebola virus:

The outbreak is in a conflict zone, so health workers can’t get to everyone who needs treatment or a vaccine.

A few people in the city of Butembo, with a population of more than 1 million, have contracted the Ebola virus.

Also Read: North Kivu And Ituri, Congo To Welcome More Than 80,000 Children In This New School Year

The outbreak is near Rwanda and Uganda, and people travel back and forth between the countries to sell and trade goods, so they could also spread Ebola.

Despite medical advances, cases keep rising, although not as fast as they did in West Africa. Still, this has Fauci and others very concerned. (VOA)

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Somalia Calls To Outlaw Female Genital Mutilation

Flavia Mwangovya, End Harmful Practices program manager at Equality Now, said an anti-FGM law would curb the practice.

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FILE - A badge reads "The power of labor aginst FGM" is seen on a volunteer during a conference on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation in Cairo, Egypt. VOA

A spate of deaths of young girls from female genital mutilation (FGM) has renewed calls for Somalia to outlaw the tradition.

Four girls, ages 10 and 11, from central and northern Somalia have died in the last three months after having been cut, and seven others are in hospitals, activists said.

“More and more cases of girls who have died or end up seriously injured after FGM are coming out,” said Hawa Aden Mohamed, director of the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development, a local women’s group in the east African country.

“These cases confirm what we have been saying all along — that FGM kills and that we need a law to stop it,” Mohamed said. “The harm it causes is blatantly clear.”

 

Somalia
A Somali woman walks through a camp of people displaced from their homes elsewhere in the country by the drought, shortly after dawn in Qardho, Somalia, March 9, 2017. VOA

 

An estimated 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM, which involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia, the United Nations says.

One of 28 African countries where the tradition is endemic, Somalia has the world’s highest rates of FGM — 98 percent of women between 15 and 49 have undergone the ritual.

Somalia’s constitution prohibits FGM, but efforts to pass legislation to punish offenders have been stalled by parliamentarians afraid of losing voters who view FGM as a part of their tradition.

Government and hospital officials were not immediately available to comment on the deaths or hospital admissions.

The charity Save the Children said it rescued seven girls — aged between 5 and 8 years old — on Sunday from Somalia’s northern Puntland state. The girls had undergone FGM and were bleeding excessively; they are now receiving hospital treatment.

Somalia
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“I’m afraid that this is just the tip of the iceberg as many more cases go unreported,” said Timothy Bishop, country director of Save the Children in Somalia.

Campaigners said Suheyra Qorane Farah, 10, from Puntland died Sunday after contracting tetanus, having undergone FGM on Aug. 29.

Two sisters, Aasiyo and Khadijo Farah Abdi Warsame, age 10 and 11, from the same region bled to death Sept. 11 after visiting a cutter across the border in neighboring Ethiopia.

The death of Deeqa Nuur, 10, in July from severe bleeding following FGM prompted the attorney general to initiate Somalia’s first prosecution against FGM — using existing laws — but the investigation has faced challenges.

Also Read: Every Three Minutes a Teenage Girl is Infected by HIV- UNICEF

Flavia Mwangovya, End Harmful Practices program manager at Equality Now, said an anti-FGM law would curb the practice.

“A specific law can express punishments and specify stiffer penalties, ensure that all accomplices are held accountable, and gives guidance on the kind of evidence needed to prove the crime,” she said. (VOA)