Blood Ebola survivors tested as short-term treatment option

ANTWERP, Belgium, October 23, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An international research consortium led by the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp (ITM) ( will assess whether treatment with antibodies in the blood of Ebola survivors could help infected patients to fight off the disease. If proven effective, this straightforward intervention could be scaled up in the short term and provide an urgently needed treatment option for patients in West Africa.


Photo Máire-Geoghegan-Quinn:

Photo Van Griensven Johan:

The researchers receive € 2.9 million of European Union (EU) funding ( to evaluate the safety and efficacy of treatment with blood and plasma made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients.

A WHO expert meeting in September recommended convalescent blood therapies as one of the most promising strategies meriting urgent evaluation as treatment of Ebola disease. As a result of the current outbreak, there are also substantial numbers of survivors to prepare Ebola plasma.

ITM’s Johan van Griensven, the project’s coordinating investigator, said:

“Blood and plasma therapy are medical interventions with a long history, safely used for other infectious diseases. We want to find out whether this approach works for Ebola, is safe and can be put into practice to reduce the number of deaths in the present outbreak. Ebola survivors contributing to curb the epidemic by donating blood could reduce fear of the disease and improve their acceptance in the communities.”

Blood and plasma from recovered Ebola patients has been used in a limited number of patients previously. For example, during the 1995 Ebola outbreak in Kikwit, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), seven out of eight patients receiving convalescent whole blood survived. However, whether this was due to the transfusions or to other factors is unclear. There is an urgent need to evaluate this therapy in carefully designed studies according to the highest ethical and scientific standards.

EU Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said in today’s funding announcement that it is urgent to step up medical research on Ebola. According to Geoghegan-Quinn the selected projects ”enlist the best academic researchers and industry to take the fight to this deadly disease.”

The Wellcome Trust will provide additional support, enabling unparalleled international collaboration across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to tackle the Ebola emergency.

Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said:

“The Wellcome Trust is delighted to work in partnership with the European Commission to support and help fast-track this critical work. Convalescent serum offers the best potential treatment for Ebola in the short term that could be scaled up if proven effective. Global collaboration of this nature, including clinical researchers and multiple partners from across Europe and West Africa, is both unprecedented and essential if we are to bring the current outbreak under control.”

The international research consortium

The € 2.9 million grant from the EU will fund the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, University of Liverpool, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of Oxford, Aix-Marseille University, the French Blood Transfusion Service (Etablissement Français du Sang), Institute Pasteur, and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.

The consortium also includes the National Blood Transfusion Centre in Conakry (Guinea), the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale in Kinshasha (DRC), and the Belgian Red Cross-Flanders.

The project, which will start in Guinea in November 2014, is supported and guided by the WHO and the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC).

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp (ITM).

Notes to the editors:

• European Union to boost Ebola research with €24.4 million:

Media contacts:

• Roeland Scholtalbers (ITM Antwerp):, +32 32470729, +32 477068384

• Samantha Martin (University of Liverpool):

• Katie Steels and Jenny Orton (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine): +44(0)2079272802

• Priscille Riviere (INSERM): , +33(0)1 44 23 60 97

• Jonathan Wood (University of Oxford):

• Celine Damon (AMU):

• Nadine Peyrolo (IP):

• Françoise Le Failler (EFS) :

• Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum (INRB):

• Dr. Nyankoye Haba (NBC) :, +224 68389798

• An Luyten (Rode Kruis) :, + 32 0475775824

• Hellen Jamison (Wellcome Trust): , +44 7834 756215

Categories: AFRICA

CAR: Looking back at 10 days of violence in Bangui

PARIS, France, October 23, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Between October 7 and 17, civilians in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), again experienced violent clashes and abuse. It was very difficult for MSF teams to reach the wounded and provide aid during that period. It was also difficult for patients – whether ill or victims of violence – to reach health care facilities. For MSF, one of the direct consequences of those 10 days of violence was an unacceptable reduction in humanitarian space in the capital and throughout the rest of the country. Delphine Chedorge, MSF’s head of mission in Bangui, looks back at those days.

Why did violence break out again in Bangui in early October?

“Political tensions rose sharply on October 7. The anti-Balaka demanded the resignation of the CAR’s president, who was accused of corruption. Several days later, the ex-Seleka took up the same demand. And that night, an isolated grenade attack triggered clashes in the capital. The MSF team treated 13 wounded people at the General Hospital. One of them died. While inter-communal violence did occur, most of the clashes were between armed groups and international forces.

The United Nations reported that between October 7 and 17, 13 people were killed and 242 were wounded. Approximately 6,000 people were displaced and 1,600 new refugees were registered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

What was the situation like during those 10 days?

When the clashes broke out again, the situation was explosive throughout almost the entire city. It was very difficult to deliver assistance and obtain access to care. Bangui was controlled by a host of armed groups. Attacks, ambushes and reprisals were carried out regularly, including close to our living quarters, health care facilities and offices. The streets were empty. The city seemed paralyzed and dead. Taxis, motorbikes and private cars were prohibited from operating.

Because of the insecurity, threats and barriers erected in the city, some organizations could not travel in their vehicles. Our teams – expatriate and Central African – had a lot of trouble getting around. As a result, for five consecutive days, our teams could not reach the PK5 neighborhood, which was particularly affected. MSF supports a clinic there where we regularly provide pediatric care.

During one of our trips, a terrified woman rushed toward our car. She was carrying a wounded child. In the car, we realized that he was already dead because he had not reached the hospital in time. It is quite likely that other patients and wounded people were trapped at home, and even died, because they lacked transportation or were afraid to leave the house.

It was difficult for us to work and reach the ill and wounded. Humanitarian space in Bangui and, more generally in the CAR, has been reduced to an unacceptable degree. During those 10 days of violence, aid was cut off and blocked. Other aid actors, such as the Red Cross, were threatened and prohibited from collecting bodies or transporting the wounded. Six security incidents targeting humanitarian workers directly were reported during that period.

What was MSF able to do?

During those 10 days, our teams still managed to treat 90 wounded people at the General Hospital, 54 at our M’Poko clinic and 16 at the Castor Hospital. Those people had received primarily bullet and grenade, but also machete, wounds. Most of them arrived on their own, sometimes several days after being wounded.

Medical supplies and drugs had been sent to the General Hospital, the referral hospital, where the action plan in the event of a massive inflow of wounded patients had been launched and strengthened. Forty-eight hour shifts were organized so that the Central African employees could sleep and eat at the hospital, without exposing themselves to the violent clashes in the streets. These medical staff handled the emergencies, knowing that their own families were particularly exposed in certain neighborhoods. It was extremely difficult for them.

What is MSF’s assessment of what happened during those 10 days?

The nature of the clashes in October was different from that of previous months. The increase in the number of acts of banditry and the strategy of the armed groups – that is, to strangle basic services – threatened aid efforts, which are critical in the CAR. All public services in the country, and particularly health services, are increasingly weak. Although MSF was not targeted directly during the most recent clashes, the ongoing reduction in humanitarian space in Bangui and throughout the rest of the country deprives the population of emergency assistance and endangers the teams.

MSF has been a key health actor in the Central African Republic since 1997. We have become even more important since the country and its health system are experiencing a crisis again. Even a partial pull-out on our part, at the annual peak of the malaria season – an illness that is more deadly than the current violence in the CAR – penalizes a population that has suffered terribly and that we have been assisting, on a heightened, ongoing basis, for nearly a year. Without treatment, children, who are malaria’s first victims, could die.

What is the current situation in Bangui?

While some humanitarian organizations still cannot carry out their work, “normal” life and activities resumed in Bangui as of October 20, at least during the day. After 6 pm, robberies begin (or resume) and vehicles can no longer drive on the streets. Many residents, including Central African humanitarian personnel, witness the nightly looting of their houses and must shelter their families at the displaced persons’ sites, where living conditions remain very precarious.

The armed groups currently deployed and taking action in Bangui and across the country, as well as the entire population, must respect the teams, facilities and vehicles delivering aid, as well as the right of the ill and wounded to obtain care safely. This is the not the first time that MSF has issued this call, but we will keep trying to hammer it home. Bangui may be ‘calm’ again, but it is hardly a peaceful city and we can expect more violence.”

MSF has been working in the Central African Republic since 1997. We have doubled our medical assistance there since 2013 to respond to the current crisis and have increased the number of projects from 10 to 17.

Categories: AFRICA

Winner of APO Invitation to AfricaCom 2014 Revealed

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, October 23, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — APO (African Press Organization) (, the sole press release newswire in Africa and the global leader in media relations relating to Africa, today announced that science journalist Aimable Twahirwa (@atwahirwa) from Rwanda won APO invitation to participate in the AfricaCom 2014, Africa’s leading telecoms event (, held in Cape Town, South Africa, on 11–13 November 2014.

Photo Aimable Twahirwa:


APO will offer transport, accommodation and perdiem for Twahirwa to travel to Cape Town and cover the entire event.

“It gives us great pleasure in offering this invitation to Aimable, a recognized and influential journalist. As a company, we need to support the journalists out there who fight every day to educate us on the matters of the world,” says Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and CEO of APO (African Press Organization).

Aimable Twahirwa is an award-winning and trained senior science journalist based in Kigali, Rwanda. During his 15 year- career, he has been covering science and technology writing for prestigious newspapers both Pan African and international newsrooms as well as Radio and online.

After he graduated in science Journalism, his first assignment was on the Climate Change where he delved in Energy and Agriculture research. His early days at Rwanda News Agency (RNA) led him to become the Rwanda correspondent for the Pan African News Agency where he has been covering science and technology stories.

On a freelance basis, he has published revealing stories about genocide, in the African media and for press in UK and Europe and North America. Aimable is fluent in both languages French and English which made him an influential correspondent for specialized science magazines such like ‘Scidev.Net’ and NATURE publications Group, a London based publisher.

More information about AfricaCom 2014:


Aïssatou Diallo

+41 22 534 96 97

About APO

APO (African Press Organization) ( is the sole press release newswire in Africa and is a global leader in media relations relating to Africa.

With offices in Senegal, Switzerland, Dubai, Hong Kong, India, and Seychelles, APO owns a media database of over 100,000 contacts and is the main online community for Africa-related news.

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Categories: AFRICA

Leading African Infrastructure firm Black Rhino to meet with international stakeholders at Powering Africa: Ethiopia 2014

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, October 23, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Founder and CEO of Black Rhino Brian Herlihy will attend and speak at the 3rd annual investment meeting Powering Africa: Ethiopia, taking place from 20-21st November in Addis Ababa (



Black Rhino is comprised of finance and development experts including Managing Director Mimi Alemayehou, previously the Vice President of OPIC. Following the company’s recent merger with global asset management firm Blackstone, which looks at long-term investments in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Blackstone-Black Rhino partnership is setting out to undertake transformational projects in Africa’s power and infrastructure sectors necessary to maintain significant economic growth.

Brian Herlihy and his team will shed light on their investment prospects in power generation projects and best practice on procurement delivery in the region. Herlihy will also speak about the company’s current involvement in Djibouti.

Black Rhino are amongst the industry leaders joining global players such as USAID, Reykjavic Geothermal, OPIC, Development Bank of Southern Africa and Goldwind International Holdings alongside H.E. Alemayehu Tegenu, Minister of Water Irrigation & Energy, H.E. Dawano Kedir, State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopian Utility, investors and financiers bringing capacity building in the region’s renewable energy sector.

The Powering Africa: Ethiopia meeting is the annual platform for European financiers and developers to connect with Ethiopia’s government and energy ministries to build capacity in the region’s renewable energy sector.

The meeting welcomes the participation of international stakeholders looking to harness the vast renewable energy resources and advance power generation in Ethiopia.

For more information about this meeting:

Meeting dates: 20-21st November 2014

Venue: Radisson Blu, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Contact: Amy Offord, Senior Marketing Executive

Tel: +44 (0)20 7384 8068



Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of EnergyNet Ltd.

Categories: AFRICA

An additional SEK 400 million for the fight against Ebola and humanitarian disasters

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, October 23, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Government today decided to earmark an additional SEK 400 million from funds for development assistance in Africa for extraordinary measures to combat the Ebola outbreak (SEK 250 million), but also for the humanitarian crises in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the world (SEK 150 million).

The Government recognises major needs in terms of the fight against Ebola and humanitarian crisis areas such as Iraq and Syria. More than one hundred million people around the world are currently in an extremely vulnerable situation and are in need of humanitarian support.

“The Government wants to see a strong UN in efforts to combat Ebola. The UN is doing its coordinating work well and we want to make an additional contribution to that work. We want to provide financial support, but we are also pleased that Sweden, via the expertise and global networks of Anders Nordström, is able to make this crucial contribution to efforts to combat Ebola,” says Ms Lövin.

Through today’s decision the Government is providing additional funds of up to SEK 250 million for the fight against Ebola. This support will go to the UN’s coordinating role and to action being taken by African organisations. The total Swedish support to combat Ebola following today’s decision amounts to SEK 489 million. Sweden is also seconding Anders Nordström, Ambassador for Global Health, to work together with UN special envoy David Nabarro to secure continued international political engagement and coordination of resources.

“The spotlight in the news has shifted slightly as a result of the Ebola outbreak. However, this does not change the fact that there are still many extremely serious crises occurring in other parts of the world. The Government is taking a holistic approach and providing support to both the fight against Ebola and humanitarian operations where they are needed,” says Minister for International Development Cooperation Isabella Lövin.

Categories: AFRICA

Ten million childhood disabilities prevented in campaign to end polio – UNICEF

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 23, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Every day, a thousand or so children have been protected from disability during a 26-year global effort to eradicate polio. The worldwide campaign has immunised millions of previously-unreached children across the globe, UNICEF said on the eve of World Polio Day.

Some 10 million people today would otherwise have been paralysed, while an additional 1.5 million lives have been saved through the routine administration of Vitamin A during polio vaccination drives.

The annual number of polio cases has fallen from 350,000 in 1988, to 416 in 2013, and 243 so far this year – an extraordinary drop of more than 99 percent. All but three countries where polio was firmly entrenched – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan – have eliminated the virus within their borders. And multiple outbreaks have been contained over the past 26 years.

“In 1988 polio was a leading cause of childhood disability,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “In country after country since then, a generation of children has grown up without the spectre of polio.”

“The success of the eradication effort – reaching some of the most disadvantaged communities in some of the most dangerous circumstances – proves that it is possible to reach all children,” Lake added. “Our most ambitious and audacious goals for children can be met. And if they can be, they must be.”

Nigeria has had only 6 cases this year, down from 49 in 2013. Afghanistan has reduced transmission to very low levels, with most cases linked to Pakistan. With 187 cases already reported this year, Pakistan is now the world’s largest remaining reservoir of polio.

While polio remains endemic in only three countries, it continues to pose a risk to children everywhere, especially in countries which have not made routine immunization a priority, like South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Ukraine. Outbreaks in Syria, Iraq, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Somalia can be traced to Pakistan and Nigeria.

UNICEF procures 1.7 billion doses of oral polio vaccine to reach 500 million children every year. And UNICEF’s social mobilisation work helps persuade families to accept the vaccine when it reaches them. Intensive efforts over the past decade have seen acceptance of the polio vaccine at their highest levels ever in countries where polio remains endemic.

“The world has never been closer to this once-in-a-generation opportunity of eradicating polio for good,” Lake said. “Every child deserves to live in a polio-free world.”

Categories: AFRICA