Oct 152014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has today called on governments and international donors to urgently mobilize increased financial, medical, and logistical assistance to Ebo…

Oct 152014
 

DUBLIN, Ireland, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Their Excellencies, the Ambassadors of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of Namibia and the Kingdom of Sweden presented their Letters of Credence to the President at Áras an Uachtaráin today.

H.E. Mr. Kyaw Zwar Minn, Ambassador of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Aye Minn Myat, and by Ms. Moe Thuzar, Counsellor at the Embassy.

H.E. Mr. Steve Vemunavi Katjiuanjo, Ambassador of the Republic of Namibia, was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Christophine Katjiuanjo, and by Mr. Michael Ndivayele, Minister Counsellor at the Embassy.

H.E. Ms. Ulrika Sundberg, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden, travelled from Stockholm for today’s ceremony.

Mr. Michael Ring, T.D.,Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, represented the Government at the ceremony.

The following were also present: Mr. Art O’Leary, Secretary-General to the President; Mr. Niall Burgess, Secretary-General, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Ms. Orla O’Hanrahan, Chief of Protocol, Mr. Joe Brennan and Mr Shane Stephens, Protocol, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Ambassadors were escorted to and from Áras an Uachtaráin by an Escort of Honour consisting of a motorcycle detachment drawn from the 2nd Cavalry Squadron, Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin, under the command of Lieutenant Richard Piggott.

A Guard of Honour was provided at Áras an Uachtaráin by the 1st Armoured Cavalry Squadron, Defence Forces Training Centre, Curragh Camp, Co. Kildare, under the command of Lieutenant Donncha Lenihan.

Captain Fergal Carroll conducted the Army No. 1 Band.

Oct 152014
 

NEW YORK, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Ebola outbreak is “winning the race” against attempts to contain it, the head of the United Nations mission working to stop the deadly virus warned the Security Council today as he urged the international community to help expand on-the-ground efforts across the affected nations in West Africa.

In his briefing, Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), told the 15-nation Council that he is “deeply worried” that the steps implemented by the international community are “not nearly enough” to halt the advance of the fatal disease.

“Ebola got a head start on us,” he said. “It is far ahead of us, it is running faster than us, and it is winning the race. If Ebola wins, we the peoples of the United Nations lose so very much…,” he said.

“We either stop Ebola now or we face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we do not have a plan,” Mr. Banbury told the Council via video link from the operation’s headquarters in Ghana.

In its most recent situation report on the disease, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), which is leading the wider UN response, reported 8,376 cases and 4,024 deaths from Ebola based on information provided by the Ministries of Health of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, whose UN delegations were represented at today’s Security Council briefing.

The agency notes that the upward epidemic trend continues in Sierra Leone and most probably also in Liberia. By contrast, the situation in Guinea appears to be more stable, though, in the context of an Ebola outbreak, a stable pattern of transmission is still of a very grave concern, and could change quickly.

“With every day that passes, the number of sick people increases,” continued Mr. Banbury. “Time is our biggest enemy. We must use every minute of every day to our advantage and that is what UNMEER is doing.”

Mr. Banbury recalled WHO’s recommendation that, within 60 days of 1 October, 70 per cent of all those infected must be in the hospital and 70 per cent of the victims safely buried, if the outbreak were to be successfully arrested. Otherwise, he warned, the Ebola numbers risked rising “dramatically” and overwhelming the overall response.

“This is what we are fighting for now: we are fighting to prevent unavoidable deaths. We are fighting for people who are alive and healthy today, but will become infected…and die if we do not put in place the necessary emergency response,” he declared.

In particular, he called for an increase in the number of diagnostic laboratories, transport support, and funding to help with operation logistics which, he said, would help aid the UN response to a crisis so vast in scope and magnitude.

Moreover, with the number of infected growing exponentially each day, Mr. Banbury cautioned that UNMEER could expect new caseloads of approximately 10,000 people per week by 1 December, meaning that 7,000 beds for treatment were needed. He noted that his Mission expected to have 4,300 beds in treatment centres by that date but lamented that there was no staff to operate many of them under current plans.

“UNMEER is playing the critical role of crisis manager,” he added, “but responding to a complex crisis, especially one that cuts across multiple national boundaries, requires an overall perspective and a comprehensive plan.”

The UNMEER head pointed out that his mission plan would ultimately ensure that no gaps were left unfilled and that resources were allocated appropriately, all the while permitting Governments to own the Ebola responses in their respective countries.

“There’s much bad news about Ebola but the good news is we know how to stop it,” said Mr. Banbury, while emphasizing that failure was “inconceivable” and “unacceptable.”

“We must defeat Ebola and we must do it fast,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, a UN children’s rights official briefed reporters on the broader UN response to the Ebola outbreak.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, the UN Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) spokesperson, Christophe Boulierac, reported that an upcoming conference to be held on 16 and 17 October in Kenema, Sierra Leone, would confront the issues facing Ebola survivors as well as the caring of children infected or affected by the disease.

Alongside the devastating physiological effects of the virus, the outbreak has ignited panic and fear across affected areas with some survivors, victims, and their children, being spurned by their local communities.

Mr. Boulierac noted that one “creative” method to help treat and care for children in a more compassionate manner involved the use of Ebola survivors who could provide those children with the attention they need at no risk to themselves or others. Ebola survivors, as medical professionals have frequently reiterated, are no longer capable of contracting the virus. In addition, he pointed out that the conference would address the stigma and discrimination facing Ebola survivors as such challenges undermined their recovery.

In other news, Karin Landgren, head of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), announced the death today of the United Nations Volunteer who worked in the Mission’s medical team and was evacuated to Germany last week to receive treatment for Ebola. This is the second death at UNMIL due to Ebola, after an earlier probable case that resulted in the death of a national staff member on 25 September.

“UNMIL colleagues are saddened by the tragic news as they continue to serve at this very difficult time. Our thoughts now are with the family and friends of the departed,” a UN spokesperson said today in New York.

As for international support against Ebola, the spokesperson noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has announced that it will provide specialized diagnostic equipment to help Sierra Leone in its efforts to combat the outbreak. That support will later be extended to Liberia and Guinea.

It will consist of supplementing the country’s ability to diagnose Ebola quickly, using a technology known as Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR). Early diagnosis, if combined with appropriate medical care, increases the victims’ chance of survival and helps curtail the spread of the disease by making it possible to isolate and treat the patients earlier, the spokesperson explained.

Oct 152014
 

LONDON, United-Kingdom, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Chad was today accepted as a full member of the EITI.

As ‘compliant’ with the global EITI transparency standard, citizens of Chad have access to extensive information about how their natural resources are governed. Industry, government and civil society in the country are working together to inform the debate about the management of its oil, gas and mineral resources.

The EITI International Board designated the country ‘EITI compliant’ at its meeting in Myanmar and congratulated the Government of the Chad for its sustained commitment and leadership in the implementation of the EITI.

Clare Short, Chair of the EITI said:

“I congratulate Chad for having strengthened the government systems so that the people of Chad can better benefit from the country’s natural resources. Reaching compliance with the EITI requirements means that Chad is on the path towards open and accountable governance of its natural resources, and we look forward to working together to continue to strengthen governance of this crucial sector of Chad’s economy.”

Le Bemadjiel Djerassem, Minister of Hydrocarbon and Energy and Chair of Chad-EITI High National Committee, is glad to receive recognition for Chad’s efforts. He said:

“Thanks to the EITI, some major reforms have been engaged when it comes to follow-up of revenue collection and payments from the extractive industries. Implementing the EITI has allowed us to realise that we do not an adequate system for tracking these revenues. Now with the establishment of the unit for revenue tracking, this is accomplished. We can now verify the figures and publish reliable information about oil revenues. Achieving compliance with the EITI requirements is a first step on the long path towards managing natural resources for the benefit of the citizens.”

Scott Miller, General Manager of Esso Chad, said:

“Esso welcomes this milestone decision by the EITI Board. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the process ownership and full support of the national government. Transparency is essential to support economic growth, increased opportunity, and a better standard of living for all citizens. We look forward to continuing our engagement in future reporting years, and to the challenges of sustainment in an evolving industry and regulatory landscape.”

Adama Coulibaly, World Bank Resident Representative in Chad, said:

“The World Bank congratulates Chad on achieving EITI compliance. This comes as a result of the Government’s steadfast determination to manage public resources in compliance with international standards of transparency. The World Bank, through funding from the EITI Multi Donor Trust Fund has supported this work in partnership with Government and it has paid off.”

Oct 152014
 

NEW YORK, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — As the world celebrates the seventh Global Handwashing Day, UNICEF said the fight against Ebola further underscores the practice of handwashing in disease prevention.

“Handwashing with soap is one of the cheapest, most effective ‘vaccines’ against viral diseases, from the seasonal flu, to the common cold,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s global water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes. “Our teams on the ground in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are stressing the importance of handwashing as part of a raft of measures that are needed to halt the spread of Ebola. It is not a magic bullet, but it is a means of additional defence which is cheap and readily available.”

UNICEF has been leading in raising awareness about Ebola in the affected countries, working to counter misconceptions about the disease that put even more people at risk. UNICEF has also distributed protective supplies such as gowns, gloves, and bleach – as well as 1.5 million bars of soap in Sierra Leone alone, and millions more in Liberia and Guinea.

“It is clear there is no simple fix, and it is going to take a massive international effort to stem the tide of this disease,” said Wijesekera. “But it is crucial to get the word out on what measures can be taken now in the hardest hit areas, even as additional help continues to arrive from the outside. Handwashing is one of those measures.”

Apart from Ebola, figures released recently by UNICEF and the World Health Organization say in 2013 more than 340,000 children under five – almost 1,000 a day – died from diarrhoeal diseases due to a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene. As the Ebola response takes its toll on the health services in the affected countries, the practice of handwashing is even more important in warding off these common diseases.

The annual Global Handwashing Day celebrations are occasions to emphasise the role of handwashing with soap in the prevention of common but potentially lethal diseases such as diarrhoea, and many countries around the world are holding activities to promote the practice.

In Sri Lanka, more than 38,400 students in 96 schools will take part in handwashing events, along with politicians and members of the public. In Lebanon, the SMS message, ‘Save your heath; wash your hands’ will be sent to hundreds of mobile phone users; while in Mali, there will be a nationwide media campaign with handwashing events and soap distribution in dozens of schools. Major events and celebrations are also scheduled in The Gambia, Nigeria, and Cambodia, among other countries.

Oct 152014
 

NEW YORK, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Tripoli on Saturday, 11 October, following a visit to Tunis.

His brief trip was aimed at urging Libyan parties to press forward with their nascent dialogue in order to restore stability to their crisis-ridden country.

From the airport, he immediately went to the Corinthian Hotel in the city, to speak at a meeting that brought together the Deputy President of Libya’s elected House of Representatives, Mohammed Sha’ib, other members of the House, and parliamentarians who had not attended the House sessions, including Fathi Bashagha, who led the so-called Misrata delegation. The Foreign Minister of Italy, Federica Mogherini, was also present at the meeting, as well as special envoys of a number of countries.

The Secretary-General very clearly told the legislators that “if violent confrontations do not cease, if sustainable peace is not restored, prosperity and a better life will be a distant dream”. (See Press Release SG/SM/16249.)

Stressing that there is no alternative to dialogue, the Secretary-General underscored that difficult decisions would have to be made by all parties. He encouraged them to ensure that the recent ceasefire agreed to in Ghadames holds, as no political breakthrough could be achieved if fighting continued.

Mr. Ban also had a message to the international community: “We would like to stress that all countries should support this political process. No military intervention will help to resolve the outstanding problems.”

He committed the United Nations continued support and assistance to the Libyan-led political dialogue.

Early that same evening, the Secretary-General left Tripoli en route to Cairo, Egypt.

Oct 152014
 

NEW YORK, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks at the high-level panel discussion on the “Africa We Want” in support of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, in New York on 13 October:

I am very honoured to join you today to discuss the support of the United Nations System to the African Union Agenda 2063. And I want to also particularly welcome the panellists to this meeting. I think you rarely meet such an eminent panel and I thank those of you who have travelled for this meeting. I think it’s a symbol of the quality of cooperation that now exists between the African Union and the United Nations. I was President of the General Assembly, as some of you may recall, and I can say that in last 10 years the quality of the relationship and the intensity of contact between the African Union and the United Nations has increased considerably.

As I’m sure the representatives of the African Union can vouch for, it’s a very intense agenda and a very positive one. We face huge problems, from the crises to Ebola. But I think the spirit in which we work — the spirit of Chapter 8 of the United Nations Charter, which I often refer to — is something we should always recall.

I have personal experience from my time as mediator of the Darfur crisis in 2007 and 2008, where Salim Ahmed Salim and I travelled in the region and spent 18 months on the mediation. And it was a particular pleasure for me to accompany him to the Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa, and bring him along to the Security Council in New York. We were like twins, they said at the time. I’m very glad to be on this panel with such distinguished friends.

Agenda 2063 takes a long view of Africa’s development aspirations. It sets out a vision of transformative change: a future where Africa’s resources are optimized for the benefit of all Africans. It’s a challenging agenda. It’s an inspiring agenda. It’s a daunting agenda. But it is an achievable agenda. It deserves the strong support of the international community.

As you all know, this is an extraordinary time for Africa. African economies have been growing at a rapid pace. African countries continue to make significant advances towards the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in reducing poverty, improving primary school enrolment, reducing child mortality, advancing gender equality and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS. Africa has made these advances with commendable momentum and focus — not least, since 2001, through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

As we discuss the next generation of global development goals, African leaders have articulated the needs and priorities of their peoples through the Common African Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Africa is the first region to have developed a joint position on post-2015. This work has laid a firm foundation for the realization of Agenda 2063. We must now build on this work, and safeguard progress to date.

Longstanding development challenges — not least formulated in the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) — must be conclusively met. We know that some will be met, but not all definitely before the end of next year. Economic gains will only be sustained if peace and security, human rights, good governance and rule of law are also promoted. Many African countries and communities have made great progress on these fronts. But more needs to be done.

It is now important that emerging threats, primarily the effects of climate change and the Ebola epidemic, must be met with decisive action. In these pursuits, the United Nations stands ready to strengthen our partnership. We will continue to work hand in hand with Africa.

And this goes not least for the unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which is one of the United Nations very highest priorities now. The epidemic has dealt a devastating blow to the affected countries and their neighbours. It is exacting appalling human costs, and at the same time it is seriously jeopardizing the hard-won economic and political gains of the affected countries.

We have now deployed the United Nations first-ever emergency health mission — the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) — with full, universal support. We would like to see more contributions to the trust fund. Alongside the efforts of the Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. Nabarro, UNMEER is working hard to urgently make a difference on the ground. Four important steps: treat the infected, preserve stability, prevent the spread of Ebola and ultimately defeat it. That’s our agenda. The key words for the Ebola crisis are: speed, action and national ownership with solid international support.

On the sustainable development goals, the process is now under way to set the direction for transformative change for the post-2015 period. And I’m glad to have with me at this meeting Assistant Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who is working diligently almost day and night on this issue together with her colleagues from the United Nations system, not least the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). On the MDGs, the Secretary-General and I continue to drive forward initiatives that will accelerate progress as the 2015 deadline draws near.

The “Every woman, every Child” initiative, in line with the goals of the African Union’s Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality, has already secured over 240 commitments from Governments, the private sector and civil society with respect to Africa. These commitments will advance women’s and children’s health in the region as part of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

Another example is the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which is bringing together leaders from all sectors of society to scale up access to clean energy. This is vital to ensuring that the world can continue to lift its people out of poverty without jeopardizing sustainability. And I am glad and grateful that 42 African countries have joined this initiative.

The Call to Action on Sanitation, which I launched on behalf of the Secretary-General in 2013, is catalysing action on one of the most basic, but sadly lagging of the MDG targets: access to sanitation. As you know, two and a half (2.5) billion people around the world do not have toilets and over 1 billion people practice open defecation. These figures are a main reason for child and maternal mortality in many countries. And I have seen children and women die in front of me; that is one of the reasons I am so committed.

Climate change adaptation and mitigation will be indispensable to the long-term development of every region in the world. The Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, on 23 September, boosted political momentum and I think effectively catalysed action on the ground. And Africa was at the forefront on climate action. I particularly note the launch of the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance, established by the African Union and NEPAD, together with five international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This Alliance will ensure that increased productivity and food security go hand-in-hand with decreased carbon emissions for nearly 25 million farming households by 2025.

The United Nations continues to support Africa’s development at the regional level through the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). ECA is working closely with the African Union to determine development needs for the implementation of Agenda 2063. This week the African Development Forum will be discussing “Innovative Financing for Africa’s Transformation”. And we all know how important that meeting on financing will be in Addis in the middle of July next year. Through the Regional Co-ordination Mechanism Africa, the entire United Nations family is actively engaged in support of Agenda 2063.

Peace and security, rule of law and human rights are objectives in themselves, but also essential to underpinning development gains. In these areas, the United Nations continues to support capacity-building and develop joint policies under the United Nations-African Union Ten-Year Capacity-Building Programme, the United Nations-African Union Joint Task Force on Peace and Security, and the Memorandum of Understanding between the African Union Commission Chairperson and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Here in New York — and I would like to add Addis Ababa, as Commissioners Chergui and Maruping certainly can confirm — we continue to galvanize the support of the international community for countries in conflict and post-conflict situations. High-level meetings convened during the general debate here at the United Nations last month have invigorated support to several vulnerable African countries, including Somalia, Mali and the Central African Republic, among others.

And through the Secretary-General’s Human Rights up Front initiative, the United Nations system will be better prepared to support national authorities in preventing human rights violations from turning into mass atrocities. We were faced with that danger as you know both in South Sudan and in Central African Republic a year ago, and the dangers are still there. This initiative is also a reminder of the positive impact of respect of human rights on economic and social development.

Let me state in closing: we must build on the indispensable partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, in the spirit of our respective charters. I reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations to support the implementation of the African Union Agenda 2063. A stable, prosperous and flourishing Africa is a contribution not only to its own people, its own citizens, but it is a contribution to the world. Your vision is our vision. Your success is our success.

Oct 152014
 

ABUJA, Nigeria, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — ActionAid Nigeria congratulates the Nigeria Police for appointing a Force Gender Adviser in the person of CSP Olabisi Kolawole.

The anti-poverty and women’s rights organisation noted that this laudable step will go a long way in addressing issues of violence against women and girls in the country.

According to Dr Hussaini Abdu, ActionAid Nigeria’s Country Director, “this action has been long awaited and Nigeria will be the better for it. Dedicated gender units within the Police Force will encourage attitudinal change in the general public and support better reporting and handling of gender-based crimes.

“However, for this reform to be effective, the Nigerian Police Force must institutionalise a system to ensure efficiency in the unit and provide training and resources for members of the unit to better respond to gender-based crimes as well as put in place performance measures to motivate and reward this new form of policing that responds to women’s needs.”

Abdu also advised that “the force needs to begin to look at partnering with relevant stakeholders including CSOs, media, labour, youth groups, women organisations, the Nigeria Bar Association, sister law enforcement agencies and other relevant agencies on addressing legal challenges hampering the police ability to respond to issues of violence against women and girls”.

He added, “ActionAid Nigeria will continue to support national efforts to make Nigeria police services more inclusive and responsive to issues that affect women and girls in the country.”

ActionAid had for years engaged with the Nigeria Police on issues of violence against girls and women. Some of these engagements include stakeholders’ forum and training programmes involving police officers.

Oct 142014
 

OSLO, Norway, October 14, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — ‘The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the worst the world has ever seen, and is a serious threat to health, security and development both in the region and globally. Unless the international community, and particularly the UN and WHO, scale up and speed up the response, the situation will continue to deteriorate,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

Today, Mr Brende is in Liberia, the country worst affected by the outbreak. He is visiting the country together with Dr Rajiv Shah, Administrator of USAID, the US Agency for International Development. The purpose of their visit is to learn more about what needs to be done, mobilise a greater global effort and show international solidarity with the worst affected countries.

Norway is now allocating a further NOK 75 million to these efforts, bringing the total to NOK 329 million so far this year.

‘There is an urgent need for a massive increase in the scale of the response to Ebola. We are therefore allocating a further NOK 50 million to actions under the WHO Ebola response roadmap. These include expanding treatment capacity, reducing the risk associated with burials, contact tracing, and strengthening the very weak health services in the affected countries,’ said Mr Brende.

Norway is also earmarking funding to fast-track research on Ebola and to speed up the development of vaccines and treatment methods.

‘We still know too little about the virus. There is an acute need for a stronger research effort. Norway is allocating NOK 15 million to GLOBVAC, the Global Health and Vaccination Research programme run by the Research Council of Norway, and NOK 10 million to the WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases,’ said Mr Brende.

So far, more than 8 300 cases of Ebola have been registered in West Africa, and more than 4 000 people have died. Liberia is most severely affected, with more than 4 000 cases and 2 300 deaths. It is difficult to reduce transmission of the disease in a very poor country where confidence in the authorities has been eroded by many years of war, corruption and lack of development.

While he was in the capital Monrovia today, Mr Brende met President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Minister of Foreign Affairs Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, Minister of Health and Social Welfare Walter T. Gwenigale and Minister of Finance and Development Planning Amara Mohamed Konneh. He also met UN Special Representative for Liberia Karin Landgren, Norwegian members of the UN Police, and NGO personnel, local health workers and private sector representatives.

Oct 142014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 14, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Are the Ebola outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal over?

Not quite yet.

If the active surveillance for new cases that is currently in place continues, and no new cases are detected, WHO will declare the end of the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Senegal on Friday 17 October. Likewise, Nigeria is expected to have passed through the requisite 42 days, with active surveillance for new cases in place and none detected, on Monday 20 October.

For Nigeria, WHO confirms that tracing of people known to have contact with an Ebola patient reached 100% in Lagos and 98% in Port Harcourt. In a piece of world-class epidemiological detective work, all confirmed cases in Nigeria were eventually linked back to the Liberian air traveller who introduced the virus into the country on 20 July.

The anticipated declaration by WHO that the outbreaks in these 2 countries are over will give the world some welcome news in an epidemic that elsewhere remains out of control in 3 West African nations.

In Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, new cases continue to explode in areas that looked like they were coming under control. An unusual characteristic of this epidemic is a persistent cyclical pattern of gradual dips in the number of new cases, followed by sudden flare-ups. WHO epidemiologists see no signs that the outbreaks in any of these 3 countries are coming under control.

How does WHO declare the end of an Ebola outbreak?

A WHO subcommittee on surveillance, epidemiology, and laboratory testing is responsible for establishing the date of the end of an Ebola outbreak.

The date is fixed according to rigorous epidemiological criteria that include the date when the last case with a high-risk exposure completes 21 days of close medical monitoring and tests negative for the virus.

According to WHO recommendations, health care workers who have attended patients or cleaned their rooms should be considered as “close contacts” and monitored for 21 days after the last exposure, even if their contact with a patient occurred when they were fully protected by wearing personal protective equipment.

For health care workers, the date of the “last infectious contact” is the day when the last patient in a health facility tests negative using a real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

For WHO to declare an Ebola outbreak over, a country must pass through 42 days, with active surveillance demonstrably in place, supported by good diagnostic capacity, and with no new cases detected. Active surveillance is essential to detect chains of transmission that might otherwise remain hidden.

Incubation period

The period of 42 days, with active case-finding in place, is twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola virus disease and is considered by WHO as sufficient to generate confidence in a declaration that an Ebola outbreak has ended.

Recent studies conducted in West Africa have demonstrated that 95% of confirmed cases have an incubation period in the range of 1 to 21 days; 98% have an incubation period that falls within the 1 to 42 day interval. WHO is therefore confident that detection of no new cases, with active surveillance in place, throughout this 42-day period means that an Ebola outbreak is indeed over.

The announcement that the outbreaks are over, in line with the dates fixed by the subcommittee on surveillance, epidemiology, and laboratory testing, is made by the governments of the affected countries in close collaboration with WHO and its international partners.

Official announcements for the 2 countries will be made on the WHO website.

WHO recommendations for testing for Ebola virus disease and confirming a case

WHO is alarmed by media reports of suspected Ebola cases imported into new countries that are said, by government officials or ministries of health, to be discarded as “negative” within hours after the suspected case enters the country.

Such rapid determination of infection status is impossible, casting grave doubts on some of the official information that is being communicated to the public and the media.

• For early detection of Ebola virus in suspected or probable cases, detection of viral ribonucleic acid (RNA) or viral antigen are the recommended tests.

• Laboratory-confirmed cases must test positive for the presence of the Ebola virus, either by detection of viral RNA by RT-PCR, and/or by detection of Ebola antigen by a specific Antigen detection test, and/or by detection of immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies directed against Ebola.

• Two negative RT-PCR test results, at least 48 hours apart, are required for a clinically asymptomatic patient to be discharged from hospital, or for a suspected Ebola case to be discarded as testing negative for the virus.

• Laboratory results should be communicated to WHO as quickly as possible, in addition to reporting under the requirements and within the timelines set out in the International Health Regulations, which are administered by WHO.

Note

WHO recommends that the first 25 positive cases and 50 negative specimens detected by a country without a recognized national reference viral haemorrhagic fever laboratory should be sent for secondary confirmatory testing to a WHO collaborating centre, designed as specialized in the safe detection (at biosafety level IV) of viral haemorrhagic fevers.

Similarly, for countries with a national reference laboratory for viral haemorrhagic fevers, the initial positive cases should also be sent to a WHO collaborating centre for confirmation.

If results are concordant, laboratory results reported from the national reference laboratory would be accepted by WHO.

• For more information read WHO recommendations on laboratory guidance for the diagnosis of Ebola virus disease

Oct 142014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 14, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Are the Ebola outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal over?

Not quite yet.

If the active surveillance for new cases that is currently in place continues, and no new cases are detected, WHO will declare the end of the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Senegal on Friday 17 October. Likewise, Nigeria is expected to have passed through the requisite 42 days, with active surveillance for new cases in place and none detected, on Monday 20 October.

For Nigeria, WHO confirms that tracing of people known to have contact with an Ebola patient reached 100% in Lagos and 98% in Port Harcourt. In a piece of world-class epidemiological detective work, all confirmed cases in Nigeria were eventually linked back to the Liberian air traveller who introduced the virus into the country on 20 July.

The anticipated declaration by WHO that the outbreaks in these 2 countries are over will give the world some welcome news in an epidemic that elsewhere remains out of control in 3 West African nations.

In Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, new cases continue to explode in areas that looked like they were coming under control. An unusual characteristic of this epidemic is a persistent cyclical pattern of gradual dips in the number of new cases, followed by sudden flare-ups. WHO epidemiologists see no signs that the outbreaks in any of these 3 countries are coming under control.

How does WHO declare the end of an Ebola outbreak?

A WHO subcommittee on surveillance, epidemiology, and laboratory testing is responsible for establishing the date of the end of an Ebola outbreak.

The date is fixed according to rigorous epidemiological criteria that include the date when the last case with a high-risk exposure completes 21 days of close medical monitoring and tests negative for the virus.

According to WHO recommendations, health care workers who have attended patients or cleaned their rooms should be considered as “close contacts” and monitored for 21 days after the last exposure, even if their contact with a patient occurred when they were fully protected by wearing personal protective equipment.

For health care workers, the date of the “last infectious contact” is the day when the last patient in a health facility tests negative using a real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

For WHO to declare an Ebola outbreak over, a country must pass through 42 days, with active surveillance demonstrably in place, supported by good diagnostic capacity, and with no new cases detected. Active surveillance is essential to detect chains of transmission that might otherwise remain hidden.

Incubation period

The period of 42 days, with active case-finding in place, is twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola virus disease and is considered by WHO as sufficient to generate confidence in a declaration that an Ebola outbreak has ended.

Recent studies conducted in West Africa have demonstrated that 95% of confirmed cases have an incubation period in the range of 1 to 21 days; 98% have an incubation period that falls within the 1 to 42 day interval. WHO is therefore confident that detection of no new cases, with active surveillance in place, throughout this 42-day period means that an Ebola outbreak is indeed over.

The announcement that the outbreaks are over, in line with the dates fixed by the subcommittee on surveillance, epidemiology, and laboratory testing, is made by the governments of the affected countries in close collaboration with WHO and its international partners.

Official announcements for the 2 countries will be made on the WHO website.

WHO recommendations for testing for Ebola virus disease and confirming a case

WHO is alarmed by media reports of suspected Ebola cases imported into new countries that are said, by government officials or ministries of health, to be discarded as “negative” within hours after the suspected case enters the country.

Such rapid determination of infection status is impossible, casting grave doubts on some of the official information that is being communicated to the public and the media.

• For early detection of Ebola virus in suspected or probable cases, detection of viral ribonucleic acid (RNA) or viral antigen are the recommended tests.

• Laboratory-confirmed cases must test positive for the presence of the Ebola virus, either by detection of viral RNA by RT-PCR, and/or by detection of Ebola antigen by a specific Antigen detection test, and/or by detection of immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies directed against Ebola.

• Two negative RT-PCR test results, at least 48 hours apart, are required for a clinically asymptomatic patient to be discharged from hospital, or for a suspected Ebola case to be discarded as testing negative for the virus.

• Laboratory results should be communicated to WHO as quickly as possible, in addition to reporting under the requirements and within the timelines set out in the International Health Regulations, which are administered by WHO.

Note

WHO recommends that the first 25 positive cases and 50 negative specimens detected by a country without a recognized national reference viral haemorrhagic fever laboratory should be sent for secondary confirmatory testing to a WHO collaborating centre, designed as specialized in the safe detection (at biosafety level IV) of viral haemorrhagic fevers.

Similarly, for countries with a national reference laboratory for viral haemorrhagic fevers, the initial positive cases should also be sent to a WHO collaborating centre for confirmation.

If results are concordant, laboratory results reported from the national reference laboratory would be accepted by WHO.

• For more information read WHO recommendations on laboratory guidance for the diagnosis of Ebola virus disease