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Ebola serum for Africa patients within weeks, says WHO

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2014)

Serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available within weeks in Liberia, one of the country’s worst hit by the virus, says the World Health Organization.

Speaking in Geneva, Dr Marie Paule Kieny said work was also advancing quickly to get drugs and a vaccine ready for January 2015.

The Ebola outbreak has already killed more than 4,500 people.

Most of the deaths have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Dr Kieny, WHO assistant director general for health system and innovation, said: “There are partnerships which are starting to be put in place to have capacity in the three countries to safely extract plasma and make preparation that can be used for the treatment of infective patients.

“The partnership which is moving the quickest will be in Liberia where we hope that in the coming weeks there will be facilities set up to collect the blood, treat the blood and be able to process it for use.”

It is still unclear how much will become available and whether it could meet demand.

NBC freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo – who contracted Ebola in West Africa – is declared free of the virus and will leave hospital in the US state of Nebraska

Riots break out in Sierra Leone’s diamond-rich Kono district after angry youths resisted efforts to “quarantine” a house where a 90-year-old woman suspected to have Ebola lived. The youths were said to be angry because there were no treatment centres in Kono, the BBC’s Umaru Fofana says. Police imposed a daytime curfew in the area

UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening visits Sierra Leone to assess the impact of the government’s $200m (£125m) aid package

The US Homeland Security Department says all visitors arriving from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone will undergo enhanced screening at one of five airports

The Dominican Republic joins a group of Caribbean countries that have banned visitors from the three West African nations

Serum

If a person has successfully fought off the infection, it means their body has learned how to combat the virus and they will have antibodies in their blood that can attack Ebola.

Doctors can then take a sample of their blood and turn it into serum – by removing the red blood cells but keeping the important antibodies – which can be used to treat other patients.

The Spanish nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa tested negative for the virus after reportedly receiving human serum containing antibodies from Ebola survivors.

Dr Kieny said the treatment was not without risks, and WHO has already issued guidelines to ensure safety. Any donor blood will need to be screened for infections such a hepatitis and HIV, for example.

 

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WHO, UNICEF launch Afghan polio vaccine campaign with IEA backing

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(Last Updated On: November 9, 2021)

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations children’s agency launched a polio vaccination campaign in Afghanistan on Monday, the first nationwide campaign to fight the disease in three years.

Naikwali Shah Momim, the National Emergency Operations Coordinator for the polio program at Afghanistan’s health ministry, told Reuters the campaign had started in various parts of the country on Monday, but added there were several hurdles around a shortage of trained staff.

“We have not received the polio medicines on time, and most of the families refuse to vaccinate their kids because there are some rumors that this polio vaccine may harm their children. These are the issues we are facing,” said Hassibullah Qaderi, who is working with the polio vaccine campaign.

The campaign, which aims to reach over 3 million children, had received Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) backing, which would allow teams to reach children in previously inaccessible parts of the country, the WHO said.

Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are the last countries in the world with endemic polio, an incurable and highly infectious disease transmitted through sewage that can cause crippling paralysis in young children.

Polio has been virtually eliminated globally through a decades-long inoculation drive. But insecurity, inaccessible terrain, mass displacement and suspicion of outside interference have hampered mass vaccination in Afghanistan and some areas of Pakistan.

Several polio workers have been killed by gunmen in eastern Afghanistan this year, though it was not clear who was behind the attacks.

According to WHO figures compiled before the collapse of the Western-backed government in August, there was one reported case of the one wild poliovirus type 1 in Afghanistan in 2021, compared with 56 in 2020.

Until the disease is eliminated completely, it remains a threat to human health in all countries, especially those with vulnerable health systems because of the risk of importing the disease, according to health experts.

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New shipment of WHO life-saving medical supplies lands in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: November 8, 2021)

An aircraft carrying around 7 metric tonnes of life-saving medicines and supplies from the World Health Organization landed in Kabul last week, the organization confirmed Monday.

According to a statement issued by the organization, the shipment was delivered in collaboration with the operations and logistic teams of Qatar Airways and the government of Qatar.

This is the fourth flight carrying WHO supplies to arrive in Afghanistan from Doha since 30 August 2021.

The supplies include medicines for the treatment of 5,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, diarrhoea, pneumonia, upper respiratory infections, and other conditions.

“Health needs in Afghanistan are greater than ever before, and we are moving quickly to address shortages in medical supplies to keep life-saving health services running. Children are the tragic victims of the country’s failing health system,” said Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

He also expressed the organization’s gratitude to Qatar for their help in delivering the supplies.

“This show of ongoing solidarity is a concrete demonstration of our regional vision in action: health for all people, with the support all people,” said Al-Mandhari.

Since 30 August, 4 flights from Qatar to Afghanistan have delivered a total of 60 metric tonnes of WHO supplies, which are enough to cover the urgent health needs of almost 1.5 million people.

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Polio vaccine campaign rolled out in western parts of Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: November 7, 2021)

A Polio vaccination drive, started in western provinces of Afghanistan, is aimed at inoculating more than 1.3 million children, health officials said Sunday.

Mohammad Asif Kabir, Deputy Health Director of Herat, stated: “This is a strategic campaign as not all people have access to health centers. We can manage to implement the campaign for the eradication of Polio at more than 90 percent of the areas in the province [Herat], Zone [Western Parts of Afghanistan] and across the country.”

Health officials added that vitamin A supplements will also be given to more than 1.1 million children during the campaign.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stated that a nationwide polio vaccination campaign will be launched on Monday.

“Vaccinate your children against polio and protect their future!” UNICEF tweeted.

This comes after a polio virus case was registered in Ghazni this year and as many as 45 mutated strains of the virus have been registered across Afghanistan in recent years, World Health Organization country officials stated.

“We have registered five mutated type-2 variants in Herat, 17 cases in western parts of the country, and 45 cases across Afghanistan,” said Ahmad Shah Ahmadi, UNICEF Communication for Development Officer in Herat.

Ismail Seddiqi, Regional Polio Officer of WHO, stated: “The only way to eliminate [the Poliovirus] is to inoculate children under age five.”

Officials added that 10,500 people including volunteers are assisting to implement the campaign in four provinces in western parts of Afghanistan.

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