Ebola: 1 year into the DRC outbreak

1 August is the 1-year mark since the Ebola outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In the last year, there have been more than 2,600 confirmed cases, including more than 1,800 deaths in parts of Ituri and North Kivu provinces. Almost one in three cases is a child.

“At this critical juncture, we reaffirm our collective commitment to the people of the DRC; we mourn for those we have lost; and we call for solidarity to end this outbreak,” said heads of United Nations agencies in a joint statement on the Ebola outbreak. 

To read the full text go to: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/31-07-2019-at-1-year-mark-we-mourn-the-lives-lost-and-call-for-solidarity

Mission possible: accurately diagnosing infectious diseases

50 years ago, most people would have drawn a blank if asked about dengue. Now, infectious diseases like dengue are endemic in more than 100 countries, causing more than 20,000 deaths, mostly among children, per year. At first, it might seem like the flu, but then the fever rises, accompanied by headaches, joint pain, nausea and rashes. In its most severe forms, dengue haemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome, it can even cause internal and external bleeding or death.

As dengue is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito, if precautions are not taken, the virus can be spread to other family members or even the whole village. Considering the fact that vaccines or antiviral drugs are not available for dengue viruses, early detection plays a paramount role in the treatment and prevention of it. In reality, access to results generally requires a well-equipped laboratory and at least a few days’ waiting time – not to mention that, due to expensive diagnostics, patients may not even visit a doctor, resulting in underdiagnosis and the spread of the disease.

Source: Mission possible: accurately diagnosing infectious diseases

Updated Standards for Tuberculosis Care 

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) have developed 21 patient-centred standards to guide clinicians and public health workers to ensure optimal diagnosis, treatment and prevention of tuberculosis (TB).

The second edition of the European Union Standards for Tuberculosis Care (ESTC) is now available. It has been updated to integrate evidence-based recommendations from recently published international guidelines and policy documents.

The goal of the ESTC is to support public health experts, clinicians and healthcare programmes in TB prevention and control, bridging current gaps in case management of TB.

For more information about the Updated European Union Standards for Tuberculosis Care

Measles at record high in Europe

Over 41,000 children and adults in the WHO European Region have been infected with measles in the first 6 months of 2018. The total number for this period far exceeds the 12-month totals reported for every other year this decade. So far, the highest annual total for measles cases between 2010 and 2017 was 23,927 for 2017, and the lowest was 5,273 for 2016. Monthly country reports also indicate that at least 37 people have died due to measles so far this year.

Seven countries in the Region have seen over 1,000 infections in children and adults this year (France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, the Russian Federation, Serbia and Ukraine). Ukraine has been the hardest hit, with over 23,000 people affected; this accounts for over half of the regional total. Measles-related deaths have been reported in all of these countries, with Serbia reporting the highest number of 14.

For more information go to measles

Good practices in the prevention and care of tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB), and especially drug-resistant TB, is a public health challenge in both civilian and penitentiary sectors worldwide. The Global End TB Strategy envisages specific measures to be taken by WHO Member States globally to tackle the problem and address the challenge. The WHO Regional Office for Europe has developed the TB Action Plan for 2016–2020 to achieve the milestones and objectives set by the Global End TB Strategy. This first compendium of best practices in TB control in prisons is an essential document for the implementation of the Strategy, providing examples of treatment and care following the recommendations proposed for WHO and its partners.

To read more about good practices in the prevention and care of TB go to: WHO/Europe | New publication: Good practices in the prevention and care of tuberculosis and drug-resistant tuberculosis in correctional facilities (2018)

Low uptake of flu jab in Europe may jeopardise capacity to protect people in next pandemic

Fewer than one third of older people are vaccinated in half the countries surveyed. Influenza vaccination coverage among high-risk groups has dropped in the European Region over the last seven years, and half the countries report a decrease in the number of vaccine doses available. These are the results of the first comprehensive overview of seasonal influenza vaccine coverage in the European Region of the World Health Organisation  between 2008/09  and 2014/15, conducted by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Low uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination in Europe jeopardises the capacity to protect people during annual epidemics and the next pandemic, the two organisations warn.

To read more about this on the WHO Europe website go to: WHO/Europe | Media centre – WHO Europe/ECDC joint statement: Low uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination in Europe may jeopardise capacity to protect people in next pandemic

Polio in the EU

This year on World Polio Day the WHO European Region is celebrating the 15th anniversary of being certified free from poliomyelitis (polio). Achieving this back in 2002 was a vital step forward for both the Region and the world on the path towards global eradication of this crippling disease. While this target is now closer than ever before, the threat from polioviruses still hangs over the Region, and maintaining and improving vaccination coverage is as important as ever.

According to Professor David Salisbury, Chair of the Global Certification Commission and European Regional Certification Commission for Poliomyelitis Eradication, “The threat from polioviruses and the possibility of outbreaks remains very real. The Region must not ease up on either its actions or its political commitment to preserving its polio-free status.”


To read more about this on the WHO Europe website go to: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicable-diseases/poliomyelitis/news/news/2017/10/15th-anniversary-of-polio-free-certification-in-the-european-region-but-the-hard-work-to-prevent-future-cases-is-not-over

Measles are no longer an endemic in 79% of the WHO European Region

In the WHO European Region, 42 of 53 countries have interrupted endemic transmission of measles, and 37 Member States have interrupted endemic transmission of rubella as of the end of 2016. This was determined by the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) at its 6th meeting in June 2017.

“I congratulate each country for fulfilling the commitment to protect its people from measles and rubella and collectively moving the European Region closer to its elimination goal,” said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “However, we cannot become complacent now. Outbreaks continue to cause unnecessary suffering and loss of life.”

To read more about this on the WHO/Europe website: http://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/sections/press-releases/2017/measles-no-longer-endemic-in-79-of-the-who-european-region

The world is running out of antibiotics

An analysis of the antibacterial clinical development pipeline, including tuberculosis, launched by WHO shows a serious lack of new antibiotics under development to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

The report found very few potential treatment options for those antibiotic-resistant infections identified by WHO as posing the greatest threat to health, including drug-resistant tuberculosis which kills around 250 000 people each year.

Source: WHO | The world is running out of antibiotics, WHO report confirms

The WHO Global Hepatitis Report

World Health Organization (WHO) data from 28 countries – representing approximately 70% of the global hepatitis burden – indicate that efforts to eliminate hepatitis are gaining momentum. The data reveals that nearly all 28 countries have established high-level national hepatitis elimination committees (with plans and targets in place) and more than half have allocated dedicated funding for hepatitis responses.

This WHO Global Hepatitis Report describes, for the first time, the global and regional estimates on viral hepatitis in 2015, setting the baseline for tracking progress in implementing the new global strategy.

Find out more about the WHO’s 2017 Global Hepatitis Report on the who.int website.