Tag Archives: WHO

The Struggle Against the Ebola Pandemic Continues. Triggers Economic and Social Instability in West Africa

Liberia, Guinea laud progress while Sierra Leone battles renewed threats

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Global Research, March 04, 2015
Pan-African News Wire

 

Ebola-Photo-by-NIAID-300x300African leaders, healthcare professionals, international humanitarian organizations and others have praised the work done in battling the latest and most deadly outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

In Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the epicenters of the latest outbreak of the deadly pandemic, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of cases reported. It is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) based in Geneva, Switzerland and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States that some 9,500 people died among the 20,000 infected over the last year.

Nonetheless, even though there has been a precipitous decline in reported cases as borders re-open throughout West Africa and life is returning to some form of normalcy, experts and leaders warn that vigilance is still required. An increase in cases in Sierra Leone over the last several weeks has once again prompted concern.

In a recent statement from Geneva, it reports that

“According to WHO’s Feb. 25 Situation Report, the steep decline in case incidence in Sierra Leone from December to the end of January has halted, and transmission remains widespread. Case incidence decreased in Guinea in the week up to February 22 compared with the week before, and cases continue to arise from unknown chains of transmission. In Liberia, transmission continues at very low levels, with only one new case reported in the week up to February 22.” (World Health Organization)

Renewed Alert in Sierra Leone

Since last month there has been a new outbreak of cases in Sierra Leone of unknown origin. It is suspected that the EVD infections are being transmitted by workers in the fishing industry who have traveled inland to the capital of Freetown.

Overall says the WHO, “A total of 99 new confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) were reported in the week to 22 February. Guinea reported 35 new confirmed cases.”

A WHO summary report stresses that

“Transmission remains widespread in Sierra Leone, with 63 new confirmed cases. A spike of 20 new confirmed cases in Bombali is linked to the previously reported cluster of cases in the Aberdeen fishing community of the capital, Freetown.”

There were 14 confirmed new cases in Freetown during the same time frame, with additional infections being discovered from what is described as unknown chains of transmission in the capital and other locations. So serious is the current threat that Vice-President Samuel Sam-Sumana placed himself in quarantine after one of his security guards died from EVD on Feb. 24.

In a statement released by Sam-Sumana’s office on March 1, he says

“This virus has affected thousands of our people and has nearly brought our country to its knees. We all have a collective responsibility to break the chains of transmission by isolating the sick and reporting all known contacts, by not touching the dead … We cannot be complacent. We must work together as a nation to end Ebola now.” (Associated Press)

Liberia Reports Rapid Decline in Cases

At the same time transmissions continue at very low levels in Liberia, with only one new confirmed case reported in the seven days leading up to the week of February 22. Liberia, which has had the highest number of deaths, succeeded in bringing its number of confirmed cases to almost zero while reopening schools as well as the borders with contiguous states.

During the last week of February, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf visited the U.S. and met with Secretary of State John Kerry along with high-ranking members of Congress. She reported on developments in the fight against EVD and thanked Washington for its support.

Liberia, a longtime ally of the U.S., has served as a major partner with the Pentagon through the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Thousands of Pentagon troops were deployed to the country at the height of the outbreak many of which have now been withdrawn.

In a press release issued by a Liberian-based news agency it says

“President Johnson-Sirleaf and her delegation on Thursday, February 26 held discussions with House Democratic and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senators Lindsey Graham and Patrick Leahy of the Senate Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. The Liberian leader also met Senator Jeffery Flake and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senator Chris Coons of the Senate Subcommittee on Appropriation; Representative Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee along with ranking members including Representatives Elliott Engel, Chris Smith and Karen Baas.” (The News, March 2)

Ebola vaccine trials are continuing in Liberia

There are EVD vaccine trials also underway in Liberia where some 27,000 people may participate in a study to test the effectiveness of an experimental drug.

Front Page Africa newspaper based in the capital of Monrovia reported that

“The trial process, according to information, is being led by a Liberia-U.S. Clinical Research Partnership sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). The trial is seeking volunteers from groups at particular risk of Ebola infection, including health care workers, communities with ongoing transmission, contact tracers and members of burial teams.” (Feb. 27)

Clinical trial participants are assigned at random to one of three equally-sized groups.

Participants in one group will receive a placebo (saline), while the others will undergo a single injected dose of either the cAd3-EBOZ or the VSV-ZEBOV vaccines. The drugs were manufactured by pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and New Link/Merck, which are based in Britain, the U.S. and Canada.

There are efforts underway to assure the public in Liberia that the vaccine trials are safe and voluntary. Last year during the initial phase of the outbreak, there were accusations that the EVD pandemic was caused by a U.S.-sponsored bio-defense research program that went awry. (Article by Dr. Cyril Broderick in the Liberian Daily Observer)

Although several EVD outbreaks have been reported in Africa since 1976, originating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), then known as Zaire, the 2014-2015 pandemic has been the most virulent, widespread and long lasting. With specific reference to the ongoing trials of the vaccines which was initiated at the Redemption Hospital, a principal investigator of the Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccine in Liberia (PREVAIL), Dr. Stephen Kennedy, disclosed that he has taken the vaccine claiming the drug is safe and that no one needs to be afraid of the injections.

One issue discussed by President Johnson-Sirleaf with U.S. officials was the need to invest in medical, communications and educational infrastructure in Liberia. The West African state which was founded by former enslaved Africans in the U.S. during the early decades of the 19th century has been largely under the control of Washington for nearly a century through the control of rubber and mineral production.

The legacy of colonialism and neo-colonialism has underdeveloped Africa while European and North American states have grown wealthy as a result of the exploitation of agricultural commodities, mineral resources and labor. At present the Pentagon, the State Department and the Central Intelligence (CIA) are engaging in massive military and surveillance operations across West Africa under the guise of the so-called “war on terrorism.”

Nonetheless, instability is increasing throughout the region and only a resurgence of anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist sentiment can move the people towards genuine independence and sovereignty.

6000% Increase in Cancer Rates at Fukushima Site

By Christina Sarich
February 06, 2015
Natural Society

 

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As reports from individuals like Chieko Shiina, a supporter of the Fukushima Collaborateive Clinic talk about exploding rates of thyroid cancer in children, as well as an epidemic of leukemia, heart attacks, and other health problems, the Abe-led government and US continue to sweep the fall out of the Fukushima disaster under the rug.

Cancer rates have exploded at an increase of almost 6000% in areas near the reactor meltdown. Aside from people-on-the-street interviews that a rare media outlet like “Hodo station” will report on, mainstream media stays completely silent. One Japanese resident, Carol Hisasue, laments that as the incident has disappeared from the media, it has also disappeared from people’s consciousness.

So why does Fukushima continue to be a see no evil, hear no evil event? You can watch an over hour-long report that goes into detail, but to sum it up, people can’t even turn on their gas-stoves near Fukushima because “it would be like burning radioactive fuel in their kitchens.” The contamination levels are too ridiculous to even comprehend.

No matter if the accident was caused by a purposeful nuclear attack, an act of weather warfare (as some conspiracy analysts have suggested), or by the sheer greed of the nuclear industry who built it, it is essentially a massive nuclear weapon on fault lines. The Japanese government and TEPCO are guilty of crimes against humanity, and their neglect is compounded by a complete disregard, not only for human life, but for all life upon this planet.

The US is also responsible. After the spotlight was put on failing plants across the United States that continue to leak radiation into our air, water, and soil every day, the multi-billion dollar, US taxpayer-subsidized contracts of the nuclear industry came into question. And you can be sure any real inquiry into the infrastructure of our nuclear plants was hushed up as quickly as concerns were raised.

The World Health Organization once warned that cancer rates could soar 50% in less than 20 years – but we’ve already surpassed that estimate, which once seemed catastrophic, exponentially.

So tell me – why are we in such a hurry to forget Fukushima, and why are plans being drawn up to build more nuclear reactors in the US using taxpayer monies?

‘It Doesn’t Look Good’: World Health Body Fails to Meet Ebola Containment Goals

‘The most dangerous thing would be if people now think Ebola is over and become complacent,’ warns Ebola expert

December 1, 2014
Common Dreams

 

Health care workers undergo infection control training in Sierra Leone. (Photo:WHO/W. Romeril)

lth care workers undergo infection control training in Sierra Leone. (Photo:WHO/W. Romeril)

The World Health Organization has failed to meet their December 1 goal for isolating and containing the deadly Ebola outbreak in many regions of West Africa, the United Nations reports.

The targets, set in early October, aimed to get 70 per cent of the Ebola cases isolated and treated and to have 70 percent of the deceased safely buried by December 1. Of the hardest hit nations— Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone —only Guinea is on track to meet the deadline, WHO Spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said in a press briefing last week.

“In Liberia, only 23 per cent of cases are isolated and 26 per cent of the needed burial teams are in place. In Sierra Leone, about 40 per cent of cases are isolated while 27 per cent of burial teams are operational,” the Associated Press reports.

WHO Emergency Ebola committee member Oyewale Tomori, of Redeemer’s University in Nigeria, said that in light of the failed goals, WHO now must “redouble our efforts to see what we can do to reduce the spread and catch up with the virus.”

“Right now, it doesn’t look good,” Tomori added.

Further, the UN health body reported last week that two new cases have been confirmed in Mali, where the disease has spread across the border from northern Guinea. Since late October, there have been six Ebola related deaths in Mali. Both new cases are being treated.

The ultimate goal of WHO’s plan is to isolate all Ebola patients and provide safe burials for all by January 1. “The most dangerous thing would be if people now think Ebola is over and become complacent,” warned Ebola expert Dr. David Heymann. Earlier this month, the U.S. military announced they were scaling back their response to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, dropping the number of troops and treatment facilities from their initial commitment.

This week, 150 health workers from the West African countries of Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger and Nigeria will be training in Ghana on how to help tackle Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

Worldwide, there have been a total of 15,935 reported cases of Ebola with 5,689 reported deaths, as of November 26.