Posts Tagged ‘world health organization’

The Director General World Health Organization (WHO) Margaret Chan Sends Message to ALBA Summit on Ebola

October 20, 2014


(acn) The Director General World
Health Organization (WHO) Margaret Chan, sent a message
to the Heads of State and Government of the Bolivarian Alliance
for the Peoples of Our America-Trade Treaty of the Peoples
(ALBA-TCP) that gathered in Havana for a Special Summit on
Ebola. Cuban News Agency now
reproduces the text of her message:
Greetings from the World Health Organization in Geneva,
I must begin by thanking the Cuban government for giving
the Ebola outbreak response so many highly experienced
Cuban doctors and nurses. I have seen the many news
photographs of these staff in their sparkling white lab
jackets, ready to help. This brings a most welcome face of
hope to what is otherwise a horrific outbreak.
I welcome this opportunity to address members of the
Bolivarian Alliance. I welcome the purpose of this
meeting: you are absolutely doing the right thing. You
want to step up your level of preparedness for an
imported Ebola case on the most urgent basis possible.
WHO working with PAHO are here to support you in any way
we can. Last month the Ebola
virus moved to your region. As experiences in Lagos,
Nigeria in July and now in the USA last month told us, any
country with an international airport is theoretically at risk
of an imported case of Ebola. We must all respect this
Ebola virus, which is one of the most deadly pathogens on
the planet.

This is an unforgiving virus that shows no mercy for
even the smallest mistake. It knows how to exploit every
single opportunity to flare up again or spread to new
areas. The Ebola outbreak in
West Africa is the most severe acute medical emergency
seen in modern times. Well over 400 healthcare workers have
been infected and more than half of them have died.
This has never been seen in any previous Ebola
outbreak. Like other parts of the world, countries in
this region are on high alert for any possible
importation of the Ebola virus in an air traveller.
Hardly a day goes by without rumors of an imported case
at an airport or in an emergency room somewhere in the
world. Governments are
right to bring out the protective suits and gear and
showcase their isolation rooms. This reassures their
citizens and their media crews that the country is
well-prepared to stop further transmission should an
imported case occur. This is understandable. The virus
is deadly. The disease is dreadful.

People are afraid. At the same time, we know that a
well-prepared country can defeat the Ebola outbreak.
On Friday, WHO will declare the outbreak in Senegal is
over. On Monday, we will do the same for the outbreak in
Nigeria, a feat that many health experts still find hard
to believe. But I can assure you WHO has full
confidence in this remarkable achievement.
Countries in the Bolivarian Alliance can and should do
the same. High-level political commitment and country
ownership make all the difference. Train your staff, use
drills to test performance, get protocols written
quickly, put systems in place, get your public and your
media behind you. Engage the community early to fight
fear with facts and understand the fundamentals of
infection prevention and control, especially in
healthcare settings. Protect against
mistakes. As recent instances of transmission of the
virus in Spain and the US show, wearing personal
protective equipment or PPE is not foolproof. It has to
be used in conjunction with excellent administrative,
environmental and engineering controls.
Let me repeat: on its own, PPE is not foolproof.
Last week, WHO issued new recommendations on PPE which
can help governments prepare efficiently and effectively.
As I said, WHO and PAHO are here to support you. I
sincerely wish you a most productive meeting.
Thank you.

Cuba triples doctors to fight Ebola in Africa

October 5, 2014

Featured Image -- 4999


The Militant

The revolutionary government of Cuba is nearly tripling the number of doctors, nurses and other health workers that it is sending to West Africa to combat the Ebola epidemic there, Havana announced Sept. 25.

Cuban Public Health Minister Roberto Morales had announced two weeks before that 165 volunteers were going to Sierra Leone in early October. But in answer to calls for help by U.N. and World Health Organization officials in the face of the rapid spread of the deadly disease, the Cuban government increased the size of the contingent to 461 volunteers, and expanded its operations to include Guinea-Conakry and Liberia.

“Many countries have offered money, but no other country has offered such a large number of workers to go in and help do the most difficult jobs in this crisis,” said Dr. Bruce Aylward, assistant director of the World Health Organization.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez told a U.N. meeting on Ebola Sept. 25 that Cuba “considers that coordination by the United Nations and the leading role of the World Health Organization are essential in guaranteeing collective, coordinated and effective action.”

Rodríguez said that Cuba’s response to the humanitarian crisis “is part of our spirit of solidarity with Africa, which has prevailed for more than five decades.”

French-based Doctors Without Borders has more than 240 foreign health workers fighting the epidemic in six treatment centers in West Africa, along with 2,800 locally-hired staff. Most of them are involved in “health care, water and sanitation in the centers, logistics (supplies) and health promotion activities,” Tim Shenk, Doctors Without Borders press officer, told the Militant. Volunteers with the group, from more than two dozen countries, comprise the main international help on the ground until the Cuban volunteers arrive.

Ebola grows exponentially

As of Sept. 26, more than 6,500 people are known to have been infected with Ebola Zaire, the most deadly of five Ebola strains, and more than 3,080 have died. Because many deaths are not reported, the total number is unknown. In Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, many bodies have “simply been thrown into the two nearby rivers,” according to the World Health Organization. “The current epidemic has been growing exponentially for at least 16 weeks, since May 2014. … The number of new cases has been doubling every 20-30 days.”

Ebola is a virus that is spread primarily through direct contact with body fluids. It impairs kidney and liver function and can cause severe hemorrhaging.

“In this epidemic, each Ebola patient is infecting around 2 other people,” WHO reports, “which means that just a twofold reduction in transmission will be enough to eliminate the virus.”

Traditional burial practices in West Africa — where mourners bathe or touch the deceased — and lack of modern sewage disposal helped lay the basis for the epidemic. There were at most one or two doctors per 100,000 in the three most affected nations prior to the onset of the epidemic. The virtual absence of any public health care system allowed the disease to spread largely undetected for several months.

Overwhelmed clinics in Liberia

In Monrovia, “much of the city’s health system has shut down over fears of Ebola among staff members and patients, leaving many people without treatment for other conditions,” Doctors Without Borders reports. The group has been overwhelmed, turning away patients from its 160-bed center in the Liberian capital.

Treatment for other diseases, births and traffic injuries have also been compromised. In the midst of the high season for malaria, stocks of anti-malarial medicines and bed nets have been depleted.

In Lofa County, Liberia’s breadbasket, nearly 170 farmers and their family members have died and their fields lie unattended.

Out of 15,000 Cuban health care workers who volunteered for the fight against Ebola, Cuban leaders chose 461 men. They will go as part of the Henry Reeve International Brigade, which was formed in 2005, when Cuba’s offer to send 1,586 health care workers to help victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana was snubbed by the U.S. government. They have been undergoing intensive training in coordination with Doctors Without Borders and the World Health Organization.

“I’m not afraid,” said Julio César Gómez Ramírez, a nurse who is going to West Africa with the brigade. “We’ve been taught to help others. Like many of my compañeros, I participated in the war in Angola [when Cuban volunteers helped defeat invasions by the South African apartheid regime], and we risked our lives there. This isn’t more difficult.”

President Barack Obama also addressed the U.N. gathering on Ebola Sept. 25. He reiterated that Washington would “establish a military command in Liberia to support civilian efforts across the region,” and set up “a field hospital, which will be staffed by personnel from the U.S. Public Health Service, and a training facility.”

“None of the staff in the field are involved in direct patient care or working Ebola treatment units,” Kristen Nordlund, from the Centers for Disease Control Communications Office, told the Militant prior to Obama’s announcement.

Asked if U.S. Public Health Service workers will treat those infected, Kate Miglaccio, a spokesperson for the Health Service, told the Militant Sept. 29 that they would treat health care workers and “continue efforts to build capacity for additional care.”

“The 3,000-strong American mission will not treat patients,” the New York Times reported Sept. 25, “but will build as many as 17 treatment centers, with a total of 1,700 beds, and try to train 500 health workers a week.”

“ It is unclear who will run” the centers once they are built, the Times said.

“We call on the international community, in particular the industrialized states that have great resources, to energetically respond to the call by the United Nations and World Health Organization to immediately provide financial, health and scientific resources to eradicate this scourge,” Cuban Foreign Minister Rodriguez told the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 27.

Cuba maintains medical cooperation with 32 African countries and decided to extend it to the countries most affected by Ebola, Rodríguez said.

Since making the revolution that overthrew the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship in 1959, 325,000 Cuban health care workers have given aid to 158 nations, including 39 in Africa, he said. “We also are training 38,000 doctors from 121 countries without charge, 3,392 of them from 45 African nations.”

“If small and blockaded Cuba can do this, how much more could be done to aid Africa with the cooperation of everybody, in particular the richest nations?” he said.

Argentines, Cubans Create 1st Therapeutic Vaccine for Lung Cancer

June 1, 2013


BUENOS AIRES – A team of Argentine and Cuban scientists has developed the first therapeutic vaccine for treating lung cancer.

The vaccine does not prevent the tumor, but promotes its destruction by activating the body’s immune system, the Insud Group said Friday.

Named Racotumomab, the vaccine was tested in controlled clinical trials and tripled the percentage of lung cancer patients still alive two years after its application.

The vaccine is the result of work by experts at Cuba’s Molecular Immunology Institute and of scientists at prestigious Argentine institutions.

More than 90 specialists worked on identifying an antigen and on developing a monoclonal antibody that “by inducing the body to react against this antigen, attacks the tumor and its metastasis, but not the healthy tissue,” the Insud Group said in a communique.

The vaccine is indicated in cases of cancer at an advanced stage or with metastasis, in patients who have received chemotherapy and radiation and are in stable condition.

The purpose of such therapy is “to change the paradigm of cancer treatment” to improve patients’ quality of life, Hugo Sigman of the Insud Group and founder of the consortium that developed the medication, said.

Lung cancer, considered one of the most deadly forms of the disease, causes close to 1.4 million deaths per year, according to a World Health Organization estimate.

Argentina is the first country in the world where the vaccine will be available starting in July, though it has also been approved in Cuba and is licensed to 25 countries of the Americas and Asia. EFE

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