It’s getting lost in the coverage of Covid-19, but the world’s second-worst Ebola outbreak ever may soon be history.
The last known patient with the disease was discharged from a treatment facility last week. Her clearance triggered a 42-day countdown. If no new cases are discovered in that period, the outbreak will officially be at an end. → Read the rest “At last, an end to the DRC’s Ebola outbreak?”
This week brought another dramatic reminder of the impact of U.S. President Donald Trump’s expanded global gag rule is having on places in Africa. The policy has crippled health service delivery – and particularly the delivery of sexual and reproductive health care – across Malawi, according to a new report from the U.S.-based → Read the rest “The damage Trump has done to healthcare in Malawi”
The theme of this year’s African Union Summit was “Silencing the Guns,” and much of the focus was on continental efforts to ease the conflicts in South Sudan and Libya. But peacemaking wasn’t the only thing on the agenda during the meetings last week in Addis Ababa. A collection of presidents, officials from international agencies and bankers also held a meeting to discuss nutrition on the continent, focusing on the impact conflict has had in driving hunger across Africa. → Read the rest “Setting a different theme on nutrition”
Last week brought the frustrating news that a somewhat-promising HIV vaccine was not actually effective, causing researchers to shut down an ongoing trial in South Africa. The search for a vaccine to the virus, which infected an estimated 1.7 million people last year, the majority in sub-Saharan Africa, has been long and mostly disappointing. → Read the rest “The disappointing search for an HIV vaccine”
I’m in Uganda this week, where the talk is all about 2019-nCoV, better known as coronavirus. On the one hand, health officials are bracing for the arrival of the virus, which has killed 490 people already. On the other, there has been some eye-rolling over the perception that the continent is taking the threat too seriously, with air carriers like Kenya Airways and RwandAir suspending flights to China. → Read the rest “Will Africa’s preparations for the coronavirus be enough?”
While much of the world focused on the gathering in Davos last week, there was a smaller get-together in Togo’s capital, Lome. There leaders and representatives from seven African countries signed on to an agreement, the Lome Initiative, committing to introduce legislation criminalizing the trafficking of fake medicines.
The idea is that it will be the first step in a broader effort to end the trafficking and sale of substandard and falsified drugs. → Read the rest “Fighting Fake Drugs”
The World Health Organization released its list of the 13 urgent health crises for the new decade. And though the list wasn’t in order of priority, it began with elevating the issue of health in the climate debate.
Without going any further down the list, it’s worth exploring how that specific issue has gone under-examined in Africa and what the implications are. → Read the rest “Climate change is already killing people across Africa. It will only get worse.”
The effort to decolonize global health is having a moment, with Goats and Soda — NPR's global health and development blog and a key read in the development world — predicting it will be one of the top trends in 2020.
Among the highlights, there will be a conference at Duke University on the issue at the end of the month — the latest in a series of events challenging traditional approaches to global health and the role still reserved for neo-colonial practices. → Read the rest “The decolonization trend”
At the end of 2019, Science connected the dots on a range of polio incidents across 12 countries last year that left 196 children paralyzed.
The culprit was not wild poliovirus — the long-time public health bogeyman — but polio type 2 that emerged from previous vaccinations. The vaccine uses weakened strains of the virus, which can change over time to behave more like the naturally occurring version of the virus. → Read the rest “Africa’s emerging polio problem”
In Kenya, the country’s largest telecom is rolling out what should prove an interesting experiment. Safaricom subscribers will be able to sign up for a service that alerts them to information about any epidemics that have broken out in the places where they are traveling. It will also offer details on steps people can take to prevent infection and on symptoms they should look out for. → Read the rest “Kenya experiments with an early epidemic warning system”
This year's World Malaria Report was a mixed bag. There are more women and children being protected from the disease, which continues to disproportionately affect Africans, but overall progress in prevention appears to have stalled.
The result is that about 11 million pregnant women — who are especially vulnerable to the disease — were infected with malaria in sub-Saharan Africa in 2018. → Read the rest “Global malaria response needs a jumpstart”
Maybe it's because it fell on a Sunday, but World AIDS Day came and went this year with little fanfare — underscoring just how global attention for the epidemic has flagged. And not at a good time: The youth bulge across Africa and other parts of the developing world mean that more efforts are needed to prevent transmission of the disease or risk seeing a mass of new patients that overwhelms the existing infrastructure for treatment. → Read the rest “Don’t ignore World AIDS Day”
The World Health Organization is really pushing African countries to translate commitments their leaders have made to universal health coverage into actual practice. And they are offering up some inducements.
The WHO signed an agreement with the African Union last week to provide expertise in areas ranging from drug regulations to finance modeling to AU and country officials. → Read the rest “An agreement with some strings attached”
The world officially has an Ebola vaccine.
European regulators approved the marketing and distribution of Ervebo, a vaccine from the drugmaker Merck, which can be used against the most-common strain of the virus. Already in use in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it has been shown to be 97.5 percent effective. → Read the rest “An Ebola breakthrough”