News scan for November 09, 2022

The spread of Ebola in the Southern District adds to Uganda’s challenges

Speaking at a World Health Organization (WHO) briefing today, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD said the Ugandan government is making progress in its fight against Ebola, but he expressed concerns about case detection outside key hotspots.

In the last two weeks, most cases have been reported from the capital Kampala and the district of Kassanda. Tedros said a case had also been reported from Masaka district in the south of the country, which seems to bring the number of affected districts to eight. “The detection of cases in several different districts is clearly of concern,” he said.

Tedros said the main focus is on strengthening contact tracing, community engagement and infection prevention.

Uganda’s Ministry of Health has reported 136 confirmed cases, along with 53 deaths in patients with confirmed infections. At the start of the outbreak, which began in September, the country reported 21 suspected cases, all of which were fatal.

In other developments, an internal report by the Ugandan Health Ministry on Oct. 31 predicts that the number of outbreaks could rise to as many as 1,200 cases and 500 deaths by April, UK sources said telegraph. The sources told the newspaper that the response has been hampered by a lack of transparency early in the outbreak and tensions between Uganda’s authoritarian government and international health partners.
9 November Speech by Tedros
Uganda Ministry of Health Ebola page
8 Nov
telegraph story

WHO: Weekly monkeypox cases up slightly

The number of monkeypox cases reported to the WHO rose slightly last week, with 19 countries reporting a rise in cases, the head of the WHO said today at a briefing on a variety of health issues.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said despite the small increase in cases, the number of weekly cases was down 80% from the peak reported in August. WHO tracking shows cases up 2.5% in the week ended November 6. Most of the cases reported last week came from the Americas and Europe regions. Of the 19 countries that reported increases, Mexico saw the highest increase.

In another new development, he said WHO this week signed an agreement with Siga Technologies, the company that developed the antiviral Tecovirimat (Tpoxx), for a donation of 2,500 treatment cycles. Tedros said WHO will invite low- and middle-income countries to express their interest in receiving the donated doses.

Although the treatment isn’t approved in most countries, the WHO has published a protocol that researchers can use to design and conduct clinical trials. Tedros said in settings where studies are not being conducted, the WHO recommends that tecovirimat be considered for use under a different protocol to encourage data collection on the treatment’s effectiveness.

The global COVID total today is 78,924 cases, 42 fatal, from 110 countries, according to WHO tracking.
9 November Speech by Tedros
9 Nov WHO monkeypox update

WHO Global Vaccines Market Report identifies gaps and limitations

In its latest report on the global vaccine market – the first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – the WHO today called for further steps to ensure equitable access and highlighted supply and access issues.

The group said the unfair distribution of vaccines is not unique to the COVID-19 vaccine and is one of the reasons for health disparities. For example, WHO said the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has only been rolled out in 41% of low-income countries, even though they bear much of the burden of cervical cancer. In contrast, 83% of high-income countries have adopted the HPV vaccine.

Another obstacle is affordability, as middle-income countries often pay the same price or more than wealthier countries.

The authors of the report also analyzed global vaccine production capacities. The market volume almost tripled between 2019 and 2021, mainly due to COVID-19 vaccines. However, production capacity remains highly centralised, with 10 manufacturers supplying 70% of vaccine doses. Some of the top 20 most commonly used vaccines are made by just two vendors.

The WHO warned that the concentrated manufacturing base poses the risk of shortages and uncertain supplies at the regional level.

At a briefing today, WHO Director-General Tedros added that there are still no vaccines for diseases like schistosomiasis and leishmaniasis, which hit low-income countries hardest. “The bottom line is that market dynamics are failing the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” he said. “WHO is urging governments around the world to expand research and production outside of their traditional centers.”
9 November WHO press release
9 Nov WHO Global Vaccine Market Report
November 9 WHO Tedros speech

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