An Emergency Committee was convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) on 1 February 2016. Following the advice of the Committee, the Director-General announced the recent cluster of microcephaly and other neurologic disorders reported in Brazil to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
60 million PEOPLE WILL BE AFFECTED BY EL NIÑO IN THE FOUR MOST AFFECTED REGIONS
2.8 million PEOPLE REQUIRE HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE IN GUATEMALA AND HONDURAS
10.2 million PEOPLE IN NEED OF EMERGENCY FOOD IN ETHIOPIA
14 million FOOD INSECURE PEOPLE IN SOUTHERN AFRICA – EXCLUDING SOUTH AFRICA
El Niño status
The ECDC Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR) is a weekly bulletin for epidemiologists and health professionals on active public health threats. This issue covers the period 24-30 January 2016 and includes updates on Zika virus, Ebola virus disease and MERS.
Background and purpose
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has as its **Strategic Objective 5** to “Increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises”. In support of its national counterparts, FAO aims to address the current and future needs of vulnerable people affected by the 2015‒2016 El Niño event.
The following syndromes have been flagged: - Acute Fever and Rash: French Polynesia, Palau - Diarrhoea: Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga - Influenza-like illness: Solomon Islands - Prolonged fever: Solomon Islands
Zika virus - Tonga: There has been an increase in the number of suspected zika cases reported in the week ending 17 and 24 January 2016. Two out of nine samples sent to the LabPlus NZ, were RT-PCR positive for Zika virus.
Total affected population: 2.3 million
Total affected children (under 18): 1.4 million
Total people to be reached in 2016: 85,000
Total children to be reached in 2016: 51,000
2016 programme targets
800 children aged 6 to 59 months with global acute malnutrition identified and referred, including 120 children treated for severe acute malnutrition (SAM)
48,000 children under 5 years received micronutrient supplementation
• Zika virus is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis.
• Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days. The disease has similar clinical signs to dengue, and may be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common. There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
The following syndromes have been flagged:
Acute Fever and Rash: French Polynesia, Palau
Diarrhoea: Solomon Islands
El Niño threatens at least 60 million people in high-risk developing countries, WHO says
Geneva, 22 January 2016—The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners predict a major global increase in health consequences of emergencies this year due to El Niño.
Disaster authorities in Fiji are shipping more than US$92,000 worth of food to cyclone affected communities in the southern Lau group.
Read the full article on Radio New Zealand International
Current conditions and forecast
Oceanic and atmospheric indicators suggest the 2015/2016 El Niño has peaked with a return to neutral conditions expected during the second quarter of 2016. However, countries continue to feel the effects of El Niño which include below average precipitation during the rainy season, more intense cyclones in the North-Western Pacific and potentially more frequent cyclones in the South Pacific over the coming weeks, as well as drought in South and South-East Asia.
The following syndromes have been flagged:
Diarrhoea: Solomon Islands, Tonga
Solomon Islands: Rotavirus outbreak continues. It appears that nationally the outbreak has plateaued, although case numbers may still be increasing in some provinces. Six deaths (4 children and 2 adults) have been reported to have died of a diarrhoeal illness during the outbreak. These deaths are being investigated to determine which deaths are attributable to the complications of rotavirus gastroenteritis.
Severe Tropical Cylcone Ula returns to category three strength, bringing winds of up to 120 kilometres per hour as it tracks slowly towards Vanuatu.
Severe Tropical Cylcone Ula has returned to category three strength, bringing winds of up to 120 kilometres per hour as it tracks slowly west south-westerly away from Fiji towards Vanuatu.
The first cyclone of 2016 had weakened to a category one after hitting Tonga's northern islands, particularly Vava'u, as a category three system last Saturday.
• Tropical Cyclone ULA formed over the South Pacific Ocean on 30 December 2015 and moved southsouthwest, strengthening. It passed close to Vava'u islands (Tonga) on 1 January 2016, with max. sustained winds of 140 km/h and close to Lau Islands (Fiji) on 2-3 January, with max. sust. winds of 160-170 km/h.
• Heavy rainfall and strong winds affected Fiji and Tonga during its passage. Media reported minor damage and evacuations in Tonga, as well as floods and damage in some areas of Fiji.
7 January 2016 – Briefing United Nations Member States today on the wildly varied and devastating impacts of the current El Niño weather phenomenon – which for months has sparked massive floods in some countries while leaving others, often in the same region, bone dry – the top UN relief official urged the international community to act now to help millions of people facing food insecurity.
Rotavirus in Solomon Islands
A rotavirus outbreak in Solomon Islands has so far claimed the lives of four children. More than 2000 cases of diarrhoea have been reported so far with the outbreak spreading from the capital to the provinces over the holidays. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services, supported by WHO, UNICEF and other partners, is implementing a nationwide response to the outbreak under the Diarrhoea Outbreak Response Action Plan.
The Fiji government is to deploy a team of officials this week to assist villagers affected by Tropical Cyclone Ula in the Southern Lau group of islands.
Read the full article on Radio New Zealand Int'l
India / Bangladesh / Myanmar
One hundred and fifty water tanks will be installed in the most drought affected areas in the Western Division of Fiji from today to ensure water for communities can be accessed by as many people as possible as the drought conditions worsen across the country.
The provision of tanks was made possible with support from the €19.36 million (US$21.12 million) European Union Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific (BSRP) project which is implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC).
Initial reports from Fiji's Lau group say Cyclone Ula has caused no major damage as the category three system passed through the archipelago in the past 24 hours after hitting northern Tonga on Saturday.
Read the full report on Radio New Zealand Int'l.