This Weekly Bulletin focuses on selected acute public health emergencies occurring in the WHO African Region. The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 55 events in the region. This week’s edition covers key ongoing events, including:
Declaration of the end of the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa
Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Cholera in Niger
Cholera in Cameroon
Hepatitis E in Namibia
Humanitarian crisis in Central African Republic.
For each of these events, a brief description, followed by public health measures implemented and an interpretation of the situation is provided.
A table is provided at the end of the bulletin with information on all new and ongoing public health events currently being monitored in the region, as well as events that have recently been closed.
Major issues and challenges include:
The Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to evolve, with a good outlook overall. Two new health zones have reported one confirmed EVD case each. While these cases were detected quickly and response measures applied immediately, the event highlights the complexities around the response to the current outbreak. The presence of potential undocumented chains of transmission, reluctance by some communities to adopt Ebola prevention behaviours, delays by patients to seek care upon developing symptoms, inadequate infection prevention and control measures in healthcare facilities, and the potential of the virus to spread into insecure areas with limited access are some of the major issues of concern. These issues need to be addressed collectively by the national and local authorities, partners and the communities. Additionally, there is a need to continue sustained implementation of all components of the response, including preparedness in the non-affected provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbouring countries.
The cholera outbreak in Niger is escalating, with several new cases and deaths occurring, and two additional districts being affected. The risk factors for propagation of the outbreak in the communities are prevalent, being compounded by the heavy rainfall and occasional floods. The current ongoing control interventions are not adequate to halt further transmission of infections. There is an urgent need to scale up implementation of all conventional cholera control measures, including deploying new tools such as oral cholera vaccine.