This Weekly Bulletin focuses on selected acute public health emergencies occurring in the WHO African Region. The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 66 events in the region.
This week’s edition covers key ongoing events, including:
- Response to the tropical cyclone in southern Africa
- Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Meningitis outbreak in Togo
- Lassa fever outbreak in Liberia.
For each of these events, a brief description, followed by public health measures implemented and an interpretation of the situation is provided.
A table at the end of the bulletin gives detailed information on all new and ongoing public health events currently being monitored in the region, as well as recent events that have been controlled and thus closed.
Major issues and challenges include:
The impact of the devastation wrought by tropical cyclone Idai in Southern Africa has been better elucidated over the past week and the situation remains disastrous. Nearly two million persons are estimated to be affected in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, with access to these people still challenging in some areas due to the destruction of roads. The response to the disaster continues to be scaled up, including activation of the UN Inter Agency Standing Committee scale-up protocol for a period of three months, resulting in activation of the 10 clusters: Education,
Food Security and Livelihood, Health, Nutrition, Protection, Shelter/NFIs,
WASH, Emergency Telecommunications, Logistics, Camp Coordination and Management. Key immediate concerns, however, remain, including provision of emergency shelter, food assistance, clean water, and protection of children, women, the elderly and persons with disabilities.
For the healthcare sector The Ministry of Health declared a cholera outbreak this week, which demonstrates the urgent need to enhance the early warning component of the surveillance system due to the increased risk of vector- and mosquito-borne epidemic prone diseases. This will enable early detection and subsequent response to cases. Additionally, trauma care, psychosocial counselling and treatment of common and chronic illnesses are being urgently addressed.
The increase in the number of Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo observed last week continues, following a period of decreasing number of cases. Ongoing episodes of violence, together with community concerns and mistrust, are hampering the response efforts to limit disease transmission. Interventions have been successful, however, with health zones with previous high transmission of EVD now controlled. Increased funding and support from the international community are needed to ensure that the outbreak is controlled in the next six months.