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:
Cyclone in Mozambique
- Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Lassa fever in Nigeria
- Hepatitis E in Namibia
Chikungunya in the Republic of Congo.
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:
Although the situation in Mozambique in the aftermath of tropical cyclone Idai is improving amidst the massive response efforts, the effects remain including isolated communities that still require air or boat operations for mobile clinics. The risk of communicable diseases including an ongoing outbreak of cholera and rise in the number of malaria cases is being raised by the presence of stagnant flood water, continued limited access to safe water and overcrowding at accommodation centres. The recent launch of the oral cholera vaccine (OCV) campaign in the most affected districts with a coverage of 98.6% is expected to provide short-term relief. Expansion of the Early Warning and Alert Response System (EWARS) across more areas with support from WHO and partners is expected to enhance quick and timely response to outbreaks in order to mitigate their impact. However, with only 6.6% of the funds requested provided so far, there is a dire need to breach this funding gap in order to prevent a full-scale humanitarian crisis and help restore the health system to normality.
Challenges associated with insecurity and community resistance continue to characterize the response to the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo with two recent incidences of attack against healthcare facilities which resulted to the loss of life of one of WHO Epidemiologist and injury to several other Ministry of Health staff. The outbreak is still restricted to two provinces, North Kivu and Ituri, with Katwa health zone in North Kivu reporting about 52% of the cases in the past 21 days.
WHO and partners continue to support the government to scale-up response to the outbreak including strengthening case investigation, contact tracing, infection prevention and control, vaccination, and other response activities.
Following the recommendations of the International Health Regulations (IHR)
Emergency Committee meeting, community awareness and mobilization activities have been intensified particularly in areas with resistance at the epicentre of the outbreak. However, the ongoing gap in funding needs urgently to be filled to ensure unhindered implementation of response measures.