WHO AFRO Outbreaks and Other Emergencies, Week 12: 18 - 24 March 2017 (Data as reported by 17:00, 24 March 2017)
This weekly update focuses on selected acute public health emergencies occurring in the WHO African region. WHO AFRO is currently monitoring 34 events, two Grade 3, six Grade 2, two Grade 1, and 24 ungraded events.
This week, two new events have been reported: meningitis outbreak in Cameroon and cholera outbreak in Malawi.
The update also focuses on key ongoing events in the region, including the two grade 3 humanitarian crises in Nigeria and South Sudan as well as outbreaks of Lassa fever in five West African countries (Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo, and Sierra Leone), cholera outbreaks in Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo, meningitis outbreak in Togo, and the El Nino phenomenon in Ethiopia.
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 report with information on all public health events currently being monitored.
Major challenges to be addressed include:
Cross-border challenges: the Lassa fever outbreak in West Africa, cholera in Malawi and Mozambique highlight the need to strengthen collaboration between Member States at district and national levels to address the threats arising from epidemic and pandemic-prone diseases. Although a number of cross-border meetings are held on an ad-hoc basis, there is need for a regional guidance document for cross-border meeting/collaboration before and during outbreaks.
Shortage of essential supplies, reagents and vaccines to prevent occurrence of outbreaks: in the context of grade 3 humanitarian crises in South Sudan and Nigeria, prepositioning of essential supplies, reagents and vaccines in at-risk areas remains a serious challenge given the large number of population in need (over 12 million people in both countries). The contribution of partners is critical in averting morbidity and mortality through adequate preparedness and response to threats arising from epidemic and pandemic prone diseases.
Sharing of data for evidence-driven decision making remains an issue in certain countries: as part of notification of public health events to WHO, countries are encouraged to submit to the Regional Office detailed information and data including line listing of cases for any given outbreak.