Ebola – DRC+
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Ebola Outbreak in DRC 73: 24 December 2019
Situation Update
In the week of 16 to 22 December 2019, 14 new confirmed Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases were reported from four health areas within two health zones in North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The new confirmed cases in the past week are from Mabalako Health Zone (12/14; 86%) and Butembo Health Zone (2/14; 14%)…


DRC Ebola outbreaks
Military presence leads MSF to stop activities in Ebola-affected Biakato
Press Release 24 Dec 2019
Following security incidents in Biakato, Democratic Republic of Congo, an increase in security – including armed military forces – have been deployed around and within health structures. The presence of arms and weapons in hospitals and clinics has resulted in Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) taking the difficult decision to stop medical activities – including those related to Ebola – in Biakato.
“We are no longer able to work in accordance with our principles of neutrality and impartiality,” said Ewenn Chenard, Emergency Coordinator for MSF. “We regret this decision, but the presence of armed forces around and within the health structures of Biakato goes against our principles.”
MSF has been working with the people of Biakato, located in DRC’s northeastern Ituri province, since 2016, supporting the Ministry of Health. Initially, our activities were dedicated to assisting victims of sexual violence…


Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Statement of the Twenty-Third IHR Emergency Committee Regarding the International Spread of Poliovirus
20 December 2019
[Excerpts; Editor’s text bolding]
The twenty-third meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the international spread of poliovirus was convened by the Director General on 11 December 2019 at WHO headquarters with members, advisers and invited Member States attending via teleconference, supported by the WHO secretariat.

The Emergency Committee reviewed the data on wild poliovirus (WPV1) and circulating vaccine derived polioviruses (cVDPV).  The Secretariat presented a report of progress for affected IHR States Parties subject to Temporary Recommendations.  The following IHR States Parties provided an update on the current situation and the implementation of the WHO Temporary Recommendations since the Committee last met on 16 September 2019: Afghanistan, Angola, Benin, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Togo and Zambia…

Wild poliovirus
The Committee remains gravely concerned by the significant increase in WPV1 cases globally to 113 as at 11 December 2019, compared to 28 for the same period in 2018, with no significant success yet in reversing this trend. 

In Pakistan transmission continues to be widespread, as indicated by both AFP (acute flaccid paralysis) surveillance and environmental sampling. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province continues to be of particular concern.  The issues noted previously by the committee, including refusal by individuals and communities to accept vaccination, and problems with politicization of the national polio program are still being addressed.  Added pressure is now on the program due to confirmation of detection of cVDPV2 in several provinces (see below).
In Afghanistan, the security situation remains very challenging.  Inaccessible and missed children particularly in the Southern Region represent a large cohort of susceptible children in this part of Afghanistan.  The risk of a major upsurge of cases is growing, with other parts of the country that have been free of WPV1 for some time now at risk of outbreaks. This would again increase the risk of international spread.  Major efforts must be made to improve access if eradication efforts are going to progress.

The committee noted that based on sequencing of viruses, there were recent instances of international spread of viruses from Pakistan to Afghanistan and also from Afghanistan to Pakistan.  The recent increased frequency of WPV1 international spread between the two countries suggests that rising transmission in Pakistan and Afghanistan correlates with increasing risk of WPV1 exportation beyond the single epidemiological block formed by the two countries…

Vaccine derived poliovirus
The multiple cVDPV outbreaks in four WHO regions (African, Eastern Mediterranean, South-east Asian and Western Pacific Regions) are very concerning, with seven new countries reporting outbreaks since the last meeting (Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Togo and Zambia).  Since the last meeting, cVDPV2 has spread through West Africa and the Lake Chad area, reaching Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Chad, and cVDPV1 has spread from the Philippines to Malaysia.

The rapid emergence of multiple cVDPV2 strains in several countries is unprecedented and very concerning, and not yet fully understood. 

The committee noted that the GPEI was developing a strategy to address cVDPV2 outbreaks but was extremely concerned that the monovalent OPV2 stockpile was becoming depleted.  The committee strongly supports the development and proposed Emergency Use Listing of the novel OPV2 vaccine which should become available mid-2020, and which it is hoped will result in no or very little seeding of further outbreaks.

The Committee unanimously agreed that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and recommended the extension of Temporary Recommendations for a further three months.  The committee recognizes the concerns regarding the lengthy duration of the polio PHEIC, but concludes that the current situation is extraordinary, with clear ongoing risk of international spread and ongoing need for coordinated international response…

Additional considerations  
Preparedness – The committee urged all countries, particularly those in Africa, be on high alert for the possibility of cVDPV2 importation and respond to such importations as a national public health emergency.  This means countries should ensure polio surveillance can rapidly detect cVDPV2, and plans are in place to respond rapidly with well planned and executed mOPV2 campaigns, and with strict procedures to ensure unused vials are returned and managed so that inappropriate or accidental use is avoided.

International Coordination – Unprecedented levels of international spread of cVDPV require urgent coordinated control measures at regional and sub-regional levels.  The committee strongly encourages countries to do more in support of cross border actions, such as sharing of surveillance and other data, synchronizing campaigns and where possible ensure vaccination of international travelers.

Emergency Response – The committee noted the endorsement of SAGE for the accelerated clinical development of novel OPV2 and its assessment under the WHO Emergency Use and Listing (EUL) procedure, which can be used in a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), and added its support to ensure the supply of monovalent OPV2.

Financing – The number of outbreaks is proving to be costly to manage, and the committee urged affected countries to prioritize polio control as a public health emergency and ensure adequate domestic funding is available for an effective response.  The committee urged affected countries to mobilize domestic funding to complement the GPEI resources which are being stretched by the large number of outbreaks being fought globally.

Communication – Vaccine hesitancy is a significant factor in the spread of these outbreaks particularly certain countries including Pakistan and Angola.  The committee urged countries to invest time and resources into pro-actively circumventing and countering myths and misinformation regarding vaccination is general, and rumors that arise during the course of campaigns in particular.  Campaign communications need to address issues around avoiding spreading excreted Sabin-like viruses through good hygiene.

Based on the current situation regarding WPV1 and cVDPV, and the reports provided by affected countries, the Director-General accepted the Committee’s assessment and on 19 December 2019 determined that the situation relating to poliovirus continues to constitute a PHEIC, with respect to WPV1 and cVDPV.  The Director-General endorsed the Committee’s recommendations for countries meeting the definition for ‘States infected with WPV1, cVDPV1 or cVDPV3 with potential risk for international spread’, ‘States infected with cVDPV2 with potential risk for international spread’ and for ‘States no longer infected by WPV1 or cVDPV, but which remain vulnerable to re-infection by WPV or cVDPV’ and extended the Temporary Recommendations under the IHR to reduce the risk of the international spread of poliovirus, effective 19 December 2019.


Three African countries halt polio outbreaks
Kenya, Mozambique and Niger have curbed polio outbreaks that erupted in different episodes over the past 24 months, allowing them to regain their polio-free status, World Health Organization (WHO) announced
Brazzaville, 19 December 2019 – Kenya, Mozambique and Niger have curbed polio outbreaks that erupted in different episodes over the past 24 months, allowing them to regain their polio-free status, World Health Organization (WHO) announced.
Transmission of vaccine-derived poliovirus was detected in the three countries in 2018, affecting 12 children. No other cases have since been detected.
“Ending outbreaks in the three countries is proof that the implementation of response activities and ensuring that three rounds of high-quality immunization campaigns are conducted can stop the remaining outbreaks in the region,” said Dr Modjirom Ndoutabe, Coordinator of the WHO-led polio outbreaks Rapid Response Team for the African Region.
“We are strongly encouraged by this achievement and determined in our efforts to see polio eradicated from the continent. It is a demonstration of the commitment by Governments, WHO and our partners to ensure that future generations live free of this debilitating virus,” added Dr Ndoutabe…


Editor’s Note:
WHO has posted a refreshed emergencies page which presents an updated listing of Grade 3,2,1 emergencies as below.

WHO Grade 3 Emergencies [to 4 Jan 2020]

Democratic Republic of the Congo
:: Ebola Outbreak in DRC 73: 24 December 2019

Syrian Arab Republic
:: WHO deeply concerned about deteriorating health conditions in northwest Syria
25 December 2019, Geneva-Cairo-Copenhagen –  The World Health Organization today expressed its deepening concern about the situation in northwest Syria and the impact hostilities are having on the health of a population that has endured sustained hardships, in what is now harsh weather conditions.
“The recent military escalation in this area has resulted in loss of lives, injuries and exacerbated suffering of civilians, displacing more than 130,000, including women, children and elderly,” said Dr Richard Brennan, Director of Health Emergencies for WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region. “Some have been displaced three times during the nine years of the Syrian conflict,” he added.
Among the 12 million people in need of health services in Syria, over 2.7 million are in the northwest and half 0.5 million live in the areas south of Idleb, where disruption of fragile health services continues…

Mozambique floods – No new digest announcements identified
Nigeria – No new digest announcements identified
Somalia – No new digest announcements identified
South Sudan – No new digest announcements identified
Yemen – No new digest announcements identified


WHO Grade 2 Emergencies [to 4 Jan 2020]
:: Bi‐weekly Situation Report 25 – 19 December 2019
:: Tuberculosis(TB) performance for the third quarter for Cox’s Bazar District was reviewed at a meeting held with a view to strengthening TB programme activities in the district.
:: Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV)campaign in Rohingya camps has ended on 14 December. However, the campaign for the host community will continue for the period of 8 to 31 December 2019.
:: A total of 127 Community Health Worker(CHW) supervisors have received a two-day training on risk factors of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) and behavioral interventionsin Cox’s Bazar.
:: The government of Bangladesh through National Expanded Program on Immunization(EPI), is going to conduct a month-long Measles Outbreak Response Immunization (ORI) activity from 12 January to 12 February 2020 in the Rohingya camps.
As per Inter-Sector Coordination Group (ISCG)report of September 2019, there are 914,998 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar. This includes 34,172 refugees from Myanmar who registered before 31st August 2017. All refugees, including new arrivals, face compounding vulnerabilities, including in health. WHO has been responding to this crisis since September 2017. A summary of response actions from epidemiological weeks 49 and 50 of 2019 is presented below…

:: L’OMS offre un important lot de médicaments et matériels médicaux au Gouvernement du…
27 décembre 2019
Le Niger fait régulièrement face à des urgences de plus en plus complexes avec un impact négatif sur la santé des populations. Parmi ces urgences « les maladies à potentiel épidémique », telles que le choléra, la méningite, entre autres, mais aussi « les conséquences sanitaires liées à l’activisme de groupes armées non étatiques (GANE) » le long du périmètre des quatre frontières Mali-Burkina Faso-Nigéria-Niger impliquant dix (10) districts sanitaires (DS) dans la région de Tillabéry, 2 dans celle de Tahoua, cinq (5) dans celle de Diffa et 2 dans celle de Maradi, engendrant de grands mouvements de populations.

Afghanistan – No new digest announcements identified
Angola – No new digest announcements identified
Burkina Faso [in French] – No new digest announcements identified
Burundi – No new digest announcements identified
Cameroon – No new digest announcements identified
Central African Republic – No new digest announcements identified
Ethiopia – No new digest announcements identified
HIV in Pakistan – No new digest announcements identified
Iran floods 2019 – No new digest announcements identified
Iraq – No new digest announcements identified
Libya – No new digest announcements identified
Malawi floods – No new digest announcements identified
Measles in Europe – No new digest announcements identified
MERS-CoV – No new digest announcements identified
occupied Palestinian territory – No new digest announcements identified
Sudan – No new digest announcements identified
Ukraine – No new digest announcements identified
Zimbabwe – No new digest announcements identified


WHO Grade 1 Emergencies [to 4 Jan 2020]

Chad – No new digest announcements identified
Djibouti – No new digest announcements identified
Kenya – No new digest announcements identified
Mali – No new digest announcements identified
Namibia – viral hepatitis – No new digest announcements identified
Tanzania – No new digest announcements identified


UN OCHA – L3 Emergencies
The UN and its humanitarian partners are currently responding to three ‘L3’ emergencies. This is the global humanitarian system’s classification for the response to the most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises. 
Syrian Arab Republic
:: Syrian Arab Republic: Recent Developments in Northwestern Syria Situation Report No. 4 – As of 2 January 2020

Yemen – No new digest announcements identified


UN OCHA – Corporate Emergencies
When the USG/ERC declares a Corporate Emergency Response, all OCHA offices, branches and sections provide their full support to response activities both at HQ and in the field.
Editor’s Note:
Ebola in the DRC has bene added as a OCHA “Corporate Emergency” this week:
CYCLONE IDAI and Kenneth – No new digest announcements identified
EBOLA OUTBREAK IN THE DRC – No new digest announcements identified