Tuesday, September 10, 2019

DR Congo: 3000+ Ebola cases, 2000 deaths

Press Release from World Health Organization (WHO) 
Dated Friday 06 September 2019
WHO and partners to help the Government boost health facility defences against Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
At least 155 health care workers have been infected with the Ebola virus disease since the beginning of this tenth outbreak
GENEVA, Switzerland, September 6, 2019/ -- To strengthen health practitioners’ proficiency in preventing the spread of Ebola virus disease in health facilities, the Commission for Prevention and Biosecurity of the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) launched on 5 September a guideline and training package on infection prevention and control that targets at least 3 000 nurses, doctors and other health care workers.

During the current Ebola outbreak, working in or transiting through health facilities present a high risk of exposure to the virus. With the ongoing heightened attention to equipping health facilities with Ebola-specific response units, the Government of the DRC is intent on covering all potential weak points by training staff on infection prevention, using standard guidelines recently revised by a team of technical specialists from the Health Ministry, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund and the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The ongoing tenth outbreak of Ebola in the DRC, which passed its one-year mark on 1 August, is the country’s worst. The number of confirmed and suspected cases have passed 3 000, with the number of deaths exceeding 2 000.

As of 25 August, nearly 18% of the total cases registered were hospital-acquired infections. At least 155 health care workers have been infected with the Ebola virus disease since the beginning of this tenth outbreak.

WHO is supporting the Commission for Prevention and Biosecurity in boosting infection prevention and hygiene training.

“I salute the progress being made in saving lives from Ebola virus disease,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, “But the situation remains critical, and a number of challenges remain. As part of our commitment to strengthening the health system of the DRC, we want to ensure that health facilities are not contributing to the spread of infectious diseases and this includes Ebola.”

With funding from the United States Agency for International Development, the UK Department for International Development and the World Bank, the training package provides a standardized approach to practices and procedures for health facilities and integrates measures related to water management, sanitation and hygiene, which are essential for preventing the spread of infectious disease.

The guidelines and training package will be rolled out over the next three months, beginning in Goma and targeting health care workers and other actors involved in primary response. This will enforce the universal application of infection prevention and control standards throughout the health care chain.

The revised guidelines will not only improve the infection prevention and control measures for Ebola but also serve as a broader health systems strengthening tool for preventing the spread of other infectious diseases within health facilities.

The training course and application of the prescribed standards will be monitored over the coming year in order to evaluate their effectiveness and possible impact on health facility-acquired Ebola virus disease.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO).

SOURCE: World Health Organization (WHO)

Monday, September 09, 2019

South Sudan: Ebola Preparedness (July 2019)

Press Release 
From United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Dated 01 August 2019
South Sudan: Ebola Preparedness Dashboard (July 2019)

SITUATION UPDATE

At the end of July a total of 2,699 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) cases had been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with 1,782 deaths (case fatality rate of 67 per cent). 

The risk of EVD spreading to South Sudan remained very high but there were no confirmed cases. 

Eleven alerts were reported and verified during the month, with results of laboratory testing using GeneXpert available within 48 hours.

Progress towards targets under the National EVD Preparedness Plan continued. 

The number of border points of entry providing screening reached 32, with over 304,000 primary screenings and over 300 secondary screenings conducted. 

Some 180 frontline workers from 8 organisations across the Yei area were vaccinated.

Preventive messages were broadcast through more than 2,300 radio spots, while over 400 key community influencers were engaged. 

The number of trained and equipped safe and dignified burial teams increased to 13. 

While additional funding contributions were under consideration, preparedness efforts remained underfunded with U$10.7 million still to be secured against planned requirements.

INFOGRAPHIC
Published on 23 Aug 2019 —




Saturday, September 07, 2019

South Sudan: Dispels fears of Ebola outbreak

Article from Radio Tamazuj.org
Dated 07 July 2019 - Juba, South Sudan
South Sudan dispels fears of Ebola outbreak
File photo: WHO Uganda

South Sudan’s Ministry of Health has dispelled fears of an Ebola outbreak following a confirmed case in Aliwara, in the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), some 70 kilometers from the border.

Addressing reporters in Juba on Friday, the undersecretary in the health ministry, Makur Matur Koriom said South Sudan is safe from the Ebola virus.

"I would like to take the opportunity to assure the South Sudanese people and residents in this country that so far there is no Ebola in South Sudan," he said.

"We responded quickly and the national taskforce convened on that day and immediately informed the taskforce and our partners in Yei about the developments in the DRC," he added.

Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) officer in charge of health emergencies in South Sudan, Guracha Guyo said they are committed to improve Ebola preparedness mechanisms in the country.

"All of us are committed to support the government in its endeavor to make sure that the Ebola virus will be prevented from coming to South Sudan," he said.

According to the WHO official, more than 700 frontline healthcare workers have been provided with Ebola vaccines in Yei River State.

South Sudan suffered Ebola outbreak in 2004 after WHO reported 20 cases, including five deaths, from Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) in Yambio.

Ebola is a rare but deadly virus that causes fever, body aches, and diarrhea, and sometimes bleeding inside and outside the body.

- - -

Photo: A worker from the World Health Organisation decontaminates the doorway of a house on a plot where two cases of Ebola were found, in the village of Mabalako, in eastern Congo, 17 June 2019.

Friday, September 06, 2019

South Sudan: On alert for Ebola virus

Article from Voice of America News.com
By DIMO SILVA AURELIO 
Dated 4 July 2019
South Sudan on High Alert for Ebola Virus

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - South Sudan’s health officials are ramping up efforts to prevent the deadly Ebola virus from entering the country following a confirmed case some 70 kilometers from the border, in the northern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dr. Pinyi Nyimol, South Sudan's director general for disease control and emergency response services, said the health ministry has sent seven personnel to the Yei River state, which borders Congo. "The aim is to strengthen the surveillance and preparedness for Ebola,” Nyimol told VOA's South Sudan in Focus.

“We are more worried because it is coming nearer because people are moving, so anybody, a contact can cross to South Sudan and the only thing we can do is to enhance our surveillance and screening and also to alert our health care workers about this and anybody coming, they have to start with traveling history and ask whether this person has been in DRC or not,” Nyimol said.
Photo: Ebola case reported not far from South Sudan border. Authorities have confirmed an Ebola case just 70 kilometres (43 miles) from Congo's border with South Sudan

The case was registered Tuesday in Ariwara, a trading center. The person, a 40-year-old woman, had traveled some 500 kilometers from Beni, in Congo's North Kivu province, according to Congolese officials.
North Kivu is an epicenter of the Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 1,500 people.  

Nyimol says it is the first confirmed case close to the South Sudan-DRC border since the outbreak erupted last August in eastern Congo.

He said for the last six months, South Sudan has been under high alert and increased its surveillance response at several border screening centers.

“We have points of entry doing screening at the high-risk states, we have Ebola treatment unit here in Juba and there is a laboratory and we have an ambulance ready for any suspect and there are trained staff and if there is a suspected case at Juba International Airport, it can be collected and taken for investigation; the same [is true] at the Juba Nimule border entry,” said Nyimol.

A number of people from the DRC cross into South Sudan’s Yei River State on a daily basis, according to South Sudanese health officials.

The Ebola virus is a deadly disease that affects humans and non-human primates.  Symptoms include unexplained bleeding, high fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, and vomiting. The virus is spread through body fluids, such as the blood of an infected person.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Canada sending plane to Uganda to help UN peacekeeping mission in Congo and S.Sudan

THE UN Security Council extended the mandate of the more than 18,000-strong peacekeeping mission in Congo — the UN's biggest and most expensive, with a budget over US$1.1 billion — until Dec. 20 with a priority mandate of protecting civilians and supporting "the stabilization and strengthening of state institutions."  Read more below.

Article from The Canadian Press
By AMY SMART
Dated 15 August 2019 - 12:16 PM
Canada sending plane to Uganda to help with peacekeeping in Africa

Photo: Minister of National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, April 8, 2019. Sajjan is to announce today that a Canadian Forces Hercules transport plane will be sent to Uganda to take part in a United Nations peacekeeping mission. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

VANCOUVER - A Canadian Forces Hercules plane will be sent to Uganda to take part in a United Nations peacekeeping mission during the next 12 months, transporting troops, equipment and supplies to Congo and South Sudan.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the aircraft will be supported by as many as 25 Canadian Armed Forces personnel and it will be used up to five days a month to help the UN mission operating from Entebbe.

In late 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised the UN that Canada would send the plane.

It was one of three promises he made when Canada hosted a major peacekeeping summit in Vancouver.

Only one of the promises had been fulfilled, and that was the deployment of a unit of helicopters and military personnel to help with medical evacuations in Mali.

Trudeau also promised the UN a 200-strong "quick reaction force," but Canada has yet to register it in a UN database, which means it has not been formally offered.

In making the announcement on Thursday, Sajjan said Canada committed to a time frame of five years to deploy military resources to support UN peacekeeping missions.

Sajjan said in a statement the plane "will play an important role in helping supply military and police personnel on UN peace operations in the region, with critical resources."

The federal Liberals campaigned in the last election on a promise to renew Canada's commitment and role in peacekeeping in a major way, but have since been accused of not living up to the spirit of that pledge.

The government insists it is committed to peacekeeping, as evidenced by its decision to extend the mission in Mali by one month, which came after pressure from the UN and some of Canada's allies.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said adding a plane to the UN mission in Entebbe "is an excellent example of the smart pledges that Canada will continue to support so we can fill critical gaps in UN peacekeeping."

The Security Council extended the mandate of the more than 18,000-strong peacekeeping mission in Congo — the UN's biggest and most expensive, with a budget over US$1.1 billion — until Dec. 20 with a priority mandate of protecting civilians and supporting "the stabilization and strengthening of state institutions."

Earlier this year, President Felix Tshisekedi succeeded Joseph Kabila, who governed the largely impoverished but mineral-rich central African country for 18 years.

A fact sheet released last month by the U.S.-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project said there have been nearly 790 "organized political violence events" in more than 420 locations since Tshisekedi's inauguration on Jan. 24. There were nearly 1,900 conflict-related fatalities reported in these events, including over 760 deaths from violence targeting civilians, it said.

The peacekeeping mission to a disputed area of Sudan and South Sudan dates to 2011. Both Sudan and South Sudan claim ownership of the oil-rich Abyei area.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2019

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Sudan, S. Sudan, Rwanda, DRC, Congo: Scheme in Uganda partner dogs with war survivors to help overcome trauma & PTSD

Note from Congo Watch Editor:  Please stop and watch this short powerful BBC film about Ugandan war survivors being partnered with comfort dogs. 

I have spent a lifetime seeking and promoting practical ways to help people suffering poverty, homelessness and trauma.  More here below.  Here is the film.

Ugandan war survivors partnered with therapy dogs

'If it wasn't for him, I'd be dead'

A scheme in Uganda partner dogs with war survivors to help them overcome trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


Filda was abducted as a child and forced into the LRA rebel army in Uganda, where she witnessed terrible atrocities.  

As part of a scheme called The Comfort Dog Project, Filda has been partnered with a dog who was abandoned as a puppy.

The two are now helping each other heal, along with many others like them.

A film by Amelia Martyn-Hemphill for 100 Women.

Uganda’s Comfort Dog Project
  • The Comfort Dog Project, an NGO, helps transform the region's stray and unwanted dogs into healing therapy animals for former child soldiers and survivors of war struggling with PTSD, trauma and depression
  • A dog that has suffered should be able to help someone who has gone through trauma
  • Dogs can help people rehabilitate their psychological condition
  • So that they have the company, gain confidence and also overcome depression
  • Francis, the founder of the project trained as a psychologist and set up The Comfort Dog Project in 2015 to help people recover from mental health conditions
  • During the 5 month therapy programme the Comfort Dog Guardians learn to train and care for their dogs
  • The group also undergoes extensive trauma counselling to help them process their past experiences
  • But it is still a challenge for the project to gain acceptance
  • In Northern Uganda people use dogs for hunting, guarding homes and also they look at dogs as useless 
  • Even though Uganda's Ministry of Health estimates about 70% of people in Northern Uganda have been traumatically affected by the war there's still stigma around mental health services
  • People think the moment you go to mental health you are already mentally disorientated, you cannot be helped
  • But attitudes in the community are starting to change, as part of her recovery Filda is with veterinary outreach and educates people on dog training, animal rights and welfare 

Note from Congo Watch Editor:  In addition to being a lifelong anti-poverty campaigner, I have spent the past 20 years researching cannabinoid therapy to help people, particularly peacekeepers, military personnel, former child soldiers and other survivors of war struggling with PTSD, trauma and depression.

Certain cannabinoids could help people with PTSD. Better still, such a therapy could be partnered with comfort dogs.  If anyone reading this can think of the best ways I could help Sudanese, Ugandan and Congolese people with PTSD to be partnered with a therapy dog please contact me at ingridj.jones@btinternet.com.  Thanks.

THE COMFORT DOG PROJECT
Give a War Trauma Survivor a Comfort Dog
$500 sponsors a dog placement
$25 sponsors a weekly training class for the Comfort Dog Project

COMFORT DOG

Dogs have a profound effect on our ability to heal from emotional trauma.  The Comfort Dog Project pairs formerly homeless/neglected dogs with war survivors suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Psycho-social counseling is coupled with dog companionship and training to create a supportive bond.  For $500, you can help to rehabilitate a dog, place that dog with a war survivor, and enable them to go through our 5 month training program to receive certification as a Comfort Dog.