From IRIN, the malady lingers on:
Mystery over Ebola survivors’ ailments
For some Ebola survivors, overcoming the lethal viral assault has not heralded a full return to good health. An array of ailments including headache, joint pains, vision and hearing problems have afflicted convalescents; experts are still uncertain of the exact cause.
Not all survivors of the virus, which has been rampant in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since earlier this year and killed some 70 percent of patients, suffer the symptoms, the extremes of which include amenorrhea (the absence of menstruation) and erectile dysfunction. It is also not yet known why only some are affected.
Margaret Nanyonga, World Health Organization (WHO) consultant clinician, who has assessed 85 Ebola survivors with various symptoms in Sierra Leone’s eastern town of Kenema, told IRIN that some of the ailments were treated, but others such as vision and hearing problems tended to persist.
“The ladies complained of menstrual failure, but these resumed after three months. They also complained about hair loss. Men complained of testicular pains. We don’t know whether it can lead to impotence or not. That is a worry. Some men have reported erectile dysfunction. There are also psychosocial disorders, loss of sleep, anxiety and depression,” she said.
Focus on survivors
Nanyonga explained that the clinic she operated in Kenema is still the only one of its kind in the country dealing with post-Ebola conditions. Responding to Ebola outbreaks in the past, she said, has often ended when the virus is brought under control.
“No one had taken interest in the survivors. After fighting the epidemic, that was the end. But before, there were fewer people surviving Ebola,” she said.
More on a story we posted Wednesday, via the Guardian:
World Health Organisation and DfID slow to react on Ebola, say UK MPs
- Parliamentary committee censures WHO and Department for International Development and warns of dangerous inadequacy of global health systems
The House of Commons international development committee has criticised the WHO and also the Department for International Development (DfID) for not reacting quickly enough when the virus took hold earlier this year.
But it commended DfID for the “vigorous efforts” now being made in Sierra Leone, where Britain has taken the lead in international aid, mirroring the US role in neighbouring Liberia and France’s role in Guinea.
The international development committee warned that the global health system “remains dangerously inadequate for responding to health emergencies” and said “DfID should not wait for its 2015 multilateral aid review” to do something about this, adding: “The urgency of the situation warrants immediate action.”
It pressed the international development secretary Justine Greening to move quickly and decisively to guard against a repeat of the disaster, which has claimed the lives of almost 7,000 people in west Africa.
Newsweek covers the Cuban contribution:
To Fight Ebola, Cuba Is Sending Its Biggest Export – Doctors
Cuba’s export of medical professionals has gained the Communist country much praise, including most recently from the island’s neighbor and nemesis, the United States, where top officials have praised Cuba’s response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. The Cuban contingent of medical professionals sent to the epidemic’s hot zone was larger than any other country’s.
Cuba has trained many more medical professionals per capita than any other developing or developed country. In 2010 it had 6.7 doctors for every 1,000 citizens, according to the World Bank. In the United States in the same year, there were 2.4 doctors for every 1,000 Americans. Unlike America, however, in Cuba the government alone finances medical studies, and it then controls the careers of medical professionals.
When Cuba sent 256 health workers to combat Ebola in West Africa in October, Havana was universally applauded. The World Health Organization (WHO) is “extremely grateful for the generosity of the Cuban government and these health professionals for doing their part to help us contain the worst Ebola outbreak ever known,” said Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director general.
Another vaccine heads to trials, via Reuters:
China approves experimental Ebola vaccine for clinical trials
China has approved a domestically developed experimental Ebola vaccine for clinical trials, the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday, citing the People’s Liberation Army logistics unit.
Scientists around the world are racing to develop Ebola vaccines after the world’s worst outbreak of the virus, which has killed more than 6,000 people in West Africa this year.
The Chinese vaccine is being developed by the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Xinhua said, a military research unit which is also involved in developing a drug to treat the disease.
Another trial, via StarAfrica:
Kenya begins Ebola Vaccine trials
Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) researchers in Kilifi County in the country’s coastal region have started the human testing of a vaccine designed to protect against Ebola.
The first dose of the VSV Ebola vaccine was administered to a health worker on Wednesday evening at the Kilifi County Hospital. The Phase 1 trials are part of a wider World Health Organization (WHO) led consortium (VEBCON) funded by the Wellcome Trust.
The Kenyan trials, and other trials that are taking place in the USA, Germany, Switzerland and Gabon, will test the vaccine’s safety and its ability to generate an immune system response in healthy adults.
The vaccine is administered as a single dose after which the participants will be monitored closely. Early trial results will be provided in February 2015.
From Sierra Leone, a double tragedy via the Associated Press:
Ebola: 11th Sierra Leone doctor dies; fire destroys supplies
One of Sierra Leone’s most senior physicians died Thursday from Ebola, the 11th doctor in the country to succumb to the disease, a health official said.
In neighboring Guinea, a fire destroyed medicine crucial to fighting Ebola. The fire engulfed a warehouse at the Conakry airport and burned everything inside, said Dr. Moussa Konate, head of logistics for Guinea’s Ebola response. He could not immediately say how much had been lost.
The death of Dr. Victor Willoughby, who tested positive for Ebola on Saturday, was a major loss for Sierra Leone, said Dr. Brima Kargbo, the country’s chief medical officer.
“Dr. Victor Willoughby was a mentor to us physicians and a big loss to the medical profession,” said Kargbo. “He has always been available to help junior colleagues.”
The 67-year-old died Thursday morning, just hours after an experimental drug arrived in the country for him. The arrival of ZMAb, developed in Canada, had raised hopes for Willoughby’s survival. But he died before a dose could be administered, said Kargbo. ZMAb is related to ZMapp, another experimental drug that has been used to treat some Ebola patients. The drugs’ efficacy in treating Ebola has not yet been proven.
More on the fire from the U.N. News Center:
Ebola: ‘Regrettable loss’ caused by warehouse fire in Guinea
A fire engulfed a United Nations warehouse in Guinea today that contained medicines and laboratory materials used for the fight against Ebola, causing no casualties but “a regrettable loss” in supplies, which the UN mission there vowed to quickly replace. An investigation into the fire was underway.
“This is a regrettable loss, but no one was hurt and we will move quickly together with our partners to replace the lost supplies”, said Anthony Banbury, Head of the UN Mission for Emergency Ebola Response (UNMEER).
“We certainly won’t be deterred in our fight against Ebola,” he said.
UNMEER reported that the fire in the warehouse, mainly containing medicines and laboratory materials, was discovered around 8:00 a.m. local time when workers arrived at facility in the main humanitarian logistics base of the airport and of the city of Conakry, the capital of Guinea – one of the three most affected countries by Ebola in West Africa.
No casualties had been reported, the mission said, and added that the personal protective equipment stored in tents next to the warehouse had not been touched by the fire.
The exact amount of property and material damaged as a result of the fire is not yet known, and an investigation into the fire was underway, according to UNMEER.
The UNMEER warehouse is used by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Red Cross, the World Food Programme (WFP), and Pharmacie Centrale de Guinée to store supplies for their Ebola Emergency Response.
Preparations, via Sky News:
Sierra Leone Braced For More Ebola Cases
- Fears of a sharp increase in cases mean even those who have not died from the disease are being buried in Ebola graveyards
Sierra Leone, caught in the grip of the Ebola crisis, is bracing itself for a sharp increase in cases of the killer disease over the Christmas period.
The Government is so worried about the situation it has outlawed any seasonal public celebrations and soldiers are being put on the streets to make sure no one disobeys the directive.
The outbreak of the virus, which began a year ago in neighbouring Guinea and quickly spread to Liberia, is now dominating the lives of everyone in Sierra Leone.
The western part of the country, including the capital Freetown where around a third of the population of more than six million lives, is bearing the brunt of the current upturn in cases.
And the response, via Reuters:
Health teams scour Sierra Leone capital in Ebola drive
Health workers in Sierra Leone began combing the streets of the capital Freetown for Ebola patients on Wednesday, moving house-to-house as the government launched a major operation to contain infection in West Africa’s worst-hit country.
President Ernest Bai Koroma said on national television that, as part of “Operation Western Area Surge”, travel between all parts of the country would be restricted and public gatherings would be restrained in the run-up to Christmas.
An encounter in the Devil’s Hole neighbourhood just outside Freetown showed why the programme was vital. Ibrahim Kamara sat in a discarded vehicle tyre, his eyes glassy and his breath coming in gasps, as he tried to answer questions from Ebola surveillance officers.
“Is the body weak?” a surveillance officer shouted. Kamara, 31, nodded despondently while onlookers gathered round.
“Vomiting,” the officer asked. Kamara nodded again.
And a video report from CCTV Africa:
Sierra Leone Launches Teams & Ambulances Dispatched to Prevent Spread of Ebola
Sierra Leone launched Western Area Surge in the capital Freetown on Wednesday, in an effort to contain an alarming rise in Ebola cases. The emphasis will be on safe burials, ambulance dispatching and quarantine activities. CCTV’s Clementine Logan reports.
While the Sierra Leone Concord Times covers qualified reassurance:
‘It’ll take hard work to end Ebola’
…CDC chief warns
Director of the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has said that only hard work, resilience and collaborative efforts will help put a final halt to the deadly Ebola disease that continues the ravage the lives of Sierra Leoneans since the outbreak hit the country some seven months ago.
Dr. Tom Frieden, however, said he was encouraged by the response of the government of Sierra Leone and its partners in putting mechanisms in place to contain the epidemic.
The CDC boss was speaking yesterday at a press conference held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Aberdeen in Freetown where he noted that “time is of essence for sick people to quickly go for medical examination” if they notice signs and symptoms of the Ebola disease.
On to Liberia and Ebola labor politics from the Liberian Observer:
Liberian Truckers Take WFP to Task
- Complain to Four Gov’t Ministries, Agencies
The Port Truckers Association (PTA) of Liberia has taken serious exception to a recent contractual agreement signed between the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) Conakry and United Mining, a Guinean trucking company, to provide transport services in Liberia on behalf of WFP Monrovia’s Ebola response.
The Liberian truckers have rejected the agreement, describing it as an attempt to undermine the Liberianization policy and hurt the viability of the country’s transport industry.
In a statement issued on Thursday, December 10 the PTA announced that it has filed formal complaints with several regulatory institutions in the country, including the National Port Authority (NPA), the Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Transportation, respectively, seeking their immediate intervention in investigating the contract entered into between the WFP Conakry Office and the private Guinean company.
From Heritage, recognition:
Internal Affairs Minister wants Burial Team remembered
Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly has called on the Government of Liberia (GoL) to remember the Ebola burial team across the country. Minister Dukuly said the burial team needs to be remembered, because according to him, the team has sacrificially served the country.
He said the job of the burial team had been at very high risk in contracting the virus, and as such, there is a need for prayers and support to the team.
The MIA boss was speaking Monday, December 15 at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) regular Ebola Hour.
“The burial team also needs to be remembered by national government, because they are sacrificing their lives to have our people buried in a decent and dignify manner” he stated.
And from the Monrovia Inquirer, taking the campaign to the street vendors:
Marketers Committed To Ebola Fight
The Liberia Marketing Association through its president Madam Lusu Slong has committed itself to the “Ebola Must Go” Campaign which was recently launched by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
The campaign is aimed at achieving zero Ebola infection comes December 31 of this year.
The head of the Liberia Marketing Association has called on all marketers to join the fight against the Ebola virus by observing all the necessary preventive measures given by the Ministry of Health and its local and international partners.
Madam Slong stressed that since the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, market women have been finding it difficult to carry out their daily activities something she described as troubling for them noting that most women have to sell in order to sustain their families.