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The Fight Against Famine Needs More Voices


A woman dries a small quantity of sorghum on May 31, 2017, outside her house in Panthau, Northern Bahr al Ghazal, South Sudan. Albert Gonzalez Farran—AFP/Getty Images

CLICK HERE - International Rescue Committee (IRC) - Ending famine is defining global issue for millennials - by Liz Schrayer - August 3, 2017

 . . . A recent poll by the International Rescue Committee found that an astounding 85% of Americans are unaware that 20 million people — more than the populations of New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and Philadelphia combined — are living on the verge of starvation in just three African countries plus Yemen.

We have news on 24 hours a day. We live with unprecedented connectivity. And yet we don’t even know that simple fact. That is disturbing.

But that same poll also bears some good news: Once they learn about the famine crises, the vast majority of millennials see it as one of the world’s most pressing global issues . . . 



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The Mission to Stop Ebola: Lessons for UN Crisis Response

CLICK HERE - International Peace Institute - The Mission to Stop Ebola: Lessons for UN Crisis Response (28 page .PDF report) - February 15, 2017

Executive Summary

The Ebola epidemic of 2014–2016 was a fastmoving, multidimensional emergency that pre - sented unprecedented challenges for the multi - lateral system. In response to the outbreak, which was spreading exponentially in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established the UN’s first-ever emergency health mission, the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). UNMEER was mandated by the UN General Assembly in September 2014 to scale up and coordinate the activities of the UN presence on the ground working to stop the outbreak, which eventually claimed over 11,000 lives.

This report asks: Was UNMEER needed? Was it properly structured? Did it deliver? And what broader lessons can be learned from the experience of UNMEER for UN crisis response?

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Researchers Develop Model that Predicts Outbreaks of Zoonotic Diseases

Spatial distribution of simulated LAS spill-over events across its endemic region in western Africa for (a) present day, and (b) projected for 2070 under a medium climate and full land cover change scenario. Values represent the expected number of spill-over events per grid cell per year, and are represented on a linear color scale where green is all simulations and grey zero. Axis labels indicate degrees, in a World Geodetic System 84 projection. Filled black circles represent locations of historic LAS outbreaks.  Credit: Redding et al. UCL

CLICK HERE - Predicting disease outbreaks using environmental changes - June 13, 2016

A model that predicts outbreaks of zoonotic diseases -- those originating in livestock or wildlife such as Ebola and Zika -- based on changes in climate, population growth and land use has been developed by a team of researchers.

CLICK HERE -UCL - Predicting disease outbreaks using environmental changes

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Mystery Deaths in Sierra Leone Spread Fear of Ebola Relapses

submitted by George Hurlburt


Sierra Leonean doctors practice wearing protective clothing in the Ebola Training Academy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, December 16, 2014. Reuters - by Kemo Cham and Emma Farge - October 21, 2015

. . . the case of Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey – the first known Ebola survivor to have an apparently life-threatening relapse – has revived concerns about the health of some 17,000 survivors in Sierra Leone, neighbouring Guinea and Liberia.

Doctors and health officials in Sierra Leone told Reuters that a handful of mystery deaths among discharged patients may also be types of Ebola relapses, stirring fear that the deadly virus may last far longer than previously thought in the body, causing other potentially lethal complications.

Diagnoses have not been made, partly because of a lack of relevant medical training and insufficient equipment for detecting a virus that can hide in inaccessible corners of the body - such as the spinal fluid or eyeball. In Cafferkey's case, the virus in her brain caused meningitis.


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Ebola: What Happened

(Scroll down for Laurie Garett's essay "Ebola's Lessons.")

With a rapidly growing and urbanizing population, persistent poverty, and weak governance, Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to be the source of new epidemics that potentially could spread around the world. Understanding the disastrous response of African governments, international institutions, and donor governments to the Ebola epidemic is essential if history is not to be repeated yet again. That makes Laurie Garrett’s essay, “Ebola’s Lessons,” in the September/October 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs, essential reading.

The Ebola virus treatment center where four people are currently being treated is seen in Paynesville, Liberia, July 16, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/James Giahyue)

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Proposed Ebola biobank would strengthen African science

NATURE by Erika Check Hayden                                                                             Aug. 10, 2015
As West Africa’s Ebola outbreak winds down, an effort is under way to make the best use of the tens of thousands of patient samples collected by public-health agencies fighting the epidemic.  Samples from the Ebola epidemic in West Africa are held by public-health agencies in the region and abroad. Daniel Berehulak/NYT/Redux/Eyevine

On 6–7 August, the World Health Organization (WHO) convened a meeting in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to discuss how to establish a biobank for up to 100,000 samples of blood, semen, urine and breast milk from confirmed and suspected Ebola patients, as well as swabs taken from the bodies of people who died from the virus. Held by health agencies in both West Africa and the West, the samples could be valuable in understanding how the current Ebola crisis evolved, preparing for future outbreaks and developing public-health research capacity in a region that depends on outside experts.

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How to Beat the Next Ebola

submitted by George Hurlburt


Graves dug in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to cope with those dying from Ebola in late 2014.  Mads Nissen/Panos

The world is ill-prepared for the next epidemic or pandemic. But the horror of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa may drive change. - by Declan Butler - August 5, 2015

If there was one point last year when public-health experts held their breath, it was when a Liberian man infected with Ebola virus flew to Lagos, Nigeria, in July. Ebola was already raging uncontrolled through impoverished countries in West Africa, killing half of those it infected. Now a vomiting man had carried it straight to the heart of Africa's largest megacity — with 21 million inhabitants, many of whom live in slums. Experts were horrified at the prospect that the virus might rip through the city — and then, because Lagos is an international travel hub, spread farther afield.


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Mining Ebola tweets yields valuable outbreak information

MEDICAL NEWS TODAY                                                    June 2, 2015
(Scroll down for study.)
Last year, in the 3 days before the outbreak was officially announced, over 60 million people received tweets about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, say the authors of a new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control that investigates the useful role that Twitter can play in outbreak monitoring and control.

In the 3 days prior to Nigeria's official announcement about Ebola, Twitter users had already shared around 1,500 tweets about the outbreak....

Social media allow users to play active roles in spreading news. Users can share insights, opinions, fears and ideas, outside the contexts of conventional public health channels.

For their study, two researchers from Columbia University School of Nursing in New York, analyzed Ebola-related tweets posted over a week in the early stages of the West African outbreak - from July 24th to August 1st 2014....

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Ebola in graphics: The toll of a tragedy

Set of graphs on the Ebola Outbreak

THE ECONOMIST   by the Graphics Team                                                                   May 5, 2015 

The outbreak continues to claim lives, but Liberia could be confirmed Ebola free on May 9th. The situation in Guinea and Sierra Leone is also improving with fewer provinces reporting cases than in previous weeks. The World Health Organisation reports that each country now has enough treatment beds to be able to isolate and treat patients with Ebola, and to bury everyone known to have died of the disease.

The chart above shows numbers from both the WHO's regular situation reports and from patient databases, which tend to be more accurate but are less complete for recent weeks.
See complete story and set of graphics.

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Pesticides likely behind 'mysterious killer disease' in Nigeria

Deutsche Welle                                                                            April 19, 2015

 Eighteen people died under mysterious circumstances in southwest Nigeria this week, sparking fears of a new infectious disease outbreak. Weed killer was the likely cause, the World Health Organization has now said.

When over a dozen men in the village of Ode Irele in southwestern Ondo state who complained of similar symptoms all died within a day, alarm bells began to ring. However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no reason to suspect any outbreak of infectious disease, such as Ebola, which has claimed over 10,000 lives in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

The "current hypothesis is herbicides," WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said on Sunday, adding: "Tests done so far are negative for viral and bacterial infection."

The victims began showing symptoms between April 13 and 15, including blurred vision and loss of consciousness, and Ondo spokesman Kayode Akinmade said it was due to a "mysterious killer disease."

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