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Compendium of short reports on selected outbreaks in the WHO African region, October 2017

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WHO Health Emergencies programme in the African Region: Compendium of short reports on selected outbreaks

It is our sincere pleasure to share with you a compendium of short reports on selected outbreaks in the WHO African Region. This compendium covers the following outbreaks:

  • Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

  • Meningococcal septicaemia in Liberia,

  • Cholera in Malawi,

  • Meningitis in Nigeria,

  • Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever in Namibia,

  • Rift Valley fever in Niger, and

  • Yellow fever in Uganda.

The WHO Regional Office for Africa Health Emergencies team gratefully acknowledges Member States’ Ministries of Health that provided data and information for this report.


Sub-Saharan Africa experiences over 100 acute public health emergencies each year. Most of the events are outbreaks of infectious diseases. However, the region continuously faces ongoing humanitarian crises and frequent natural disasters. All 47 member states are at risk.

WHO is committed to saving lives and reducing suffering during times of crisis – whether caused by conflict, disease outbreak or a disaster. The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is mandated to undertake WHO’s functions and responsibilities during health emergencies. The vision of this programme is to protect health and save lives during outbreaks and emergencies. Our mission is to help countries and to coordinate international actions, to prevent, prepare for, detect, rapidly respond to, and recover from outbreaks and other emergencies. The priorities of this programme include:

  • Supporting the assessment of country health emergency preparedness and development of national plans to address critical capacity gaps

  • Developing strategies and capacities to prevent and control high-threat infectious hazards

  • Monitoring of new and ongoing public health events to assess, communicate and recommend actions for public health risks

  • Ensuring readiness to diminish public health risks in countries with high vulnerability

  • Providing life-saving health services to affected populations in countries with ongoing emergencies.
    Specific programme areas that fall under this global programme include:

  • Country Health Emergency Preparedness and the International Health Regulations (CPI)

  • Emergency Operations (EMO)

  • Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessments (HIM)

  • Infectious Hazards Management (IHM)

  • Management and Administration (MGA).

In March 2017, the WHO Health Emergencies Programme in the Regional Office for Africa started the Weekly Bulletin on Outbreaks and Other Emergencies, which is a summary of new and ongoing events, put together using reports from country offices. This is sent out to over 900 recipients each week and has been extremely well received.

This collection of reports complements the weekly bulletin and is put together to reflect the response of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme to outbreaks and emergencies in the WHO African Region. This brief compilation introduces the concept of regular reports around specific outbreaks and emergencies. Its purpose is to illustrate how short reports can contribute to sharing information and approaches to different public health events, emergencies and outbreaks.

Each report has a similar structure, with a summary of the event, which highlights key features, the evolution of the event with a brief epidemiological description, public health actions, any gaps in action and a discussion of the situation.

The reports are presented in a way that makes them accessible to a wide audience – epidemiologists, policy makers, strategists and anyone working in the area of emergency responses.