This Weekly Bulletin focuses on selected acute public health emergencies occurring in the WHO African Region. The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 57 events in the region. This week’s edition covers key new and ongoing events, including:
Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Guinea worm in South Sudan
Cholera in Niger
Hepatitis E in Namibia
Humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.
For each of these events, a brief description, followed by public health measures implemented and an interpretation of the situation is provided.
A table is provided at the end of the bulletin with information on all new and ongoing public health events currently being monitored in the region, as well as events that have recently been closed.
Major issues and challenges include:
A fresh Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak has been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Two provinces, North Kivu and Ituri, in the eastern part of the country bordering Uganda and Rwanda, have reported suspected cases. The affected subregion is experiencing intense insecurity, with several armed groups actively operating. Access to the affected population has been curtailed and provision of humanitarian assistance has been challenged. Population movement within the subregion and with the neighbouring countries is high, either forced or for trade and other social reasons. These factors are significant determinants of the evolution of and the response to the current event. The ongoing insecurity in the subregion will be critical in determining the ability to respond effectively to this event. In the given circumstances, the national authorities and partners need to mobilize and rapidly set up the requisite response structures and systems on the ground.
The South Sudan Ministry of Health has confirmed three cases of Guinea worm in Western Lakes State (located in the central part of the country) in the last week of July 2018. The affected area had been affected by communal violence over the past several years, which could have hindered surveillance for the disease. Before this event, South Sudan had reported the last confirmed Guinea worm case in December 2016 and the country had started the enhanced surveillance phase of the eradication process. With limited access to many parts of the country, this event could be indicative of a much bigger burden of the disease and a potential threat to the neighbouring countries.