Ebola Current Affairs - 2020

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Ebola emerges again in Congo

Health officials in Eastern Congo recently documented the first relapse of current Ebola epidemic. The Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has so far infected more than 3,300 people and killed more than 2,200 since the middle of 2018, making it the second-worst on record.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), this recent relapse happened in Aloya district where a motorcycle taxi operator is said to have come into contact with 33 people is potentially the cause of 11 new confirmed Ebola cases in past week.

What is Ebola?

Ebola is a rare but deadly virus which was first identified in 1976 by researchers sent to investigate an ailment that was killing victims in a remote part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The researchers team named the condition after the local Ebola river.

Ebola causes Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), a rare and deadly disease in people and nonhuman primates. Ebola is triggered by a virus- probably picked up from an infected bat or non-human primate – that causes blood vessels to leak and can end in organ failure and death. Ebola has killed more than 11,000 people between 2013 and 2016.

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WHO list of 10 global health threats

The World Health Organisation (WHO) list of 10 global health threats lists 10 issues which demand immediate attention from WHO and health partners in 2019 has been released. They are:

Air pollution and climate change

Nine out of ten people breathe polluted air every day. In 2019, air pollution is considered by WHO as the greatest environmental risk to health. Burning fossil fuels which are a major contributor to climate change also impacts people’s health in different ways.

Noncommunicable diseases

Noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, are collectively responsible for over 70% of all deaths world and are responsible for over 85% of these premature deaths are in low- and middle-income countries.

Global influenza pandemic

WHO warns of impending influenza pandemic.WHO states that Global defences are only as effective as the weakest link in any country’s health emergency preparedness and response system.

Fragile and vulnerable settings

WHO notes that fragile settings exist in almost all regions of the world, and half of the key targets in the sustainable development goals, including on child and maternal health, remains unmet.

Antimicrobial resistance

Time with antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials is running out. Antimicrobial resistance which is the ability of bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi to resist these medicines is threatening to send the world back to a time when the world was unable to easily treat infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonellosis.

Ebola and other high-threat pathogens

2018 witnessed two separate Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both outbreaks spread to cities of more than 1 million people and  One of the affected provinces was also in an active conflict zone. Similar outbreaks can be witnessed in 2019.

Weak Primary Health Care

Primary health care is the first point of contact people have with their health care system, and Primary Health Care centres should provide comprehensive, affordable, community-based care throughout life. Yet many countries do not have adequate primary health care facilities.

Vaccine hesitancy

The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases. WHO notes that complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence are key reasons underlying hesitancy.

Dengue

Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease that causes flu-like symptoms which can be lethal and kill up to 20% of those with severe dengue. A high number of cases occur in the rainy seasons of countries such as Bangladesh and India, with rainy seasons lengthening significantly and the disease is spreading to less tropical and more temperate countries such as Nepal which have not traditionally seen the disease, Dengue needs to be fought with urgency.

HIV

Even though enormous progress has been made in terms of getting people tested, providing them with antiretrovirals and providing access to preventive measures such as pre-exposure prophylaxis, the epidemic continues to rage with nearly a million people every year dying of HIV/AIDS.

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