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Posts Tagged ‘PHEIC’

Corporate Wealth Trumps Public Health

Posted by feww on May 28, 2016

Submitted by a reader

WHO rejects call for Rio Olympic Games to be moved or postponed, despite outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil

The World Health Organization (WHO) has rejected a call for the Rio Olympic Games to be moved or postponed despite the threat posed by the outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil.

WHO public health advice regarding the Olympics and Zika virus: News Release

Based on current assessment, cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus. Brazil is 1 of almost 60 countries and territories which to date report continuing transmission of Zika by mosquitoes. People continue to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons. The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice.

Based on the current assessment of Zika virus circulating in almost 60 countries globally and 39 in the Americas, there is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the games,” the WHO said in a statement.

The statement is in response to a letter signed by a group of at least 152 doctors, researchers, and health professionals to the United Nations health agency calling for the Rio Olympics to be postponed or moved because of concerns of the spread of the Zika virus.

“Our greater concern is for global health. The Brazilian strain of Zika virus harms health in ways that science has not observed before,” states the letter, signed by experts in the United States, India, Canada, Britain, Australia, Norway, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan and Brazil, among others.

“An unnecessary risk is posed when 500,000 foreign tourists from all countries attend the Games, potentially acquire that strain, and return home to places where it can become endemic,” it said.

“Should that happen to poor, as-yet unaffected places (e.g., most of South Asia and Africa) the suffering can be great.”

“… the Brazilian viral strain causes microcephaly and probably Guillain-Barré syndrome. Further, because human, animal and in vitro studies demonstrate that the virus is neurotrophic and causes cell death, it is biologically plausible that there are other as yet undiscovered neurological injuries, as exist for similar viruses (e.g. dengue). [… ] That while Zika’s risk to any single individual is low, the risk to a population is undeniably high. Currently, Brazil’s government reports 120,000 probable Zika cases,9 and 1,300 confirmed cases of microcephaly (with another 3,300 under investigation)10, which is above the historical level of microcephaly. […] Rio de Janeiro is highly affected by Zika. Brazil’s government reports Rio de Janeiro state has the second-highest number of probable Zika cases in the country (32,000)… and the fourth-highest incidence rate (195 per 100,000), demonstrating active transmission. […] despite Rio’s new mosquito-killing program, the transmission of mosquito-borne disease has gone up rather than down. While Zika is a new epidemic and lacks historical data, using dengue fever as a proxy, cases in Rio from January thru April 2016 are up 320% and 1150% over the same periods in 2015 and 2014, respectively.”

“It is indisputable that option (a) of holding the Games as scheduled has a greater risk of accelerating the spread of the Brazilian viral strain than the alternatives. Postponing and/or moving the Games also mitigates other risks brought on by historic turbulence in Brazil’s economy, governance, and society at large—which are not isolated problems, but context that makes the Zika problem all but impossible to solve with the Games fast approaching.”

The Letter questions whether the UN health agency can give a non-biased view of the situation because of its “secret” high – level partnership with the International Olympic Committee.

WHO and IOC in Partnership

WHO has a decades – long, high – level partnership with the International Olympic Committee. That partnership was last affirmed in 2010 at an event where the Director General of WHO and President of the IOC signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which is secret because neither has disclosed it.

Inappropriately, WHO sees its role as not just providing public health advice. It established a “Virtual Interdisciplinary Advisory Group”, whose “ important promotional point,” according to WHO is “that the Group can help in bidding for major events (like the Olympic Games)”.  That is a clear conflict of interest, when WHO must also evaluate and make recommendations about Olympic travel during a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

The overly close relationship between WHO and the IOC is apparent in the comments of WHO’s Executive Director responsible for Zika, just days after it was declared a PHIEC:

“Brazil is going to have a fantastic Olympics and it’s going to be a successful Olympics and the world is going to go there. I just wish I was going there, but there’s not going to be a lot of problems there by then. ”

With respect, this is a troubling statement. WHO cannot credibly assess the public health risks of Zika and the Olympics when it sets neutrality aside. Declaring that “it’s going to be a successful Olympics and the world is going to be there” implies that WHO has given the Olympics an unconditional green light, without regard to rapidly emerging medical, entomological, and epidemiological evidence — all of which must be considered in assessing whether this mass gathering could accelerate the global spread of the Brazilian strain of Zika virus. To prejudge that “there’s not going to be a lot of problems” before reviewing this evidence is extremely inappropriate of WHO, and suggests that a change in leadership may be required to restore WHO’s credibility.

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Global Health Emergency Declared as Poliovirus Spreads

Posted by feww on May 5, 2014

EMERGING & RE-EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES
INTERNATIONAL SPREAD OF WILD POLIOVIRUS
GLOBAL HEALTH EMERGENCY
NIGHTMARE SCENARIO 011
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Global Health Emergency Declared as Wild Poliovirus Spreads

The international spread of wild poliovirus in 2014 is a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC),” the Director General of WHO  declared on 5 May 2014, based on the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee’s assessment.

“… the international spread of polio to date in 2014 constitutes an ‘extraordinary event’ and a public health risk to other states for which a co-ordinated international response is essential,” said the WHO’s Emergency Committee.

At end-2013, 60% of polio cases were the result of international spread of wild poliovirus, and there was increasing evidence that adult travellers contributed to this spread. During the 2014 low transmission season there has already been international spread of wild poliovirus from 3 of the 10 States that are currently infected: in central Asia (from Pakistan to Afghanistan), in the Middle East (Syrian Arab Republic to Iraq) and in Central Africa (Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea). A coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop this international spread of wild poliovirus and to prevent new spread with the onset of the high transmission season in May/June 2014; unilateral measures may prove less effective in stopping international spread than a coordinated response. The consequences of further international spread are particularly acute today given the large number of polio-free but conflict-torn and fragile States which have severely compromised routine immunization services and are at high risk of re-infection. Such States would experience extreme difficulty in mounting an effective response were wild poliovirus to be reintroduced. As much international spread occurs across land borders, WHO should continue to facilitate a coordinated regional approach to accelerate interruption of virus transmission in each epidemiologic zone.

States currently exporting wild poliovirus

Pakistan, Cameroon, and the Syrian Arab Republic pose the greatest risk of further wild poliovirus exportations in 2014.

States infected with wild poliovirus but not currently exporting

Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Somalia and particularly Nigeria, given the international spread from that State historically, pose an ongoing risk for new wild poliovirus exportations in 2014.

Global Public Health Emergency

Based on the Committee’s assessment, the Director General of WHO  on 5 May 2014 declared the international spread of wild poliovirus in 2014 a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).”

Scanning electron photomicrograph of polio virions

poliovirus - PHIL_2446_lores-small
The poliovirus lives in the human pharynx and intestinal tract. Poliomyelitis is an acute infection that involves the gastrointestinal tract and, occasionally, the central nervous system. It is acquired by fecal-oral transmission. Source: CDC

What’s Polio

Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease caused by a virus that spreads from person to person invading the brain and spinal cord and causing paralysis. Because polio has no cure, vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and the only way to stop the disease from spreading. The spread of polio has never stopped in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Poliovirus has been reintroduced and continues to spread in Syria, Cameroon and the Horn of Africa after the spread of the virus was previously stopped.

Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases

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