GENEVA: An Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo has a high risk of spreading internally, the World Health Organization warned today ahead of a meeting on whether to declare it an event of international concern.
In a statement, the UN agency said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus would convene an emergency committee to discuss the matter.
He is due to speak to the media later on Friday. The fresh Ebola outbreak, publicly declared on May 8 with 23 deaths so far, was first reported in a rural part of Equateur Province in the vast country’s northwest but has now spread to the city of Mbandaka.
Mbandaka’s population has been variously estimated at between 700,000 and 1.2 million. Peter Salama, in charge of emergency response at the WHO, has said the spread to a city complicated the fight against Ebola, which depends on identifying and isolating suspected cases.
The city is on the banks of the Congo River which connects to the capital Kinshasa, hundreds of kilometers to the south, and also to surrounding countries, increasing the risk of a national and regional outbreak, according to WHO officials.
Ebola is lethal and highly contagious, which makes it difficult to contain – especially in urban environments where people are mobile and come into more contact with others.
The Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed that a case of Ebola had been recorded in a northwest city, and a doctor there said several hundred people may have been in contact with people infected by the disease.
Health Minister Oly Ilunga said, “two suspected cases of haemorragic fever” had been reported in the Wangata area of Mbandaka, a city about 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the epicenter of the outbreak in the rural Equateur province. “One of the two samples tested positive for the Ebola virus,” he said in a statement.
The case was reported earlier by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), which expressed concern over the spread of the virus to a city – a development that typically makes it far tougher to fight a contagious disease.
“We estimate that more than 300 people have been in contact, directly or indirectly, with people contaminated by the Ebola virus in Mbandaka,” a doctor at the city’s general hospital told the Media.
The outbreak — the ninth in the DRC since Ebola was first identified as a disease in 1976 – is centered in remote Bikoro, near the border with the Republic of Congo. Out of 44 confirmed, probable or suspected cases, 23 have died, according to WHO figures.
The head of the World Health Organization was due in DR Congo to aid preparations for “all scenarios” in combatting the latest Ebola outbreak.
“WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is on his way to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to assess the needs of the response first-hand. We are preparing for all scenarios,” the UN health agency said in a statement.
The outbreak in the region northeast of Kinshasa near the border with the Republic of Congo has so far killed 18 people around the town of Bikoro in Equateur province, according to the WHO.
A report from the provincial council of ministers said there were “three suspected cases” in the region’s capital Mbandaka, which has 700,000 inhabitants. WHO’s head of emergency response Peter Salama said Friday getting aid to the affected area was “extremely challenging” given its remoteness and lack of infrastructure.
“We know the number of suspected, probable and confirmed cases is significant. We are very concerned and we are planning for all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario,” he said. DRC health ministry Ebola responders have been dispatched to the affected area with a joint WHO and UNICEF team following.
“We are about to go to Bikoro after this stop at (regional capital) Mbandaka where we began the deployment of mobile labs to start analyses” of suspect cases,” Eugene Kabambi, leading the WHO communications team in DR Congo, told AFP Saturday, adding his team hoped to obtain results swiftly.
People urged to vaccinate children Anti-Measles injection
RAWALPINDI: Member Provincial Assembly Chaudhry Amjad Mehmood Friday said a healthy child was essential for a healthy society and this message should be conveyed to every nook and cranny of the district.
Speaking at a seminar as chief guest held in connection with upcoming Measles campaign starting from October 15, he urged the religious scholars, teachers and elected representatives to play their due role in the anti-measles campaign and motivate the people to ensure preventive measures for their children against diseases.
He also underlined the importance of holding such seminars in order to create community awareness about measles. The seminar was organized by B-Malka Welfare society here at Kotha Kalan to create awareness regarding the importance of Measles vaccination for children.
In his address, Assistant Commissioner Iftikhar Sherazi said that a large number of infants were feared left without measles vaccine coverage, whereas in the case of those already vaccinated, the efficacy rate was not up to the mark.
He informed that 884 teams would go door to door under the campaign being launched from October 15,
and administer an anti-measles injection to 874,384 children from six months to seven years of age in all tehsils and union councils of the district. He further said that 221 fixed centers,208 medical officers,1768 Mobilizers and 52 supervisors would be part of the drive in order to facilitate the citizens and serve them at their doorsteps.
Meanwhile, Deputy District Health Officer Dr. Zeeshan in his address said that staff deployed for the campaign has been issued special instructions and informed that no negligence in that regard would be tolerated. He said that all possible steps had been taken by the Health Department to make the campaign a success.
Sufficient quantity of vaccine is available, and no stone will be left unturned in efforts to make the campaign the success.” He said continuous efforts were being made to control measles. Special teams had also been formed to cover areas from where the complaints about unattended children were registered, he said. Among others, health officials religious scholars, traders, para-medical staff and a large number of citizens attended the seminar.
Federal govt to construct cancer hospital in Balochistan: PM
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday said that the federal government with the cooperation of Pakistan Army would construct a cancer hospital in Balochistan.
Talking to students of various educational institutions of Balochistan, who called on him here at the Prime Minister Office, he said, the provincial government would provide land to the federal government for the hospital and in this regard, a team of the federal government would visit the province very soon.
The Prime Minister said he had talked to Chief of the Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa and the cancer hospital would be built with the cooperation of the army.
To various queries of the students, the Prime Minister said Balochistan was a spread out area and it was very difficult to handle it from a centralized system, adding that an effective local government system would be introduced in the province as it was the best option for resolution of various problems at the grass-root level.
The federal government, he said was going to start one of the biggest job provision programmes in the history of Pakistan by constructing five million houses in the entire country.
He said water was one of the biggest problems of Quetta and added that the federal government was also working on various water projects in the province.
He said the federal government would upgrade Mangi dam to meet water supply requirement of Quetta city and adjoining areas.
The Prime Minister said the dam would not only provide clean drinking water but also raise the water table in the area.
During the tenure of PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Prime Minister said, 70 sports grounds were constructed there.
He said the federal government was planning to locate places for sports grounds because it was right of the youth. The Prime Minister said Balochistan was rich of mineral resources and only four minerals in the province were considered to be worth of $460 billion.
Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the students to fully concentrate on studies, broaden their thinking and avoid selfishness.
He said why the Pakistani nation loved their Quaid because the founder of the nation Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah never struggled for his self but his entire efforts were for Muslims of the Sub-Continent. He said Quaid-i-Azam was a great human being.
Breast Cancer Awareness: Awan-e-Sadr turns pink
ISLAMABAD: First Lady Samina Alvi on Wednesday illuminated the building of Aiwan-e-Sadr with pink light in commemoration of breast cancer awareness in the month of October.
In a ceremony held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, she pushed the button to illuminate the building in pink color, thus inaugurating the Pink Ribbon save the 9th campaign.
Addressing the ceremony, Begum Alvi said the month of October was being commemorated worldwide to create awareness about the breast cancer.
She underlined the importance of running an effective breast cancer awareness campaign which could help avoid incidents and deaths related to breast cancer.
The First Lady said the breast cancer had become one of the major female diseases and its exact causes were yet to be ascertained.
In Pakistan, due to lack of awareness, the disease was on the rise among females, she said, noting that media could play an effective role by creating public awareness.
She opined that doctors and other professional related to the medical field should be invited in the TV morning shows to create awareness about breast cancer.
Begum Alvi said every third woman in Pakistan was at the risk of suffering from the breast cancer, but timely diagnosis could help cure the disease.
Womenfolk should not feel hesitant in getting themselves medically examined to timely detect the symptoms and if anything appeared extraordinary, doctors should be consulted immediately, she advised.
Dr. Umar Aftab, head of cancer awareness programme, on the occasion said about 12 million women in the country could be at the risk of getting breast cancer.