Ten African countries endorse cross-border collaboration framework on Ebola outbreak preparedness and response

Source: World Health Organization
Country: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia

Setting up a mechanism for cross-border collaboration and the sharing of assets will contribute to the mitigation of suffering and minimize the social and economic impact of disease outbreaks.
Goma, DRC, 21 October 2019 - The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and its nine neighbouring countries today, during a meeting of ministers, senior health and immigration officials and partners in Goma, endorsed a joint framework to strengthen cross-border collaboration on preparedness and response to Ebola virus and other disease outbreaks.

Representatives of the 10 countries – Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia – noted with concern the Ebola outbreak in north-eastern DRC, which has continued for more than one year, and the increasing potential to spread into the neighbouring countries. They recognized the shared threat that the outbreak poses to health and economic security in the subregion and other parts of Africa and the need to develop an action plan to mitigate the effects of these threats.

“Resources are always limited, and there are always gaps in emergency contingency plans. Setting up a mechanism for cross-border collaboration and the sharing of assets will contribute to the mitigation of suffering and minimize the social and economic impact of disease outbreaks,” said H.E. Amira Elfadil Mohammed, African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs.

In her opening address, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, emphasized that cross-border collaboration will particularly enhance information sharing on disease outbreaks and emergencies in line with the legally binding International Health Regulations (2005).

“In recent times, Ebola has been in the spotlight. Other diseases also pose a significant threat. These events highlight the immense importance of cross-border collaboration to improve the sharing and exchange of information to quickly contain outbreaks, harmonize resources, increase coordination and stop diseases from crossing the borders,” said Dr Moeti.

The movement of people, goods and services across borders can heighten the risk of transmission of infectious pathogens that cause diseases, such as Ebola, cholera, measles and yellow fever.

“As the African Union advances towards implementation of Agenda 2063, which aspires for the political and economic integration of Africa, including the free movement of people across the continent, there will be a change. We need to be prepared for the risks that this change poses to the continent. A multi-country effort on Ebola outbreak response and preparedness will be a good example of the use of our collective capabilities in this regard,” said H.E. Mohammed.

The ministerial meeting was co-organized by the Government of the DRC, WHO and the African Union Commission through its Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). Participants reviewed the situation of the outbreak in the DRC and level of preparedness by the 10 neighbouring countries, and discussed a road map for effective and sustained collaboration.

“It is a good thing for the DRC to formalize a framework for collaboration and adopt a road map with its neighbouring countries on Ebola preparedness and response. In this way, we will be able to pull our resources together to strengthen health security and safety,” said Dr Albert Biyombo, Vice Minister of Health in the DRC.

Representatives of the Member States agreed to strengthen mechanisms for the exchange of timely and accurate information on Ebola preparedness and response and other health security risks and noted that withholding or falsifying information and data on Ebola violates the International Health Regulations and threatens peace, security and prosperity of the affected Member States and the entire continent.

“We acknowledge the solidarity that other African countries are showing today by organizing this very important meeting. The meeting will allow us to agree on communication mechanisms across borders on EVD and a common action plan on preparedness and response in case of emergencies,” said H.E. Carly Nzanzu Kasivita, Governor of North Kivu Province, where the meeting took place.

“Information sharing is improving, but we need to bring it to an acceptable level. We need countries to openly share information necessary to save lives. Our mission is to establish cross-border collaboration that will cover all outbreaks and all public health emergencies,” said Dr Moeti.

The ministers and senior health and immigration officials also endorsed the establishment of a coordination task force on EVD and other disease outbreaks, which will be hosted in the African Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa. The task force is expected to facilitate sustained political commitment to preparedness and response to disease outbreaks. Technical support will be facilitated through the WHO subregional Ebola partnership coordination platforms in collaboration with the Africa CDC and other partners.

Although this framework does not contain any funding commitment for emergency response and preparedness, WHO and the African Union/Africa CDC encourage countries to invest more in this area. Countries that have ramped up their preparedness are better able to handle emergencies, minimizing the social and economic costs of outbreaks and other public health events.

For Additional Information or to Request Interviews, Please contact:

Tania Seburyamo
Consultant
Phone: +243 820 66 46 24

James Ayodele
Principal Communication Officer
Africa CDC, Ethiopia
Email: Ayodelej@africa-union.org
Tel: +251 11 551 7700; +251 953912454

Sakuya OKA
Communications Manager
WHO Regional Office for Africa
Cell: +242 06 508 1009
Email: okas@who.int

Collins Boakye-Agyemang
Communications and marketing officer
Tel: + 242 06 520 6565
Email: boakyeagyemangc@who.int


Lack of funding leaves millions of children in conflict and disaster zones at risk

Source: UN Children's Fund
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), World

To date, UNICEF has only received about half of the US$4.16 billion needed to meet the basic health, education, nutrition and protection needs of 41 million children this year.
$4 billion humanitarian appeal nearly 50 per cent unfunded heading into final quarter of 2019

NEW YORK, 22 October 2019 – Millions of children living in areas affected by conflict and disaster are at risk because of substantial shortages in funding for lifesaving humanitarian programmes, UNICEF said today.

To date, UNICEF has only received 54 per cent of the US$4.16 billion needed to meet the basic health, education, nutrition and protection needs of 41 million children in 59 countries this year. Heading into the final quarter of 2019, the funding gap stands at 46 per cent.

“Millions of vulnerable children around the world are suffering the grievous consequences of increasingly complex humanitarian crises,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Without additional resources, these children will not go to school, be vaccinated, receive adequate nutrition, or be protected from violence and abuse. While we continue to appeal for an end to conflicts and better readiness to emergencies, we need additional donor support to help us meet children’s most basic needs.”

Emergencies with the largest funding gaps include Pakistan (83 per cent), Cameroon (80 per cent), Burkina Faso (76 per cent) and Venezuela (73 per cent). Large-scale emergencies in Syria and neighboring countries, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Bangladesh also remain significantly underfunded.

If these funding gaps persist through the end of the year, the consequences for children will be dire:

  • In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, US$ 61 million is urgently required to provide essential services for communities in areas that have long suffered from humanitarian and security crises, and at the same time to create an environment conducive to an effective Ebola response.
  • In Ethiopia, UNICEF needs more than US$43 million to provide children and families affected by drought and displacement with access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation.
  • In Haiti, UNICEF requires nearly US$ 2 million to provide nutritional support to over 19,000 children in need of urgent nutrition assistance and US$ 2 million to support family reunification and care services for unaccompanied and separated children.
  • In Libya, without US$ 540,000 in urgent funding, UNICEF will be unable to provide mine risk education for 50,000 children.
  • In northeast Nigeria, nearly US$ 7 million in funding is urgently needed to sustain lifesaving nutrition programmes, including US$ 3.5 million to prevent a break in the supply pipeline of ready-to-use-therapeutic food for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition in children.
  • In South Sudan, UNICEF child protection programmes are only 20 per cent funded while water, sanitation and hygiene programmes are 26 per cent funded.
  • In Sudan, UNICEF needs US$ 12 million to continue lifesaving treatment for more than 61,000 children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
  • In Syria, where the funding gap is at US$ 30 million, 2.1 million children could miss out on critical formal and non-formal education activities.
  • In Syria’s neighbouring countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt), home to 2.5 million Syrian refugees, a funding gap of US$ 249 million means that 460,000 children could also miss out on education activities.
  • In Venezuela, UNICEF requires at least US$ 6 million to help 60,000 children enroll and stay in school, through the provision of school feeding programmes. UNICEF also needs at least US$ 3 million to help vaccinate nearly 400,000 children against preventable diseases over the next three months.
  • In West and Central Africa, UNICEF humanitarian assistance to support education for children in countries affected by emergencies are 72 per cent unfunded.

“During my time on the ground in countries under crisis – countries like DRC, Mozambique, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen – I’ve seen firsthand the power of humanitarian funding to change the lives of vulnerable children for the better,” said Fore. “With increased support, together we can reach even more of the children who need us most.”

Note to editors:

UNICEF launched its 2019 global humanitarian appeal in January, asking for US$3.9 billion. Since then, and because of emerging or worsening crises in countries like Burkina Faso, Sudan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, UNICEF’s humanitarian funding needs have climbed to US$4.16 billion. For more information, visit Humanitarian Action for Children 2019.

Media Contacts

Christopher Tidey

UNICEF New York

Tel: +1 917 340 3017

Email: ctidey@unicef.org


Up to 15 million Yemenis see water supplies cut amid fuel crisis

Source: Oxfam
Country: Yemen

In three major cities, Ibb, Dhamar and Al Mahwit, home to approximately 400,000 people, central water systems have shut down completely, heightening the risk of cholera and other diseases.
15 million people in Yemen have had their water supplies severely cut, putting them at risk of deadly diseases like cholera because of a fuel crisis, analysis by aid agencies, including Oxfam, has shown.

11 million people relying on water supplied by piped networks and four million people who depend on water trucked in by private companies have had to drastically reduce their daily consumption since fuel prices soared in September. In three major cities, Ibb, Dhamar and Al Mahwit, home to around 400,000 people, central water systems have been forced to shut down completely.

Oxfam has had to cut trucked water to thousands of people because of the increase in fuel prices. Piped water systems installed by Oxfam, which supply a quarter of a million people, are running at around 50 per cent capacity.

Access to clean water is a matter of life and death in Yemen, particularly for the more than seven million people already weakened by malnourishment, as water borne diseases are rife. The country has experienced one of the worst cholera outbreaks in recent history. Since April 2017, there have been over two million suspected cases of cholera and over 3700 deaths.

The current fuel crisis is the latest example of the warring parties using the economy as a weapon of war. Fuel supplies have been an ongoing problem in Yemen but escalated dramatically last month following extra restrictions on imports announced by the internationally-recognised government. The Houthi authorities are also placing restrictions on imports.

As a result, ships carrying fuel have stopped docking, and prices have shot up due to the lack of supply. In Sana’a a litre of petrol is now almost three times the price it was in August.

Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director said: “This fuel crisis is affecting every area of people’s lives but none more crucial than the lack of clean water. For millions of Yemenis already struggling to survive hunger and disease, clean water is a lifeline that is now being cut.

“This weaponisation of the Yemeni economy is yet another cruelty inflicted on the people of Yemen who have been forced to endure four years of conflict.

“All sides need to end the restrictions being imposed on importers so that fuel can once again reach the country unimpeded.”

Fuel is crucial to the supply of clean water in Yemen. Many people depend on groundwater which is brought to the surface by pumps running on solar power and fuel. Others, particularly people who have had to flee their homes and are living in camps, rely on water brought in by trucks which run on diesel.

Yemen was already one of the most water-scarce countries in the world before conflict escalated in 2015. Since then, at least eight water systems installed by Oxfam have been damaged or destroyed in fighting, cutting off water supplies to more than a quarter of a million people.

\ Ends

For more information or interviews please contact Melanie Kramers: mkramers1@oxfam.org.uk / +44 7825 088894


GeoPoll survey results on Ebola in DRC available

GeoPoll has been active in the DRC for many years and runs multiple surveys, including collecting data related to the on-going Ebola crisis.  GeoPoll has just completed an SMS survey in North Kivu, surveying community members on a range of issues.  Some of the questions they have gathered feedback from community members on include:

  • Do you know what the symptoms of Ebola are?
  • What is your primary source of news/information on Ebola? (Friends/Family, TV, radio, newspaper, social media)
  • Which social media channel is your primary source of information?
  • How do you communicate with friends about Ebola?
  • Have aid or healthcare organizations been more present in your area than usual in the past two weeks?

GeoPoll has now completed the survey and shared the results, free, online at https://www.geopoll.com/blog/ebola-in-drc-sms-survey-results/