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Europes populist contagion

Europe knows it has a vaccine problem — its just not sure how to fix it.

A combination of deep-root..

Europe knows it has a vaccine problem — its just not sure how to fix it.

A combination of deep-rooted social and political forces, including the rise of populism and a loss of trust in institutions, is fueling the resurgence of infectious diseases across Europe, according to experts.

As a new EU survey revealed nearly half of Europes population believes false claims about vaccines, European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen called the trend “worrisome” in a briefing with reporters.

With measles on the rise across the bloc, Brussels has taken a scattergun approach in trying to nudge countries to align vaccination schedules, clamp down on misinformation and improve vaccine availability.

Yet while people understand that vaccines are important, according to the Eurobarometer poll released Friday, a majority in more than 16 countries say vaccines are often linked to serious side effects, and more than a third of people say vaccines can cause the disease against which they protect — both of which are untrue.

“Were dealing with whole belief systems about the way the world operates in general and the role that elites and experts play in the world” — Jonathan Kennedy, university lecturer

All the while, politicians running on anti-establishment platforms opposed to mandatory vaccinations, and in some cases stoking fears on the dangers of jabs, continue to gain support.

“Were not dealing with peoples misconceptions about vaccines. Were dealing with whole belief systems about the way the world operates in general and the role that elites and experts play in the world,” said Jonathan Kennedy, a lecturer in global health at Queen Mary University of London, who has tracked the link between the rise in populism and vaccine hesitancy.

“Unless these bigger political and economic factors are addressed, unless these people feel like they have a stake in society, then I think its pretty hard to think how their views can be countered,” Kennedy said.

As governments including France and Italy celebrate the success of mandatory jab programs in raising coverage rates, the poll indicates thats doing little to combat misinformation. In France, 60 percent of people incorrectly believe vaccines often cause serious side effects — the fourth highest result among EU countries behind Cyprus, Croatia and Malta.

With measles on the rise across the bloc, Brussels has taken a scattergun approach in trying to nudge countries to align vaccination schedules, clamp down on misinformation and improve vaccine availability | Jasper Jacobs/AFP via Getty Images

Emilie Karafillakis, a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who co-authored a report for the Commission on vaccine confidence, said concerns in France are linked to a “general mistrust of health authorities” as well as cultural barriers such as the popularity of homeopaths who may not support vaccination. She also pointed to difficulties for parents who do want to get their kids vaccinated, but run up against issues in navigating the complexities of the health system.

After Paris increased the number of compulsory vaccinations in 2018, preliminary data from the health ministry showed immunization rates increased as a result.

Members of the far-right National Rally had opposed the policy, arguing people should have the right to make their own decisions on health care.

In the U.K., where public health policies pushing vaccination have been pursued strongly since the discrediting of British doctor Andrew Wakefields claims linking the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jab with autism, 54 percent of people still believe vaccines often cause serious side effects.

National Health Service chief Simon Stevens on Thursday warned public rejection of vaccines is a “growing public health time bomb” after a UNICEF study recorded more than 500,000 children in the U.K. did not receive the measles jab between 2010 and 2017.

While experts caveat the overall risk of measles is still low, European health authorities note that “large outbreaks with fatalities are ongoing in countries that had previously eliminated or interrupted endemic transmission.” There were more than 12,000 measles cases in the European Economic Area last year, and significant increases in France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Bulgaria and Ireland in 2019. Outbreaks in Germany have prompted the health ministry to promise a plan for vaccination by May.

The fact that measles is so highly infectious means it is usually the first contagious disease to emerge among unvaccinated kids.

Online noise

“Theres growing evidence that some organizations are using the vaccine issue as a means to sow distrust in democratic institutions,” said Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines. A study in the U.S. found Russian bots sent out both pro- and anti-vaccine messages to generate confusion in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election.

Thats amplifying a “problem with scientific literacy generally” in Europe, McKee said.

While the majority of people turn to their doctors for information about vaccines, around 20 percent of people said they consult internet sites and social media.

“One of the issues is that an awful lot of these messages are quite subliminal,” McKee said. “Its all about creating a climate and people may not know actRead More – Source

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Burkina Faso: Growing Violence Threatens Health Care

Away from the worlds attention, Burkina Faso has been slipping into violence. In less than a year, t..

Away from the worlds attention, Burkina Faso has been slipping into violence. In less than a year, the number of displaced has increased fivefold, from 50,000 last December, to 270,000 in August. As ever, the most vulnerable suffer most: the very young, and the very old.

When Alidou Sawadogos elderly mother fell ill, he faced a long and dangerous journey to get treatment for her.

“When she collapsed, a friend called me,” he explains. “By the time I arrived she was already unconscious. I decided to take her to the health center and luckily someone who had a motorcycle helped me. Because of the violence many people who are sick wait at home and die. Everyone is afraid of taking the road to the health center in Barsalogho.”

Across Burkina Faso, the rising insecurity has forced over a hundred health centers to close, or to limit their work. Half a million people now have little or no access to health care. Dedicated health workers, among them Dr Bertrand Dibli in Barsalogho, are struggling to meet the needs, and to stay safe themselves.

“This is one of the few health centers that isnt closed,” he says. “We dont have enough equipment. And the insecurity has caused huge anxiety among health workers. Even coming here to Barsalogho is a huge challenge because the route is so dangerous.”

The ICRC has been working to support Burkina Fasos health professionals, with medical kits, and vaccination campaigns. During his visit to the country, ICRC President Peter Maurer expressed his concern at the multiple challenges facing Burkina Fasos people.

“We are very concerned,” he said. “Very worried about the upsurge in violence, its a vicious circle that is trapping the civilian population between armed groups.”

“We also see,” Mr Maurer added, “that it is not only the violence that is affecting the country, it is also under development, and climate change. Together with the violence that is obstructing the health services, its an accumulation of factors.”

And so the ICRC – jointly with the Burkinabé Red Cross – is also delivering food to the displaced, and helping to improve access to water supplies. All of this, says nurse Jeanette Kientega, is desperately needed by a population uprooted by conflict, and denied access to basic health care.

“By the time they are able to get here, it is often too late” she says. “Sometimes we can help, but if they have already been ill a long time, it is difficult. We try to do what we can.” (more…)

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World Bank and WHO Statement on Partnership & Deployment of Financing to WHO for Ebola Response in DRC

WASHINGTON, August 23, 2019—The World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), along with the G..

WASHINGTON, August 23, 2019—The World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), along with the Government and other key partners, are working in close partnership on the Ebola Crisis Response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Central to this partnership is the assessment of the financing needs, and deployment of resources, with the goal to put an end to the current deadly outbreak.

The World Bank is today announcing that US$50 million in funding is to be released to WHO for its lifesaving operational work on the frontlines of the outbreak. The WHO is announcing that this US$50 million in funds will close the financing gap for its emergency health response in DRC through to the end of September 2019, and is calling on other partners to mirror this generous support in order to fund the response through to December.

The funding comprises US$30 million from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) and US$20 million from the World Bank. The US$50 million in grant funding is part of the larger financial package of approximately US$300 million that the World Bank announced last month to support the fourth Strategic Response Plan for the DRC Ebola outbreak.

“WHO is very grateful for the World Banks support, which fills a critical gap in our immediate needs for Ebola response efforts in DRC, and will enable the heroic workers on the frontlines of this fight to continue their lifesaving work,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization. “We keenly await further funding from other partners to sustain the response through to the end of the year.”

The DRC government, working in collaboration with the World Bank, WHO, and other key partners, has finalized the Fourth Strategic Response Plan (SRP4), which outlines the total resources needed for the DRC Ebola Crisis Response from July to December 2019. The financing announced today is part of the World Banks previously announced financial package of up to US$300 million and covers over half of SRP4s needs, with the remainder requiring additional funding from other donors and partners.

“The World Bank is working closely with WHO, the Government of DRC, and all partners to do everything we can to put an end to the latest Ebola outbreak,” said Annette Dixon, Vice President, Human Development at the World Bank. “The partnership between our organizations and the Government is critical for responding to the emergency as well as rebuilding systems for delivery of basic services and to restoring the trust of communities.”

The Government of DRC requested US$30 million from the PEF Cash Window to be paid directly to WHO. The PEF Steering Body approved the request bringing the PEFs total contribution to fighting Ebola in DRC to US$61.4 million. The PEF is a financing mechanism housed at the World Bank; its Steering Body is co-chaired by the World Bank and WHO, and comprises donor country members from Japan, Germany and Australia. The quick and flexible financing it provides saves lives, by enabling governments and international responders to concentrate on fighting Ebola—not fundraising.

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Borno State launches first Malaria Operational Plan, reawakens fight against malaria

Maiduguri, 13 August 2019 – Following recommendations from malaria interventions in Borno State Nige..

Maiduguri, 13 August 2019 – Following recommendations from malaria interventions in Borno State Nigeria, the Malaria Annual Operational Plan (MAOP) was developed and launched on 08 August 2019 with technical support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners. Aligned to the National Malaria Strategic Plan (2014 -2020), MAOP was developed through a broad-based stakeholders workshop involving malaria stakeholders, reviewed on different thematic areas and endorsed by the Commissioner for Health and Permanent Secretary, Borno State Ministry of Health.

Speaking during the launch, the Borno state Malaria Programme Manager, Mr Mala Waziri described the MAOP as the first to be endorsed and disseminated in Borno State. “WHO has made us proud by supporting the first ever Malaria Operational Plan right from development, review, printing to dissemination.”

Dr Ibrahim Kida, the Ministerial Secretary Borno State Ministry of Health and Incident Manager of the state, described the launch as “an historic event as stakeholders across the health sector made commitments to use the document as an implementation guide for all malaria programs”. The plan was also described as an advocacy tool for planning domestic funds mobilization.

The MAOP has seven objectives among which are: provide at least 50% of targeted population with appropriate preventive measures by 2020; ensure that all persons with suspected malaria who seek care are tested with Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) or microscopy by 2020 and all persons with confirmed malaria seen in private or public health facilities receive prompt treatment with an effective anti-malarial drug by 2020.

The MAOP will further ensure that at least 50% of the population practice appropriate malaria prevention and management by 2020, ensuring timely availability of appropriate anti-malarial medicines and commodities required for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria in Borno State by 2020.

In addition, it seeks to ensure that all health facilities report on key malaria indicators routinely by 2020 and finally strengthen governance and coordination of all stakeholders for effective program implementation towards an A rating by 2020 on a standardized scorecard. These strategic objectives have specific targets and the MAOP takes into account the humanitarian response.

“Malaria remains a leading cause of poor health in Nigeria. According to the 2018 WHO Malaria Report, 53million cases are recorded annually in Nigeria, roughly 1 in 4 persons is infected with malaria contributing 25% of the global burden,” says Dr Nglass Ini Abasi, WHO Malaria Consultant for the North East.

“Furthermore, 81,640 deaths are recorded annually (9 deaths every hour), which accounts for 19% of global malaria deaths (1 in 5 global malaria deaths) and 45% malaria deaths in West Africa. The Nigeria Malaria Strategic Plan (NMSP) 2014-2020 has a goal to reduce malaria burden to pre-elimination levels and bring malaria-related mortality to zero and WHO is working assiduously with Government to ensure the burden is reduced accordingly.”

Results from WHO’s Early Warning, Alert and Response System (EWARS) week 30 report from 223 sites, (including 32 IDP camps) show that malaria was the leading cause of morbidity and mortality accounting for 35% of cases and 46% of reported deaths. In addition, results from the Nigeria Humanitarian Response Strategy (NHRS 2019-2021) indicate 7.1million people are in dire need of healthcare and 6.2million are targeted for immediate attention.

Despite recent improvements, insecurity remains a challenge limiting access to the functional health facilities. Easily preventable and treatable diseases such as malaria, acute respiratory infection and diarrheal diseases account for the greatest proportion of morbidity and mortality among the vulnerable population. Furthermore, Malaria is endemic in North East Nigeria and the transmission is perennial with a marked seasonal peak from July to November every year. (more…)

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