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Liberian health authorities have ruled out Ebola and Lassa fever. Liberian health authorities have ruled out Ebola and Lassa fever.

Liberia: Sinoe Health 'Crisis' Enters Monrovia

Dr. Kateh: "While two persons are confirmed dead in Monrovia... we have sent blood samples abroad for investigation"

Dr. Francis Nah Kateh, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and Deputy Minister of Health, yesterday confirmed a second death in Monrovia from the 'strange disease' that has killed more than ten (10) people in Greenville, Sinoe County.

 
 

Dr. Kateh said the total deaths have now reached 12 including the two in Montserrado County.

"Some of those who travelled from Greenville in the aftermath of the situation and arrived in Monrovia are being traced and monitored, while at least two are confirmed dead," Dr. Kateh told the ELBC afternoon news yesterday.

He said six of the nine affected people in Sinoe County have been discharged, while the three are in stable condition at the Francis J. Grant Hospital in Greenville, the county's political capital.

 

Kateh noted that the cause of deaths remains unknown, but repeatedly ruled out Ebola and Lassa fever.

Meanwhile, Dr. Kateh has informed the public that specimens from the affected people are being sent out of the country to determine the actual cause of deaths as an internal investigation continues.

 
 

The latest deaths are a concern for residents of Monrovia, who are still grappling with the aftermath of the deadly Ebola virus disease that took away the lives of over 4,000 Liberians in 2014 and 2015.

It can be recalled that on April 25, residents of the port city of Greenville woke up to discover that half a dozen of their kinsmen had died under mysterious circumstances.

The Ministry of Health representative in River Cess County with oversight responsibility for Sinoe County, Derry S. Duokie's first reaction was that the cluster of deaths was of "unexplained causes," a situation which he said started at about 5 a.m. that day.

 
 

Duokie had suspected that the deaths of the six people were the result of a "suspected fever of unknown origin (FUO)," which he said health personnel in the county were investigating.

The Ministry of Health in Monrovia meanwhile made an urgent call to put into place interventions before the situation gets out of hand.

The Liberian National Police (LNP) spokesperson, Sam Collins, who confirmed to the Daily Observer that the police is investigating the deaths, also promised to investigate the circumstances leading the deaths.

Original article at the Daily Observer

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    The projected number of children expected to suffer has skyrocketed, doubling since January of this year. The country's combination of drought, dislocation, and disease is proving fatal for children.

    The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced in a statement on Tuesday that the number of children projected to suffer from acute malnutrition in Somalia during 2017 increased by 50 percent since initial estimates at the beginning of this year.

    Of the 1.4 million children now at risk, about 275,000 could face a life-threatening severe acute form of malnutrition. These children are nine times more likely to die of cholera, measles or diarrhea.

     
     

    "The combination is deadly for children," Marixie Mercado, a UNICEF spokeswoman, said at a news conference.

    According to UNICEF, the agency has 837 nutritional centers in the east African country where it provides aid to severely malnourished children.

    "Together with our partners, we have already treated over 56,000 severely malnourished children this year," the UNICEF representative for Somalia Steven Lauwerier said, an increase of 88 percent in comparison to 2016.

    In acknowledgement of the sharply increasing numbers, Lauwerier added, "We must do much more and be faster in order to save lives."

     

    UNICEF currently has no figure for the total number of Somali children who have perished from hunger and disease. However, during Somalia's famine in 2011, about 130,000 young children died.

     
     

    Fleeing individuals

    Since November 2016, around 615,000 Somali individuals, mostly women and children, have been forced to flee their homes due to a severe drought. Many face sexual assault and robbery while in flight, and some children are recruited as child soldiers to flight for the terror group al-Shabab.

    Additionally, UNICEF reported that more than 40,000 children have been forced to abandon their schooling to search for food and water in order to survive.

     cmb/se (Reutes, KNA, edp)
     

    For individuals who end up in relief camps, the danger is far from over as the overcrowded camps have experienced a rise in malaria and cholera outbreaks.

    Rain brings both relief and danger

    Gradual relief could come from Somalia's rainy season, the "Gu," which typically begins in April. However, the rains could also endanger displaced individuals living in temporary structures.

    Somalia has been battling a two-year long drought, putting some six million individuals in need of assistance, or nearly half the country's population of around 11 million. Government aid is limited due to al-Shabab's de facto control of many of the country's rural areas.

  • Kenya: Paying for Change? Kenyan Trial Offers Cash to Parents Willing to Vaccinate Babies

    Researchers have shown that monetary incentives lead to infants being immunised on time.

    Doreen Auma puffs as her stride shortens with every step. The humidity is thick and sticky in western Kenya's rain season, and today there seems to be no end to the rough dirt road snaking to the Masogo Health Centre.

    Auma is eight months pregnant and trudging to an antenatal check-up.

    She already has a baby, who at 11 months old is overdue for his measles and yellow fever vaccinations at the same clinic. But Auma, a farmer who asked that we not use her real name, has left him at home.

    With the ever heavier little boy strapped on her back, she fears she may not make it to the health centre.

     
     

    "It's too expensive for me to board a boda boda," says Auma. The boda boda (motorbike) drivers in the rural community in Siaya County charge 200 Kenyan shillings (about R26) for a ride to and from the health centre.

    With another baby due, Auma doesn't know when - or if - her son will complete Kenya's routine immunisation schedule for children under one year old. He went for his last shots three months ago, when she could still carry him.

    The Kenyan government prescribes vaccinations against diseases such as tuberculosis (TB), polio, whooping cough, tetanus and hepatitis B. At least one vitamin A dose should be given before the first birthday, while vaccinations against yellow fever (in two counties) and measles are given at nine months, according to ministry of health guidelines.

    Routine childhood immunisation is cost-effective and successful: it saves millions of lives globally every year, data from the World Health Organisation shows. But the organisation says an estimated 19.4-million infants worldwide are still missing out on basic vaccines and global coverage levels have stalled at about 85%.

     

    Health bodies are grappling with how to reach parents like Auma, the remaining 15% who say they want to immunise their children but have practical difficulties doing so, or those who forget or ignore the importance of vaccinations.

    As cellphone access expands globally, scientists say mobile technology can be used to improve vaccine coverage.

    In the past few years, several studies from as far afield as Guatemala have shown that SMS messaging can improve disease prevention.

    Auma has considered stopping her antenatal check-ups but says she is trudging to her appointment only because she got relentless calls and SMS reminders from the clinic and community health volunteers.

     
     
     
     

    "I would take my child [for vaccinations] too if I had money for transport," she says.

    A new study conducted in Kenya has confirmed that many caregivers share Auma's views. The study found that SMS reminders, combined with a cash incentive, significantly improve not only coverage but also timeliness of immunisations, according to the research published in The Lancet medical journal in April.

    As part of the study, 2 018 caregivers and their infants from 152 Kenyan villages were divided into four groups and documented for about a year.

    One group got only SMS reminders before scheduled immunisation visits and another got SMSes plus an incentive of 75 Kenyan shillings. A third group received SMS reminders plus 200 Kenyan shillings. Participants in the groups who got incentives were given additional money if their child was immunised within two weeks of their vaccination due dates.

    A fourth segment, acting as a control group, received no reminders or cash. In this group, the study found that 82% of children were fully immunised by 12 months.

    To be considered fully immunised, a child had to receive full courses of vaccines to protect against TB, polio and measles, as well as a five-in-one jab that guards against illnesses such as tetanus, whooping cough and hepatitis B.

    In the group in which caregivers got SMS reminders only, 86% of children were fully immunised. The study found that this figure, at 86%, was the same for the group that received 75 Kenyan shillings.

     
     

    But in the group that got the highest incentive of 200 Kenyan shillings, there was a marked increase in immunisation coverage and 90% of the children in this segment were fully vaccinated.

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    "SMS reminders, with or without incentives, yielded significant gains in timeliness of measles vaccination," says the study.

    The ethics of economic incentives are controversial, but the authors of the study say that the incentive amounts were not coercive and less than one day's working wage.

    But incentives should also be cost-effective, they say. "The use of incentives ... might be cost-effective or even cost-neutral if they significantly strengthen the routine immunisation services".

  • Sub-Saharan Africa Still Suffers Vaccine Stockouts

    Why are vaccines often out of stock all over the world, but mostly in sub-Saharan Africa? Blame outdated delivery systems and challenges in vaccine supply chains, says a new report.One in every three countries experiences stockouts of one vaccine for at least one month, says the report released by PATH, an organisation dealing in children and women's health issues.

    "This means that fewer children are immunised against killer diseases. Outdated vaccine distribution systems are delaying and limiting the impact that vaccines should have on safeguarding people's health," the research says.

    It further shows that 19 per cent to 38 per cent of vaccines worldwide are accidentally exposed to freezing temperatures, potentially compromising the potency of those vaccines."

    This challenge is most pronounced in sub-Saharan Africa, where 38 per cent of the 47 countries are affected by delayed vaccine distribution, according to Patrick Lyndon, a researcher with the World Health Organisation said.

    "In Africa, one in five children does not receive lifesaving immunisations -- while the continent's general routine immunisation coverage of 80 per cent is the lowest of any region in the world," he said.

    In the East African Community, routine immunisation coverage is above 90 per cent, with Rwanda leading the pack at 93 per cent. However, Kenya struggles with immunising newborns against tetanus, coming in at 73 per cent against its neighbours' 85 per cent and above in 2012.

    Hassan Sibomana, acting director of the Immunisation Department at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, told The EastAfrican that Rwanda has invested in cold rooms and refrigerators. "Transportation of vaccines to any health centre across the country is now possible," he said.

    According to WHO, less than a tenth of African governments fund more than 50 per cent of their national immunisation expenditures, and many of them are in sub-Saharan Africa.

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    Original Article at Vanguardngr

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