Friday, August 01, 2014

WHO To Convene IHR Emergency Committee Meeting On Ebola


@WHO & Partners Ebola Response In Guinea


# 8903


Although WHO Director Margaret Chan announced it earlier today in a speech delivered today to the Presidents of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Cote d’Ivoire, the World Health Organization has sent out a notice to journalists that the IHR Emergency Committee will meet next week to discuss whether the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC), and if so, what measures to recommend.


The WHO will hold a Virtual Press Conference after the meeting to discuss the results.

  • WHEN: Thursday 7 August, early evening CEST, timing to be confirmed.
  • WHERE: Geneva-based journalists may participate in the Library Room at WHO Headquarters. Journalists outside Geneva may dial in. Dial-in numbers will be sent to all media on Tuesday.

We’ve seen six such meetings called over the ongoing MERS-CoV outbreaks in the Middle East over the past 18 months, but the situation has never been deemed to reach the level of PHEIC.  But three months ago, an IHR committee meeting did decide that to Declare Polio Spread A Public Health Emergency Of International Concern, and recommended new, strict polio vaccination requirements be implemented for those countries with `active polio’.

Although there are no pharmaceutical options currently available for the control of Ebola,  Director Chan outlined some of the steps that might be needed in her speech today, including:

  • Public awareness of the facts about this disease needs to increase dramatically. Messages from presidents and community and religious leaders are important, but this outbreak needs professionally designed and implemented campaigns, again with help from external experts.
  • Depending on the epidemiological situation, your governments may need to impose some restrictions, for example, on population movements and public gatherings.
  • Governments may need to use their police and civil defence forces to guarantee the safety and security of response teams. Some are already doing so.

As CDC Director Frieden said yesterday, the Ebola situation is worsening, and bringing it under control will be more like a running a marathon, than a sprint.

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