Sunday, February 08, 2015

Regarding The Silence Of The Egyptian MOH



Note:   Within minutes of posting this entry the Egyptian media reported 4 new H5N1 cases, supposedly announced by the MOH. Nothing has been updated on the MOH site as of this time, but the media report reads:


Ministry of Health announced the injury of four confirmed cases of bird flu, and they are: a man of 44-year-old Sohag Governorate and is still under treatment in hospital Abbasid fevers, and a child of two years and a half old from Alexandria Governorate and is still under the hospital released the globe treatment, and a girl of Giza-year-old and a half and still under treatment Fever Hospital Imbaba, lady of the Cairo Governorate and is still under treatment, a hospital Abbasid. The Ministry of Health announced the healing 3 cases, they are: a child of the province of Assiut 3 years old, and the lady of the lake province, 19-year-old, and a girl from Qena Governorate old 13 years.

Once again, no updated YTD numbers are provided.



# 9687


Although media reports continue to appear in the Arabic press describing suspected or confirmed H5N1 cases (today including The death of a secondary student of bird flu in Minya & 6 suspected injury as "bird flu" in Damietta),  the Egyptian Ministry of Health’s website remains largely silent on the issue. 


The last official update was posted five days ago (see Egyptian MOH Statement On H5N1) describing a solitary case, and before that, you have to go back to January 27th.


Prior to that, the MOH was doing a laudable job announcing cases (50 over a 60 day period), that closely mirrored media reports, and always included a YTD total (cases, fatalities, under treatment & recovered).

That format changed after the report of January 22nd (see Egypt’s MOH Confirms 21st H5N1 Case), and since then we’ve seen no official update containing YTD numbers. Nearly two weeks ago  media reports had the total for the year at 31 cases, with 10 deaths, but the reliability of that number is unknown, and recent media reports have simply ignored the YTD count.

At this point it is safe to say we’ve pretty much  lost visibility of the H5N1 outbreak in Egypt.  

While it is possible that after two months of reporting nearly a case a day, the number of new cases has fallen abruptly -  ancillary news reports about declarations of emergency, the formation of emergency committees, and constant calls to the public to report to the hospital if they have signs of avian flu - would all seem to argue against that.


Since I find limited value in posting unconfirmed media reports – particularly since the Egyptian media appears to be `piling on’ a bit in protest of the absence of official information – Egypt has gotten little mention here the past week or so. 

Nevertheless, I (along with Crof, and  the very capable newshounds on FluTrackers and the Flu Wiki) continue to scour official and unofficial (Arabic media, twitter & social Media) sources daily for credible information.   


Hopefully the World Health Organization is being kept fully informed, as a well as our NAMRU-3 team in Cairo, and all will be revealed in time.


While it is always disconcerting when official reports are suddenly slow in coming, the good news is, so far there are no outward indications that anything has changed in Egypt regarding the spread and behavior of the H5N1 virus.