18 – 24 July 2019

Peter Piot issues a statement in response to the Ebola outbreak in DRC being declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Peter said: “The response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is at a critical juncture. With more than 2,500 cases, over 1,600 deaths, and the recent case of a pastor with Ebola who travelled from Butembo to the border city of Goma, it shows no sign of coming under control. That is why I welcome the World Health Organization’s (WHO) decision to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. I hope that today’s decision serves as a wake-up call to drive high-level political action, improved coordination, and greater funding to support DRC in their efforts to stop this devastating epidemic.”

Peter’s comments were covered by the Financial Times, Reuters, Telegraph, Scientist and BMJ.

Bloomberg publish an in-depth piece on the Ebola outbreak looking at the role that the second experimental vaccine could play. The piece was republished by Straits Times.

This week DRC’s Health Minister, who had been against rolling out the second experimental Ebola vaccine, resigned. Al Jazeera and Science cover the news and quote Peter.

Colin Sutherland provides expert comment to BBC News about a new Lancet study which found that resistant malaria has spread across South East Asia. Colin said: “While the drug-resistant parasite has undoubtedly spread, it is not necessarily a global threat. The implications are not as severe as we might think.”

The Guardian cover the findings of a report co-authored by Heather Wardle and commissioned by GambleAware, which finds that problem gamblers are significantly more likely to attempt suicide. The report calls for the government to do more to tackle the dangers of gambling. Heather said: “The harms from gambling are profound and can be devastating for individuals, families and communities. These results show how people with gambling problems are a higher risk group for suicidality.”

‘Friendship Bench’ founder Dixon Chibanda is featured in the New York Times (£) as the initiative is rolled out in New York City. Dixon said: “The clinic where the programme started had no room inside and wouldn’t lend its very busy nurses. That was a blessing in disguise. It made the program cheap and easy to spread.”

Susannah Mayhew, Samuel Boland and Gillian McKay are co-authors on a letter published in The Guardian, which says that in the wake of the Ebola outbreak being declared a PHEIC, frontline responders must be allowed to play a greater role in response efforts. The authors write: “Allowing local people to lead the response does not mean there is no role for the international humanitarian community. On the contrary, technical advice, response coordination and an emphasis on human rights remain important contributions the international response can offer.”

Sally Bloomfield speaks to the Daily Mail about bathroom hygiene after a study found a men’s bathroom door had six times more bacteria than the ladies. Sally said: “We know from our research that women tend to practise better hygiene and more often wash their hands after using the bathroom. Hand hygiene is important after touching bathroom doors touched by other people. So keeping a hand sanitiser in the drawer and using it when you return to your desk could be a solution to men not washing their hands after using the bathroom.”

Brendan Wren provides expert comment to the Daily Mail on plane hygiene after Naomi Campbell spoke about her concerns around hygiene while travelling on planes. Brendan said: “This is not necessary, simply wash your hands with soap and water before you leave. Plane toilets no different to public toilets.”

On social media

This week’s social media highlight comes from the LSHTM Twitter page, sharing publication of the CMO’s Annual Report. In the report, the CMO recognised LSHTM’s role and contribution to improving global health.

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