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DRC – Uganda Ebola outbreak, not health emergency of international concern – WHO crisis meeting rules

World health organisation crisis meeting in Geneva ruled that Ebola outbreak in DRC and Uganda is not an international emergency. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

GENEVA/KINSHASA/KAMPALA -Health ministry and WHO have now drawn up a list of 98 contacts, or contacts of contacts, potentially exposed to the Ebola virus, of whom 10 are considered “high risk”, said Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies programme.

Vaccination of those contacts and health workers with a Merck experimental vaccine is to start on Saturday, he said.

Ryan told Reuters on Friday that there had been no sign of local transmission of Ebola virus in Uganda.

“No evidence yet…But we’re not out of the woods yet,” he said, noting that the incubation period is up to 21 days.

Not international emergency! 

Emergency Committee declared on Friday in Geneva, Switzerland, that the current outbreak of ebola fever in the DRC and Uganda is a health emergency.

However, it does not meet the criteria of a Public Health Emergency of International concern under the International Health Regulations of 2005.

The situation in the both neighbouring countries was reviewed, including the current epidemiological situation and response strategies, including changes instituted to improve community engagement.

The organization made recommendations and encouraged strict border controls as Uganda has done, and preventive practices such as hand washing.

It also suggested administration of preventive vaccines to front-line health personnel.

The current Ebola epidemic, which began in August last year in eastern DRC, has already affected 2,062 people, killing an estimated 1,390.

To be declared a global emergency of international concern, the epidemic must pose a risk to other countries and require a coordinated response.

A declaration that generally triggers more funding and political attention.

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