Global leaders, donors pledge $2.6bn to end polio, say WHO

WHO Logo Credit: NAN

Global leaders and donors on Wednesday at the World Health Summit in Berlin, Germany, pledged 2.6 billion dollars to work toward ending polio.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, made this known during a virtual news conference.

” I was very encouraged to see the level of commitment from leaders from government, civil society, academia and the private sector for addressing the most pressing global health challenges.

“There was strong support for the international accord on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response which countries are now negotiating,” Ghebreyesus said

On the Ebola outbreak in Uganda, he said that in total there has been 60 confirmed and 20 probable cases, with 44 deaths, and 25 people have recovered.

“We remain concerned that there may be more chains of transmission and more contacts than we know about in the affected communities,” Who boss said.

According to him, the Ministry of Health is investigating the most recent eight cases, as initial reports indicate they were not among known contacts.

Ghebreyesus said that in addition, two confirmed cases from the Mubende district sought care in the capital Kampala, increasing the risks of transmission in that city.

“WHO and our partners will continue to support the Government of Uganda to contain the outbreak and prevent it from spreading in more regions and countries,” he said.

On Cholera, Ghebreyesus said that around the world, 29 countries have reported outbreaks in 2022, including 13 countries that did not have outbreaks ln 2021.

He said that cholera was highly dangerous and can kill within a day, but it can be prevented with two doses of safe and effective oral vaccines.

The director said that since 2013, WHO, UNICEF, Médecins sans Frontières and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have jointly managed a global stockpile of cholera vaccines to help control epidemics.

He said however, the current wave of outbreaks was putting unprecedented pressure on the stockpile.

“As a result, the four agencies have decided to suspend the two-dose strategy in favour of a one-dose strategy so that more people receive some protection from limited stocks.

The one-dose strategy has proven effective in previous outbreaks, although evidence on how long protection lasts is limited.

“However, this is clearly less than ideal and rationing must only be a temporary solution,” Ghebreyesus said.

According to him, in the long-term the organisation will need a plan to scale up vaccine production as part of a holistic strategy to prevent and stop cholera outbreaks.

He said in addition, the best way to prevent cholera outbreaks was to ensure people have access to safe water and sanitation.

Ghebreyesus said on issue of COVID-19, in early October, the Emergency Committee on COVID-19 met to discuss the global situation and the way forward.

He said that the committee’s view was that COVID-19 remained a public health emergency of international concern.

He said that the committee emphasised the need to strengthen surveillance and expand access to tests, treatments and vaccines for those most at-risk, and for all countries to update their national preparedness and response plans.

“While the global situation has obviously improved since the pandemic began, the virus continues to change, and there remain many risks and uncertainties.

“This pandemic has surprised us before and very well could again,” Ghebreyesus said.

On monkeypox, he said that the rmergency committee would meet to discuss the outbreak and make recommendations.

Ghebreyesus said that the number of reported cases globally has now dropped for eight weeks in a row, but as with COVID-19, risks and uncertainties remain, and some countries are still seeing increasing transmission.(NAN)