Thursday, October 16, 2014

Myths about Ebola dispelled in Animation Film

By Esther Nakkazi
There is a call to the church and all clergy to join in the efforts to educate the world about Ebola led by the United Methodist Church. Commentaries by trusted leaders encourage cooperation with health programs they say.

Through the United Methodist Communications the global communications agency of The United Methodist Church, and collaborations with Chocolate Moose Media and iHeed, a mobile-health-education innovator., they have created an animation in a free video that also calls for the local people to support the health workers and the scientists. The film is for West Africans and will dispel myths about how Ebola is spread and it will promote prevention efforts.

“Our goal is to provide education that leads to better understanding to prevent infections,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications in a press release.
“Ebola gains foothold in poor communities where mistrust, resistance to proper care and lack of understanding of the virus and is widespread. The church’s advantage lies in its network of trusted leaders who live in the affected regions.”

United Methodist Communications is using several approaches, including providing text messages to clergy in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The press release further says; "I have created what I hope will be a compelling video to prevent the spread of Ebola,” said Chocolate Moose Media founder and award-winning director Firdaus Kharas. “My approach is to combine animation with non-coercive persuasion by having Africans speak to their own broader family.”

Accessed through download for local playback, all partners will distribute the video to reach as many as possible. Distribution channels include international organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society and churches and through social media using #Ebolavideo.

"Through a combination of weak health infrastructure, inconsistent levels of education and unpreparedness, this epidemic has become a global threat,” said Dr. Kunal D. Patel, medical director of iHeed. “Digital media can fill the gaps. In combination with technologies such as mobile phones, cinemas, projectors and tablets, animated information can help."

The United Methodist Church is responding in a number of other ways in a joint effort by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, West African United Methodist church leaders and regional health boards, denominational health facilities, and others.

According to the World Health Organization, 7,470 cases of Ebola had been reported as of Oct. 3 (, with 3,431 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Ebola is transmitted to humans from wild animals and spreads through person-to-person transmission. Contact with the body of a deceased person can also play a role in transmission.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cancer; World Oncology Forum: “Treat the treatable”

Press release 13 October 2014

Fifty global leaders in research and treatment of cancer will gather at the Second World Oncology Forum in Lugano, 24–25 October, to draw up policy recommendations for getting effective and affordable cancer care to everyone who needs it.

The Forum has been convened by the European School of Oncology, in collaboration with The Lancet, in response to the global cancer epidemic, which is hitting low- and middle-income countries particularly hard. It is backed entirely by independent, non-commercial sponsors.

Over the course of one and a half days, participants will hear from key players about a variety of initiatives from countries across the globe that have shown to be successful in recent years. 

These range from new business models that help speed discovery and development of affordable new treatments, to healthcare models that deliver the best possible outcomes for the money available – across prevention, early detection, treatment and follow up – together with new models of healthcare financing that can provide close to universal coverage on a sustainable basis.

The participants will assess how such initiatives can be adapted for use in other settings, including the world’s poorest and most under-served communities. The Forum will conclude with a consensus statement on key policies that are urgently needed to get a grip on the rising tide of suffering and death from cancer.

Franco Cavallia, chair of the Forum’s Scientific Committee, said: “In recent years governments across the world have belatedly been waking up to the reality of the rapid rise in cancer cases among their citizens, and the toll it is taking on the social and economic life of their countries. 

But in many of the worst-hit countries, ill-founded assumptions not just at the level of governments, but also in association with international aid agencies, has skewed the policy response almost exclusively towards prevention. 

Even the richest countries are realizing that providing the best quality cancer care for their citizens is becoming unsustainable, as more people need treatment for longer periods with therapies that offer incremental improvements at very high prices.

The Forum, entitled ‘Treat the treatable’, is focused on the needs of all the men, women, and children who have cancer, and need access to early detection, effective treatment, and good follow-up care.

“It will highlight examples from countries such as Thailand, Mexico, and India that show how, with the right policies, public healthcare systems can deliver very good quality screening and care for all citizens," says the press release.

"It will look at what lessons can be learned not just by other middle-income countries, but also by low-income countries, e.g in sub-Saharan Africa, on the one hand, and by countries in the developed world on the other."

And it will also look at the balance of public-private partnerships that can facilitate the speedy and effective development of scientifically rational approaches to innovative treatments, to speed progress towards more effective and more affordable treatments.

“Governments and international policy bodies and aid agencies have the power to greatly reduce the personal, social, and economic burden of cancer among their citizens by adopting policies that have been shown to work. 

The policy statement that will come out of this Forum will be based on experience and evidence and will have the backing of 50 international leaders in cancer control. We will be calling on world leaders and everyone in a position to help make a difference to play their part.”

The policy statement will be published in The Lancet and Cancer World. The Lancet will also publish the presentations of the keynote speakers


For further information and interview requests:

In English: Anna Wagstaff, ESO media team: +44 (0)1865 723450 or +44 (0)790-860 3790,
In Italian: Alexandra Zampetti, ESO WOF Secretariat: +41 (0) 91 820 0954,

a Franco Cavalli is the Scientific Director of the Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland, and Chair of the Scientific Committee of the European School of Oncology

Monday, October 6, 2014

From Ebola Now Uganda has Marburg

5th October 2014

The Ministry of Health would like to inform the general public that there is a confirmed case of Marburg in the country.
This initial case follows laboratory tests done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) on September 30th 2014 which confirmed that one person, a health worker, had died of the viral hemorrhagic fever.

The index case is a 30-year-old male Radiographer, who originally was working in Mpigi Health Centre IV, Mpigi Town Council but had been recruited by Mengo Hospital two month ago as a Radiographer. He started feeling unwell on September 17th while at Mengo Hospital and travelled back to Mpigi HCIV on September 18th to seek treatment since he felt more comfortable with a facility that he had worked with for a long time.

He was treated at Mpigi Health Center IV but when his condition worsened, he was transferred back to Mengo Hospital where he was admitted on September 23rd. He presented with Headache, Epistaxis, abdominal pain, vomiting blood and diarrhea. His condition deteriorated on September 27th and a Viral Haemorraghic fever was suspected. Blood samples were removed for further analysis on September 28th; unfortunately he died on the same day. His body was taken to Munkunyu 1 Village, Munkunyu Sub-county, Kasese district for burial.

Preliminary reports also show that his brother, one of the contacts so far listed has developed signs. He has been quarantined and isolated for further monitoring. Samples have been taken from him and are being tested at the Uganda Virus Research Institute. The public will be informed of his status. Altogether 80 contacts have been listed from Mengo, Mpigi and Kasese for follow up.

Marburg Viral Haemorraghic fever is a fatal illness caused by the Marburg virus which belongs to the filoviridae family together with the Ebola virus. The incubation period ranges from 2 to 21 days while the Case fatality rates vary from 24% to 88%. Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural hosts of Marburg virus. The Marburg virus is transmitted to people from the fruit bats and spreads among humans through human-to-human transmission by direct contact with wounds and body fluids like blood, saliva, vomitus, stool and urine of an infected person.

A person suffering from Marburg presents with sudden onset of high fever with any of the following;
1. Headache
2. Vomiting blood
3. Joint and muscle pains
4. Bleeding through the body openings, i.e. eyes, nose, gums, ears, anus and the skin.
There is no specific antiviral treatment or vaccine available; patients are usually given supportive treatment.

The Ministry of Health is undertaking the following measures to control the spread of the disease;
• Yesterday, a team of epidemiologists and surveillance officers were sent to Mpigi Health Center IV, Mengo Hospital and to Kasese district to investigate the case and list all people who got into contact with the dead.
• So far, a total of 80 people who got into contact with the initial confirmed case have been identified and isolated as a precautionary measure and for follow up for any signs and symptoms within the 21 days incubation period. These include 38 health workers from Mengo Hospital, including his brother and 22 health workers from Mpigi Health Center IV and 20 people from Kasese district. They are currently being monitored by a team of epidemiologists from the Ministry of Health.
• Arrangements have been put in place to transport all suspect cases to the National Isolation Facility in Entebbe should they occur. The facility is already stocked with the necessary infection control materials and other supplies to handle any incoming patients.
• Arrangements have also been made at Mengo Hospital to isolate any suspect with symptoms. Health workers have been asked to effect all infection control measures.
• Preparations are underway to train all health workers at Mengo Hospital and Mpigi Health Center IV on infection control starting tomorrow 6/10/2014 at 9.00am
• Government working with partners and specifically Medicens San Frontiers (MSF) are in the process of revamping the isolation facility at Mulago National Referral Hospital under the leadership of Kampala Capital City Authority in readiness and the facility will be ready in three days time.
• MSF is also mobilizing additional resources to assist with infection control and case management at all the isolation facilities that have been set up.
• The World Health Organization (WHO) is providing technical assistance and logistical support (PPE’s) to all the affected facilities.
• In Kasese, a team has been dispatched to work with the district official and Kagando Hospital to trace for any other suspects.
• Personal Protective Equipments (PPE’s) and other supplies have been mobilized and sent to Mengo and Mpigi health center IV and Kagando HCIV.
• National Medical Stores will supply additional infection control materials to Mengo Hospital and Mpigi HCIV by tomorrow morning.
The Ministry of Health however informs the general Public that Mengo Hospital is safe and all measures have been taken to ensure that there is no further spread of infection. Patients are encouraged to continue to receive services from there.
Ministry of Health urges the general public to observe the following protective measures;
• Report any suspected patient to a nearby health unit
• Avoid direct contact with body fluids of a person presenting with bleeding tendencies or symptoms of Marburg.
The Ministry of Health once again calls upon the public to remain calm and be on alert amidst this epidemic. All suspect cases can be reported on the Ministry hotline on +256750996034.

Hon. Elioda Tumwesigye
Minister of State for General Duties &
Holding the Portfolio of Minister for Health