Africa Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Africa Water, Sanitation Jan -Feb 2014 Vol.10 No1 - Page 39

Health Sanitation ‘ignored’ They say that while the importance of hygiene - for example, hand washing - is being recognized in some places, much less consideration is given to the complete package of safe water, hygiene and sanitation.In some cases sanitation - toilets and facilities to dispose of waste - is being ignored. Nearly 40% of health facilities in 54 low-income countries do not have reliable clean water, according to the World Health Organization.The report suggests that many efforts to improve newborn health focus on specific measures, sometimes at the expense of these basic facilities.And it argues that the lack of ways to dispose of waste safely could hamper the success of other interventions. The experts behind the report say governments and agencies should pay much greater attention to the link between sanitation and saving mothers’ and babies’ lives. Ebola Outbreak Update: Only Five Cases Left In Liberia, Report Says Just five confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease remain in Liberia, a West African country that has seen more than 3,600 deaths from the outbreak of the deadly virus, Liberia, one of the three countries most affected Reuters quoted a by Ebola virus disease, has seen more than 3,600 senior health official deaths during the current outbreak. Getty Images as saying Friday. “It means that we are going down to zero, if everything goes well, if other people don’t get sick in other places,” said Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah, who leads Liberia’s Ebola task force. Three of the remaining cases were in the capital city of Monrovia, and the other two were in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties. Liberia could be rid of the virus by the end of February, Nyenswah said. It’s a monumental turning point in the Ebola crisis since the height of the outbreak, when Liberia had 500 reported infections per week. Hospitals were filled to capacity with victims and had to turn away new patients. There are now days when no new cases are reported there at all, BBC News reported. Guinea and Sierra Leone, the other two countries most affected by Ebola, have also seen falling infection rates. As of last week, cases in Guinea dipped to 20 per week from a peak of 292 and cases in Sierra Leone dropped to 117 per week from a peak of 748, according to BBC News. “The incidence is pretty clearly going down in all three countries now. Each of the last three weeks has been the most promising we’ve seen so far, the message is reductions in all places,” Dr. Christopher Dye, the director of strategy in the office of the director-general at the World Health Organization, or WHO, told BBC News. “I would have identified the turning point as the beginning of the decline, first in Liberia and then later in Sierra Leone and Guinea.” The current Ebola outbreak has killed at least 8,600 people -- a body count that makes this the worst recorded outbreak since the disease was first identified in 1976, according to studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conjunction with WHO. The recent sharp decrease in the number of cases is partly due to a tremendous global response and a massive publicawareness campaign. Health officials said early detection is key. “Ebola was spreading undetected for three months in Guinea,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said Thursday. “The first case happened in December 2013, and it was not detected until March 2014.” Latest News The Ebola virus is MUTATING, and ‘could become more contagious’, warn scientists who first identified the outbreak • Researchers in France believe the Ebola virus is showing signs of mutating • Team have been tracing the virus’ spread throughout Guinea • Experts say it is ‘not surprising’ the virus is changing - it is like HIV and influenza which tend to mutate quickly • They cautioned it is very unlikely Ebola will mutate to become airborne Scientists tracking the spread of Ebola have warned the virus is showing signs of mutating Scientists tracking the spread of the Ebola in West Africa have warned the virus is showing signs of mutating, and could become more contagious. It was a team of researchers from the Institut Pasteur in France who first identified the outbreak in Guinea, in March last year. Patient zero - the first person to be infected - has been identified as two-year-old Emile Ouamouno from the rural village of Meliandou. He died four days after he fell ill with a sky-high fever and vomiting in December 2013. Africa Water, Sanitation & Hygiene • January - February 2015 39