The World Health Organisation (WHO) had yesterday, asked Canada to justify its decision to limit travel to this country from the West African countries combating Ebola even delegates attending the WHO African Region meeting in Benin Republic, including Nigeria’s Minister of State for Health, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan, have elected its next Africa Director, Matshidiso Moeti. She is a doctor from Botswana, who is a longtime veteran of the United Nations (UN) agency.
Also, researchers have developed nasal spray vaccine for long-lasting protection from disease as well as fast, finger-prick test. Researchers are also questioning the veracity of models, which they say overestimate cases since the rate of infection in Liberia seems to plateau, raising questions over usefulness of models in an outbreak. Scientists have also discovered that mushroom extract might eradicate human papillomavirus (HPV) infection (the causative agent of cervical cancer) in a small trial.
Meanwhile, the WHO has asked Canada to justify its decision to limit travel to this country from the West African countries combating Ebola. The Canadian government announced last Friday that it would not issue new travel visas for residents or citizens of countries with widespread and persistent Ebola transmission. As well, it has put a halt on the processing of permanent residency visas for people from those countries.
Canada’s move contravenes the International Health Regulations which stipulate that in infectious disease outbreaks, countries should not impose trade or travel sanctions against affected countries beyond what the WHO has recommended. Under that treaty, countries, which take measures that are stronger than those approved by the WHO must present the global health agency with the scientific and public health rationale for their actions.
The WHO has repeatedly urged countries not to close their doors to people from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, saying to do so would be counterproductive and might actually increase the risk of international spread of the disease. WHO’s Dr. Isabelle Nuttall said Tuesday in an interview with journalists: “Any strong measures (like border closures) need to be well documented and explained to those who are suffering from those measures.
“And if not, they will just be circumvented. People will find a way to travel. And the consequence to a country might be even worse than not having had a travel ban. “Countries that have banned travel from affected nations may let down their guard. What is important is to maintain the level of vigilance. What we wouldn’t want is that Canada feels that because of that, there is a false sense of security.” Canada is a signatory to the International Health Regulations (IHR). Nuttall is the head of the WHO’s department of global capacities alert and response, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the health security treaty.
Nuttall said the WHO has asked Canada’s IHR focal point- the person within the Public Health Agency of Canada tasked with communicating with the WHO on IHR-related issues- for an explanation. She wasn’t clear when the request was sent but said the WHO has yet to receive a reply. According to a statement released yesterday by the WHO, the announcement of Moeti as next African Region Director was made by Senegalese Health Minister, Dr. Awa Marie Coll Seck, who chaired the vote. Moeti expressed optimism that the outbreak, which has killed nearly 5,000 people, would be under control within three months.