Zika virus: World Bank saddened with inadequate global preparation for Zika and Ebola

GENEVA-(MaraviPost)-The World Bank’s International Working Group on Financing Preparedness (IWG), this week expressed sadness over inadequate global preparation of the two deadly diseases Zika and Ebola, since their outbreak.

This is despite efforts and progress to eliminate the two diseases that most countries in the world, are still doing too little to finance recommended actions to strengthen pandemic preparedness .

In a report released on Thursday and made available to The Maravi Post, entitled “From Panic and Neglect to Investing in Health Security: Financing Pandemic Preparedness at a National Level,” outlines 12 recommendations to ensure the adequate financing of the capabilities and infrastructure required to prevent, identify, contain, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks.

The Bank’s report discloses that many countries are chronically under-invested in critical public health functions like disease surveillance, diagnostic laboratories, and emergency operations centers, which enable the early identification and containment of outbreaks.

It observes that only 37 countries have completed the rigorous peer-reviewed assessments, called the Joint External Evaluation (JEE), of their preparedness capacities to identify their gaps and needs, but 162 countries have not done so.

The report adds that only two of the countries that have completed this assessment, have used the results to devise cost plans. It therefore urges national governments to prioritize financing preparedness in their domestic budgets, as should international donors.

“Not investing enough in pandemic preparedness, puts lives at risk, and is bad economics. A severe pandemic could result in millions of deaths, and cost trillions of dollars, and even smaller outbreaks can cost thousands of lives, and cause immense economic damage,” reads in part the Bank’s IWG report.

The most conservative estimates suggest that pandemics destroy 0.1 to 1.0 percent of global GDP, on par with other global threats such as climate change.

Recent economic work suggests that the annual global cost of moderately severe to severe pandemics, is roughly US$570 billion, or 0.7 percent of global income.

Nevertheless, the Malawi government through the Ministry of health, last week issued a statement on its preparation after reports that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in end April this year, registered three deaths and 11 cases of the deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever.

The development instilled fear and anxiously amongst people in SADC members states, considering cross boarder boundaries shared with the DRC.

The statement signed by Chief of Health Services, Dr. Charles Mwasambo, assured the public not to panic of Ebola reports because the Government government was erecting all measures to prevent any disease outbreak in the country.

Dr. Mwansambo said Government had already stepped-up its surveillance mechanism to detect any possible occurrence of the disease, including formation of a task force to strategize and monitor the situation.

According to World Health Organization, (WHO), Ebola Haemorrhagic fever is a severe acute viral illness, often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney, and liver function, and in some cases both internal and external bleeding.

Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals.

In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope, and porcupines either found ill or dead in the rainforest.

Currently, there is no known treatment against the virus, although new drug therapies have shown promising results in laboratory studies.

Several vaccines are being tested, but it could take several years before any are available. In the absence of effective treatment and a human vaccine, raising awareness of the risk factors for Ebola infection, remains the only way to reduce human infection and death, global health officials have said.

NBS Bank Your Caring Bank