World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Ebola: panel endorses use of experimental drugs

Ebola: WHO-convened ethics panel endorses use of experimental drugs

12 August 2014

A 12-member ethics panel convened by the United Nations health agency today reached “unanimous consensus” that it is ethical to treat Ebola patients with experimental drugs to counter the largest, most severe and most complex outbreak of the virus in history.

“There was unanimous agreement among the experts that in the special circumstances of this Ebola outbreak it is ethical to offer unregistered interventions as potential treatments or prevention,” UN World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, Marie-Paule Kieny, told a press conference in Geneva.

The WHO, in a statement on the outcome of the two-day Emergency Committee of experts, said that “over the past decade, research efforts have been invested into developing drugs and vaccines for Ebola virus disease. Some of these have shown promising results in the laboratory, but they have not yet been evaluated for safety and efficacy in human beings.”

Dr. Kieny said several of these treatments have proven to be very effective in non-human primates – monkeys – but none have been tested on humans. Currently, there are no licensed treatments or vaccines for Ebola.

At the UN Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon designated David Nabarro as the Senior UN System Coordinator for Ebola Virus Disease. In a press encounter, he called on the international community to respond urgently to the shortage of doctors, nurses and equipment, including protective clothing and isolation tents, saying “We need all hands on deck.”

He also made an appeal to avoid panic and fear, stressing that “Ebola has been successfully brought under control elsewhere, and we can do it here, too.”

Meanwhile, WHO said in its latest update of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa that between 7 and 9 August, a total of 69 new cases and 52 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, bringing the total numbers of cases to 1,848 with 1,013 deaths.

WHO has posted Ebola response videos on YouTube and is also seeking to counter the “many barriers stand in the way of rapid containment.”

“Fear is proving to be the most difficult barrier to overcome,” WHO said. “Fear causes contacts of cases to escape from the surveillance system, families to hide symptomatic loved ones or take them to traditional healers, and patients to flee treatment centres.”

“Fear, and the hostility it can feed, have threatened the security of national and international response teams,” the UN agency added.

WHO has declared the current Ebola outbreak an international public health emergency. The large number of people affected by the 2014 West African outbreak, and the high case-fatality rate have prompted calls to use investigational medical interventions to try to save the lives of patients and to curb the epidemic.

In this context, WHO yesterday convened a virtual consultation of researchers, ethicists, and patient safety advocates from around the world to consider and assess the ethics surrounding the use of therapies when safety is unproven, ethics governing priority setting for access to these therapies and principles for fair distribution.

“Ethical criteria must guide the provision of such interventions,” WHO said. “These include transparency about all aspects of care, informed consent, freedom of choice, confidentiality, respect for the person, preservation of dignity and involvement of the community.”

The Ebola virus is highly contagious, but is not airborne, according to UN experts. Transmission requires close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, as can occur during health-care procedures, home care, or traditional burial practices, which involve the close contact of family members and friends with bodies.

The incubation period ranges from 2 to 21 days, but patients become contagious only after the onset of symptoms. As symptoms worsen, the ability to transmit the virus increases. As a result, patients are usually most likely to infect others at a severe stage of the disease, when they are visibly, and physically, too ill to travel.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Leaked: UK Counter-Terrorism Training Material

The PREVENT Strategy has permeated all aspects of public life in the UK. It is important that the training provided to public sector workers to implement the strategy is scrutinised for its empiricism. To this end, CAGE has released the most comprehensive leak of PREVENT training material so far. More>>

ALSO:

Weather: Aid Urgently Needed For Drought-Stricken Ethiopia

As the severity of ongoing drought in Ethiopia is exacerbated by the arid effects of ‘super El Nino’, ChildFund New Zealand is appealing to more New Zealanders to contribute to their growing aid response. More>>

'Very Concerned' After Court Ruling: UNHRC On Transfer Of 267 People From Australia To Nauru

Most of these people were reportedly brought to Australia from Nauru to receive medical treatment and are in a fragile physical and mental state. The group includes more than 12 women and at least one child who have allegedly suffered sexual assault or harassment while in Nauru. The group also includes 37 children born in Australia. More>>

ALSO:

Sanctions To Be Lifted: NZ Welcomes Implementation Of Iran Nuclear Deal

Duty Minister Nikki Kaye has welcomed the next stage in the historic nuclear deal between Iran, the Five Permanent (P5) members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany... “New Zealand has now started the domestic process for removing the UN sanctions." More>>

ALSO:

Pre-Davos Reports: 62 People Own Same Wealth As Half The World

Runaway inequality has created a world where 62 people own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population – a figure that has fallen from 388 just five years ago, according to an Oxfam report published today ahead of the annual gathering of the world’s financial and political elites in Davos.. More>>

ALSO:

Jakarta: UN Secretary-General On Attacks

The Secretary-General condemns the bombings and gun attacks in Jakarta today... there is absolutely no justification for such acts of terrorism. He hopes the perpetrators of today's attacks will be swiftly brought to justice. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news