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

 


WHO-Convened Ethics Panel Endorses Use of Experimental Drugs

Ebola: WHO-Convened Ethics Panel Endorses Use of Experimental Drugs


A woman waits to enter an isolation ward to visit her husband, along with Liberian Ministry of Health, WHO, and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) personnel who are treating several Ebola patients located in the capital Monrovia. Photo: UNMIL/Staton Winter

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

 

Ban Condemns Killing Of Former Lesotho Military Commander

United Nations Secretary-General today condemned the killing of Lt. Gen. Maaparankoe Mahao, former Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force, on 25 June, near Maseru. More>>

Ban Welcomes US Supreme Court Ruling On Same-Sex Marriage

Ban welcomes US Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing right to same-sex marriage Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) pride march. Photo: OHCHR/Joseph Smida More>>

UN Agency Welcomes EU Measures On Refugee Arrivals

Afghan refugees in front of the abandoned hotel Captain Elias on Kos Island, Greece, where hundreds of refugees and migrants are waiting for their registration. Photo: UNHCR/J. Akkash More>>

Increase In Voluntary Blood Donors Can Save Millions Of Lives

Increase in voluntary blood donors can save millions of lives, UN health agency says on World Day More>>

Kenya: Funding Shortage Means Food Cut To 500,000 Refugees

Funding shortage forces UN agency to temporarily cut food aid to 500,000 refugees in Kenya More>>

UN Launches Education Appeal In Fight Against Child Labour

12 June 2015 – The United Nations has announced it is marking the 2015 edition of the World Day Against Child Labour with a call for the international community to invest in quality education as a key step in the fight against child employment ... More>>

Pope Francis & UN Agency On Sustainability Of Agriculture

Pope Francis (centre) with delegates to the 39th FAO Conference during a special audience at the Vatican. Photo: FAO More>>

South Sudan: Call For De-Escalation Of In-Country Conflict

Women and children have suffered devastating attacks in South Sudan’s Unity State. Photo: UNICEF/South Sudan/Sebastian Rich More>>

Burundi: Emergency Support To Refugees Fleeing Burundi Crisis

Burundians fleeing pre-election violence rest on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a gruelling 22-hour boat journey. More than 100,000 Burundians have fled over the past month, arriving in Tanzania, Rwanda and ... More>>

Afghanistan: Commitment To Advancing Women's Rights

While the outgoing senior United Nations rights official in Afghanistan said she expected the human rights advances made “will be sustained, will not be rolled back, and will not be sacrificed,” she lamented the high level of violence against ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news