A Rather Dire Situation Emerging — In Tanzania; WHO Makes Unprecedented Public Appeal

First, we do understand that the fragile state of the economy inside many African nations drives an intense fear of being labeled an ‘Ebola Outbreak’ locale. At the same time, without an acknowledgement of a problem, and science to prove it, WHO cannot allocate funds or Merck vaccine stock to the affected geographies.

And so, as Helen Branswell indicates, for STAT — this is uncharted territory, in fighting a deadly viral outbreak: a national government is refusing to allow a reference lab to verify the claim that the MD who died with a fever and bloody diarrhea last week, and related to whom three contacts are now ill — is not an emerging Ebola outbreak:

. . . .[A] Tanzanian doctor who died Sept. 8 after returning to her country from Uganda; she reportedly had Ebola-like symptoms. Several contacts of the woman became sick, though Tanzanian authorities have insisted they tested negative for Ebola.

But the country has not shared the tests so they can be validated at an outside laboratory, as suggested under the International Health Regulations, a treaty designed to protect the world from spread of infectious diseases. . . .

It is highly unusual for the WHO, which normally operates through more diplomatic means, to publicly reveal that a member country is stymying an important disease investigation. . . .

Tanzanian authorities waited four days to respond to the WHO’s first urgent request for information — a wait that is well outside what is required of a country under these circumstances. Two days into the wait, the WHO alerted member countries of the alarming situation via a secure website it uses to communicate sensitive information. The delay in the country’s initial response adds to the sense of unease about this case. “There’s really no reason to take four days to respond to an urgent request from the WHO,” Jha said. . . .

This is truly disconcerting. We will keep a close eye on this horizon. Onward, with fond greetings — to all of good will. . . . a mountain bike awaits.


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