outbreaks of Marburg virus disease in Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania.
In Equatorial Guinea, WHO is on the ground with partners, supporting the Ministry of Health to respond to the outbreak.
We have deployed teams to assist with case finding, clinical care, logistics, and community engagement.
We have also helped to establish treatment units in the affected areas.
The number of officially reported cases remains at nine, with seven deaths, in three provinces.
However, these three provinces are 150 kilometres apart, suggesting wider transmission of the virus.
WHO is aware of additional cases, and we have asked the government to report these cases officially to WHO.
In Tanzania, the number of confirmed cases remains at eight, with five deaths.
Three people are currently being treated in a health facility. Two health workers are among the confirmed cases, including one death.
So far, all of the reported cases are in one region.
WHO and partners including UNICEF, the US CDC and MSF have offered support to the government to bridge any gaps in the response.
As we said last week, WHO is working to begin trials of vaccines and therapeutics as soon as possible.
A WHO committee has now reviewed the evidence for four vaccines. Trial protocols are ready, and our partners are ready to support the trials.
We look forward to working with the governments of both countries to begin these trials, to help prevent cases and deaths now and in future outbreaks.
The outbreaks of Marburg virus disease are another reminder that we can only truly protect human health if we also protect the health of animals and our planet, which sustains all life.
We call this a “One Health” approach.
One Health is not a new concept. For decades, WHO has been working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Organisation for Animal Health in a tripartite partnership, to address the health risks that arise from the interactions between humans, animals and the environment.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been a renewed realization that we need to broaden the One Health approach, and make it a reality, not just a concept.
Last year, the tripartite became a quadripartite with the addition of the UN Environment Programme.
This week, the quadripartite held its Executive Annual Meeting, here at WHO in Geneva.
Together, we released a call to action to translate the One Health concept into concrete policy action in countries.
We are calling on countries to prioritize One Health, by strengthening the policies, strategies, plans, evidence, investment and workforce needed to properly address the threats that arise from our relationship with animals and the environment.
To support these actions, the quadripartite this week endorsed a draft guide for the implementation of the One Health Joint Plan of Action.
We are also pleased to see that One Health has been included as a key principle in the “zero draft” of the pandemic accord that countries are now negotiating.
A One Health approach will be essential for preventing viruses from spilling over from animals to humans.
That’s how many outbreaks have started, including HIV, Marburg, Ebola, avian influenza, mpox, MERS and the SARS epidemic in 2003.
One of the most instrumental people in identifying SARS as a new and deadly disease was Dr Carlo Urbani, who was the director of infectious diseases for WHO’s Western Pacific Region, working in Viet Nam.
One day, Dr Urbani received a call from a hospital in Hanoi to assist in investigating what appeared to be a severe case of flu. After examining the patient, he realised it was not flu, and something else was going on.
Dr Urbani’s rapid actions were critical in helping to contain the epidemic by triggering a global response that was key to stopping the outbreak in Viet Nam, and saving countless lives around the world.
Recognizing that this new disease was highly contagious, Dr Urbani decided to spend several days at the hospital coordinating infection prevention and control procedures, quarantine interventions and maintaining the morale of hospital staff.
The following month, during a flight to Bangkok, Dr Urbani developed symptoms of SARS, and died of complications related to the disease less than three weeks later. He was 46 years old, and left behind his wife and their three children.
On Saturday, I will have the honour of participating in the opening of the Carlo Urbani Museum in his hometown of Castelplanio, Italy.
Today we are honoured to be joined by Dr Urbani’s son, Tommaso Urbani.
Tommaso, thank you so much for joining us. You have the floor.
[TOMMASO URBANI ADDRESSED THE MEDIA]
Grazie mille, Tommaso, see you soon, and thank you again for your commitment to continuing your father’s legacy.
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