Tanzania confirmed its first known cases of Marburg virus disease.
So far, eight cases have been confirmed, including five deaths.
More than 160 contacts have been identified and are being monitored.
National responders trained jointly by WHO and the US CDC have been deployed to the affected region to carry out further investigations, monitor contacts and provide clinical care.
Tanzania was able to confirm the outbreak because the first samples were tested at a mobile lab that was set up as a result of work supported by WHO last year to prepare for outbreaks of viral haemorrhagic fever, including Ebola and Marburg.
WHO has offered further support to the government of Tanzania.
A month ago, Equatorial Guinea also reported an outbreak of Marburg virus disease.
Since then, eight additional laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported, bringing the total to nine confirmed and 20 probable cases.
WHO has deployed experts to Equatorial Guinea to support the government’s response, and to strengthen community engagement.
Marburg belongs to the same family of viruses as Ebola, causes similar symptoms, transmits between humans the same way, and like Ebola, has a very high fatality ratio.
While there are no approved vaccines or therapeutics for Marburg, WHO is leading an effort to evaluate candidate vaccines and therapeutics, in the context of the outbreak.
The developers are on board, the clinical trial protocols are ready, the experts and donors are ready, once the national government and the researchers give the green light.
In the meantime, we are not defenseless. Careful contact tracing, isolation and supportive care are powerful tools to prevent transmission and save lives.
We continue to see misinformation on social media and in mainstream media about the pandemic accord that countries are now negotiating.
As I said last week, the claim that the accord will cede power to WHO is quite simply false. It’s fake news.
Countries will decide what the accord says, and countries alone.
And countries will implement the accord in line with their own national laws.
No country will cede any sovereignty to WHO.
If any politician, business person or anyone at all is confused about what the pandemic accord is and isn’t, we would be more than happy to discuss it and explain it.
Yesterday, the first UN Water Conference in 50 years began in New York.
Around the world, 2 billion people lack safe drinking water, and almost half the world’s population use sanitation services that leave human waste untreated.
Half of all health care facilities globally lack water and soap, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The consequences are deadly.
Each year, at least 1.4 million people – many of them children – die from preventable causes linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation. Right now, for example, cholera is spreading in countries that have not had outbreaks in decades.
Around the world, WHO and UNICEF work with governments and partners to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene. We are calling for stronger government leadership to drive change; for improved funding and financing; for investments in workforce and institutions; for better data and evidence to guide decisions; and for innovation and experimentation.
The right to health means the right to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
Tomorrow is World Tuberculosis Day.
It marks the date 141 years ago – the 24th of March 1882 – that the German scientist Robert Koch first presented his discovery of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, or TB.
Since then, we have come a long way. We have tests, treatments and a vaccine against TB that have saved countless lives. TB is a preventable, treatable and curable disease.
Since 2000, deaths from TB have dropped by nearly 40% globally, and more than 74 million people have received access to TB services.
And yet it still kills 1.6 million people each year and affects millions more, with enormous impacts on families and communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and conflicts in many countries, have severely disrupted services to prevent, detect and treat TB.
As a result, WHO last year reported an increase in TB deaths for the first time in more than a decade.
In 2015, the nations of the world committed to ending the global TB epidemic by 2030, in the Sustainable Development Goals.
This September, world leaders will meet in New York for the second High-Level Meeting on TB.
We believe that meeting should be a turning point in the fight against TB, if leaders make real and lasting commitments to invest in the response to TB.
Ending TB by 2030 is an extremely ambitious target.
To support that target, we established the WHO Flagship Initiative on TB five years ago, to advance research and to increase access to TB services.
We need to make the tools we have available to more people. But we also need new tools.
Increasing drug resistance is undermining the effectiveness of some medicines that are used to treat TB.
And the only TB vaccine developed to date, the BCG vaccine, is more than 100 years old, and does not adequately protect adolescents and adults, who account for most TB transmission.
That’s why WHO has proposed establishing a TB Vaccine Acceleration Council, to facilitate the development, licensing and use of new TB vaccines.
But it’s also clear that we cannot truly end TB unless we address its drivers: poverty, malnutrition, diabetes, HIV, tobacco and alcohol use, poor living and working conditions, stigma and discrimination, and more.
For that reason, we have decided to extend the initiative for a further five years, until 2027, and broaden its scope.
To say more, I’m delighted to welcome Dr Tereza Kasaeva, WHO’s Assistant Director-General ad interim for Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases.
Tereza, welcome, and you have the floor.
[DR KASAEVA ADDRESSED THE MEDIA]
Thank you, Tereza.
Ending TB is not a job for WHO alone or governments alone or health systems alone.
It will take action – and greater accountability – from all governments, agencies, donors, researchers, the private sector, and civil society.
The voices of people who live with TB are the most powerful, and must be heard the loudest.
So I’m delighted to welcome Jeff Acaba, a TB and HIV survivor from the Philippines, and a member of WHO’s civil society task force.
Jeff, thank you for joining us today. You have the floor.
[MR ACABA ADDRESSED THE MEDIA]
Thank you, Jeff, for your advocacy and commitment to the fight against TB around the world.
Thank you also for your kind words regarding our partnership, which is becoming more impactful, and I assure you we will work with civil society even more closely, because we have seen in the past five years how important it is to include you in our work, especially guideline development.