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Ebola takes big toll on already poor health care
30 Aug 2014 at 8:19am
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) ? When the dreaded Ebola virus began infecting people in the Sierra Leone town of Kenema, Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan and his team were on the front lines. After stepping out of his protective suit following hours on a sweltering ward, he would jump on the phone to coordinate with the Ministry of Health, to deal with personnel issues and tend to hospital business.
Liberian Ebola survivor praises experimental drug
30 Aug 2014 at 8:13am
MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) ? A Liberian health worker who recovered from Ebola after receiving an experimental drug urged the manufacturer to speed up its production and send it to Africa, while crowds celebrated in the streets Saturday after authorities reopened a slum that had been barricaded for more than a week to try to contain the disease.
New Novartis drug may upend heart failure treatment
30 Aug 2014 at 8:03am
By Ben Hirschler BARCELONA (Reuters) - A new medicine from Novartis could replace drugs that have been central to treating heart failure for a quarter of century, after proving remarkably effective in reducing deaths in a keenly awaited study. ?Given the survival advantage of LCZ696 over currently available drugs, once this drug becomes available, it would be difficult to understand why physicians would continue to use traditional (drugs) ... for the treatment of heart failure," said Milton Packer of the University of Texas. There has been little progress for more than a decade in treating chronic heart failure, in which the heart fails to pump enough blood around the body, so there is excitement about the new medicine among both doctors and investors. ESC officials flagged the PARADIGM-HF trial as a highlight of the five-day event in Barcelona and Piotr Ponikowski of the Medical University of Wroclaw, who was not involved in the trial, urged a fast-track review of treatment guidelines given the "striking" finding.
Liberia's international airport battles to contain Ebola
30 Aug 2014 at 7:50am
With the last rays of sunlight speckling the departures area at Liberia's international airport, passengers queue patiently to go through medical screening designed to show up the Ebola virus. Roberts International Airport, a former United States Air Force base built 55 kilometres (35 miles) outside of the capital Monrovia during World War II, is at the front line of a new battle -- to halt the spread of the most deadly outbreak of the tropical fever in history. "We put so many processes in place that... focus on the safety of the airline, safety of the crew, safety of the passengers, and most importantly to boost the confidence of those who use our airport," says Binyah Kessely, director of the board at the Liberia Airport Authority. Kessely's job -- once simply to ensure the smooth running of the airport -- is now to help contain an epidemic that has killed more than 1,500 people across west Africa this year.
WFP says it needs $70 mln to feed 1.3 mln people in Ebola quarantine
30 Aug 2014 at 7:18am
The World Food Programme needs to raise $70 million to feed 1.3 million people at risk from shortages in Ebola-quarantined areas in West Africa, with the agency's resources already stretched by several major humanitarian crises, its regional director said. WFP's West Africa Director Denise Brown said the organisation was currently providing food for around 150,000 people in Ebola-striken nations but needed to rapidly scale that up as the worst ever epidemic of the virus advanced. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have pledged to impose a 'cordon sanitaire' on the most affected communities in their joint border region, restricting travel to and from the areas and limiting their access to food supplies. "We've agreed this morning...that we need to extend that because WHO is already talking about 6-9 months before this is contained." Brown said the WFP would look from donations from major donors like the United States, the European Union, the World Bank and Japan, as well as from non-traditional benefactors such as Arab states.
Boston Scientific nerve device no help in heart failure study
30 Aug 2014 at 6:19am
By Ben Hirschler BARCELONA (Reuters) - A Boston Scientific device that stimulates the vagus nerve ? a superhighway connecting the brain to the rest of the body - failed to help patients with heart failure in a mid-stage clinical trial. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), which involves delivering mild electrical pulses to the nerve in the neck, is already used to treat epilepsy and depression - and researchers have been looking to expand its use to other conditions. Heart failure is a serious, progressive disease in which the heart fails to pump blood properly. Patients enrolled in the study had a VNS device implanted in their neck, near the right vagus nerve.
WFP says it needs $70 million to feed 1.3 million people in Ebola quarantine
30 Aug 2014 at 6:11am
The World Food Programme needs to raise $70 million to feed 1.3 million people at risk from shortages in Ebola-quarantined areas in West Africa, with the agency's resources already stretched by several major humanitarian crises, its regional director said. WFP's West Africa Director Denise Brown said the organization was currently providing food for around 150,000 people in Ebola-striken nations but needed to rapidly scale that up as the worst ever epidemic of the virus advanced. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have pledged to impose a 'cordon sanitaire' on the most affected communities in their joint border region, restricting travel to and from the areas and limiting their access to food supplies. "We've agreed this morning...that we need to extend that because WHO is already talking about 6-9 months before this is contained." Brown said the WFP would look from donations from major donors like the United States, the European Union, the World Bank and Japan, as well as from non-traditional benefactors such as Arab states.
Liberia adds new Ebola centers as tries to contain virus outbreak
30 Aug 2014 at 5:09am
By Misha Hussain DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Liberia is building five new Ebola treatment centers each with capacity for 100 beds as it struggles to contain the spread of world?s biggest outbreak of the deadly disease, government and health officials said on Saturday. The hemorrhagic fever has killed more than 1,500 people and infected over 3,000 in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal since March and there is currently no widely available vaccine or cure but early treatment can save lives. World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesman Francis Kasolo said Liberia was the worst hit country in west Africa, with nearly 700 deaths among about 1,500 cases, and increasing the number of beds in coming weeks would ease the pressure in the country's congested hospitals. "The idea is to create five different treatment centers that can accommodate up to 100 beds each.
Morocco keeps flying to Ebola-hit states in 'solidarity'
30 Aug 2014 at 4:45am
Morocco, the last country to maintain regular scheduled flights to Ebola-hit nations after Air France halted departures, is carrying on through "solidarity", an airline official has said. In a bid to stop the spread of the virus that has killed more than 1,500 people across West Africa, many African governments have sought to ring-fence Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. This week, after Air France announced it would stop flying to Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was "absolutely vital" that airlines resume flights because bans were hindering the emergency response. The French carrier's move followed a similar decision by British Airways which said it was stopping its flights to Freetown and Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, until next year.
Experimental Ebola drug ZMapp cures 100 percent of lab monkeys
30 Aug 2014 at 1:42am
By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - The experimental Ebola drug ZMapp cured all 18 of the lab monkeys infected with the deadly virus, including those suffering the fever and hemorrhaging characteristic of the disease and just hours from death, scientists reported on Friday. No other experimental Ebola therapy has ever shown success in primates when given that long after infection; ZMapp, produced by San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical, has never been scientifically tested in people, and the current study was the first in primates. The success is therefore a "monumental achievement," virologist Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch wrote in a commentary on the paper, published online in Nature.
Ebola hits fifth W. African state as Senegal confirms first case
30 Aug 2014 at 1:40am
The Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 1,500 people across West Africa spread to a fifth country in the region on Friday with the first confirmed case of the deadly virus in Senegal. The case marks the first time a new country has been hit by the outbreak since July and comes a day after the World Health Organization warned the number of infections was increasing rapidly. On Friday, scientists writing in the journal Nature said 18 lab monkeys given high doses of the Ebola virus fully recovered after being given the prototype drug ZMapp, which reversed bleeding in the animals. ZMapp has been given to a handful of frontline health workers who have contracted Ebola, two of whom have recovered, and two of whom have died.
Sierra Leone dismisses health minister over handling of Ebola
30 Aug 2014 at 1:01am
FREETOWN (Reuters) - Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma dismissed his Health Minister Miatta Kargbo on Friday over her handling of the Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 400 people in the West African country. A presidency statement said that Kargbo was removed "to create a conducive environment for efficient and effective handling of the Ebola outbreak". She will be replaced by her deputy Dr Abubakarr Fofanah, the statement said.
Ebola outbreak reaches Senegal, riots break out in Guinea
30 Aug 2014 at 12:46am
By Diadie Ba and Saliou Samb DAKAR/CONAKRY (Reuters) - The West African state of Senegal became the fifth country to be hit by the world's worst Ebola outbreak on Friday, while riots broke out in neighbouring Guinea's remote southeast where infection rates are rising fast. In the latest sign that the outbreak of the virus, which has already killed at least 1,550 people, is spinning out of control, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that Ebola cases rose last week at the fastest pace since the epidemic began in West Africa in March. The epidemic has defied efforts by governments to control it, prompting the leading charity fighting the outbreak, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), to call for the U.N. Security Council to take charge of efforts to stop it. Including the fatalities, more than 3,000 have been infected since the virus was detected in the remote jungles of southeastern Guinea in March and quickly spread across the border to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Ghana to serve as UN base for supplies bound for Ebola countries
30 Aug 2014 at 12:43am
The United Nations will use Ghana as a base for supplies bound for countries stricken by an Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 1,550 people in West Africa, the Ghanaian presidency said in a statement on Friday. UN chief Ban Ki-moon had a telephone conversation on Friday evening with Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama, who agreed to let international agencies use Ghana's capital Accra as a base for air lifting supplies and personnel to affected countries, the statement said. The statement said the UN and local authorities would work closely to put in place appropriate screening and prevention measures to avoid any adverse effects on Ghana as a result of the international operations.
California to shift mentally ill inmates out of solitary confinement
29 Aug 2014 at 8:17pm
California will move mentally ill prisoners from solitary confinement to special isolation units as part of a series of new policies outlined by corrections officials Friday to improve treatment for inmates with psychiatric illnesses. In 2013, about 28 percent of California's overcrowded prison population was diagnosed with some sort of mental illness, according to state and federal statistics. Complying with the federal order to amend how it deals with these inmates, the state earlier this month outlined changes to curb the use of force after video footage showed mentally ill prisoners screaming as guards doused them in pepper spray. Corrections officials are "focused on ensuring a strong collaborative environment between mental health and custody staff ... to ensure mental health input is fully considered in programming and housing decisions," Friday's filing said.