Epidemic and pandemic preparedness

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| Emergency

Equatorial Guinea: Marburg virus disease

Marburg virus disease (MVD) is a highly fatal, highly contagious disease that causes haemorrhagic fever. It has with a case fatality rate of up to 88%. Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Health declared a Marburg outbreak on 13 February 2023, following confirmed deaths from the disease. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting the Equatorial Guinea Red Cross to conduct risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) activities, surveillance, case management, infection prevention and control activities, and safe and dignified burials.

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Uganda Ebola outbreak 2022: The importance of safe and dignified burials

In countries around the world, burial rituals—whether cultural, traditional, or religious—are an important way of honouring the dead and helping people grieve. For many communities, special burial practices enable them to bid farewell to their loved ones in a respectful and meaningful way.Losing someone is never easy. But what if someone you love passes away, and you’re told that the burial traditions your community holds dear may put you all in danger?This is what happened to people in Mubende, Uganda, in September 2022 when the country declared its first outbreak of Ebola in more than a decade. The government barred communities from burying their loved ones due to the risks involved, declaring that burials should be managed by trained safe and dignified burial teams.Ebola is a cruel disease. Deadly when left untreated, and highly contagious, it’s transmitted from person to person through direct contact and bodily fluids. When someone is infected, their families and friends are unable to provide hands-on care. And when someone dies from Ebola, their body continues to be highly contagious for up to seven days, meaning that safe and dignified burial measures must be followed to prevent further infection.Kuteesa Samuel from Mubende knows this all too well. He lost his wife of 20 years, Monica, to Ebola during the 2022 outbreak. Monica was seven months pregnant at the time, meaning Samuel also lost his unborn child.In Samuel’s culture, it’s customary to wash and wrap the body of the deceased. And if a pregnant woman dies in the community, tradition dictates that the foetus is buried in a separate grave. But during Ebola, these practices would have posed a deadly threat to people’s health.Knowing this, the Uganda Red Cross Society were poised to step in.Local, known, trustedUganda Red Cross staff and volunteers are part of the fabric of society in Uganda. They come from the communities they serve, follow the same local customs, and have a deep understanding of people’s needs and sensitivities when disaster strikes.They therefore understood why Samuel’s community felt scared, confused, and reluctant to abandon their traditions.But following sensitive, patient, and repeated engagement from local Red Cross volunteers—who worked hand-in-hand with local health authorities and community leaders—Samuel’s community agreed to a compromise. Monica’s body was left intact and safely buried by trained Red Cross teams following strict health and safety protocols. While a banana flower was symbolically buried in a separate grave to mark the loss of Samuel’s unborn child. “After the health workers engaged and explained everything to us, we came to an understanding. […] If it wasn’t for Uganda Red Cross, we would not even know where the deceased would be buried. They helped us to bury the deceased to ensure we don’t get infected. So, we greatly appreciate the Red Cross,” explains Samuel.Preparedness saves livesSince the last Ebola outbreak in 2012, the Uganda Red Cross Society had worked hard to improve its preparedness for future health emergencies and strengthen its auxiliary role supporting the Ministry of Health during disease outbreaks.With support from the IFRC through the USAID-funded Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3), as well as through an Ebola preparedness emergency appeal (2018-2021) and a Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) operation (2018-2020), they undertook lots of different preparedness activities across different parts of the country.Emergency preparedness involves planning for the worst, so one of those activities was developing a pool of qualified safe and dignified burials trainers and teams across the country. These teams were ready to be deployed immediately to support communities like Samuel’s when the 2022 Ebola outbreak began.“CP3 was so instrumental to this response. We were only able to respond on time because we had done preparations. We already had prepared teams, and this enabled us to swiftly respond,” explains Dr Joseph Kasumba, Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Officer with the Uganda Red Cross who led the response.Humanity in the darkest of momentsDuring the 2022 Ebola outbreak, Uganda Red Cross teams conducted a total of 512 safe and dignified burials. These efforts contributed to the outbreak being declared over in a record four months.What’s harder to quantify is the emotional support and meaningful care that Red Cross teams provided to communities in perhaps the worst moments of their lives. For that, here’s some powerful testimony from those affected by Ebola, or involved in the response:“When it comes to Ebola Virus Disease, communities always need someone they can trust, people they can identify with. And the fact that the Red Cross is always part of the community... we know what cultural practices are done. We know what the community wants us to do and they feel confident identifying with us, even in that time of grief and sorrow.” - Dr Joseph Kasumba“We really thank the health workers because they taught us how to protect ourselves. We are still grateful for what they did. It was a miracle for us.” - Janet, Mubende resident“Since Ebola started in Mubende, it is the Red Cross that has walked with us. Every community knows Red Cross here. We appreciate you for the work you’ve done. The people of Mubende appreciate you for offering your lives to stand in the gap and save lives.” - Rosemary Byabashaija – Resident District Commissioner in MubendeIf you found this story interesting and would like to learn more:Visit the Uganda Red Cross Society websiteClick here to learn more about the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3). Funded by USAID, CP3 supports communities, National Societies, and other partners in seven countries to prepare for, prevent, detect, and respond to disease threats.Sign up to the IFRC’s Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Newsletter.

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Guinea Red Cross supports communities in the fight against rabies

Little Ousmane was at home in Faranah, central Guinea, when he noticed a stray dog outside. Curious and wanting to play, he approached the creature. But before he had time to react, the dog leapt up aggressively and bit him on the chest and hand.His grandfather alerted the local Guinea Red Cross volunteers, who arrived quickly to tend to Ousmane, wash out his wounds, and track down the dog for investigation. Thankfully, they were able to arrange for Ousmane to get the necessary health treatment. Lab testing later confirmed the dog had rabies, meaning that without the quick action from volunteers, Ousmane likely wouldn’t have survived.An incident like this is a parent’s worst nightmare and a common worry among communities in Guinea. But through theCommunity Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3), funded by USAID, the Guinea Red Cross is running different activities to reduce rabies risks and make sure deadly dog bites are a thing of the past.Raising community awarenessPreventing the spread of diseases like rabies relies on communities having accurate and trusted information on how they can stay safe.Guinea Red Cross volunteers, known and trusted by their communities, regularly go door-to-door, organize community meetings, and take part in local radio shows—educating people on rabies risks, how it’s spread, and how they can protect themselves.Through this engagement, communities learn the importance of reporting stray animals displaying unusual or aggressive behaviours and of looking out for signs of rabies within their own pets.Supporting vaccination campaignsVaccinating dogs is the most effective preventive measure for reducing the risk of rabies.But for a rabies vaccination drive to be successful, people in the community need to see the value of vaccinating their pets and—crucially—turn up in their droves on the day.That’s where the Guinea Red Cross comes in. While the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock provides the vaccines and veterinary staff to administer them, it’s Guinea Red Cross volunteers who drum up demand within communities and accompany people to their appointments.“Thanks to the vaccination campaign, which we heard about from Red Cross volunteers, our dogs are no longer a threat—they are healthy companions. It’s an act of responsibility for the security of everyone. Vaccinating dogs protects our community,”explains Mamadi Fofana, a traditional healer and hunter from Faranah who was convinced to vaccinate his dogs against rabies.Keeping tabs on the canine populationRabies vaccines don’t last forever, with animals requiring booster shots every 1-3 years to keep them rabies-free. So the Guinea Red Cross has set up a dog database to keep tabs on the canine population in Faranah.Volunteers track when and how many vaccine doses have been administered, and record owner details so they can reach out when it’s time for a booster.If a bite incident occurs, the database helps them to track down the owner to investigate and conduct further engagement around the importance of taking responsibility for their animals.The data is also used by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock so they know how many doses of vaccines are needed when planning dog vaccination drives.Bite response and community-based surveillanceWhen someone in Faranah is scratched or bitten by a potentially rabid animal, Guinea Red Cross volunteers are usually the first to hear about it and arrive on scene.Trained in epidemic control, they can provide crucial first aid. For suspected rabies, this involves vigorously washing out the wound with soap and water for 15 minutes and wrapping it in a clean bandage while awaiting emergency health care.Through a digital community-based surveillance system, calledNyss, volunteers quickly report bite incidents to their supervisors, who can then escalate the alert to local human, animal, and environmental health authorities for rapid investigation and treatment.Time is of the essence when someone is bitten. As the eyes and ears within local communities, Guinea Red Cross volunteers play a vital role in detecting and alerting suspected rabies cases early to maximize people’s chances of survival.The fight against rabies in Guinea is a marathon not a sprint. But with patient and continued engagement with local communities and strong collaboration with authorities in rapidly reporting and responding to bites, the Guinea Red Cross is supporting people in Faranah to stay safe and healthy from this deadly disease.---The activities featured in this article are part of the multi-countryCommunity Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3).Funded by theU.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), CP3 supports communities, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and other partners to prepare for, prevent, detect and respond to disease threats.If you enjoyed this story and would like to learn more,sign up to the IFRC’s Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Newsletter.

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| Press release

Global leaders call for commitment to end the cholera emergency

On Wednesday 29 May 2024, seven countries and 10 major health partners affiliated with the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) came together in a powerful show of multisectoral commitment to end the global cholera emergency. The convening – a side event in observance of the 77th World Health Assembly (WHA) – took place as cholera continues to ravage communities across the world, with vaccine supplies unable to meet escalating needs.The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO) – in partnership with the GTFCC – co-hosted the side event, urging immediate collective action with only six years left to meet the GTFCC’s 2030 global roadmap goals. Titled Uniting Against the Global Cholera Emergency: Empowering Communities, Facilitating Multisectoral Actions, and Galvanizing Resources, the event took place at IFRC’s office in Geneva, Switzerland and gathered representatives from national governments, international non-governmental organizations, donor and partner organizations, and UN agencies.Global health leaders focused on the critical need for sustainable funding to advance safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, strengthen disease surveillance in cholera hotspots and scale up local oral cholera vaccine manufacturing. Case management and continuous community engagement for infection prevention were also discussed.Health ministers and national representatives from Bangladesh, Lebanon, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Zimbabwe, speaking on behalf of cholera-affected countries, underscored the urgency of a coordinated multisectoral approach, particularly given the compounding impacts of climate-related factors, economic insecurity, conflict, urbanization, population growth and population displacement.Cholera, a severe diarrheal disease, that also affects children, has been a persistent global health challenge, specifically affecting communities with limited access to clean water and sanitation. In recent years, the world has witnessed an acute resurgence of the long-standing cholera pandemic, with 23 countries currently reporting outbreaks, along with deaths numbering in the thousands.In his opening remarks as co-host, IFRC Secretary General, Mr Jagan Chapagain, said: “We cannot accept such a staggering loss of life to a disease that is entirely preventable and treatable with the tools we have in the 21st century. This event serves as a stark reminder that there is much more work to do as we approach 2030. We must urgently refocus our efforts and elevate cholera control to the forefront of global dialogues, while backing it with tangible investments at the grassroot level.”The cholera upsurge has placed pressure on health systems, and the demand for vaccines has far exceeded available supplies, which prompted agencies to instate emergency measures to manage the available stockpile in 2022. Mr. Thabani Maphosa, Managing Director of Country Programmes Delivery at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, emphasized, “We have significantly increased vaccine supplies over the past decade, and the stockpile is currently replenished after depleting at the start of 2024 after responding to cholera emergencies. With the new simplified Oral Cholera Vaccine, we are on track to reach 50 million doses in 2024, a 30% increase from 2023. He added, in reference to Gavi’s efforts to raise funds for its work from 2026 to 2030, including financing the global OCV stockpile, preventive and emergency vaccination, and cholera diagnostics: “The replenishment is for all of us, and I invite you to be ambassadors for that.”WHO Deputy Director General and Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, Dr Michael Ryan, called cholera “a diabolic poster child of climate change, of poverty, and of social injustice at every level.” Dr Ryan also reminded attendees that cholera is “a pandemic that has never ended,” noting that the ultimate solution to ending the disease lies in universal access to safe water and sanitation. “The cholera vaccine is a poor substitute for a clean glass of water,” he said.UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Mr Ted Chaiban highlighted the importance of community engagement in ensuring a cholera-free future, calling for “additional resources and immediate actions to ensure access to safe WASH for all communities,” given that “2 billion people still lack access to safely managed drinking water and 3.6 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation.”Ms. Christine Toudic, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other international organizations in Switzerland, called for further mobilization of partners to confront cholera, a disease primarily affecting communities in countries with the most fragile health systems. Ms. Toudic announced that the French government’s commitment will be reaffirmed in Paris on June 20, 2024, at a high-level event convened jointly with the African Union, Gavi, and Team Europe partners for the launch of the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA) and the 2026-2030 Gavi replenishment.As the world confronts the ongoing challenges of seemingly never-ending cholera outbreaks, coordinated global efforts and sustained investments are critical. The GTFCC and its partners remain dedicated to empowering communities, facilitating multisectoral actions, and galvanizing resources to end cholera, all of which was confirmed during the side event. This reality was underscored by the involvement of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Wellcome, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in the event.The message was – and remains – clear: achieving global health equity, security and resilience requires the defeat of cholera.About Cholera OutbreaksIn 2022, 44 countries reported cholera cases, a 25% increase from the 35 countries that reported cases in 2021. While the full data for 2023 will be published by WHO later this year, preliminary trends indicate that the situation continues to be concerning. Since the beginning of 2023, a total of total of 824 479 cholera cases and 5900 deaths were reported. This is a stark underrepresentation of the actual cholera burden, as detection and reporting capacities are hampered by inadequate access to conflict-affected areas, limited surveillance capacities, stigma, etc. A particular area of concern is the high Case Fatality Rate (CFR), which currently exceeds the 1% threshold in several areas. Seven nations – including Comoros, DRC, Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, Yemen, and Zimbabwe – are currently facing acute crises. Outbreaks are also emerging in regions that have not experienced cholera in decades, such as Syria, Lebanon, South Africa, Eswatini, and the French department of Mayotte. The urgency required to address and contain these outbreaks cannot be overstated, with 1 billion people are at risk for cholera infection.Speakers and RepresentativesProminent speakers included Hon. Dr Firass Abiad, Minister of Health from Lebanon, Hon. Dr Douglas Mombeshora, Minister of Health and Child Care from Zimbabwe, Hon. Pradeep Yadav, Minister of Health and Population from Nepal, Mr. Md Mamunur Rashid, Joint Secretary with the Bangladesh’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Dr Nitta Nayeja, Deputy Head of Clinical Services from Malawi’s Ministry of Health, Dr Sofia Viegas, Deputy General Director from Mozambique’s National Institute of Health (INS), and Ms Christine Toudic, Deputy Permanent Representatives from the Permanent Mission of France to the UN.Other high-level speakers included Mr. Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General, Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO Deputy Director General and Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, Mr. Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, H.E. Dr Jean Kaseya, Director-General from the Africa CDC, Dr. Kayla Laserson, Director of the Global Health Center from the US CDC, Dr Maria Guevara, International Medical Secretary from MSF, Mr Stuart Vallis, Health and WASH Representative from SDC, Dr. John-Arne Røttingen, Chief Executive Officer from Wellcome, Ms Rachel Toku-Appiah, Director of Program Advocacy and Communications (Africa) from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Mr Thabani Maphosa, Managing Director of Country Programmes Delivery from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.For more information or to request interviews, contact:[email protected] Geneva: Andrew Thomas: +41 763676587 / Tommaso Della Longa +41 797 084367

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| Podcast

Dr. Asha Mohammed: From dentist to humanitarian leader, her passion and leadership now focused on Africa’s biggest challenges

Dr. Asha Mohammed began her career as a dentist in low-income communities in Kenya. Her passion for helping others and her evident leadership skills led her to key roles battling HiV/AIDS and, eventually, to the role of Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross. She now serves as IFRC’s Permanent Representative to the African Union and International Organizations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. From there, she’s taking on climate change, a massive regional hunger crisis, and outbreaks of infectious diseases, among other challenges. In this episode, she talks about the solutions to those challenges. And what it was like being a pioneering woman leader in public health. “When I mentor young women, I tell them, ‘You can be what you want to be. It's really about understanding that you have these different roles to play and that you can find the right balance.”

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World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day: How a vigilant volunteer helped thwart an emerging cholera outbreak

The city of Tog Wajaale, perched on the Somaliland-Ethiopia border, serves as a crucial crossing point for people and goods, particularly those coming and going from the port of Berbera, located about 300 kilometers away on the Gulf of Aden.It is also a place where an outbreak of any infectious disease could travel quickly — and far — because of the high levels of commerce and people passing through.That’s one reason the swift action of a Red Crescent community health volunteer Nimao Abdi Bade was so critical during the first days of a cholera outbreak in January 2024.Spotting a family with severe symptoms, Nimao recognized the signs and reported their case via a platform managed by the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS), which then triggered a swift official response from health authorities and the rapid activation of resources from IFRC's Disaster Resonse Emergency Fund.It turned to be the first reported case ofacute watery diarrhoea (AWD) and cholera in Somaliland and it led to a combined and coordinated response that greatly reduced the impact of the outbreak.A vigilant volunteerNimao's vigilance didn't stop at the first case. Tracing the family's contacts, she uncovered more potential cases involving people who had recently crossed the border. This led to confirmation of several cholera cases and a Ministry of Health intervention.Trained by SRCS to identify and reportcases ofacute watery diarrhoea (AWD) and cholera and inspired by her success, she urged others to report illnesses promptly."AWD/Cholera was new to us," Nimao says. "But SRCS training equipped us to respond. I am so proud of myself and being a volunteer of SRCS."The outbreak prompted SRCS to deploy more volunteers for house-to-house visits and hygiene promotion.Nimao's commitment went beyond initial reporting. During her house-to-house visits, she identified five additional cross-border cases, promptly reporting them. These reports, verified by SRCS Community Health Officer Roda Mohamoud Mohamed, led to further investigations. The following day, six more suspected cases were reported and escalated to the Ministry of Health.Empowered by her success, Nimao has become a champion for timely reporting and community-based surveillance. Her diligence exemplifies the vital role volunteers play in strengthening public health responses.SRCS also responded by mobilizing volunteers in Wajaale, another town on the Ethiopian-Somaliland border, and the surrounding areas, as well as the nearby Marodijeh region. The focus shifted to house-to-house visits, hygiene promotion, and raising community awareness about AWD/Cholera risks and prevention.

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Keeping humanity alive by helping communities stay safe from infectious diseases

In the outskirts of Bongor, a town on the western border of Chad, volunteers from the local Red Cross and the French Red Cross are hard at work.In a residential area teeming with children and animals — and under daily scorching heat — the volunteers are organising activities with the community aimed at helping prevent and control the spread of infectious disease.The community here lacks the infrastructure needed to deliver safe water or discharge their wastewater. And because public fountains used for gathering water are not maintained rigorously, the risk of infection here is high.Lack of sanitation systems means that other risky practices, such as open defecation, pose significant hygienic and epidemiological risks.For this reason, the volunteers are raising public awareness about ways people can protect themselves from infection, such as proper cleaning and sanitation of water sources as well as practices to avoid.“The activities raised real awareness among community members,” says Catherine, a 26-year-old volunteer for the Chad Red Cross and local resident. “We notice in particular that the vaccination centre is much busier.”A pharmacy technician, Catherine has been volunteering with the Chad Red Cross for more than a year. She is responsible for raising awareness of the dangers of open defecation.Red Cross volunteers and community members are mobilised three times a week to clean areas most at risk and raise awareness of good practices.“The project will continue to live on its own on the principle of the community transmitting [this information] to the community,” Catherine adds.Catherine is passionate about her work to build knowledge and resilience in her community, and stop diseases from spreading. “The objective,” she explains, “is to fight measles, yellow fever, poliomyelitis, Guinea worm and COVID-19”.The Red Cross volunteers use community disease surveillance methods to keep people safe – recording health-related data about specific issues or incidence of illness affecting the community, and encouraging people to report suspected cases.For Marie-Claire, a state-certified nurse and resident of Bongor who manages a women-led health centre in the city, the Red Cross efforts are effective because they have built trust with people in the community."The Red Cross serves as a trusted intermediary between residents and the health centre,” she says. “The Red Crossconducts disease surveillance and sends pregnant women or those suspected of illnesses for consultations [with the health centre]."The volunteers’ disease-prevention work in various neighbourhoods of Bongor is supported by the Programmatic Partnership between the IFRC network and the European Union. The partnership provides strategic, flexible, long-term and predictable funding, so that National Societies can act before a crisis or health emergency occurs. It is being implemented in 24 countries around the world.

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World Immunization Week: Vaccination is serious business. But who says it can’t also be fun.

No one likes being poked with a needle. Especially kids who may be having some shots for the first time. Like many National Society efforts around the world, the Red Crescent Society of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan (RCSK) tries its best to make taking a shot a little bit easier.Their approach often takes on a colorful, lively and even fun dimension as volunteers do their best to entertain potentially reluctant children. Given the potentially deadly consequences of being unvaccinated in the face of recent measles outbreaks, this approach is having a very serious and positive impact on increasing immunization rates.“When I heard about the hundreds of children getting sick with measles every week, as a mother of two young children, I knew I had to act”, says RCSK volunteer Kyzy Minagul.“When we were assigned by our branch to work at the local vaccination center to help with the crowd management, the centers were full of crying and screaming children who received their shots. I thought ‘it’s no wonder that parents are avoiding having their children to go to vaccination centers’.“I talked with other fellow volunteers about how we can make the vaccination experience less stressful. We dressed up as popular cartoon characters and greeted children and parents as they come to vaccination centers. While we can’t take away the shot in the arm part, we tried to make the environment more child friendly”.At the forefrontThe RCSK has been at the forefront of the national response to the measles epidemic in the country throughout the last year and this year. With the support of the IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund (IFRC-DREF), the National Society has been actively responding to the current epidemic between August 2023 and March 2024. In total, IFRC-DREF has allocated CHF 187,979 to bolster the RCSK’s efforts in curbing the outbreak, aiming to reach 120,000 people across the most affected regions and cities.Some 325 volunteers have been mobilized across the country tosupport the measles and rubella immunization campaign. RCSK places a strong focus on zero–dose and under-immunized children in these activities.One of those people reached is Nurgul, ayoung mother of three who lives in Kara-Balta town, a small town about a one-and-a-half hour drive from Bishkek, the capital city.Nurgul had chosen not to vaccinate any of her children. When she was approached by Red Crescent volunteers, she was skeptical about vaccination at first, having heard so many stories and rumours about the safety of vaccines.Volunteers met withNurgul and thoroughly discussed the benefits of vaccination, backing up their arguments with data on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. After a series of conversations and her own research,Nurgul decided to go and vaccinate her children against measles.“Volunteers played an indispensable role in educating the parents about measles and rubella vaccination during this outbreak”, said Dr. Gulbara Ishenapysova, director of the Republican Center for Immunoprophylaxis, the main technical agency responsible for the national immunization programme under the Ministry of Health.“It takes organizations like the RCSK, which has a large network across the country, to swiftly mobilize such a large number of trained volunteers and increase the trust of communities in the vaccination campaigns organized by us, the health workers.”Despite the vaccination campaigns in main cities and most affected regions, the epidemic continues to this day and the RCSK plans to support the next measles immunization campaign planned for May 2024.

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World Immunization Week: Delivering vaccines and trustworthy information to communities around the world

A mother of four and restaurant owner from Dabola, in central Guinea, Diaraye says she felt scared about vaccines. She didn’t think she had enough information and she’d heard rumours about harmful side effects.Several health workers came to visit her to try and convince her to vaccinate her newborn, Madiou, but she still felt uneasy.That was until she met Bérété, a Guinea Red Cross supervisor with theCommunity Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3).A mother herself, Bérété connected with Diaraye and patiently explained how vaccinating her own children has kept them safe from diseases. She responded sensitively to Diaraye’s concerns.Newly informed and confident, Diaraye agreed for Bérété to take baby Madiou for his first immunizations. Since then, Diaraye has become a champion for vaccination within her community.“My advice to mothers is to agree to their children getting vaccinated," says Diaraye. "Since the Red Cross came to help me vaccinate my baby, I’ve seen that it’s good for children. And I tell all mothers to go and get their children vaccinated at the health centre.”A global story, playing out locally, house-by-houseDiaraya’s story is far from unique. People around the world often don’t have access to life-saving vaccines, do not have all the facts about how they work, or don’t know who they can trust to give them accurate and unbiased information.This is why trusted community organizations, like Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, are playing a critical role in reaching out at the local level, providing trustworthy information while enabling access to vaccines in places that are underserved by health services. In many cases, they are in the midst of ongoing emergencies.This year, World Immunization Week revolves around the theme of Humanly Possible, also the name of a global campaign to celebrate and build on the achievements made in protecting people from preventable diseases during the last 75 years.For its part, the IFRC is redoubling efforts to bring awareness and vaccines to people in vulnerable situations — conflict, outbreaks, forced migration, natural disaster — or who lack access to immunization services for whatever reason.The approach varies to meet the specific situation of each county. They also span the globe, from National Societies in Guinea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, andKyrgyzstan,and many others. Here are a few more examples of the ways Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are taking on a wide range of very different immunization challenges.Philippine Red Cross takes on another measles outbreakThe Philippine Red Cross Society (PRCS) has been supporting the government of ThePhilippinesin responding to a measles outbreak by vaccinating more than 15,000 children ages 6 months to below 10 years old with measles vaccine.As of April 14, 2024, the Philippine Red Cross has vaccinated more than 15,500 children, mobilizing a total of 131 volunteers (35 vaccinators and 96 support volunteers) in 85 communities in four provinces.The PRCS’ measles outbreak response is being donein collaboration with the ICRC, which also has a long-time presence in theBangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, an area where people are impacted by internal conflict. Because of low immunization rates in the area, It's also one of the main places in the country where the measles outbreak is happening.The PRCShas been part of other polio and measles outbreak responses and plans to expand this current operation by deploying vaccination teams from other chapters, with the help ofresources from the IFRC and the United States Center for Disease Control.Using innovation to improve access to immunization in ThailandThe Thai Red Cross Society (TRCS), meanwhile, has been using technology in innovative ways tobring immunization services to people who would not otherwise have access to immunization services.In Thailand, many displaced people and undocumented residents are living without proper forms of identification required to access vaccination services. To address the health gap, TRCS partnered with the Department of Disease Control of the Ministry of Public Health and Thailand’s National Electronics and Computer Technology Center to develop the Thai Red Cross Biometric Authentication System.This system uses a biometric authentication system, using face and iris recognition technology — while still ensuring data privacy — to accurately identify and register vaccine recipients.This allows people without official documentation to still receive vaccines and it enables a way to keep a record of the vaccinations received.Using this technology, TRCS reached 20,000 adolescent girls (specifically ethnic minorities, migrants, and refugees) living in temporary shelters across the country with 40,000 doses of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. This helped to significantly decrease their chances of getting HPV, a major, but vaccine-preventable cause of cervical cancer.If this can be expanded, more displaced persons and undocumented residents can be assured to have access to their next essential vaccine, such as a booster shot.Local presence, ready to prevent and respondOver the long term, immunization campaigns are only fully effective if they are of high quality and result in high rates of coverage. The challenge now is to improve and strengthen routine immunisation to better prevents future outbreaks, while also ensuring there is capacity in place to respond quickly and engage communities — if and when outbreaks occur.This is why the work of National Societies is so critical. As national organizations with widespread local presence, they are ideally suited to work with local and national health authorities and communities to build trust while delivering consistent access to immunization. The video below shows how the Pakistan Red Crescent brings immunization through local clinics.Back in Guinea, Red Cross volunteer Bérété continues to visit Diaraye to make sure her son Madiou is doing well, as part of her work engaging members of her community on how to protect themselves and their families.“We keep supporting her, because every time I send her child to hospital to be vaccinated, I never forget to follow up,”explains Bérété. “Every morning I come to see her to check on the child. Because you can’t just vaccinate a child and leave without following up. If she can see that you are there for her at all times, she will have the courage” to keep up with necessary immunizations in the future.

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World Malaria Day: Volunteer goes the last mile to save baby boy’s life in Sierra Leone

Baindu Momoh is a mother from Gbaigibu in Kailahun district, eastern Sierra Leone. Her village is so small and remote it doesn’t show up on most maps—but that doesn’t stop the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society from looking out for the health of her community.In October 2023, Baindu came rushing to her local Red Cross volunteer, Joseph. Something was deeply wrong. Her baby boy, Senesie, had a fever, was sweating and vomiting, and had a puffy face and eyes. Baindu feared for his life.Thankfully, Joseph is part of the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3) and is trained in how to detect, report, and respond to disease threats—meaning he knew exactly what to do.“I have established strong relationships with both the health facility and the community. When the child’s mother reached out to me in distress, I immediately recognized the urgency of the situation,” explains Joseph.In the absence of timely local ambulance services, Joseph rushed Baindu and her baby on his motorbike to the nearest Community Health Post in Woroma, where Senesie was diagnosed with severe malaria and anaemia. Baindu was told that, to survive, Senesie needed an urgent blood transfusion—only available at the Kailahun Government Hospital, some 30 miles away.Without hesitation, Joseph offered to help, explaining:“As a trained volunteer with a humanitarian organization, my community is my responsibility.”But in this part of the world, getting to the hospital is easier said than done.On his motorbike, with Baindu and Senesie on the back, Joseph embarked on the long, bumpy road to Kailahun—carefully navigating the treacherous terrain and crossing rivers along the way. Thankfully, they arrived safely and Senesie was quickly treated by hospital staff. “Since I could help, I couldn’t let him die. So I made the decision to pay for the treatment because the parents couldn’t afford the cost,” explains Joseph.Thanks to Joseph’s quick action and support, Senesie made a full recovery from malaria. After a week in hospital, Baindu and Senesie returned to their home in Gbaigibu. Joseph continues to check in on them to make sure they’re doing well.“Joseph risked his life to save my son’s. Upon reaching the Kailahun Government Hospital, he paid for a blood transfusion that the medical practitioners had recommended. To me, Joseph is a true lifesaver who helped us in our time of need,” says Baindu.Baindu isn’t the only person in Gbaigibu to be supported by Joseph. He regularly engages people in his community on how to prevent, detect, and respond to diseases—such as malaria, measles, and yellow fever—so they can stay healthy and safe.Fomba Lamin, head of the Woroma Community Health Post, feels Joseph plays an invaluable role in encouraging village members to seek health support.“We thank the CP3 programme, it is improving our referral rate. Community members we refer in the past did not go to Kailahun for obvious reasons: the means of transportation. But with people such as Joseph, who encourage our people to seek health care in Kailahun, we see the reduction of death in our community,” says Fomba.Although malaria is preventable and treatable, the death toll from the disease remains high for children under 5 and pregnant women, particularly in remote and hard-to-reach communities. Key challenges to controlling malaria include a lack of reliable access to health services and prevention supplies, a decrease in global funding for malaria, and a widespread and increasing rise in insecticide resistance in malaria-endemic countries. Recent innovations, such as the approval from WHO of new insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) to address insecticide resistance and two new malaria vaccines for children, are positive steps to tackling the disease. Through programmes like CP3, the IFRC is supporting Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies worldwide to plan and deliver high-quality malaria prevention activities, such as:Supporting ministries of health and their partners to plan and implement distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets through mass campaigns or continuous distribution channels. Administering preventive treatment to children as part of seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaigns.Promoting individual preventive practices through social and behaviour change activities to encourage people to sleep under a bed net every night of the year, seek prompt and early healthcare in case of fever or malaria-related symptoms, and attend antenatal care for malaria prevention.This story from Sierra Leone is a great example of how National Societies are supporting communities to prevent and seek treatment for malaria, encouraging them to implement practices that will protect them from the disease, and improving their access to health care—even in remote and isolated communities.The IFRC also houses and chairs the Alliance for Malaria Prevention, a global partnership that supports ministries of health and their financial and implementing partners with the planning and implementation of ITN distribution, primarily through mass campaigns. ITNs remain the most effective tool to protect at-risk communities from malaria. --Joseph, the volunteer mentioned in this article, is part of the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3). Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the programme supports communities, National Societies, and other partners in seven countries to prepare for, prevent, detect and respond to disease threats. If you enjoyed this story and would like to learn more:Visit the malaria page on IFRC.orgVisit the Alliance for Malaria Prevention websiteSign up to the IFRC’s Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness NewsletterFollow the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society on X, Facebook and LinkedIn

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Stopping a measles outbreak in its tracks in Sierra Leone

Makuma is a remote coastal village nestled in the north-west corner of Sierra Leone, on the border with Guinea. It’s only accessible by one narrow and bumpy dirt track. Its 2,000 or so inhabitants travel by foot or on motorbikes in the drier months. But when waters rise in the rainy season from May to December, the track becomes unusable—cutting people off from their nearest health centre, some 10km away.Its isolated location, coupled with the high risk of infectious diseases in Sierra Leone, means Makuma could be the perfect breeding ground for an epidemic, if it weren’t for one thing: the presence of the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society.Momoh Saio Kamara is Makuma’s local Red Cross volunteer. He grew up in the village and is much loved and trusted, thanks to his work supporting people through the 2014/15 Ebola outbreak.In 2019, Momoh was trained in epidemic control and community-based surveillance through the USAID-funded Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3)—acquiring the skills and tools needed to detect, alert, and respond to disease outbreaks early.So when, in early 2022, people in Makuma started noticing strange symptoms of a mystery illness they’d never seen before, Momoh knew exactly what to do.“One day I was in the village doing house visits. I visited my friend who said there is someone—the nose is red, the mouth is red, the nose runs and there is a rash. I go and look and I thought straight away, it is measles,” explains Momoh.Without hesitating, Momoh alerted his supervisor, Jobel, using a digital community-based surveillance system set up through the CP3 programme. Jobel arrived shortly afterwards on his motorbike to investigate. Seeing the symptoms for himself, he escalated the alert in the system—notifying district health authorities in an instant.“After the alert, I rang the local nurse and called a community meeting to tell the people it is suspected measles,” adds Momoh.A highly contagious viral infection, measles spreads easily among the unvaccinated. It’s a serious illness that can require hospital admission, cause permanent disability, and even kill if not treated properly.Local nurses swiftly arrived and started tracing and registering suspected cases, while Momoh and Jobel went house-to-house to tell people how to stay safe.The following day, a Rapid Response Team from Kambia district hospital arrived to undertake testing, conduct a ring vaccination of nearly 800 children to minimize further infection, and tend to patients.“The Red Cross and District Health Management Team they come. It did not take long. When they arrived, again we called a meeting, we talked to the community. We told them these people have medicine and it is free,” explains Momoh.For N’Mah, a woman from Makuma whose young son caught measles, having Momoh by her side was a huge relief.“My son Morlai fell sick. I had no idea what the illness was and I felt worried and restless. Momoh held a community meeting to let people know he thought it was measles. He told us what he knew about the disease and asked people to tell him if they noticed anyone with the same symptoms. He told us to keep our environment as clean as possible, wash our hands properly, and isolate anyone who showed signs of the illness. I felt really happy because the health services came really quickly,” explains N’Mah.Momoh is one of 250 volunteers in Kambia district trained through the CP3 programme. Together, they are the eyes and ears in hard-to-reach communities, making sure no suspicious health event goes undetected.A total of 124 measles cases were eventually recorded during the outbreak in Makuma. The number could have been significantly higher had it not been for Momoh’s early action, the trust placed in him by his community, and the rapid response from local health authorities.“The successful response which prevented deaths and disability is a result of the early detection and reporting by theRed Cross volunteers, followed by a swift response from the District Health Management Team. It is no exaggeration to say that these volunteers help greatly towards the health care delivery system in Kambia district, especially in public health surveillance,” explains Ishmael Rogers, Kambia District Surveillance Officer.For Makuma village Councillor, Yusif, who has steered his community through difficult times such as Ebola and COVID-19 in recent years, the relief at having Red Cross support in keeping his people healthy is palpable.“I feel happy that Momoh is here. He’s always available for our community – any day, any time. He’s very patient. When our people are sick, he makes sure they are taken to hospital. I feel my community is safe with Momoh. God forbid there is another outbreak, we know Momoh is here for us.”--The rapid outbreak detection and response reported in this article were made possible thanks to the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3).Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the programme supports communities, National Societies, and other partners in seven countries to prepare for, prevent, detect and respond to disease threats.If you enjoyed this story and would like to learn more:Sign up to the IFRC’s Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness NewsletterFollow the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society on X, Facebook and LinkedInTo learn more about community-based surveillance initiatives within the IFRC please visit cbs.ifrc.org

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World Health Day 2024

Everyone, everywhere should have access to good health care and the basic ingredients to a healthy life. The theme of World Health Day in 2024 is 'My Health, My Right', and we could not agree more. Access to health care is a basic human right. My health, my right also means a healthy environment, safe food and water, and strong community readiness for emergencies and epidemics. Sadly, access to those basic ingredients are under threat, due to conflict, climate events, natural calamity and extreme poverty. We invite you to join our ongoing efforts to help people around the world access this most basic of human rights.

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Joint statement: Millions at risk from cholera due to lack of clean water, soap and toilets, and shortage of cholera vaccine

Geneva/New York, 20 March 2024 – Immediate action is needed to stem an unprecedented multi-year upsurge in cholera cases worldwide, according to the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision. Actions include investing in access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene, testing and detecting outbreaks quickly, improving quality of and access to healthcare, and fast-tracking additional production of affordable oral cholera vaccine (OCV) doses to better prevent cases.The ICG manages the global cholera vaccine stockpile.The group includes the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Médecins Sans Frontières, UNICEF and WHO. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, finances the vaccine stockpile and the delivery of OCV. ICG members are calling for governments, donors, vaccine manufacturers, partners and communities to join in an urgent effort to halt and reverse the rise in cholera.Cholera has been surging globally since 2021, with the 473000 cases reported to WHO in 2022, more than double those reported in 2021.Preliminary data for 2023 reveal further increases, with over 700000 cases reported. Several of the outbreaks have high case fatality rates, exceeding the 1% threshold used as an indicator for early and adequate treatment of cholera patients. These trends are tragic given that cholera is a preventable and treatable disease and that cases had been declining in previous years. Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that spreads through food and water contaminated with faeces containing the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.The rise in cholera is being driven by persistent gaps in access to safe water and sanitation. Although efforts are being made to close these gaps in places, in many others the gaps are growing, driven by climate-related factors, economic insecurity, conflict, and population displacement.Safely managed water and sanitation are prerequisites for stopping the transmission of cholera.Currently, the most severely impacted countries include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.Now more than ever, countries must adopt a multisectoral response to fight cholera.Members of the ICG call on currently and potentially affected countries to take urgent steps to ensure their populations have access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation services, and the information critical to prevent cholera’s spread. The establishment of these services requires political will and investment at the country level.This includes creating capacity for early detection and response, enhanced disease detection, rapid access to treatment and care, and working closely with communities, including on risk communication and community engagement.The severe gap in the number of available vaccine doses, compared with the level of current need, puts unprecedented pressure on theglobal stockpile of vaccines. Between 2021 and 2023, more doses were requested for outbreak response than the entire previous decade.In October 2022, the ongoing vaccine shortage necessitated the ICG to recommend a single vaccine dose, down from a previous, long-standing two-dose regimen. Approximately 36 million doses were produced last year, while 14 affected countries registered a need for 72 million doses for a one-dose reactive strategy. These requests understate the true need. Preventive vaccination campaigns have had to be delayed to preserve doses for emergency outbreak control efforts, creating a vicious cycle. The change in strategy enabled available vaccines to protect more people and respond to more cholera outbreaks amid the ongoing supply shortfall, but a return to a two-dose regimen and a resumption of preventive vaccination would provide longer protection.Global production capacity in 2024 is forecast to be 37-50 million doses but will likely continue to be inadequate to serve the needs of millions of people directly affected by cholera.Only one manufacturer, EuBiologics, currently produces the vaccine; while the company is doing its utmost to maximize output, more doses are needed. Currently, new manufacturers are not expected to join the market before 2025; they must be fast-tracked. The same urgency and innovation that we saw for COVID-19 must be applied to cholera.Additional manufacturers planning to enter the market need to accelerate their efforts and make doses available at affordable prices.We appeal to vaccine manufacturers, governments, donors and partners to prioritize an urgent scale-up of vaccine production, and to invest in all the efforts needed to prevent and control cholera.About the ICGPress release on dosing strategyGlobal task force on cholera controlIFRC on choleraUNICEF: cholera is endangering children globallyWHO on the cholera upsurge, including monthly situation reportsMedia contactsIFRC Email: [email protected]: Lukas Nef,Mobile: +41792400790Email: [email protected]: Sarah Al Hattab, UNICEF in New YorkTelephone: +1 917-957-6536Email: [email protected] Media TeamEmail: [email protected]

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Zimbabwe: Cholera Outbreak

Zimbabwe has been grappling with a cholera outbreak since February 2023, with the number of cases increasing across the country. As of 5 November 2023, suspected and confirmed cases have been reported in all 10 provinces of the country and in 41 out of 62 districts, with the most alarming spikes in the south-eastern provinces of Masvingo and Manicaland. A total of 6,686 suspected and 1,127 confirmed cases were reported by early November. More than 6,200 people had recovered while the total number of suspected or confirmed cholera-related deaths had exceeded 175. The IFRC and its members seek CHF 3 million to support the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society to reach 550,455 people with life-saving assistance and help to contain the outbreak. A total of CHF 2 million will be raised by the IFRC secretariat.

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Cholera: Outbreak silences a once vibrant town in southwestern Zimbabwe

Where children would normally be playing, it is now quiet on the streets of Mapanza, a small village in the southwest of Zimbabwe. The communal gatherings for meals have ceased, laughter is absent, and everyday clothing has been replaced by rain boots and protective suits.The village is grappling with a relentless cholera outbreak, starkly highlighting the severity of the disease.On a recent day of heavy rains, puddles surround the three large tents in the middle of the village. Medical personnel with masks and gloves move in and out of the tents. IV drips are carried into the tent where the most critical patients lie.In the other two tents, health workers attend to patients whose conditions have stabilized. Occasionally, a curious child peeks out from the tent. She appears to be about five years old.As we walk further into the village, we encounter Alec. "It likely started at a church service where many people gathered," says Alec, friendly and energetic man who lives in the village and who personally experienced how quickly cholera can strike without mercy. "Shortly after that, people started getting sick."Sources of contaminationIn addition, the community shares one water source, which got contaminated. Since cholera easily spreads through water, nearly half of the village was estimated to have fallen ill. There are no healthcare facilities in the area, exacerbating the situation to a critical level within hours.People were lying on the ground with nowhere to go, Alec recalls. "People started experiencing severe diarrhea and vomiting profusely,” he said. “Almost half of the compound population was down, and a local couple tried to ferry as many people as possible to the hospital in Chiredzi, but it was overwhelming. The worst affected were children and women; people also died." Alec also had to fight for his life. After he fell ill, his wife waited anxiously for news about her husband. She couldn't be with him and didn't know his condition. It was a nerve-wracking period.An immediate responseToday, when visitors come to the village, it's hard to grasp that this nightmare happened just a few weeks ago. While the events still loom large over the community, and things are still far from normal, fewer people are falling ill and very few are dying, thanks to those who mobilized to help.Volunteers from the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) immediately supported the Ministry of Health and Child Care, bringing tents, medical supplies, and "oral rehydration solutions" so that people could be safely treated and no longer had to lie on the ground. Together with the Ministry of Health, they were able to control the outbreak.Even now, volunteers are everywhere in the village. Many of them, such as Alec's wife, are community members who volunteered after experiencing what cholera did to their loved ones. She now participates in door-to-door campaigns, informing people about how to protect themselves so that an outbreak of this magnitude does not happen again.Since the beginning of the outbreak, ZRCS volunteers and staff have been taking action to combat the spread of cholera and provide care for patients. The Red Cross has also been supporting the Ministry of Health in setting up a cholera treatment centre to allow individuals with symptoms of cholera access to appropriate care.Volunteers have also been visiting communities to inform people on how to protect themselves and their loved ones, as well as what to do if they become ill.To jumpstart the initial response, the IFRC's Disaster Response Emergency Fund (IFRC-DREF) allocated CHF 500,000 and soon after, the IFRC launched an emergency appeal seeking CHF 3 million in order to to reach more than 550,000 people with life-saving assistance and help to contain the outbreak.

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World Radio Day: How radio helps keep communities healthy and safe

Though we’re living in an increasingly digital world, radio remains an important source of information, entertainment, and connection in countries across the globe.This is especially true among rural communities, for whom radio is often the most trusted—or sometimes only—source of news and information for miles around.Imagine you’re living in one of these communities, far from the nearest health centre. You notice people are falling sick and you don’t know why. Seeking answers, you tune into your local radio station.The presenter is talking about the ‘mystery illness’ in a panicked way, saying how gruesome the symptoms are, how many people have died, and how you should avoid infected people at all costs. He’s heard the illness could be some kind of curse, and that apparently drinking salty water can protect you.Hearing this report, and with no other sources to turn to, you’d probably feel scared and unsure of what to do.But imagine you tuned in and heard a totally different show. The presenter calmly offers practical information about the disease—its name, symptoms, how it spreads, and measures you can take to protect yourself. He interviews a local doctor you know and trust who responds to common questions and concerns.You’d feel reassured and have the information you need to keep you and your family safe.In several countries, the IFRC and our National Societies are partnering with local media to do exactly this: provide life-saving information before, during, and after health outbreaks.As part of the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3), we’ve been working with the charity BBC Media Action to train journalists and Red Cross Societies from seven countries in Lifeline Programming: special media programming that provides accurate, practical, and timely information in a health or humanitarian crisis.National Societies regularly partner with media outlets to broadcast helpful information that keeps communities healthy and safe from a wide range of diseases. Let’s look at some examples.KenyaIn Bomet and Tharaka Nithi counties, Kenya Red Cross teams up with local radio stations and county health services, reaching hundreds of thousands of people with useful health messages on how to prevent diseases such as anthrax, rabies and cholera.Information is shared in simple language. And listeners can call in to ask questions or suggest health topics for discussion.“At first, media was known for reporting two things, maybe: politics, and bad things that have happened in society. But the Red Cross helped us […] use the media in educating the people about disease,” explains Sylvester Rono, a journalist with Kass FM trained in Lifeline programming.“I am now proud to say that this has really helped our communities. Our people are now appreciating why we should vaccinate our pets, why we should go to the hospital when we have a bite, why we should report any [health] incident, and when you see any sign of diseases, be it rabies, be it anthrax, be it cholera […] the importance of reporting it earlier,” he adds.CameroonIn late 2021, a cholera outbreak threatened the lives of communities in the North region of Cameroon—a rural part of the country where communities are widely dispersed.As part of its response, the Cameroon Red Cross teamed up with local radio stations—launching a series of community radio programmes to share information on how people could protect themselves, what symptoms to look out for, and where to access help if they fell sick.Themes for the programmes were selected in partnership with community leaders. And after the shows broadcast, Red Cross volunteers headed out into their communities to reinforce the messages shared on air through door-to-door visits.“The radio programme is very good, because it has given me practical information. I had a cholera case in my family, but based on the measures I heard on the radio, I was able to save my sister’s child who was sick,” explained Talaga Joseph, a listener who called into FM Bénoué—one of the participating radio stations.Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)In DRC, harmful rumours and misinformation about COVID-19 and other diseases have spread across the country in recent years. For example, some people believed the COVID-19 vaccine was a source of income for the government and had no benefit to society, while others believed the measles vaccine was less effective than traditional remedies involving cassava leaves.To address these rumours, DRC Red Cross volunteers went door-to-door to collect community feedback and record common myths and misconceptions. After analysing the feedback, DRC Red Cross staff took to the airwaves—launching interactive radio shows to directly address and debunk health misinformation and provide trusted advice.For example, in Kongo Central province, the DRC Red Cross partners with Radio Bangu to produce a show called ‘Red Cross School’. Listeners call in to check information on different diseases, ask questions, and discover what support they can access from the Red Cross.“The collaboration with the Red Cross is very good and has enabled listeners to learn more about its activities and how they can prevent different illnesses and epidemics. The Red Cross broadcasts are so popular they have increased our overall number of listeners in the area we cover,” says Rigobert Malalako, Station Manager at Radio Bangu.--The activities with local radio featured in this article are just a few examples of media partnerships developed through the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3).Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), CP3 supports communities, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and other partners to prevent, detect and respond to disease threats.If you enjoyed this story and would like to learn more, sign up to the IFRC’s Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Newsletter.You can also access the following resources:BBC Media Action’s Guide for the media on communicating in public health emergencies (available in multiple languages)BBC Media Action’s Lifeline programming websiteIFRC Epidemic Control Toolkit

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IFRC Global COVID-19 study: vaccine bank an ‘essential element’ of next pandemic response

Geneva/Panama City/Buenos Aires – 31st January 2024Governments need to prepare for the next pandemic by establishing an international ‘vaccine bank’ which ensures the availability and distribution of vaccines equitably in all regions of the world.That’s the central recommendation of a new report following a huge study into the impact of COVID-19 and authorities’ reactions to it. The report is being released exactly four years on from the IFRC’s first Global COVID emergency appeal, on 31st January 2020.The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) commissioned researchers from the Humanitarian Observatory, an IFRC reference centre hosted by the Argentine Red Cross, to carry out a major research project. For it, they’d carried out interviews with 16,027 people, working in collaboration with 90 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies.People from different sectors were asked about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Strategic partners from the private sector and trade unions also collaborated in conducting the surveys.Participants were chosen to represent people working or active in six societal sectors - healthcare, academia/education, transport, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the corporate sector and the media. The study looked for both common trends and contrasts across geographies and sectors. Its aim was to develop recommendations so that the next pandemic can be handled better than the last.The study – ‘Insights Gained by Strategic Sectors During the Pandemic’ – found:Nearly 70% of people in all sectors and regions had a high fear of catching COVID-19. People in the Americas and/or working in healthcare had the highest fear.More than half of all respondents said their personal finances were affected by the pandemic.54% of participants interviewed said their government handled the pandemic well. The percentage was highest across Africa and lowest across the Americas.Almost half of all respondents working in healthcare and the media felt ‘discriminated against’ for the role they played during the pandemic.The vast majority of interviewees said they received no priority for vaccinations despite the important roles they played during the pandemic.The main recommendations of the report include:Creating a global vaccine and antidote bank to ensure the availability and distribution of supplies equitably in all regions.Establishing priorities for vaccination or delivery of medicines to those who enable the world's citizens to receive food, medical care, news and education.Carrying out a communication campaign from a supranational body that values the actions of the essential sectors to legitimise their tasks and recognize their work.José Scioli, Director of the Humanitarian Observatory of the Argentine Red Cross said:"Some of the answers to the main challenges require establishing efficient processes on a global scale. That is why it is so central to take these global lessons to ensure that we can all – as humanity as a whole - learn from our experience and emerge stronger. We are convinced that we are capable of learning from our past to improve the present and future. With the insights from the Humanitarian Observatory’s study, we can promote the exchange of information to improve our societies."Xavier Castellanos, IFRC Under Secretary General said:“The COVID-19 pandemic led to the biggest worldwide disruption to normal life in a generation. But its impacts were disproportionate. Often, for example, vaccines were distributed on the basis of money, not need. Those who contributed most to helping the vulnerable through the pandemic were too often treated the worst. This important study offers a path to handling the next pandemic better. Its ambition and scale means its recommendations carry weight. “The full report can be downloaded in English here, and from here via the ‘Descargar Informe’ link in Spanish, French and Arabic.There are downloadable graphics and animations to add to coverage hereFor more information or to set up an interview: [email protected] Geneva: Andrew Thomas +41 76 367 65 87In Buenos Aires: Jose Scioli +54 911 64551193In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes +507 6999 3199

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Hunger crisis: ‘Now I can take care of my own family’

In the Lubombo region of Eswatini, near the town of Big Bend, 39-year-old Bongani Masuku looks over at his field of maize. He just harvested a section last week. “But there is still work to do,” Bongani says and starts working the land. Lubombo is one of the hottest areas in Eswatini. As Bongani weeds his field, the temperature has already risen to over 34 degrees. “I remove the weeds so that my maize will grow properly,” he says. “If I let the weeds take over, the seedlings would grow to be very thin and not offer good harvest.” Earlier in the season, Bongani attended an agricultural training, after which he received a cash grant of around 70 euros. He invested the money in maize seeds that are more resilient to drought, as climate change has made rains more irregular and increased drought. Around 70 per cent of Eswatini’s population are directly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. This is why the changing weather conditions are extremely concerning. “The recent heatwaves have really made farming more difficult. The maize should not receive too much sunlight when it is blooming. Rain is important at that stage. The last time the maize was in bloom there was no rain at all, so my harvest was smaller than I expected.” The maize field has a great significance to Bongani. “This allows me to feed my family, but also to sell some of the crops and get money,” he adds. “This money helps me put my children to school. I have five children with my darling wife. Now I can buy them schoolbooks and other school supplies, like pens. If I make enough money, I can also buy them shoes to wear to school.” Prolonged food insecurity Like elsewhere in Southern Africa, people in Eswatini are suffering from a severe and prolonged food security crisis that began in 2015. The drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon, further strengthened by climate change and the irregular rains and floods ever since, have damaged harvests year after year. Bongani is one of the 25,500 people included in the three-year project funded by the European Union to improve food security by means of cash assistance. In addition to the Finnish Red Cross, the project includes the Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society and Belgian Red Cross Flanders. For recipients of the cash grants such as Winile Masuku, the cash assistance has meant the ability to buy food such as rice, maize flour and cooking oil at a time when regular food sources are far less plentiful and more expensive. “Before receiving cash assistance, we were dependent on our neighbours,” Winile explains as she sits in front of her home – its walls made of intricately woven branches and stonework. “Now I can take care of my own family.” Gardening for change While not everyone is a farmer, many people in Eswatini grow a portion of their daily sustenance in local community gardens. This is one reason this climate-resilience project also aims to revive the tradition of community gardens. Part of that effort includes trainings from the Ministry of Agriculture on how to most effectively tend community gardens in the face of more extreme climate conditions. After each training, participants get a cash grant of around 35 euros to buy plant seeds, for example. The participants are encouraged to use crop varieties that require less water. “The garden offers stability to my family, as I employ myself with this and take care of my family,” says Sibongile, one of the participants. “The harvest from the garden allows me to feed my family, and I can also sell some crops to get money for my children’s education.” Health in the countryside It’s also important to ensure that people stay healthy as drought and heat can create conditions that exacerbate the spread of diseases and symptoms such as dehydration. For this reason, the EU-funded project also supports the community in epidemic and pandemic preparedness. The Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society runs three clinics in the country, and the project supports their capacity to respond to different epidemics, such as diarrhoeal diseases, tuberculosis and HIV. “Each morning we offer health advice, meaning that we tell patients what epidemics are currently ongoing,” explains Phumlile Gina, a nurse at the clinic in Hosea Inkhundla in the Shiselweni region. “Right now we are informing them of vaccinations, especially against the coronavirus and tuberculosis. We also highlight proper hygiene: we explain how important it is to wash your hands and also remind people to wash their water containers every now and then.” “Some of our patients here in the countryside are very poor,” she adds. “They can come to the clinic for some completely other reason, for a flu for example. But we may then notice that the growth of the patient’s child is clearly stunted and there is reason to suspect malnourishment.” “We are able to take care of such situations as well and monitor the condition of the patients. It feels great when a patient comes back to the clinic after six months and says that their child is doing great and playing like other children.” The Programmatic Partnership between the IFRC network and the European Union, provides strategic, flexible, long-term and predictable funding, so that National Societies can act before an emergency occurs. It is being implemented worldwide including 13 countries in Africa.

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Uganda: School Health Club helps students and communities stay safe from diseases

“The School Health Club has taught us how to look after our health. I also bring the knowledge I learn from the club to my home, and my parents take those messages to the wider community.”These are the words of Kikanshemeza, a pupil at Mwisi Primary school in south-west Uganda and proud member of her School Health Club.Set up by the Uganda Red Cross, the School Health Club helps primary and secondary school pupils understand how to protect themselves from various disease threats, stay healthy, and share their newfound knowledge with their fellow pupils, families, and wider communities.It’s one of the many different activities under the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3) – a multi-country programme run by the IFRC and seven Red Cross National Societies to help communities, first responders, and other partners prepare for, detect, prevent, and respond to health risks.Since joining her School Health Club, Kikanshemeza has built a tippy tap—a simple, low-cost handwashing facility that can help reduce up to 50% of avoidable infections—in her home, supported her family to use it regularly and properly, and shared life-saving information about different diseases.“She told us not to eat the meat of animals that have died and to make sure they are buried properly, and also that bats are a potential cause of Ebola and monkeys can transmit it too,” explains Kikanshemeza’s mother, Annet.Knowledge is powerKikanshemeza is one of 30 School Health Club members at Mwisi Primary school. The club meets up once a week in special sessions led by Akampurira, a facilitator from the Uganda Red Cross, who teaches them all about different diseases—including how to recognize signs and symptoms, which people might be most at risk, and actions the students can take to stop diseases from spreading.Club members are then responsible for maintaining school handwashing facilities, making sure all students follow proper hygiene practices, and sharing what they’ve learned with their follow students—often through large, theatrical performances in the school hall.Students act out informative and lively scenes: everything from a patient seeking help from a doctor after noticing signs of malaria, to a person being bitten by a dog in the street and rushing to get vaccinated.Tackling serious health issues in this more fun and light-hearted way helps break down complex topics, keeps fellow students engaged, and helps them retain the knowledge in case they need it in future.Why involve school children in epidemic preparedness?The IFRC and our member National Societies have long focused on helping people prepare for, respond to, and recover from epidemics.We know from experience that effective epidemic preparedness must involve communities themselves, first responders, and partners from across all parts of society – such as schools.“School health clubs have been a game changer in health risk communication, as engaged learners have been excellent peer educators in school, and also change agents at the household level,” explains Henry Musembi, CP3 Programme Delegate for Uganda and Kenya.“The clubs are a great platform for training the next generation of epidemic emergency responders and champions in target communities,” he adds.Seeing positive changeKushaba, another School Health Club member whose brother had previously suffered from malaria, says he’s learned a lot from the club and has noticed positive change in his community:“We learned how we can control malaria by slashing compounds, draining all stagnant water to destroy habitat for mosquitoes, and how you can use a treated mosquito net.”“Before the introduction of the School Health Club, we didn’t have tippy taps, we didn’t know how to use toilets, even how we can clean our school. Pupils, they were suffering from diseases like malaria, cholera, but now because of the School Health Club, they are fine,” he adds.--The School Health Club in Mwisi is one of several set up in Uganda and other countries through the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3).Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the programme runs in seven countries and supports communities, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and other partners to prevent, detect and respond to disease threats.If you enjoyed this story and would like to learn more:Visit our Epidemic and pandemic preparedness webpageSign up to the IFRC’s epidemic and pandemic preparedness newsletter

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| Emergency

Zambia: Cholera Outbreak

A cholera outbreak in Zambia, first reported in October 2023, has seen a dramatic increase in transmission since mid-December. The country has now recorded more than 7,000 cases and 270 deaths, with over 500 new cases daily. The IFRC and its membership seek CHF 4 million (CHF 3 million of which is expected to be raised by the IFRC Secretariat) to support the Zambia Red Cross Society to reach 3.5 million people with life-saving assistance.

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| Press release

Cholera outbreak spirals in Zambia: IFRC launches urgent CHF 4 million appeal

Geneva/Nairobi/Lusaka, 15 January 2024: Responding to a severe cholera outbreak in Zambia, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal for 4 million Swiss Francs. This fund is aimed at supporting the Zambia Red Cross Society, in its auxiliary role to Zambia’s Ministry of Health, to mitigate the impact of the outbreak on affected communities and prevent further spread.In October 2023, a new cholera outbreak was reported and has seen an increase in transmission since mid-December, putting over 10 million people at risk. The outbreak initially emerged from peri-urban areas of Lusaka province, where most of the cases are being reported. Due to the high rate of transmission, the disease is now affecting people across multiple geographical areas. Nine out of ten provinces have reported cases of cholera, with six provinces confirming cholera outbreaks.John Roche, IFRC Head of Delegation Country Cluster for Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi, said:“To ensure no more lives are lost, we must prioritize access to clean and safe water. With the waterborne disease spreading rapidly, we are deeply concerned about the situation unfolding. The IFRC and Zambia Red Cross Society are seeking resources to contribute to activities that can support stopping the spread and its transmission.”Cosmas Sakala, Acting Secretary General of Zambia Red Cross Society, said:“With increased rains and possible flooding, the cholera outbreak could escalate, and we fear that many more lives would be lost. Zambia Red Cross requires more resources to support the government in scaling up interventions such as Risk Communication and Community Engagement, enhancing access to safe water and sanitation to curtail the epidemic, and improving community case management to reduce fatalities.”In response to the outbreak, the IFRC has allocated CHF 750,000 from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) to support relief efforts. Zambia Red Cross Society staff and volunteers have been mobilized and are supporting cholera response activities through door-to-door visits, setting up Oral Rehydration Points where people showing signs of cholera can be rehydrated, spreading hygiene messages, and carrying out community sensitizations on cholera prevention and control. This commencement of public health education is being done in collaboration with Zambia’s Ministry of Health and UNICEF.To continue the response, a total of CHF 4 million is needed and will support 3.5 million people.Last year, the neighbouring country of Malawi faced one of its worst cholera outbreaks in years. Additionally, Zimbabwe is currently battling a cholera outbreak that is resulting in daily loss of lives. The IFRC remains committed to halting the spread of cholera in Zambia, ensuring that affected populations receive necessary care and support.More information:To learn more or support the appeal, visit our page by clicking on the link.To request an interview, contact:[email protected] Nairobi:Anne Macharia: +254 720 787 764In Geneva:Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67Mrinalini Santhanam +41 76 381 5006

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| Article

Nigeria: A community response that is saving lives

By Ene Abba/IFRC When Red Cross volunteers came to her neighborhood, distributing flyers and sensitizing residents about diphtheria Aisha Adam Ibrahim did not take them seriously at first. "I was dismissive at first when the Red Cross volunteers brought the information on diphtheria to our doorstep,” she says. “But that knowledge saved my life." When Aisha fell ill, those information sharing sessions played a crucial role, says Ibrahim, who lives with her extended family in Ungogo community in Kano state. Recognizing the symptoms early, she sought medical help promptly, potentially saving her life. Since December 2022, diphtheria has been spreading across Nigeria, posing a community-wide challenge. Communal living, close-knit neighbourhoods, and shared spaces play a big role both in how this outbreak is spreading and its mitigation. Kano state, with its large diverse population and unique architectural landscape, faces distinctive challenges in combating the spread of this epidemic. As the epicentre of this crisis, Kano is where 80 per cent of all reported cases in Nigeria originate. With a large population compounded by the close-knit nature of the houses, diphtheria finds an easy transmission from person to person. Aisha lives in such a close-knit neighbourhood, and as a primary school teacher interacts constantly with children in her community. Aisha encountered heartbreaking stories at the hospital where she was admitted for treatment. One such grieving parent is Surraya Musa, who lost her only two children to diphtheria within a week. Surraya now dedicates herself to educating neighbours and communities about the severity of the outbreak, imploring parents to heed the advice of Red Cross Volunteers regarding vaccination and hygiene practices. "I tell my neighbours to listen to what the Red Cross volunteers say,” she says. “I lost all my children, I don't want any parent to experience what I did." New Red Cross volunteers Amina Abdullahi and Maryam Ibrahim are also advocates in their communities. Having gone through training, they actively participate in Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE), active case searches, and contact tracing. Amina and Maryam express their fulfilment in supporting their community during this challenging time. "Being part of the Red Cross allows me to make a difference. I feel responsible for protecting my community," says Amina. Maryam adds: "It's a tough time for everyone, but seeing the impact we can make on people's lives makes it all worthwhile." Red Cross Intervention The severity of the outbreak prompted the Nigeria Red Cross Society (NRCS) to step in and collaborate with the government in March 2023. With a DREF allocation of CHF 430,654 from the IFRC, NRCS launched a multifaceted response. Over 4.9 million people have been reached through public health prevention, RCCE activities, and 760 volunteers trained in diphtheria prevention. Meanwhile, more than 920,000 people have been mobilized for vaccination through 120 trained teams, and 1,915 suspected cases have been referred to health facilities through NRCS volunteers, as of early December 2023. As the outbreak gained momentum, IFRC has scaled up its diphtheria emergency appeal to 5.4 million CHF. This support is what allows people such as Salisu Garba to continue the life-saving work. As health coordinator for NRCS in Kano, he walks through the communities and interacts with the locals in a manner that exudes familiarity with the street corners and the names of neighbourhood vendors. He highlights the critical role of close relationships with community leaders. This trust and access enable the Red Cross to take effective actions, ensuring that diphtheria will be stopped as quickly as possible. "Our connection with communities allows us to reach more people effectively,” he says. “Together, we are working tirelessly to ensure that every person in Kano is informed, vaccinated, and protected from diphtheria."

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| Press release

3 billion mosquito nets shipped to prevent malaria

Geneva – 30 Nov 2023 / On the same day the World Health Organization releases its 2023 World Malaria Report, the  Alliance for Malaria Prevention (AMP) reveals that a significant milestone has been reached. Three billion insecticide treated nets (ITNs) have been shipped since 2004 to prevent malaria, most of them to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. These ITNs are estimated to be responsible for two-thirds of the reduction in malaria cases over the past decades. Thanks to the efforts of national malaria programmes and partners, about 68% of households across sub-Saharan Africa own at least one net. Most of these nets have been bought via funds from The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the United States President’s Malaria Initiative, UNICEF and the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF).  In 2022 alone, more than 190 million ITNs were distributed globally by National Malaria Programmes in malaria endemic countries. Of these 180 million were distributed in sub-Saharan Africa.  Petra Khoury, Director of the Health and Care Department at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which houses the Alliance for Malaria Prevention (AMP), said:  “Three billion is a staggering number – a number reached by phenomenal efforts by people in many countries. Those nets have, over two decades, saved countless lives. Malaria will continue to be a threat, particularly in a warming world. But insecticide treated nets are the most effective tool we have to tackle it.”    In 2004, Togo rolled out the very first nationwide mosquito net campaign targeting children under five years of age with an integrated package of life-saving interventions. Twenty years and six ITN mass distribution campaigns later, Dr Tinah Atcha-Oubou, coordinator of the Togo National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), says the mass distribution of bed nets has had a dramatically positive impact on malaria mortality and mobility. Dr Atcha-Oubou says the NMCP in Togo is aiming for malaria elimination.   ‘We have a vision for our country, a Togo without malaria. We want to free communities from the burden of malaria to improve the economic growth of Togo. Malaria prevention strategies have shown promising results, we also have access to efficient tools to reach this goal. We are hopeful that we can eliminate malaria in the same way that many other countries already have’.   Access to and use of mosquito nets are essential to keep Togo on track for malaria elimination. Investments from partners at national and international level must continue to ensure that the country can keep working towards this goal.  The Alliance for Malaria Prevention’s Net Mapping Project has been independently tracking net shipments from the very first national campaign in 2004 in Togo. Funded by the United Nations Foundation through the United to Beat Malaria campaign,andledby the IFRC, the Net Mapping Project data informs the World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report each year, feeding into modeled estimates of ITN coverage across the globe.  Global partners commented on the milestone:  ‘Nets are one of the best tools in our arsenal in the fight to end malaria. The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative is proud to support this historic milestone and applauds the work of AMP and our partners to strengthen the capacity of national malaria programs to distribute nets to the communities that need them most and to track and report data.’  Dr. David Walton, U.S. President’s Global Malaria Coordinator  “The Global Fund remains committed to improving the lives of communities suffering under the burden of malaria. Helping the countries we support ensure optimal vector control coverage is a cornerstone of our malaria strategy. The milestone of 3 billion ITNs should be celebrated and act as catalyst to further drive towards achieving and sustaining this life saving intervention.”  Scott Filler, Head of Malaria, Technical Advice and Partnerships Department, Global Fund  "This landmark achievement of shipping 3 billion insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) represents a crucial step forward in our fight against malaria. The widespread distribution of ITNs with intensive Behaviour Change Communication at community level has contributed significantly to reducing malaria transmission, protecting vulnerable populations, and saving lives.   Keziah Malm, National Coordination of National Malaria Elimination Program in Ghana  Further Information: In the last few years, an increasing proportion of ITNs shipped have contained active ingredients designed to mitigate the effects of insecticide resistance. In 2022, of the 281.5 million ITNs that manufacturers delivered to malaria endemic countries, 47% were treated with a synergist, pyrethroid-piperonyl butoxide (PBO), and 8% were dual active ingredient ITNs, which have combined insecticides with different modes of action.  While protecting people from malaria remains critical, the global community also recognises the environmental footprint of ITNs for vector control from the point of manufacture through exit from the supply chain given the heavy reliance on plastic for the nets themselves and their packaging. Responsible collection and disposal of plastic waste at the point of distribution and as nets become unserviceable for malaria prevention is, therefore, an integral part of many national malaria programmes’ vector control strategies.  Global and national stakeholders and partners are working together to find solutions to limit the amount of waste generated and to ensure more sustainable and environmentally focused supply chains for vector control with ITNs.    Despite the efforts of national malaria programs and their funding, the latest World Malaria Report notes that global malaria cases and deaths in 2022 were higher than in 2019, mostly due to the disruption of services during the COVID19 pandemic. Countries most affected include Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda and Papua New Guinea. The World Health Organization estimates that there were 608’000 malaria deaths in 2022 – 32’000 more deaths than in the year before the pandemic.   The 2023 World Malaria Report also highlights that the funding gap between the amount invested in malaria control and elimination and the resources needed continues to widen. It grew from US$2.3 billion in 2018 to US$ 3.7 billion globally in 2022. Despite the shortage of funding, continued research and development to address insecticide resistance reinforced efforts of national malaria programs and their partners to deliver services to all populations at risk. Significant work to generate sufficient funding to support national malaria strategic plans remain critical in ensuring that the fight against malaria remains on track towards the WHO 2030 targets.    For further details please contact: [email protected]   Andrew Thomas   International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent +41763676587  Tommaso Della Longa   International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent +41797084367  There are spokespeople available to talk about this announcement, including Petra Khoury, the IFRC’s Director of Health and Care.    Partners:   The Alliance for Malaria Prevention receives funding support from USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the United Nations Foundation (UNF).  Since 2013, the Net Mapping Project has been funded by the United Nations Foundation and the IFRC. 

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| Press release

IFRC launches urgent CHF 3 million appeal to combat cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe

Harare/Nairobi/Geneva, 17 November 2023 —The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal for 3 million Swiss Francs to support the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS). The health needs exceed available resources, meaning immediate action to is needed to mitigate the impact on affected communities. Zimbabwe is currently grappling with a severe cholera outbreak, placing immense strain on healthcare systems, and necessitating coordinated action. The outbreak has led to increased morbidity and mortality rates, posing a significant threat to public health and demanding immediate attention. The IFRC had previously allocated CHF 464,595 from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the relief efforts. The Emergency Appeal focuses on critical areas, including the prevention and control of the cholera spread, improved case management, and the enhancement of water and sanitation facilities. The appeal also underscores the importance of community engagement, accountability, and inclusivity in providing a holistic response to the diverse needs of affected communities. John Roche, IFRC Head of Delegation Country Cluster for Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi said: “Access to clean and portable water remain among the most urgent needs in the community. We are deeply concerned with the situation unfolding as before the rains cases have escalated. The IFRC and Zimbabwe Red Cross Society are seeking resources through the appeal that supports activities that can contribute to stopping the spread and transmission of Cholera which will deescalate the worrying trends.” Zimbabwe Red Cross Society staff and volunteers have been mobilised and continue to respond to the outbreak by increasing awareness on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices, emphasising the importance of WASH education for healthier communities. This commencement of public health education is being done in collaboration with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health. Currently the new cases reported are increasing at a high level and rising at an accelerating pace. This has created an urgency to increase mitigation measures to curb further spread and reduce cross border transmission. More information: For further details on our response to the Cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, visit the Zimbabwe Red Cross Societywebsite or the IFRC appeal page. To request an interview, please contact: [email protected]     In Harare: Kim Stambuli,ZRCS:+263 71 251 72 64 In Nairobi: Rita Wanjiru Nyaga: +254 11 083 71 54 In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67 Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06

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| Article

Measles crisis in Kyrgyzstan: Red Crescent volunteers take the lead

Amidst a concerning surge in measles cases, the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan (RCSK), in collaboration with the IFRC, has launched an immunization campaign to combat what has become a significant threat to many communities in Kyrgyzstan. As of early September, Kyrgyzstan has reported a staggering 1,982 confirmed cases, making measles a major threat to communities in the Kyrgyz Republic and one of the highest measles incidences globally. A highly contagious disease, and a leading cause of child mortality worldwide, measles is almost completely preventable with vaccination. The first major challenge in tackling the outbreak lies in dispelling misinformation about the disease and vaccinations. “Tackling measles and other communicable diseases begins and ends in communities,” says Chingiz Djakipov, president of the RCSK, adding that communities play a pivotal role in addressing diseases like measles. ”Something as simple as a vaccine can help prevent many unavoidable deaths and illnesses. But we have a far way to go to tackle vaccine hesitancy in the country,”. Additionally, the National Society and the IFRC have deployed trained volunteers and staff country-wide to support the government’s national immunization campaign. Their mission includes raising awareness about measles and rubella prevention, dispelling misinformation, alleviating fears, addressing questions, and facilitating access to vaccination points and health services. As an additional help, IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) allocated 139,000 Swiss francs to bolster the RCSK’s efforts in curbing the outbreak. Over the coming months, the Red Crescent Society aims to reach 70,000 individuals across the most affected regions and cities, including the cities of Osh and Bishkek cities, and the Osh and Chui regions. “Debunking misinformation about the disease and vaccinations is the first major hurdle to tackling this next outbreak,” says Seval Guzelkilinc, head of IFRC’s Central Asia Country Cluster Delegation. “For many years, the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan has played a fundamental role in responding to health-related emergencies across the country and it is seen as a reliable and trusted source of information for communities.”

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