UN: WHO convenes ethical review of Ebola's experimental drugs

New York, US (PANA) - The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday convened a meeting of ethicists and scientists to discuss the use of experimental medicines in treating Ebola, three days after the agency declared the current outbreak of the disease in West Africa an international public health emergency.

WHO spokesperson Gregory Hartl, in a statement, said that the Geneva-based organisation
would address a press conference on Tuesday on the outcome of the meeting.

He said: "The recent treatment of two health workers infected with the Ebola virus with
experimental medicine has raised questions about whether medicine that has never been tested and shown to be safe in people should be used in the outbreak, and, given the extremely limited amount of medicine available, if it is used, who should receive it."

According to Hartl, "the meeting will develop a framework for how we should approach the issue of untested drugs because this is not a single drug issue, it is really a framework, which is potentially applicable to options as they come up and then we hope that will provide solid directions for how to move on this group of issues."

WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan declared the current outbreak of the Ebola virus a public health emergency of international concern, endorsing the unanimous recommendation made by Emergency Committee of International Experts on the current Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and which has now spread to Nigeria.

Dr. Chan had said: "This is the largest, most severe, most complex outbreak in the nearly four
decades history of this disease."

She also endorsed the temporary measures to reduce the spread of Ebola agreed upon by
the WHO's Executive Committee.

However, on the issue of temporary travel bans, the Committee declared: "There should be
no general ban on international travel or trade, but recommended restrictions regarding the
Ebola-affected travellers."

WHO said that, as of 4 August 2014, the cumulative number of cases attributed to Ebola in
the four countries stands at 1, 711, including 932 deaths.

The agency also said that, although the disease is affecting only a small part of the African
continent, "there is a clear call for international solidarity to boost the capacity of the
countries currently affected."

"Our collective health security depends on support for containment in support in these
countries," Dr. Chan said.
-0- PANA AA/AR 11Aug2014

11 august 2014 19:11:07

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