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WHO recommends new medicines to treat Ebola

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By Timothy Akintola

Lifesaving medicines to revolutionize treatment of the near-killer virus.

West Africa witnessed the largest outbreak of Ebola virus between 2014 and 2016, spreading from Guinea across borders and within months, it became a worldwide epidemic. Rare but severe, more than 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths were reported. Though successfully contained, recent reports have however indicated the outbreak of the virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country’s Ministry of Health declared 5 cases of Ebola virus which resulted in 5 deaths, bringing the fatality ratio to 100 percent.

While no cure has been procured for the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with other researchers have been working on drug treatments that have been approved to treat the virus. Publishing the first guideline for Ebola virus disease therapeutics, WHO encouraged the global communities to effectively increase the access to revitalizing medicines. While the previous outbreak of Ebola virus had shown that early response/diagnosis and optimal support go a long way in the survival of people infected with the virus, the WHO is involved in numerous systematic reviews and tests, have made recommendations for 2 monoclonal antibody treatments-mAb114 (known as Ansuvimab; Ebanga) and REGN-EB3 (Inmazeb).

New guidelines developed in accordance to standards and paradigms of WHO.

These recommendations have clearly demonstrated, upon optimized trials, immense advantages for the people that have tested positive for Ebola virus. It includes older people, pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, as well as new born babies whose mothers have been confirmed to be infected with this virus within the first 7 days. These clinical trials took place during the recent Ebola outbreak, with the largest in the Congo which showed that huge scientific rigor could be applied even during the virus’ outbreak in compromising contexts.

The United Nations agency also recommended therapeutics that includes ZMapp and Remdesivir which should not be used as treatments. The new guidelines, developed in accordance to the paradigms and standards of WHO, is posed at immensely supporting health caregivers providing supports to patients of Ebola virus, as well as policymakers invoking in the outbreak preparedness and control responses. This new guidance aggregates the clinical care guidelines which outlines the optimal support that patients of Ebola virus must receive, from necessary tests administered, Nutrition, co-infections, as well as other approaches posed at putting the patient on the right track to a healthy recovery.

Advancements in therapeutics have revolutionized treatment of the virus.

Dr. Richard Kojan, a co-chair of one of the selected expert groups by WHO to develop the guidelines, who is also the President of The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) stated that there will now be a greater chance of recovery for people infected with Ebola virus, if reported swiftly. Further, he stated the importance of timeliness in controlling these infections, admonishing people to consult health practitioners swiftly to ensure the best possible treatments.

A fellow co-chair, Dr. Robert Fowler, from the University of Toronto, Canada, also observed that though the virus is perceived as a near-killer, recent advancements in therapeutics have immensely revolutionized treatment of the virus. He also noted that the best possible provisional supports were being made for patients, combined with the monoclonal antibody treatment which will lead to the recovery of most of the patients. However, access to these monoclonal antibody treatments are still immensely challenging, especially in most of the poor and rural communities.

UN agency ready to support countries in improving access to medicines.

On this issue of accessibility, the World Health Organization demanded that they be made available in every Ebola-ravaged location. The United Nations agency have also declared their readiness to support countries, as well as manufacturers and partners in order to efficiently see to access to these two medicines. Dr. Janet Diaz, the lead of clinical management unit, WHO also stated that the efficiency in doing the basics which includes early diagnosis and optimal support have immensely helped develop the better standard of care for patients, as well as transforming what is possible during the outbreak. She however noted that swift access to these medicines must be the priority.


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