News / Health

    WHO Endorses Experimental Drugs for Ebola Patients

    FILE - Health workers prescreen people for the deadly Ebola virus before they enter the Kenema Government Hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone.
    FILE - Health workers prescreen people for the deadly Ebola virus before they enter the Kenema Government Hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone.
    VOA News

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has given a green light for the use of unproven drugs to fight the deadly Ebola outbreak in four West African countries.  

    A panel of specialists agreed it is ethical to offer these treatments to try to curb the Ebola epidemic, which is the largest ever seen.  

    There have been a number of Ebola outbreaks in Eastern and Central Africa over the past 40 years. The WHO was able to stop those outbreaks by identifying and isolating all cases of the disease, tracing those who have come in contact with infected individuals and providing protective covering to health care workers.

    But officials from the U.N. health agency acknowledge what has worked in the past is not working now. They say the outbreak in four West African countries - Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria - continues to spread and appears unstoppable.

    • A hearse carries the coffin of Spanish priest Miguel Pajares, 75, the first European infected by a strain of Ebola, Carlos III Hospital in Madrid, Spain, Aug. 12, 2014.
    • Ivory Coast banned air travellers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone on August 11. In this photo, people walk past health workers wearing protective masks and gloves at the Felix Houphouet Boigny international airport in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Aug. 12, 2014.
    • This high level isolation unit would be used if it becomes necessary to treat patients suffering from Ebola, at The Royal Free Hospital, in London, Aug. 12, 2014.
    • Senior Matron Breda Athan demonstrates how to get into the protective suit, as she poses for the cameras. The suit would be used if it becomes necessary to treat patients suffering from Ebola, at The Royal Free Hospital in London, Aug. 12, 2014.
    • A man's temperature is measured before he is allowed into a business center, as fear of the deadly Ebola virus spreads through the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 9, 2014.
    • Health workers prescreen people for the deadly Ebola virus before they enter the Kenema Government Hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, August 9, 2014.
    • Worshippers leaving a church after prayers concerning the deadly Ebola virus in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 9, 2014.
    • Workers inside a call center, where people can phone to state their concerns about the Ebola virus, in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 9, 2014.
    • Volunteers prepare basic supplies, donated to the Ebola treatment center by American donors, at the Kenema Government Hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, Aug. 9, 2014.
    • A large billboard promotes the washing of hands to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 9, 2014.

    That's why the panel of experts who convened Monday unanimously agreed it is ethical to offer unproven medicines as potential treatments, according to WHO Assistant Director-General Marie-Paule Kieny.
     
    “The magnitude and the spread of the outbreak makes it that we do not have enough people to use and to rely only, if I may say, on what has traditionally worked if we want to stop the outbreak as quickly as possible," Kieny said. "So, this is why in this particular circumstances the ethicists have felt that it was ethical to propose these treatments and these vaccines, although they have not been registered yet.”

    West African health authorities report that more than 1,800 people have come down with Ebola, and more than 1,000 have died.  There is no cure for this disease, which can kill up to 90 percent of its victims, and is spread through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person.

    Researchers have found some potential treatments and vaccines that could help bring Ebola under control.  But, while a handful of these drugs have shown positive results in monkeys, they have not been clinically tested in humans to see whether they are safe and effective.

    The health of two American aid workers who got infected with Ebola in Liberia has improved since they were treated with an experimental drug known as Zmapp. This has raised hopes of other successful treatments by using this and other unproven drugs.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging the international community to respond to the shortage of doctors, nurses and equipment needed to fight the Ebola disease raging in West Africa.

    At a news conference Tuesday, Ban said an organized global response is key to controlling the worst-ever outbreak of the virus. He announced he has appointed U.N. public health expert David Nabarro to coordinate the United Nations effort to fight Ebola.

    The U.N. chief also called on the international community to avoid "panic and fear," saying the Ebola virus can be prevented.

    While the WHO has given the go-ahead for the use of untested treatments and vaccines, Kieny says certain ethical criteria must guide their use.  These include transparency of care, informed consent, freedom of choice, confidentiality and community involvement.
     
    “The panel also emphasized that because we know so little about safety and efficacy in humans, whenever these treatments are provided for what we call compassionate use, which means it is defined as access to an unapproved drug outside of a clinical trial, then there is a moral obligation to collect and share all data generated,” Kieny said.  

    The World Health Organization says it will push for the speedy start of clinical trials for Ebola drugs that look promising.  It notes that trials for two vaccine candidates might begin by the end of September and information regarding their safety could be available by the end of the year.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Aaron F. Wuokolo from: Liberia
    August 12, 2014 11:33 PM
    The only option Liberia has now is to accept the use of the untested zmapp dregs which has shown positives sign in the two America doctors. The situation in Liberia is getting wrost on a daily basis as the virus continue to spread to other counties in Liberia. We pray and hope that zmapp works to save our people.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    August 12, 2014 1:12 PM
    TRUTH BE TOLD... I do remember when the World Health Organization (WHO) told the world, there was no chance of this (EBOLA) outbreak in Africa ever becoming a worldwide epidemic, (and), they said the only way a person could contract (EBOLA) was if a came into contact with a contaminated (EBOLA) persons body fluids, (but), viruses and diseases have a habit of changing themselves, (and), forming new ways to spread their viruses and diseases to others.... BEWARE, the (EBOLA) virus is just a step away, from becoming an uncontrollable worldwide epidemic.... (flesh eating ZOMBIES)?

    by: yataro from: Japan
    August 12, 2014 9:11 AM
    I think this decision is right, because it is the only way that might be effective to the disease. They haven't make sure that the medicine is safety for human,so it should be done.But there are not much time to do it, and a lot of people would die.
    The problem of this article is that few African people can get the medicine. We all should help to distribute the medicine to people in Africa.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora