The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday announced that the world was getting closer to finding an effective vaccine for Ebola.
Director-General of the organisation, Margaret Chan, made the announcement in Geneva during a news briefing on reforms being implemented by WHO in the light of Ebola crisis in West Africa.
She said that the ‘’good news’’ was in spite of the fact that more conclusive evidence was needed to ascertain the effectiveness of the new vaccine.
Chan, however, said there were indications that the vaccine has to date shown 100 per cent efficacy in individuals from affected communities, adding that the vaccine was yet to be licensed.
It would be recalled that the vaccine had been on trial in Guinea since March, 2015.
She said that the trial ended randomisation on July 26, ‘’so that all those at risk can receive the vaccine, while reducing the time needed to gather conclusive evidence for licensing purposes’’.
“This is an extremely promising development; if proven effective, this is going to be a game changer and scientific breakthrough,’’ she said.
She highlighted six key areas which would enhance WHO capacity to deal with major health outbreaks such as Ebola.
According to her, the first is the development of a unified program for emergency, which will be guided by a 19-member strong advisory group chaired by UN Special Envoy on Ebola, David Nabarro.
“Internally, we are implementing faster, more streamlined internal procedures for procurement, staff deployment and the management of global resources to speed up the response to any emergency.
“Tangible results are already observable in recent responses to outbreaks and emergencies in Yemen, Nepal and South Korea,’’ she said.
The WHO director-general also said that the organisation was making effort to help countries to build resilient health systems with the ability to detect outbreaks rapidly.
She reiterated the organisation’s commitment to establishing a global health workforce, adding that WHO had brought all networks, including the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, together.
She highlighted the importance of enhancing the implementation of international health regulations, explaining that a committee would meet at the end of August to start discussions on it.
Chan expressed WHO’s commitment to research and development work, and its plan to work with member states and partners to build a special financing mechanism as vital components to the its reforms.
“It goes without saying that WHO is the convening authority to bring together all partners and stakeholders,’’ she, adding that WHO was currently developing a blue print for the accelerated development of medical products.
According to her, the development of the products is aimed at reducing the time from recognition of an outbreak to the availability of new medical tools, to four months or less.