Unique Surveillance Programme Confirms The Clinical Safety Of Bosentan In Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

The safety profile of bosentan (Tracleer®), an endothelin receptor antagonist approved for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), has been confirmed in a unique large-scale pan-European surveillance programme, according to a study undertaken by Marc Humbert (Antoine Beclere Hospital, Clamart, France) and his colleagues.

PAH, an orphan disease, is a serious and life-limiting condition characterised by vascular remodelling and a progressive increase in pulmonary vascular resistance, which can ultimately lead to right ventricular failure and premature death.
Endothelin, a pathogenic mediator of PAH, contributes to these cardiopulmonary vascular and structural changes. Bosentan blocks the harmful effects of endothelin.

The unique two and a half year web-based surveillance programme generated real-world data from almost 5,000 bosentan-treated patients from 17 countries across Europe. This represents almost 80% of all people treated with the drug between May 2002 and November 2004.

These results suggest that a post-marketing surveillance programme is a useful tool to confirm the safety profile of drugs approved for the treatment of orphan diseases.

The surveillance programme had three aims:

- Educate doctors on the appropriate use of bosentan and encourage reporting of adverse drug reactions
- Analyse frequency of potential adverse events outside a controlled clinical trial setting
- Assess the practicality and appropriate use of the protocol for managing increased liver enzyme levels.

Compared with clinical trial data, no new safety issues arose. The increase in liver enzyme levels observed in this programme, covering 3,416 patient-years of treatment, matches that originally seen in the clinical trial setting with 59 patient-years of treatment.

After more than two years of monitoring nearly 5,000 patients, the bosentan surveillance programme is now successfully completed.

European Respiratory Journal

View drug information on Tracleer.

Novavax Announces Favourable Results From Phase I/Iia PANDEMIC Influenza Vaccine Program

Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) announced favorable results from the second stage of the Phase I/IIa human clinical trial of its pandemic influenza virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine candidate. The vaccine, which does not contain an adjuvant, induced robust neutralizing antibody responses. Novavax’s VLP candidate is directed against the H5N1 A/Indonesia/05/2005 avian influenza strain. Avian influenza emerged in humans in Indonesia in 2005 and has caused 135 documented human cases, 81% of which have been fatal.

In this study, the vaccine demonstrated strong neutralizing antibody titers across all three doses tested, exhibiting increasing antibody titers with the escalation of the dose. The study evaluated individuals who received two injections of 15 micrograms (mcg), 45 mcg, 90 mcg or placebo. Among those individuals in the 15 mcg arm, 72% had a neutralizing antibody titer of 1:20 or greater (four-fold rise from baseline) against the H5N1 A/Indonesia strain as did 73% of subjects in the 45 mcg arm and 94% of subjects in the 90 mcg arm. All subjects tested negative for neutralizing antibodies to the H5N1 A/Indonesia strain before vaccination and no responses were observed among individuals who received a placebo. Novavax’s proprietary VLPs contain the surface proteins (hemagglutinin [HA] and neuraminidase [NA]) and matrix protein (M1) of the H5N1 A/Indonesia strain. Additional immunological responses induced by each of the components of the vaccine are being evaluated including responses against HA, NA and the M1 proteins.

Although the safety data are still blinded pending complete safety follow-up, there have been no serious adverse events reported. An independent external Data and Safety Monitoring Board fully supported continuation of the study including expansion to the 90 mcg dose.

VLPs are recombinant structures mimicking the size and shape of the virus but lack genetic material and are therefore incapable of replication. Because they resemble actual infectious particles presenting proteins in the same conformation as on the wild-type virus, they are able to induce a potent immune response. The HA and NA are included to induce neutralizing antibody responses, whereas the M1 may induce cell-mediated immune responses that provide protection against drifted (i.e., mutated) strains.

Addressing the Gaps in the System

“These data are exciting because they demonstrate that recombinant VLPs are a valid and potent vaccine approach against influenza. Combined with our innovative manufacturing approach, our VLP vaccine candidate has the potential to address an unmet need in pandemic influenza preparedness efforts being planned by health authorities around the world,” said Dr. Rahul Singhvi, President and CEO of Novavax.

Novavax’s manufacturing process makes it possible to potentially produce and distribute a vaccine matched to a pandemic strain in time to interrupt and/or halt a pandemic. Novavax’s influenza VLPs are produced in insect cell culture, utilizing a manufacturing process that consists entirely of disposable, ready-to-use equipment. Current yields are 7 to 10 times higher than that of traditional egg-based or mammalian cell culture manufacturing. Because the Novavax process involves recombinant technology and does not require a live influenza virus, vaccine can be manufactured within 10 to 12 weeks of identification of a pandemic strain, approximately 50% of the time duration required to manufacture egg-based vaccines. As a key commercialization initiative, Novavax has collaborated with GE Healthcare, a unit of General Electric Company (NYSE: GE), to develop processes using disposable systems as its manufacturing approach. This manufacturing approach permits rapid commissioning at a fraction of the cost of traditional, egg-based manufacturing facilities. The VLP vaccine may be an effective and affordable component of a pandemic solution for countries that do not currently have in-border pandemic vaccine production.

“This data milestone marks good progress in the viability of Novavax’s vaccine which, combined with GE Healthcare’s ready-to-use bioprocessing technologies, signals the promise of a solution to problems countries face in preparing for the inevitability of pandemic influenza,” said Peter Ehrenheim, President and CEO, Life Sciences, GE Healthcare.

“In the face of a global health threat, innovations are required that can deliver safe and effective vaccines quickly and reliably,” said Robert B. Belshe, M.D., Dianna and J. Joseph Adorjan Endowed Professor of Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, who served on the Data and Safety Monitoring Board for the study. “Two doses of this novel vaccine – which is designed to prevent bird flu – gave strong immune responses.
The data are encouraging that this new vaccine approach can help prevent pandemic influenza.”

Support for VLP Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Candidate

These data are also supportive for moving forward with development of another Novavax vaccine candidate: against seasonal influenza. Seasonal influenza causes over 500,000 deaths worldwide and over 36,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, most of which occur in adults 65 years of age and older, a population in which currently licensed vaccines have only modest efficacy. Novavax has developed a vaccine candidate against seasonal (human) influenza strains. While current seasonal vaccines consist almost entirely of HA, the Novavax VLP contains HA, NA, and M1 with the potential of inducing neutralizing antibody to prevent infection and reduce the severity of influenza illnesses. Dose ranging studies in healthy young adults and adults 65 years of age and older are scheduled to begin later this year.

About Novavax

Novavax, Inc. is a clinical stage biotechnology company, creating novel vaccines to address a broad range of infectious diseases worldwide using advanced proprietary virus-like particle (VLP) technology. The Company produces these VLP based, potent, recombinant vaccines utilizing new, and efficient manufacturing approaches. Additional information about Novavax is available at novavax and in the Company’s various filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. novavax

Forward Looking Statement

Statements herein relating to future development results and performance, conditions or strategies and other matters, including expectations regarding product and clinical developments are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. Novavax cautions that these forward-looking statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks and uncertainties, which change over time. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from the results discussed in the forward-looking statements or historical experience include risks and uncertainties, including risks relating to the early stage of Novavax’s product candidates under development; current results may not be predictive of future pandemic results, results of our seasonal influenza vaccine or any other vaccine that we may develop; further testing is required before regulatory approval can be applied for and the FDA may not approve the pandemic vaccine even if further trial results are similar to those disclosed herein; uncertainties relating to clinical trials; dependence on the efforts of third parties; competition for clinical resources and patient enrollment from drug candidates in development by other companies with greater resources and visibility; and risks that we may lack the financial resources and access to capital to fund our operations including further clinical trials. Further information on the factors and risks that could affect Novavax’s business, financial conditions and results of operations, is contained in Novavax’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which are available at sec. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this press release, and Novavax assumes no duty to update forward-looking statements.

novavax

Researcher Verifies Brain’s Master Switch

The protein that has long been suspected by scientists of being the master switch allowing brains to function has now been verified by an Iowa State University researcher.

Yeon-Kyun Shin, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology at ISU, has shown that the protein called synaptotagmin1 (Syt1) is the sole trigger for the release of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Prior to this research, Syt1 was thought to be a part of the protein structure (not the sole protein) that triggered the release of neurotransmitters at 10 parts per million of calcium.

Shin’s research is published in the current issue of the journal Science.

“Syt1 was a suspect previously, but people were not able to pinpoint that it’s the real one, even though there were lots and lots of different trials,” said Shin.

“In this case, we are trying to show in the laboratory that it’s the real one. So we excluded everything else, and included SNARE proteins – that’s the machinery of the release, and the Syt1 is a calcium-sensing timer.”

Syt1 senses, at 10 ppm of calcium, and tells the SNARE complex to open the pore to allow the movement of the neurotransmitters.

Brain activity occurs when neurotransmitters move into a fusion pore.

“We are showing that this Syt1 senses the calcium at 10 ppm, and sends the signal to the SNARE complex to open the fusion pore. That is the process that we are showing right now,” Shin said.

Shin and his researchers were able to pinpoint the protein using a new technique called single vesicle fusion method. Using this method, they were able to create and monitor a single fusion event.

Previous research didn’t allow scientists to look at single events, and instead required detecting many events and then taking an average of those events, Shin says.

Shin, who has been looking at this brain activity for 15 years, is happy about the discovery.

“We are quite excited that for the first time we are showing that Syt1 is really what triggers the signal in the brain,” he said. “This is a really important thing in terms of neurosciences. This is the heart of the molecular part of the brain function.”

Shin believes his discovery may be useful in understanding brain malfunctions such as autism, epilepsy and others.

While researching brain function, Shin has previously shown that taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol may actually inhibit some brain function.

Source:
Yeon-Kyun Shin
Iowa State University

Blunkett Backs Call For Increase In Brain Tissue Donation To Beat Dementia

Former Home Secretary, David Blunkett MP has offered his support to a major campaign to encourage people to donate brain tissue upon their death to a new brain bank, Brains for Dementia Research.

In doing so, Mr Blunkett also pledged to become a donor. His commitment comes as scientists suggest a lack of awareness of the importance of donation is contributing to a nationwide shortage of brains essential for dementia research.

A survey commissioned for the launch of the Brains for Dementia Research brain bank network, found that only 31% of people are aware it is possible to donate your brain after death for dementia research. This compares to 86% who are aware of heart donation for transplant and 72% who know of the possibility to leave your whole body for medical science.

Scientists at the new ??2million network of brain banks, coordinated by King’s College London and funded by the Alzheimer’s Research Trust and Alzheimer’s Society, warn this lack of awareness has contributed to a severe shortage of suitable brains. This shortage is resulting in major delays in the search for a cure or treatments for dementia as it limits the opportunity for high quality research. The need for effective treatments has never been greater – in less than 20 years nearly a million people will be living with dementia.

Rt Hon David Blunkett MP said,

‘I’ve pledged my brain tissue for research as I know how vital it is to defeat dementia. As Vice President of Alzheimer’s Society I have seen first hand the devastating impact of this condition that affects 700,000 people in the UK. I hope to be using my brain for a good while yet, but I’m pleased to know that it may help people in the future when I no longer have need of it.’

Professor Paul Francis, Director of Brains for Dementia Research at King’s College London, said,

‘It is vitally important that we increase awareness of the continuing need for brain donation. David’s pledge to Brains for Dementia Research will make a real difference. As soon as he turns 65, David will have an assessment for the brain bank as this provides the best resource for scientists.

‘We estimate we need up to 200 brain donations each year to establish the banks and to replace tissue used in scientific studies. Brains from people without dementia are particularly important as they help us work out the differences between healthy older people and people with dementia. Much of what we know about the brain, how it works and current dementia treatments come from research on donated brain tissue. Brains for Dementia Research aims to set a gold standard for dementia research and ultimately find a cure.’

The poll also revealed some confusion about how to donate body parts for research. More than two thirds of people surveyed believed that joining the NHS Organ Donor Register means a person has given consent for donated body parts to be used for medical research. However the register only relates to organs to be used for transplants.

There is currently no similar scheme for donation for medical research and people are currently required to contact the individual research centres. Brains for Dementia Research hopes to ensure the process of brain donation is as straightforward as possible and handled in a sensitive manner.

Furthermore, a lack of knowledge was found to be preventing people pledging to donate their brains. Although a third of people asked said they would consider donating their brain to dementia research, a third said they didn’t know enough to make a decision about donating.
Pat Boyes, whose husband, former MP Roland Boyes, died of Alzheimer’s said,

‘It’s so vital that we support research into dementia to help future generations be rid of this terrible disease. I’m donating my brain to the brain bank and I’m proud that my legacy could help researchers to make the treatment breakthrough we so urgently need. I’ve visited the brain bank and seen that every one is treated with great respect by the scientists and is enormously valuable in the fight against dementia.’

Brains for Dementia Research has centres at London, Manchester, Oxford and Cardiff. People who have pledged to donate their brains will be monitored each year.

People over 65 who are interested in contributing to dementia research by donating their brain should contact Dr Gillian Hayes at King’s College London at bdr.officekcl.ac or 020 7848 8377 for more information. Please also visit the website BrainsForDementiaResearch

Notes

- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2021 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken 25th – 28th September 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

- Respondents were asked:

Which, if any, of the following medical donation options are you aware of? [Please tick all that apply]
Hearts to be used for transplants
Corneas to be used for transplants
Skin to be used for transplants
Brains to be used for dementia research
Whole bodies for medical science
None of these
Yes, I believe they have given consent
No, I do not believe they have given consent

How likely, if at all, would you be to pledge your brain for dementia research after your death?

Very likely
Fairly likely
Not very likely
Not at all likely;
I don’t feel I know enough about it to make a decision
Not applicable, I have already signed up to pledge my brain for dementia research

- King’s College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2008) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King’s has more than 21,000 students from nearly 140 countries, and more than 5,700 employees. King’s is in the second phase of a ??1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate. For more information, visit kingshealthpartners

Source
Alzheimer’s Society

Statement By World Food Programme Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, On Grave Situation In The Philippines Following Succession Of Violent Storms

Today, I witnessed the severe humanitarian impact of the storms and
torrential rains that have devastated parts of this beautiful land, and
which have left the people of the Philippines facing one of the greatest
challenges in memory.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, WFP’s National Ambassador Against
Hunger
KC Concepcion and I, toured some of the hardest hit communities and helped
distribute vital WFP food rations. I travelled by boat in an area 65
kilometres north of Manila where I saw whole neighbourhoods literally
inundated with waist-high stagnant water, and met people who have lost all
of their belongings – furniture, clothes, food – and are now receiving
vital help from the Philippines government and humanitarian agencies like
WFP.

President Arroyo and her government have launched a massive relief
operation to ensure that more than 8 million people affected by these
terrible storms can get the basic necessities and then get back on their
feet. The world, and the World Food Programme, are here to support their
efforts.

As part of the UN family’s humanitarian response, WFP is providing food
relief and logistics support under the WFP-led logistics cluster with
helicopters, trucks, boats and telecommunications equipment to reach and
connect to isolated areas. WFP is initially providing critical food to
more than 1 million of the 8 million affected by the floods. We are
distributing rice and oil, as well as high energy biscuits imported from
Turkey and Ecuador, which provide vital micronutrients for vulnerable
children and mothers.

WFP is partnering with the Department of Social Welfare and Development
And
the National Disaster Coordinating Council to ensure that the transition
from emergency relief to recovery is seamless. With the support of the
governments of Japan, Australia, Canada, Brazil, the U.S. and the European
Commission, today’s distribution ensures that families here in Candaba and
in provinces in typhoon-affected Luzon are supported with nutritious food
to help them cope with the challenges that these typhoons have brought
about.

Additional pledges are being received from nations including France,
Luxembourg, Poland and Germany. We extend our profound thanks to all
Those
who have responded quickly.

The floods have damaged, homes, businesses and crops, but they have not
dampened the great spirit and resilience of the Filipino people. Today,
WFP is here to support the government’s efforts to help the people of the
Philippines overcome this calamity. I have no doubt that together, we
can.

Source
World Food Programme

Person Centred Dementia Care Should Be Standard Practice, UK

Person-centred dementia care can be taught quickly and should standard practice in residential care homes, according to an article to be published in the April edition of The Lancet Neurology.

The Caring for Aged Dementia Care Resident Study (CADRES) showed that both person-centred care and dementia-care mapping reduces agitation in people with dementia in residential care. Dementia care mapping is a widely practiced technique to improve the way dementia care is provided in care homes. The research, from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, studied 15 residential care sites involving 289 residents with dementia aged 60 years or over.

‘This is an extremely important trial that might greatly affect clinical practice. One third of people with dementia live in a care home. We would like to see all care homes using person-centred care and dementia care mapping; both can be taught quickly, improve quality of life and are cost effective.

Alzheimer’s Society research shows that more intensive person centred care can reduce use of dangerous antipsychotic drugs by up to 50%. More research is needed to develop approaches to care that are easy to implement, improve quality of life and reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs.’

Professor Clive Ballard
Director of research
Alzheimer’s Society

Alzheimer’s Society

Alzheimer’s Society is the leading care and research charity for people with all forms dementia and their carers. It provides information and education, support for carers, and quality day and home care. It funds medical and scientific research and campaigns for improved health and social services and greater public understanding of dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Society provides a national help line on 0845 3000 336 and website alzheimers. Please include this information in any publication that uses these comments.

Source
The Alzheimer’s Society

Noninvasive Ventilation: New Clinical Practice Guidelines

New clinical guidelines for use of noninvasive ventilation in critical care settings are published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

The use of noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation and noninvasive continuous positive airway pressure by mask has increased significantly among acutely ill patients. A growing body of literature and variations in practice in recent years have necessitated the development of new clinical practical guidelines to help manage patients with acute respiratory distress or failure.

The guidelines were created by the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group/Canadian Critical Care Society Noninvasive Ventilation Guidelines Group. They address the use of noninvasive ventilation in the postoperative setting, in immunocompromised patients, in patients being weaned from conventional mechanical ventilation and in patients at high risk of respiratory failure after removal of breathing tube.

Noninvasive positive pressure ventilation should be the first choice in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or cardiogenic pulmonary edema. It can be used postoperatively or in people with compromised immune systems.

“Implementation of these guidelines may require clinician education, additional health care personnel, organizational change or additional resources (equipment or beds with cardiopulmonary monitoring) to ensure safe and appropriate application of noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation and continuous positive airway pressure,” writes Dr. Sean Keenan, Royal Columbian Hospital, with coauthors.

“Strategies for the implementation of these guidelines should be developed for each relevant clinician group (physicians in different clinical areas and with different levels of training and expertise, respiratory therapists and nurses),” they conclude.

In a related commentary, Dr. Andrew Bersten from Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide, Australia, writes “many factors appear to influence the effective implementation of noninvasive ventilation. These factors include an experienced team of health care staff able to provide 24-hour service and detailed attention to mask interface and leaks, choice of equipment, ventilator settings, inspired oxygen levels, glottic function and clearance of secretions.”

“For these guidelines to change clinical practice, they have to be supported by appropriate education, implementation and review. Helping clinicians know when and when not to use noninvasive ventilation is perhaps the most important role for these guidelines,” he concludes.

Source:
Kim Barnhardt

Canadian Medical Association Journal

New Publication Supports Asthma Management Strategy Of Achieving And Maintaining Control With The Regular Use Of Seretide

New data from the Gaining Optimal Asthma controL (GOAL) study published in the June edition of thePrimary Care Respiratory Journal (link here) entitled ‘Improvement in asthma endpoints when aiming for Total Control: a comparison of salmeterol/fluticasone propionate versus fluticasone propionate alone’ demonstrates that aiming for guideline-derived control in people with asthma results in sustained, clinically relevant improvements across a range of individual asthma outcomes, with superior improvements seen with Seretide (salmeterol/fluticasone propionate) compared with fluticasone propionate alone1.

According to Professor Ashley Woodcock, University of Manchester, UK, “These greater improvements in specific endpoints with the regular use of Seretide compared with fluticasone propionate are very relevant to patients. In particular, these data demonstrate that, compared with fluticasone propionate, treatment with Seretide results in 85 more symptom-free days per year-equivalent to nearly three additional symptom-free months a year for patients previously experiencing symptoms despite treatment with inhaled corticosteroids1.”

Professor Woodcock continued, “This new publication confirms the recent recommendation in international guidelines from the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) that asthma patients should be assessed according to the level of control and then treated with regular dosing to achieve and maintain asthma control, and that superior, clinically meaningful outcomes and sustained symptom prevention are achieved with an inhaled corticosteroid/ long acting ??2-agonist combination, such as Seretide, compared with inhaled corticosteroids alone2.”

International asthma guidelines, updated in November 2006, state that the goal of asthma treatment is to achieve and maintain prolonged control2, and the GOAL study confirmed for the first time that this guideline-defined control can be a reality for a wide range of patients with asthma, with 41% achieving Total Control of symptoms with the regular use of Seretide3. GOAL was a one-year, stratified, randomised, double-blind, parallel-group study comparing the efficacy and safety of individualised, predefined, stepwise increases with Seretide versus fluticasone propionate alone in achieving two composite measures of asthma control: Well Controlled (the primary endpoint) and the even more stringent definition of Total Control.

The original publication of the GOAL study reported composite measures of asthma control3; but in this paper3 the relative magnitude of changes in specific endpoints-morning peak expiratory flow (PEF), asthma symptoms, symptom-free days, night-time awakenings, rescue ??2-agonist use, and severe exacerbations- were not included. This information would increase understanding of the benefits of a preventive therapeutic strategy that aims to control asthma completely1. The new publication of the GOAL data1 found that:

1. Aiming for Total Control of asthma by both stepping up and sustaining regular, stable treatment resulted in patients in both treatment arms achieving substantial benefits in individual outcomes1

2. However, Seretide was superior to fluticasone propionate alone in improving mean morning peak expiratory flow (PEF) (p

WFP Increases Mali Appeal to Help 175,000 Children Under Five

The United Nations World Food Programme today increased its emergency appeal for Mali in order to feed an additional 175,000 children in the hardest-hit parts of the country and avoid it slipping into a humanitarian crisis similar to neighbouring Niger.

WFP revised its appeal for Mali to US$13.6 million from US$7.4 million to feed the children under the age of five until the end of the year in the areas of Gao on the Niger river, Timbouctou, Kidal in the northeast and Kayes and Koulikoro near the border with Mauritania.

WFP was already targeting a total of 450,000 people in the most critical areas of Mali, which like Niger has a recurring problem with food shortages and associated malnutrition, especially at the height of the three-month annual lean season before the first harvests in October.

“The international community must respond now to avoid a humanitarian crisis,” said Pablo Recalde, WFP’s Mali Country Director. “This cyclical food shortage in an already burdened country like this will only further weaken the livelihoods of rural families unless we act immediately.”

“Mali is doing its best under dire conditions to help its people”, Recalde said. But across the Sahel, where drought and locusts in 2004 have made an always difficult lean season even more arduous, even the best efforts will fall short if they do not receive international support.”

Recent assessments show that the 175,000 children are at risk of malnutrition. WFP is already targeting 450,000 people to improve the ability of farmers to cope with poor production cycles. The most vulnerable receive food through Food-For-Work projects and the creation of cereal banks.

Ranked among the four least-developed countries in the world, Mali is subject to structural food insecurity stemming from poverty, lack of rain, rudimentary farming techniques, desertification and precarious health and sanitation conditions. Last year’s locust invasions, which were the worst in 15 years, further weakened Mali’s ability to grow enough food.

In March, the Malian government forecast 1.2 million people would face food shortages. In close collaboration with humanitarian partners, the government has released some 30,000 metric tons of food from its National Emergency Reserves to help stave off a crisis.

WFP has already released 3,700 tons of food to be distributed to those most in need.

WFP’s main aims are to help people who have exhausted their normal survival strategies and have begun to sell their productive stocks and migrate in search of work and to contribute to maintaining productive potential for next year’s harvest. WFP also supports the government’s capacity to respond to future emergencies by rebuilding the National Emergency Reserves.

To date, WFP has received contributions of US$2.7 million to its emergency operation in Mali, leaving a shortfall of US$10.9 million. It is vital that the remaining funds are provided as soon as possible so that food can be purchased within the region to provide an immediate response.

WFP’s has received confirmed contributions from the European Commission (US$808,000), Luxembourg (US$625,000), Belgium (US$484,000) and Turkey (US$300,000) and multilateral funds US$500,000).

To date, WFP’s emergency operation IN NIGER – seeking US$57.6 million – has received US$24.8 million – a current shortfall of 57 percent.

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency: each year, we give food to an average of 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 56 million hungry children, in at least 80 of the world’s poorest countries. WFP — We Feed People.

WFP Global School Feeding Campaign – For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school – a gift of hope for a brighter future.
For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastnamewfp):

Ramin Rafirasme
WFP/Mali
Tel. 223 222 2045
Italian Mob. +39 340 581 6350

Peter Smerdon
WFP/Nairobi
Tel. 254 20 622 179
Mob. +254 733 528 911

Christiane Berthiaume
WFP/Geneva
Tel. +41-22-9178564
Mob. +41-797743821

Caroline Hurford
WFP/Rome
Tel. +39-06-65132430
Mob +39-348 1325018

Gregory Barrow
WFP/London,
Tel. +44-20-72409001
Mob +44-7968-008474

WORLD FOOD PROGRAM

3 Million Central Africans Targeted For Massive Polio Vaccination Campaign

On November 12th the first wave of a 3-million-people polio immunization campaign starts in Ponte Noire, as well as in the Department of Kouilou, Republic of Congo, and 16 districts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola, the World Health Organization (WHO), Africa announced today. WHO says individuals of all ages are being targeted in this campaign.

A polio outbreak was confirmed in the Republic of Congo on November 4th. Of the 226 reported cases of AFP (acute flaccid paralysis) 97 have died; what WHO describes as “an unusually high mortality”. Four AFP cases have been confirmed as polio so far. Patients with flaccid paralysis typically experience weakness, possibly paralysis and reduced muscle tone – without an obvious cause. When the signs and symptoms come on suddenly, it is called acute flaccid paralysis (AFP). AFP is the most common sign of acute polio.

The majority of people becoming ill are aged from 15 to 29 years, an example that populations that have not been exposed to full immunization are particularly vulnerable. Vaccinating everyone, regardless of age, is aimed at stemming the spread of the disease by raising general immunity levels.

Dr Luis Sambo, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said:
“Every man, every woman, every child will be immunized irrespective of their past immunization status. This way we can be assured that everybody is reached, including young adults, whose immunity may be low.”
A hospital in Pointe Noire reported the first case of AFP on October 1st. The majority of cases were reported between 11th and 31st October, WHO informs. Between the 18th and 24th October the number of cases being reported peaked.

Prof. Georges Moyen, Minister of Health and Population of the Republic of Congo, said:
“The Government has a good assessment of the situation; it is worrying. Partners and resources are being mobilized to implement an appropriate response and to ensure a good take-up by the population.”
Dr Gianfranco Rotigliano, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, UNICEF, explained:
“We have to stem this fast-moving outbreak. The overriding priority is to vaccinate all people to prevent more cases and deaths as quickly as possible. We are at a critical juncture and stopping polio in Africa requires our absolute commitment”.
So far, $48 million, 1.7 million oral polio vaccine doses, and several team of experts have been deployed to assist in the campaign – these came from a joint venture involving Rotary International, CDC (USA), and UNICEF. Denmark has sent another 5 million doses of oral polio vaccines, which should arrive at their destination on November 12th.

Ambroise Tshimbalanga Kasongo, Chairman, Rotary’s Africa PolioPlus Committee, said:
“Rotary has mobilized emergency funding to respond to this outbreak. With a quick response, we can stop the disease from further spread.”
WHO says the rest of Congo’s population will be covered from 18th to 22nd November, and then again during two spells in December, which will also include some parts of neighboring countries.

Polio, caused by the poliovirus, is an extremely contagious virus specific to humans. The virus typically enters the environment in the feces of an infected individual. In areas where sanitation is poor, the virus easily and rapidly spreads via the fecal-oral route, through contaminated water or food. Humans in direct contact with an infected person can also become ill.

Signs and symptoms, such as neck and back stiffness, abnormal reflexes and breathing and swallowing difficulties will usually alert a doctor to the possibility of polio. A doctor who suspects polio will need to test samples from either the patient’s throat, stool or cerebrospinal fluid to confirm a diagnosis.

Source: WHO