Last mile in fight against Ebola will be the hardest says senior

“There is most definitely a fantastic combined community, national and international effort that has turned this crisis around,” John Ging, Director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters at a press briefing in New York earlier today.“But there is no room for complacency,” Mr. Ging added. “The last mile is the hardest mile. We must stay the course.”Confirming the need for ongoing vigilance, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today a surge in new Ebola cases this past week, ending a series of declines the agency noted when it reported that the number of new cases in the three hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone recently fell below 100 for the first time in seven months.“While remarkable progress has been made, we must not forget that it only takes one new case to start a new outbreak,” stressed Mr. Ging.He also noted that as optimism among Ebola responders grows, a simultaneous shift towards recovery is also taking place with efforts focusing on sending children back to school and rebuilding the local economies that were gutted by the epidemic. Mr. Ging, who recently visited countries in the Ebola-affected region to assess existing emergency coordination structure, explained to journalists that emergency health workers had undertaken “heroic” efforts in educating communities and treating Ebola patients as “human as possible.” Above all, he said, they had been instrumental in broadcasting the mantra that “early detection, early treatment is the key to survival” despite the strident communication difficulties present in many of the West African countries. “If you get into detection centres early, survival rates can increase and they do,” he noted, in response to questions.In Guinea alone, communication remained a “big challenge” with only two per cent of the population owning a television. Moreover, community outreach had encountered much resistance with suspicion and fear breeding misperceptions and misinformation and fomenting, in some cases, acts of violence against the health workers. Nevertheless, Mr. Ging continued, communities remained mobilized with children returning to school and reclaiming their futures – a key to helping these countries “get back on their feet as soon as possible.” “This crisis has exposed weaknesses in the health services delivery for the populations in these countries,” he said, warning that Ebola would only be defeated if responders also confronted the issues that prompted the crisis. As a result, he urged donors to remain focused on combatting the disease and maintain “the resolve to stay the course, to eliminate the virus.” It is not a question of if West Africa will get to zero cases, but a question of when, Mr. Ging concluded. “The number of cases has been reduced dramatically,” he said. “It has brought a sense of hope for people in the region.” read more

Woman given erectile dysfunction cream for dry eye in prescription mixup

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. They are calling for GPs’ handwritten prescriptions to be written in block capital letters in future to avoid any similar confusion.In the article, the doctors wrote: “We wish to report an ocular chemical injury caused by inadvertent dispensing and administration of an erectile dysfunction cream (Vitaros) instead of an ocular lubricant (VitA-POS) to highlight this potential source of error.“It is unusual in this case that no individual, including the patient, general practitioner or dispensing pharmacist, questioned erectile dysfunction cream being dispensed to a female patient with ocular application instructions.“We would like to raise awareness that medications with similar spellings exist,” the report said.“We encourage prescribers to ensure that handwritten prescriptions are printed in block capital letters to avoid similar scenarios in the future.“We believe this to be an important issue to report to enhance awareness and promote safe prescribing skills.”The doctors noted that one in 20 prescriptions were estimated to be affected by a prescribing error.      Experts have said GPs must use block capitals when writing prescriptions after a woman was mistakenly given erectile dysfunction cream for a dry eye.The unnamed patient, from Glasgow, had to be treated in hospital after she was given the wrong medication due to a mix-up. She suffered with blurred vision, a swollen eyelid and redness and discomfort immediately after putting the cream into her eye.On attending the emergency department of a Glasgow hospital, the patient was found to have conjunctivitis and a defect on her cornea. However, the erectile dysfunction cream that was dispensed to her had a similar name, Vitaros, to the eye lubricant she was actually prescribed – VitA-POS.Eye doctors from Glasgow’s Tennent Institute of Ophthalmology, who treated the woman, have now written an article on the case in BMJ Case Reports, the medical journal.The woman responded well to treatment with topical antibiotics, steroids and lubricants. However, the clinicians noted that although the chemical injury to her eye was resolved within a few days, she continued to suffer pain in her eye.Following the incident, she required treatment with injections, eye drops and lubricants to help protect her.Dr Magdalena Edington, who wrote the case report, along with her colleagues Dr Julie Connolly and Dr David Lockington, said they wanted to highlight the need for greater care in issuing medicines. read more