Ebola: WHO permits use of unapproved drugs to fight disease

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has given the green light for the use of ‘unregistered interventions’ to fight the deadly Ebola disease.

WHO came to the decision after a consultative meeting Monday with experts from across the world on whether it was ethical for such unapproved drugs to be introduced to fight the disease that has gained global attention.

WHO said due to the particular circumstances of the latest outbreak of the disease, if certain conditions are met, it would be ethical to use drugs although their efficacy are yet to be clearly established to “save lives and curb the epidemic.”

However, WHO emphasized in a statement Tuesday that “ethical criteria must guide the provision of such interventions. These include transparency about all aspects of care, informed consent, freedom of choice, confidentiality, respect for the person, preservation of dignity and involvement of the community.”

There was demand for some of these unregistered interventions, especially within the West African sub-region after American doctors, Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, were saved by experimental drug ZMapp. The two doctors contracted the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia.

Until then the treatment had never been tried before on humans.

Speaking Newsnight on Joy FM Tuesday, WHO Ghana Representative, Dr Magda Robalo, explained that the global health institution would still need to “prioritise the use of such unregistered sedatives”, adding there is a need to draw a framework regarding criteria for deploying such experimenal drugs among countries and individuals to ensure fairness across board.

“WHO has made public the list of participants of the meeting and has clearly indicated their declaration of interests so that we know who is associated or not with pharmaceutical companies”, Madam Robalo said to debunk speculations the latest decision would favour pharmaceutical companies who could use the decision to test unregistered drugs on humans.

“At this point in time I think it is premature for us to start speculating that this is being pushed by some pharmaceutical companies”, she stressed.

Already, the Liberian government is set to receive sample doses of ZMapp to treat doctors who have contracted the deadly virus, according to a CNN report.

Liberria is among the worst hit countries in West Africa.

The delivery of ZMapp to Liberia follows a request made on Friday by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to President Barack Obama.

The Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever that affects multiple organ systems in the body, and can kill up to 90% of those infected.

Early symptoms include weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. They later progress to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function — and sometimes internal and external bleeding.

Ebola spreads through contact with organs and bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, urine and other secretions of infected people.

Click on attached audio to listen to Dr Robalo Story by Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | George Nyavor | [email protected]

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