Cloudbeds Acquires Whistle, Moves to Solve Friction in Guest Journey

No. 1 PMS and No. 1 guest messaging platform join forces to integrate guest engagement solutions seamlessly into day-to-day lodging business operations

Cloudbeds Acquires Whistle

No. 1 PMS and No. 1 guest messaging platform join forces to integrate guest engagement solutions seamlessly into day-to-day lodging business operations

SAN DIEGO, June 27, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Cloudbeds, the hospitality management platform powering more reservations and happier guests for lodging businesses around the globe, announced today at HITEC 2022 the acquisition of the industry’s leading guest engagement solution, Whistle. Together, the companies will integrate their best-in-class technologies to remove friction points in the guest journey through a single platform.

“The term contactless is becoming far too synonymous with hospitality,” said Richard Castle, COO and Co-Founder of Cloudbeds. “We want more contact between lodging businesses and their guests to create purposeful touchpoints, answer questions and provide guidance through the entire guest journey. Research shows that engaged guests spend more, leave better reviews and the majority prefer to communicate via digital channels — Whistle makes it all possible. Whether it’s a booking engine chat or front desk text request, Whistle positions Cloudbeds customers to be a part of the guest journey from discovery to post-stay, removing barriers that might hinder a booking or positive review.”

Whistle leads the industry in guest engagement with unified communication tools, digitized arrival experiences and more. Current customers include major hospitality brands and hoteliers around the world, including Choice Hotels, Accor, IHG and Four Sisters Inns, among others. Founded in 2015, the company has been rated the no. 1 guest messaging software by Hotel Tech Report for five consecutive years.

Whistle will play an important role in the company’s vision for creating a fully frictionless solution that enables guests to engage with lodging businesses on their own terms. Simultaneously, it will give lodging businesses a unified platform to more efficiently manage points of contact throughout the entire guest journey.

“Our goal has always been to give lodging businesses a unique, easy-to-use solution that simplifies and streamlines the way they communicate,” said Christopher Hovanessian, CEO and Co-Founder of Whistle. “Cloudbeds has a clear vision for building a better, more frictionless hospitality experience via a unified platform. Together, we can make a greater impact on the industry that benefits not only the guest, but also the property staff and the lodging business itself.”

Following its Series D funding announcement in November, Cloudbeds has doubled down on its commitment to “more reservations, happier guests” with three acquisitions and the introduction of several new product offerings to address major pain points for both operators and guests. Driven by an aggressive product roadmap, the company has nearly tripled in size over the past year, with more solutions set to roll out in Q3 designed to help hoteliers grow their businesses.

For more information, visit cloudbeds.com/whistle.

Cloudbeds will share further details about the acquisition at HITEC 2022 in Orlando, during a press event at 1:30 p.m. ET in Booth # 1701 on Tuesday, June 28.

About Cloudbeds
Cloudbeds provides the platform that powers hospitality, driving streamlined operations, increasing reservations and revenue, and enabling memorable guest experiences for lodging businesses of all sizes and types across the globe. The award-winning Cloudbeds Hospitality Platform seamlessly combines solutions for front desk, revenue, distribution, guest acquisition, and guest engagement in a single unified system, enhanced by a marketplace of third-party integrations. Cloudbeds was named No. 1 PMS and No. 1 Hotel Management System by Hotel Tech Report in 2022 and recognized by Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 in 2021. For more information, visit www.cloudbeds.com.

Contact:
Angela Petersen
angela.petersen@cloudbeds.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at: https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/ea0d94df-2649-42d8-8e49-c59efe9665e5

 

Cloudbeds acquiert Whistle, et résout les problèmes de friction dans le parcours des clients

Le PMS n°1 et la plateforme de messagerie client n°1 unissent leurs forces pour intégrer de manière transparente les solutions d’engagement des clients dans les opérations quotidiennes de l’hébergement

Cloudbeds acquiert Whistle

Le PMS n°1 et la plateforme de messagerie client n°1 unissent leurs forces pour intégrer les solutions d’engagement client de manière transparente dans les opérations quotidiennes d’hébergement

SAN DIEGO, 27 juin 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Cloudbeds, la plateforme de gestion hôtelière qui alimente de plus en plus de réservations et de clients heureux pour les entreprises d’hébergement du monde entier, a annoncé aujourd’hui lors de l’HITEC 2022 l’acquisition de Whistle, le leader en solution d’engagement des clients du secteur. Ensemble, les entreprises intégreront leurs meilleures technologies pour éliminer les points de friction dans le parcours client à travers une plateforme unique.

« Le terme “sans contact” est de plus en plus synonyme d’hospitalité », a déclaré Richard Castle, directeur de l’exploitation et cofondateur de Cloudbeds. « Nous voulons davantage de contacts entre les entreprises d’hébergement et leurs clients pour créer des points de contact utiles, répondre aux questions et fournir des conseils tout au long du parcours client. Les recherches indiquent que les clients engagés dépensent plus, laissent de meilleurs commentaires et la majorité préfère communiquer via les canaux numériques : Whistle rend tout cela possible. Qu’il s’agisse d’une discussion sur le moteur de réservation ou d’une commande par message, Whistle positionne les clients de Cloudbeds pour qu’ils fassent partie du parcours du client, de la découverte à l’après-séjour, supprimant les obstacles qui pourraient entraver une réservation ou un avis positif. »

Whistle est le leader du secteur en matière d’engagement des clients avec des outils de communication unifiés, des expériences d’arrivée numérisées et plus encore. Les clients actuels comprennent de grandes marques hôtelières et des hôteliers du monde entier, notamment Choice Hotels, Accor, IHG et Four Sisters Inns, entre autres. Fondée en 2015, la société a été classée « logiciel de messagerie client n°1 » par Hotel Tech Report pendant cinq années consécutives.

Whistle jouera un rôle important dans la vision de la société pour créer une solution totalement sans friction qui permet aux clients de s’engager avec les entreprises d’hébergement à leurs propres conditions. En même temps, cela permettra aux entreprises d’hébergement d’accéder à une plateforme unifiée pour gérer plus efficacement les points de contact tout au long du parcours client.

« Notre objectif a toujours été de fournir aux entreprises d’hébergement une solution unique et facile à utiliser qui simplifie et rationalise leur façon de communiquer », a déclaré Christopher Hovanessian, PDG et cofondateur de Whistle. « Cloudbeds a une vision claire pour construire une meilleure expérience hôtelière sans heurts via une plateforme unifiée. Ensemble, nous pouvons avoir un impact plus important sur l’industrie qui profite non seulement au client, mais aussi au personnel de l’établissement et à l’entreprise d’hébergement elle-même. »

Suite à l’annonce de son financement de série D en novembre, Cloudbeds a doublé son engagement à « davantage de réservations, des clients plus heureux » avec trois acquisitions et l’introduction de plusieurs nouvelles offres de produits visant à résoudre les principaux problèmes des opérateurs et des clients. Axée sur une feuille de route de produits agressive, la société a presque triplé en taille au cours de l’année écoulée, avec davantage de solutions devant être déployées au troisième trimestre, conçues pour aider les hôteliers à développer leurs activités.

Pour tout complément d’information, veuillez vous rendre sur le site cloudbeds.com/whistle.

Cloudbeds partagera de plus amples détails sur l’acquisition à l’HITEC 2022 à Orlando, lors d’une conférence de presse à 13 h 30 HE au stand n° 1701 le mardi 28 juin.

À propos de Cloudbeds
Cloudbeds fournit la plateforme qui alimente l’hôtellerie, stimulant des opérations rationalisées, augmentant les réservations et les revenus et permettant des expériences clients mémorables pour les entreprises d’hébergement de toutes tailles et de tous types à travers le monde. La plateforme primée d’hôtellerie Cloudbeds combine de manière transparente des solutions pour la réception, les revenus, la distribution, l’acquisition d’invités et l’engagement des clients dans un seul système unifié, amélioré par une place de marché d’intégrations tierces. Cloudbeds a été nommée n° 1 PMS et n°1 des systèmes de gestion hôtelière par Hotel Tech Report en 2022 et reconnue par Technology Fast 500 de Deloitte en 2021. Pour tout complément d’information, veuillez vous rendre sur le site www.cloudbeds.com.

Contact :
Angela Petersen
angela.petersen@cloudbeds.com

Une photo accompagnant ce communiqué de presse est disponible à l’adresse : https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/ea0d94df-2649-42d8-8e49-c59efe9665e5

Cloudbeds Adquire Whistle para Remover Pontos de Atrito da Jornada do Hóspede

A plataforma de mensagens de hóspedes nº 1 e a PMS nº 1 unem forças para integrar perfeitamente as soluções de engajamento dos hóspedes nas operações comerciais diárias de hospedagem

Cloudbeds Adquire Whistle

A plataforma de mensagens de hóspedes nº 1 e a PMS nº 1 unem forças para integrar perfeitamente as soluções de engajamento dos hóspedes nas operações comerciais diárias de hospedagem

SAN DIEGO, June 27, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A Cloudbeds, a plataforma de gerenciamento de hospitalidade que viabiliza um maior número de reservas e de hóspedes mais satisfeitos para empresas de hospedagens de todo o mundo, anunciou hoje na HITEC 2022 a aquisição da principal solução de engajamento de hóspedes do setor, a Whistle. Juntas, as empresas integrarão suas melhores tecnologias em uma única plataforma para remover pontos de atrito da jornada dos hóspedes.

“O termo sem contato está se tornando um sinônimo de hospitalidade”, disse Richard Castle, COO e Cofundador da Cloudbeds. “Queremos mais contato entre as empresas de hospedagem e seus hóspedes para que possamos criar pontos de contato propositais, responder perguntas e fornecer orientação durante toda a jornada do hóspede. As pesquisas indicam que hóspedes engajados gastam mais, elogiam mais, com a maioria preferindo se comunicar através de canais digitais. A Whistle possibilita isso tudo. Seja um bate-papo durante a reserva ou solicitação de texto da recepção, a Whistle viabiliza que os clientes da Cloudbeds façam parte da jornada dos hóspedes, desde à descoberta até à estadia, removendo barreiras que podem dificultar uma reserva ou avaliação positiva.”

A Whistle lidera a indústria de engajamento dos hóspedes com suas ferramentas de comunicação unificadas, experiências de chegada digitalizadas e muito mais. Seus clientes incluem grandes marcas de hospitalidade e hoteleiros de todo o mundo, incluindo Choice Hotels, Accor, IHG e Four Sisters Inns, entre outros. Fundada em 2015, a empresa é classificada como o software número 1 de mensagens para hóspedes pela Hotel Tech Report há cinco anos consecutivos.

A Whistle terá um papel importante na visão da empresa de criação de uma solução totalmente sem atrito que permita que os hóspedes se envolvam com as empresas de hospedagem como queiram. Por outro lado, ela irá proporcionar para as empresas de hospedagem uma plataforma unificada para um gerenciamento mais eficiente dos pontos de contato durante toda a jornada do hóspede.

“Nosso objetivo sempre foi oferecer para as empresas de hospedagem uma solução única e fácil de usar que simplifique e agilize as comunicações”, disse Christopher Hovanessian, CEO e cofundador da Whistle. “A Cloudbeds tem uma visão clara da construção de uma experiência de hospitalidade melhor e sem atrito por meio de uma plataforma unificada. Juntos, podemos ter um impacto maior em uma indústria que beneficia o hóspede e também a equipe da propriedade e a própria empresa de hospedagem.”

Após ou anúncio do financiamento da Série D em novembro, a Cloudbeds reafirmou seu compromisso de proporcionar “mais reservas e hóspedes mais satisfeitos” com três aquisições e a introdução de várias novas ofertas de produtos para abordar os principais pontos problemáticos para os operadores e hóspedes. Impulsionada por um planejamento de produtos competitivos, a empresa quase triplicou de tamanho no ano passado. Mais soluções projetadas para ajudar os hoteleiros a ampliar seus negócios devem ser implementadas no terceiro trimestre.

Para mais informação, visite cloudbeds.com/whistle.

Cloudbeds irá fornecer mais detalhes sobre a aquisição na HITEC 2022 em Orlando, durante uma coletiva com a imprensa às 13h30 ET no estande # 1701 na terça-feira, 28 de junho.

Sobre a Cloudbeds
A Cloudbeds fornece a plataforma que capacita a hospitalidade com operações simplificadas, aumentando o número de reservas e a receita, e proporcionando experiências memoráveis para os hóspedes de empresas de hospedagens de todos os tamanhos e tipos em todo o mundo. A premiada Cloudbeds Hospitality Platform combina integralmente as soluções para recepção, receita, distribuição, aquisição de hóspedes e envolvimento de hóspedes em um único sistema unificado, aprimorado por um mercado de integrações de terceiros. A Cloudbeds foi escolhida a PMS Nº 1 e o Sistema de Gestão Hoteleira Nº 1 pela Hotel Tech Report em 2022 e incluída na Technology Fast 500 da Deloitte em 2021. Para mais informação, visite www.cloudbeds.com.

Contato:
Angela Petersen
angela.petersen@cloudbeds.com

Foto deste comunicado disponível em: https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/ea0d94df-2649-42d8-8e49-c59efe9665e5/pt

Le G20 ambitieux sur le plan de déploiement du fonds contre les pandémies cette année

YOGYAKARTA, Indonésie27 juin 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Les ministres des Finances et de la Santé des 20 plus grandes économies du monde conviennent d’établir un fonds pandémique révolutionnaire pour aider le monde à mieux prévenir, se préparer et répondre aux futures pandémies.

Indonesian Health Minister gave remarks at the 1st G20 JFHMM

Le ministre indonésien de la Santé, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, et le ministre des Finances, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, ont coprésidé la 1ère réunion conjointe des ministres des Finances et de la Santé du G20 (JFHMM), au cours de laquelle les États membres du G20 ont convenu de la création d’un Fonds intermédiaire financier (FIF) pour la préparation, la prévention et la réponse aux pandémies (PPR), sous la tutelle de la Banque mondiale et les conseils techniques de l’OMS.

« Je suis heureux d’annoncer qu’un engagement de plus de 1,1 milliard de dollars a été obtenu pour le Fonds intermédiaire financier pour la PPR pandémique. » a déclaré le ministre Mulyani. L’Indonésie s’engage à contribuer à hauteur de 50 millions de dollars, Singapour à hauteur de 10 millions de dollars, les États-Unis à hauteur de 450 millions de dollars, l’Union européenne à hauteur de 450 millions de dollars, l’Allemagne à hauteur de 50 millions d’euros (52,7 millions de dollars) et Wellcome Trust à hauteur de 10 millions de livres (12,3 millions de dollars). Les États membres du G20 ont également souligné que le fonds serait inclusif par nature et permettrait aux pays à revenu moyen et faible d’y avoir accès.

La conclusion du JFHMM sera également discutée lors de la prochaine réunion des ministres des Finances et des gouverneurs des banques centrales (FMCBG) le mois prochain et fera l’objet d’un suivi lors de la prochaine réunion du groupe de travail conjoint Finances-Santé (JFHTF).

Le ministre indonésien de la santé, M. Budi, a souligné que le JFHTF du G20 a progressé dans la discussion de l’idée de la création d’un FIF qui a été introduite pour la première fois pendant la présidence italienne du G20 en 2021. « Je suis convaincu que nous obtiendrons des résultats concrets d’ici octobre, ce qui inclut l’établissement de la FIF et la collaboration avec la plateforme de coordination », a déclaré le ministre Budi.

Les deux réunions ont également convenu de la vérification universelle des certificats de vaccination COVID-19, des protocoles sanitaires pour faciliter la mobilité mondiale, et de l’expansion du Centre mondial de fabrication et de recherche pour la PPR, en particulier la production de vaccins, de produits thérapeutiques et de diagnostics devant avoir lieu dans les pays en développement.

Le directeur général de l’OMS, le Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, la Banque mondiale, GAVI, CEPI, le Fonds mondial et la Fondation Bill et Melinda Gates ont assisté à la réunion. Le Dr Tedros a déclaré que la FIF doit également être cohérente avec les autres initiatives mondiales en matière de santé. « Cette plateforme doit s’appuyer sur l’expérience de l’ACT Accelerator, du cadre de lutte contre la grippe pandémique et d’autres mécanismes. Il s’agit d’un axe important du volet santé du G20 sous la direction du ministre Budi », a-t-il déclaré.

Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/1846835/SLW00832.jpg

NASA Completes Historic Rocket Launch in Outback Australia

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has successfully completed its first rocket launch from a commercial space facility outside of the United States. A 13-meter rocket blasted off Monday from a site in the Australian outback.

A 13-meter sub-orbital rocket took off from the newly built Arnhem Space Centre in Australia’s Northern Territory Monday. Lift-off was delayed by about two hours because of strong winds and heavy rain.

The launch was the first of its kind in Australia in more than 25 years and the first of three scheduled NASA missions from the site.

Researchers hope the information gathered from the flights will help them understand how light from a star could affect the habitability of nearby planets. They have said that this type of study can only be carried out in the Southern Hemisphere.

The unmanned flight briefly scanned the Milky Way, measuring X-Ray emissions and analyzing the structure of stars.

Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist at the Australian National University, told Australian television that the launch is part of a project to boost the domestic space industry.

“When you build a satellite you have to go overseas to do it and so the fact that we are now seeing this build-up of launching from Australia this is, kind of, that final piece of the puzzle to having, you know, a really massive industry in this sector of space and then we see that that, kind of, the first group that says, yes, we want to do it, we want to be a part of the story is Nasa, you know, it just, kind of, gives the street cred[ibility] so to speak that you are on the right track from what you are thinking,” he said.

The Arnhem Space Center is the world’s only commercially owned equatorial launch facility.

The center is built on Aboriginal land. Tribal elders hope the project will provide jobs and opportunities for young First Nations people.

Officials said the center combines one of the “oldest cultures in the world with some of the most advanced technology ever.”

The next NASA rocket will be launched in the Northern Territory on July 4, and the third will take off on July 12.

About 75 NASA staff have travelled to northern Australia for all three launches.

Australia is working to increase its capabilities in space. This year, it announced a new defense agency that would work to counter China and Russia’s ambitions in space. Along with the United States, the two countries are reported to have tested weapons that could destroy a satellite.

The Australian Space Agency was created in July 2018 to “support the growth and transformation” of the nation’s space industry.”

Source: Voice of America

Court Revives Block of Vaccine Mandate for Federal Workers

In a reversal for President Joe Biden, a federal appeals court in New Orleans on Monday agreed to reconsider its own April ruling that allowed the administration to require federal employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The new order from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans vacates an earlier ruling by a three-judge panel that upheld the mandate. The new order means a block on the mandate imposed in January by a Texas-based federal judge remains in effect, while the full court’s 17 judges take up the appeal.

Biden had issued an order Sept. 9 requiring that more than 3.5 million federal executive branch workers undergo vaccination, with no option to get regularly tested instead, unless they secured approved medical or religious exemptions.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown, who was appointed to the District Court for the Southern District of Texas by then-President Donald Trump, issued a nationwide injunction against the requirement in January. At the time, the White House said 98% of federal workers were already vaccinated.

Brown’s ruling was followed by back-and-forth rulings at the 5th Circuit.

In February, a 5th Circuit panel refused to block Brown’s ruling pending appeal.

But after hearing arguments in March, a different panel ruled 2-1 that Brown did not have jurisdiction in the case. The panel said those challenging the requirement could have pursued administrative remedies under Civil Service law. Although the ruling was issued in April, it was not to officially take effect until May 31.

Judges Carl Stewart and James Dennis, who were nominated to the 5th Circuit by Democratic President Bill Clinton, were in the majority. Judge Rhesa Barksdale, a senior judge nominated by Republican President George H.W. Bush, dissented, saying the relief the challengers sought does not fall under the Civil Service Reform Act cited by the administration.

Barksdale is a senior judge, meaning he has a reduced case load and is no longer on active status at the court. Because he was part of the ruling panel, he can participate in the reconsideration with the active judges. Of the 17 judges currently listed as active judges at the 5th Circuit, 12 are appointees of Republican presidents, including six nominated to the court by Trump.

When the case was argued before the three-judge 5th Circuit panel in March, administration lawyers had noted that district judges in a dozen jurisdictions had rejected a challenge to the vaccine requirement for federal workers before Brown ruled.

The administration argued the Constitution gives the president, as the head of the federal workforce, the same authority as the CEO of a private corporation to require that employees be vaccinated.

Source: Voice of America

Zimbabwe updates National Cancer Control Plan to mitigate the increase of cases in the country

Mazowe, Zimbabwe – Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020. Between 2009 and 2018 cancer cases in Zimbabwe have almost doubled according to the national cancer registry. This has been due to factors such as behavioral risk factors for cancer, poor access to early diagnosis treatment and palliative care. To address the increase in cases, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), with technical and financial support from World Health Organization (WHO) Zimbabwe and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), convened a workshop to update the country’s National Cancer Control Plan (NCCCP) which was valid from 2014-2018. The workshop was conducted from 6 to 10 June 2022 with key experts from cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care; including palliative care, participating at the workshop. As well as key cancer stakeholders namely, Cancer Association of Zimbabwe (CAZ), Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Zimbabwe (HOSPAZ).

The workshop came at a time when Zimbabwe has had two previous NCCP with the most recent one ending in 2018. Furthermore, the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) has been implementing several strategies covering cancer prevention, early diagnosis; including screening, treatment and care, to address the rising cancer burden. Such strategies include the introduction of Human papillomavirus vaccination against cervical cancer. The country also has a cervical cancer screening program that ensures early detection and treatment of cervical precancer as well as treatment for early cancer. Moreover, GoZ has trained specialists in oncology, oncology nurses and radio oncologists at the government central hospital in Harare. The GoZ has also ensured that the needed human resource capacity for treatment and care of cancer are available in the public hospital. Furthermore, the National Pharmaceutical Company, which procures drugs for the country, has been capacitated to ensure that critical drugs are available and accessible.

The objective of the one-week workshop was to review and finalize the draft NCCP which covers the time 2022 – 2026. The process for the development of this NCCP began with the broad stakeholder meeting held in Bulawayo, November 2021. During this stakeholder meeting, priorities for the new NCCP 2022-2026 were identified and developed. A technical team was subsequently appointed by the MoHCC to develop a draft of the NCCP.

The draft NCCP is aligned to the Zimbabwe’s National Health Strategy (NHS) 2020-2025. The draft NCCP recommends priority interventions across seven pillars including; Cancer control governance, policy and planning; prevention; Screening and Early Diagnosis; diagnosis; treatment; palliative Care, Rehabilitation and Survivorship; and; Cancer surveillance and research.

In his remarks, Dr Munyaradzi Dobbie, MoHCC, Chief Director Public Health Services, noted “The NCCP will be our guiding document for the mitigation of cancer a major challenge in the health care delivery system. It will help us ensures resources available are maximized as well as mobilize different sectors of society toward a common goal on reduction of cancer burden. Without this NCCP plan, we won’t be able to do that.”

Key stakeholders also expressed their appreciation at the governments renewed commitment to tackle the growing burden of cancer in Zimbabwe. IAEA, Program Officer, Marianna Nobile, affirmed that the support provided by the IAEA jointly with WHO is aimed at promoting the safe, peaceful, and secure application of nuclear science and technology to address major sustainable development priorities. “The IAEA stands ready to continue assisting Zimbabwe in improving its nuclear and radiation medicine capacities.”

At the end of the workshop, a final draft of the NCCP 2022- 2026 was developed and agreed upon by the technical experts and stakeholders. This document will be shared with the MoHCC for validation and further review to ensure coherence with NHS 2022-2025. Once the validation process is completed, the NCCP 2022- 2026 will be costed with technical support from WHO. The costed NCCP will then be officially launched following which it becomes the guiding document for cancer prevention and control in Zimbabwe for the next five year.

The workshop was funded though the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer (GICC); a collaboration of WHO and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Zimbabwe is one of the focus countries for the initiative.

Following the workshop in Mazowe, the WHO and IAEA team paid a courtesy visit to the Permanent Secretary (PS) for MoHCC, Dr Jasper Chimedza who reaffirmed GoZ commitment to address the cancer burden. “We appreciate WHO’s support and endorse the implementation the costed NCCP once finalized, “noted Dr Chimedza.

Source: World Health Organization. Africa

Congo applies COVID-19 genomic sequencing skills to other diseases

Brazzaville – Two years after the start of the pandemic, the Republic of Congo has begun to apply the genomic sequencing capacities developed in the fight against COVID-19 to other pathogens, including those responsible for malaria, tuberculosis or diarrhoeal diseases in young children.

“Thanks to genomic sequencing, the authorities are informed almost immediately of the circulation of variants of COVID-19 in the country,” explains Professor Francine Ntoumi, president of the Congolese Foundation for Medical Research (FCRM), based in the capital, Brazzaville. “Now we want to use these sequencing capabilities to monitor other pathologies.”

FCRM has already established a sequencing protocol to describe the genes in staphylococcus responsible for the bacteria’s resistance to antibiotics, which will make it possible to better treat patients.

“We should have a sufficiently significant sampling by the end of the year,” enthuses Dr Armel Btachi Boyou, a researcher at FCRM and at the Albert Leyono municipal clinic, the centre specializing in the management of serious COVID-19 cases in Brazzaville. “We will then be able to adapt the treatments in order to circumvent this resistance.”

A similar approach will be applied to a battery of parasites responsible for widespread diseases in Congo.

“The development of genomic sequencing in the Congo has highlighted the importance of research, and of having molecular biology laboratories and trained personnel, to effectively fight against diseases,” underlines Professor Ntoumi.

The country now produces its own genomic sequences of the virus that causes COVID-19, circumventing the long, expensive process of sending the samples abroad.

“Best of all, we are now getting more accurate results corresponding to the exact situation in the country. We can thus describe the situation at home, without extrapolating from what is happening elsewhere,” adds Professor Ntoumi.

As the only organization with sequencing capabilities in the Republic of Congo, the FCRM quadrupled its daily sequencing capacity between 2020 and 2022, from 24 to 96 genomic sequences per day. A collaboration with the German Embassy enabled the Foundation to bring its equipment up to standard, to acquire reagents necessary for genomic sequencing and, to send two of its seven employees on a three-month training course in the University of Tübingen. Having trained personnel allowed for optimal use of the equipment on hand.

The FCRM is also implementing a project, supported by World Health Organization (WHO), to strengthen national capacities around clinical trials, with the aim of preparing the ground to introduce new treatments against COVID -19. In a similar vein, Congo’s National Public Health Laboratory is anticipating support from the World Bank to develop its own genomic sequencing capacities.

“Strengthening genomic sequencing capacities contributes to the empowerment of the country, in terms of disease surveillance and patient care – and therefore to the fight against epidemics,” says Dr Lucien Manga, WHO Representative in Congo.

During the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the information provided by genomic sequencing helped policy makers to understand the circulation of variants in the country, to adapt response measures according to their contagiousness, and to anticipate waves of infections.

“By making it possible to know which variants are in circulation, sequencing allows for a precise response and for optimizing use of resources, which is essential for countries where those resources are limited,” confirms Dr Gilbert Ndziessi, technical coordinator of the National COVID-19 Response Committee. “When the Delta variant, which was more lethal than the others, was detected in Congo, we were able to direct our response activities towards hospitals for optimal patient care. With the Omicron variant, we focused on community outreach instead.”

The country’s genomic sequencing capabilities are still in early stages of development. Reagents needed to sequence samples, for instance, may not always be available. Nonetheless, researchers are optimistic.

“It’s true that our sequencing capacities remain limited, but they are significant enough to know which variants are circulating and which are the majority in the country,” says Dr Boyou, who was among those trained in Germany. “It has allowed us to adapt the treatment of patients, as not all variants cause the same symptoms or have the same virulence.”

Source: World Health Organization. Africa