Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Congo-Kinshasa: To Stop Ebola, Congo Targets Malaria in Outbreak Zone

Ebola outbreak kills 19 under one week in DR Congo DR Congo Ebola outbreak second largest in history: WHO
Becky Salazar | 02 December, 2018, 12:40

The worst Ebola outbreak in history came in 2014, when it killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa.

In October, WHO convened a meeting of global organisations, United Nations partners, countries at risk of Ebola, drug manufacturers and others to agree on a framework to continue trials in the next Ebola outbreak, whenever and wherever it occurs.

At least 245 people have died from the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo in recent weeks, the country's health ministry said Thursday, making it the second-deadliest outbreak of the disease in history.

Last month, the WHO heeded the recommendation of an expert advisory committee to not declare the Democratic Republic of the Congo's latest Ebola epidemic a public health emergency of worldwide concern - a proclamation that would have mobilized more resources and garnered global attention. "We hope to one day say that the death and suffering from Ebola is behind us".

A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a woman who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

However, violent attacks from rebel groups in the area are impeding the response. These young people include those who broke into a morgue last week stealing the body of a person who died of Ebola and bringing it back to the family.

"We remain hopeful that the security situation improves so we can return to the affected communities", Kathy Harben, a CDC spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Having started on August 1, it is the 10th outbreak in the country since the disease, which causes extreme fever, bleeding and diarrhoea, was first discovered there 42 years ago.

He added: 'Since their arrival in the region, the response teams have faced threats, physical assaults, repeated destruction of their equipment, and kidnapping.

'No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are now experiencing, ' said Dr Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the DRC's health minister.

Starting on Wednesday, health workers planned to go door-to-door for four days in the town of Beni, delivering mosquito nets and anti-malarial drugs to 450,000 people, said the WHO.

This is what happened in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, when people with malaria were filling Ebola treatment centres during the West African outbreak in 2014, he said.

The combination of rebel violence and pre-election unrest is creating a "perfect storm" for an even worse epidemic, he said.

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