Containing the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to face challenges, but the response has not been a failure, said the World Health Organization's (WHO) top official.
In a press conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc, not only gave an update about the outbreak, but addressed recent concerns about the response to the outbreak, particularly in light of Médecins Sans Frontières suspending medical activities following an attack on an Ebola treatment center.
The latest data from the WHO indicates there have been 927 Ebola cases and 584 deaths. However, Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the outbreak as "contracting," with now half as many cases being reported per week as were reported in January. In addition, he said, the outbreak has not spread to other parts of the DRC nor has it spread into neighboring countries. Four areas in the North Kivu province, including Beni and Mangina, have been cleared of the outbreak, and it has been contained in 11 out of 28 communities.
"We cannot say it is failing when the outbreak is contracting," Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "Leaving the area is not an option. Evacuation is not an option because we would be losers and lose what we've gained so far."
However, security remains the number one concern in this outbreak for both communities and responders, with constant threats from local armed groups, Allied Democratic Forces, and Mai-Mai. Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that their colleagues are also eager to continue their work, but they are asking for protection from armed groups.
"This is a challenge we have seen before. That part of the DRC is an area where there has been armed conflict for many decades," he added. "Armed groups in that region don't have any language except shooting at you. The only language they know is shooting."
Adhanom Ghebreyesus experienced some of that violence firsthand on his recent trip to the DRC with CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD. He described an attack on an Ebola treatment center in Butembo at 6 a.m. that killed a policeman and injured three workers. Five hours later, the center was reopened.
"I learned a lot from that incident. It gave me confidence that our responders and partners will finish this job, because I have witnessed myself that their dedication is really unparalleled," Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "They left bullet holes in the center, but they did not dampen the spirits of the health workers who work there."
The Ebola outbreak is currently concentrated in Butembo and Katwa, with Adhanom Ghebreyesus reporting that more than half of the new cases were in Katwa.
But the WHO and partners have maintained their ring vaccination and containment strategy to combat the outbreak. So far, more than 87,000 people have been vaccinated, including 27,000 healthcare workers, with 58,000 contacts registered. Over 400 patients have been treated with experimental therapeutics, the WHO reported.
Adhanom Ghebreyesus added that the community response has been positive, with more than 90% of people who were approached agreeing to be vaccinated, and 90% accepting follow-up visits. In addition, this community has been more accepting of burial teams than any other area, he said.
Still, when asked how long the outbreak might continue, Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the goal would be to "finish in the next 6 months." But he emphasized that the WHO and partner organizations will not leave when the outbreak is over, staying instead to help develop a stronger local health system for the community.
In the recently released strategic response plan, the WHO stressed a focus on community engagement and local capacity building. But to do that takes money, Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. While an estimated $148 million is needed for response efforts, the WHO currently has a funding gap of $60 million.
Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said that while he is not planning on convening the emergency committee because the outbreak is not a "global threat," they are following the situation daily and "will not hesitate to convene the committee again if needed."
2018 Kivu Ebola outbreak - Wikipedia
Overall, cases are occurring in localised hotspots within 16 health zones found in North Kivu and Ituri. It was not immediately clear if the visit at the facility, which is managed by the DRCs health ministry in collaboration with WHO and the United higher Costs With Inducing Labor at 39 Weeks? It039s Complicated Nations Childrens Fund, would still happen. It is now the largest outbreak that the DRC has ever seen with 341 probable and confirmed cases and the third largest Ebola outbreak in history. As of, there have been a total of 609 EVD cases1 (561 confirmed and 48 probable, Figure 2 including 370 deaths and 208 people having recovered. Figure 1: Confirmed and probable Ebola virus disease cases by health zone in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, Democratic Republic of the Congo, data as of (n609). Having an active outbreak of Ebola has become the new normal in peoples minds, and so there has been little concern guys, Can You Do 40 Push-Ups? Heart-Healthy Life May Be Yours or media coverage. Treatment for...
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