Tuesday April 23, 2019

Ebola Treatment Center in Congo Resumes Operations after Attack

Aid workers have faced mistrust in some areas as they seek to contain the Ebola outbreak, which has become the most severe in Congo's history

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FILE - Burned structures are seen after attackers set fire to an Ebola treatment center run by Medecins Sans Frontieres in the district of Katwa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Feb. 25, 2019. VOA

An Ebola treatment center located at the epicenter of the current outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has resumed operations after it was attacked last month, the country’s health ministry said Saturday.

The center run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in the district of Katwa was set on fire Feb. 24 by unknown attackers, forcing staff to evacuate patients.

It reopened Saturday, the ministry said in a statement. “For now it is managed by the ministry in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF,” it said, referring to the U.N. children’s fund.

Aid workers have faced mistrust in some areas as they seek to contain the Ebola outbreak, which has become the most severe in Congo’s history. The WHO has said the distrust is fueled by false rumors about treatments and preference for traditional medicine.

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The International Rescue Committee (IRC), an aid group, cautioned that case numbers were on the rise. Pixabay

Another MSF center in Butembo was also attacked in late February but reopened a week later.

ALSO READ: Congo’s Escalating Ebola Epidemic Exceeds 1,000 Cases Making it World’s Second-Worst Outbreak

MSF has pulled out from the area since the two attacks and has not said when it might resume medical activities.

The current Ebola epidemic, first declared last August, is believed to have killed at least 561 people so far and infected over 300 more. (VOA)

Next Story

WHO Experts: Ebola Outbreak in Congo does not Constitute International Health Emergency

The recent spike in Ebola infections has seen the number of cases rise to 1206, including 764 deaths

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FILE - Health workers carry a newly admitted confirmed Ebola patient into a treatment center in Butembo in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, March 28, 2019. VOA

Experts meeting in emergency session at the World Health Organization agree the Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo does not constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

The experts say the Ebola outbreak does not pose a global threat since the deadly virus has not crossed any international borders. But they warn this is no time to sit back as the epidemic continues to spread. It says efforts to contain the disease must be redoubled.

The assessment follows a warning issued Friday by top Red Cross official Emanuele Capobianco who expressed concern about a possible regional spread of the Ebola virus after a recent spike in cases in the DRC.

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The International Rescue Committee (IRC), an aid group, cautioned that case numbers were on the rise. Pixabay

The recent spike in Ebola infections has seen the number of cases rise to 1206, including 764 deaths. The current upsurge has occurred in remaining epicenters of the disease in conflict-ridden North Kivu province, notably in Butembo, Katwa, Vuhove and Mandima.

The WHO says these areas have been off limits because of insecurity, seriously hindering the Ebola response. Because of the lack of access, Executive Director of WHO Health Emergency Program, Mike Ryan, says the WHO has fallen behind in starting vaccination rings.

“Vaccination is proving to be a highly effective way of stopping this virus. But if we cannot vaccinate people, we cannot protect them. We can also not get people out to Ebola treatment units. If someone stays in the community with Ebola and begins to have diarrhea or bleeding, they will infect their families. So, getting an Ebola patient to safe and effective treatment center is also very important,” Ryan said.

In the last few days, Ryan says aid workers have been able to get back into these Ebola-affected communities. He says they have been able to begin vaccinations and implement other crucial Ebola-control measures.

 

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FILE – Health workers are seen inside the “red zone” of an Ebola treatment center, which was attacked in the early hours of March 9, 2019, in Butembo. VOA

The current Ebola outbreak is the worst ever in DRC and the second largest recorded after the 2014 epidemic in West Africa, which killed more than 11,000 people.

The WHO expert committee recommends scaling up community dialogue and participation of traditional healers to lessen community mistrust and gain its acceptance.

ALSO READ: WHO Might Declare Congo’s Ebola Outbreak an International Health Emergency

Because of the high risk of regional spread, the committee advises neighboring countries to accelerate current preparedness and surveillance efforts.

The WHO is appealing to the international community to support its Ebola-control operation. It says it desperately needs $148 million to keep the operation running until July. It warns it will not be able to end the epidemic if it does not have the money to implement essential programs. (VOA)