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Progress Has Been Made in Containing Ebola in Congo: WHO

Some people are reluctant to go to treatment centers for care. Others are unwilling to change traditional burial practices.

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Health workers walk with a boy suspected of having been infected with the Ebola virus, at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, near Congo's border with Uganda. VOA
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The World Health Organization (WHO) reports substantial progress is being made in containing the spread of the Ebola virus in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It warns, however, that new hotspots are appearing. The WHO says the number of confirmed and probable cases of Ebola in the DRC stands at 143, including 97 deaths.

WHO officials say they are pleased with the progress being made in limiting the spread of the Ebola virus, but that the outbreak of this fatal disease in Congo’s conflict-ridden North Kivu and Ituri provinces remains active and vigilance must be maintained.

Ebola, WHO
Congolese health workers register people and take their temperatures before they are vaccinated against Ebola in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

WHO reports the situation in Mangina, the initial epicenter of the epidemic in North Kivu, is stabilizing. WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told VOA there are no security problems there, so health workers are able to safely access the area and treat those affected by the disease. But there are exceptions.

“Immediately to the east is an inaccessible area. This region is in a security level four, which is one of the highest in the U.N. security phasing system. For example, the road from Beni to Oicha is in the ‘red zone’… So, in some places, we are really able to move to work. In some other places, it is more difficult,” she said.

Ebola, WHO
A health care worker from the World Health Organization, left, gives an Ebola vaccination to a front line aid worker who will then vaccinate people who might potentially have the virus, in Mbandaka, Congo. VOA

Chaib said the cities of Beni and Butembo have become the new hotspots, noting that Butembo is in the red zone.

The WHO spokeswoman said there is significant risk that Ebola could spread there, and health workers have to remain on top of the many challenges facing them.

Ebola Congo, WHO
A Congolese health worker checks the temperature of a man before the launch of vaccination campaign against the deadly Ebola virus near Mangina village, near the town of Beni in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

Among the challenges is a growing resistance in some communities to measures used to contain the virus.

Also Read: Lowering The Community Resistance To Ebola is Extremely Important: UNICEF

For example, Chaib said, some people are reluctant to go to treatment centers for care. Others are unwilling to change traditional burial practices, such as touching the bodies of those who have died from Ebola. WHO warns this is one of the surest ways of spreading the infection. The outbreak in the DRC is the 10th since Ebola was first identified in 1976. (VOA)

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Road Traffic Accidents Cause 1.35 Mn Deaths Each Year: WHO

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

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Traffic Crashes, Road Traffic
Two bikes were involved in an accident with a bus that crashed and turned on its roof near the town of Franschhoek, South Africa, March 7, 2015. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for urgent action to put a brake on road traffic crashes that kill 1.35 million people every year, mostly in poor developing countries.

In Geneva, the U.N. agency launched its global status report on road safety 2018.

The report found road traffic injuries to be the leading killer of children and young people aged five to 29 years, with a death occurring every 24 seconds. The report said more than half of those killed are pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders and passengers.

Etienne Krug, head of the U.N. Agency’s Department on Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, called these deaths a huge inequality issue.

Traffic Signals, Road Traffic
Traffic and congestion on roads is frequent in all cities of India. Wikimedia

“Low-income countries have one percent of the vehicles in the world and 13 percent of all the deaths; while high-income countries have 40 percent of all the vehicles,” Krug said. “So, that is 40 times more, but only seven percent of the deaths.That is half of the deaths with 40 times more vehicles.”

The report said death rates are highest in Africa and lowest in Europe. Some of the key risk factors include speeding, drinking and driving, and failure to use seat belts, motorcycle helmets and child restraints.

Krug said putting the right measures in place will save lives. These include the right legislation and enforcement, creating special lanes for cyclists and improving the quality of vehicles.

Road accidents in India
Road accidents in India. Pixabay

“It is not acceptable that vehicles are being sold in developing countries that look the same as the vehicles that we see here in Switzerland or the U.S. or anywhere else, but that are not,” Krug told VOA. “Because to make them cheaper, they have been stripped of all of their safety features, such as air bags or electronic stability control, etc.”

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

Also Read: HIV Epidemic Spreading Rapidly in Pakistan: WHO

However, it said no such progress has been made in low-income countries where safety measures are lacking. (VOA)