Friday April 19, 2019

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

Capobianco cited Congolese health ministry statistics announced on Thursday showing 40 new cases over two days this week

0
//
congo, ebola
FILE - Health workers carry a newly admitted confirmed Ebola patient into a treatment centre in Butembo in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, March 28, 2019. VOA

A top Red Cross official says he’s “more concerned than I have ever been” about the possible regional spread of the Ebola virus in Congo after a recent spike in cases.

Emanuele Capobianco spoke by phone ahead of a key World Health Organization meeting in Geneva later Friday about whether to declare the Ebola outbreak in northeastern Congo an international health emergency.

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

Capobianco, head of health and care at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, cited Congolese health ministry statistics announced on Thursday showing 40 new cases over two days this week.

ALSO READ: Car Pollution: The Cause of Asthma Among Over 350,000 Children in India

He called that rate unprecedented in the current eight-month outbreak.

He cites lack of trust about Ebola treatment in the community and insecurity caused by rebel groups that has hurt aid efforts. (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

0
ebola
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.

ebola, congo
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.

 

ebola, congo
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)