WHO Expresses Concern Over Growing Ebola Outbreak in DR Congo

WHO Expresses Concern Over Growing Ebola Outbreak in DR Congo

The World Health Organization raised the alarm Thursday about a growing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It warned of an imminent shortage of funds to fight the deadly disease. The organization said that 56 cases had been reported in Equator Province, which is higher than the total number of cases recorded in the province’s last outbreak in 2018.

Efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic have complicated the response to the Ebola outbreak, according to Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa. The outbreak was declared on 1 June and there have been 56 cases, 53 of which are confirmed, surpassing the total number recorded during the province’s last Ebola outbreak, two years ago.

“Responding to Ebola amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is complex, but we must not let COVID-19 distract us from tackling other pressing health threats. The current Ebola outbreak is running into headwinds because cases are scattered across remote areas in dense rain forests. This makes for a costly response as ensuring that responders and supplies reach affected populations is extremely challenging”, said Dr Moeti.

This latest outbreak is the 11th for the DRC, which last month celebrated the end of Ebola in the restive eastern part of the country, following a nearly two-year battle. The disease killed 2,280 people, making it the world’s second-deadliest Ebola outbreak.

The current response builds on lessons learned from the DRC’s previous Ebola outbreaks, underscoring the importance of working with local communities. More than 12,000 people have been vaccinated in the six weeks since the outbreak began, with roughly 90 per cent of vaccinators coming from local areas.