Ebola cases have been flooding in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reigning since its outbreak. Government figures revealed that the numbers of people who have died from the Ebola outbreak with just recent one, claimed over 2,000 lives, most especially in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many were alleged to have been burgled with the disease from affected persons- through their bodily fluids (broken skin, or the mouth and nose, with the blood, vomit, feces, or any other bodily fluids) and it progresses to vomiting, diarrhea, and both internal and external bleeding. Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure.
Just recently, a Congolese girl of 9 years old was tested positive for Ebola in neighbouring Uganda and within a “blink” of time, later died. The young girl who was en route with her mother was detected at a border screening as a positive Ebola patient. However, she later died after transferring to an Ebola treatment unity for medication. There have been cases of cross-border at instance Ebola patients from DR Congo. In June, a family of Congolese with some sick family members crossed into Uganda through a bush path and two of them later died of Ebola, and the others were transferred back to Congo.
Statistic from World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that there have been 10 Outbreaks since 1976. According to the Ministry of Health, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and an overview by WHO – the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been grappling with the world’s second-largest Ebola epidemic on record, with more than 1,900 lives lost and 2,900 confirmed infections since the outbreak was declared on 1 August 2018. As of now, as reported, the outbreak is occurring in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri provinces with a total of 3004 cases (2899 confirmed & 105 probable), including 2006 deaths, 902 survivors, though there are still patients under care. The situation as revealed is ongoing amidst a complex crisis because almost six weeks, an average of 81 cases have been reported per week.
The WHO confessed that despite rigorous attention, the situation appears to be one of the world’s “most complex humanitarian crises” as the outbreak in eastern Congo hasn’t shown signs of slowing down despite new treatments and vaccines given to more than 200,000 people. Neighbouring countries are also taking steps to mitigate the risk of spread. The World Health Organization has more than 650 staff on the ground supporting the Government-led response together with national and international partners. Uganda has been reported to maintain largely successful screening centers along its border with DR Congo in an effort to stop the outbreak crossing the frontier.
Insecurity and Public Distrust
Insecurity and peoples’ suspicions of treatment in DR Congo, the eastern part to be specific, have been hindering some series of efforts. Almost 200 heath facilities have undergone attacks this year, making vaccination and treatment to be disrupted. In one incident, heath workers were assaulted by family members for surveying the burial of a member of the said family. It has been difficult getting the spread of the virus under control despite the fact that health authorities, working with NGOs, have been vaccinating health workers and people who have been in contact with suspected Ebola cases. This current outbreak in eastern DR Congo began in August last year and has been termed the biggest of 10 to hit the country since 1976 when the virus was first discovered.
Recall that on 17th July 2019, the Director-General of the World Health Organization declared the current Ebola outbreak in the DR Congo a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under the International Health Regulations. However, Heather Kerr, the Director of Save the Childrens Country in DR Congo, expressed his sadness as the current outbreak seems non-stopping, taking children’s lives and tearing families apart and communities, said:
“We were extremely saddened to learn that the Ebola outbreak in the DRC has claimed 2000 lives. This has been a particularly deadly outbreak, with a mortality rate of 67%, far higher than the 55% average case fatality rate for Ebola. The youngest is the hardest hit well over 500 children have died, many more have lost at least one of their parents or can no longer go to school because schools are closed, or they have to work to make ends meet.”
The Director claims that there is a real risk the epidemic will continue for at least another year with the real possibility of a regional impact, reiterating that as the death toll mounts, Save the Children is working tirelessly with partners and the government to prepare communities to avoid new cases and respond quickly when a suspected case is found.
“We’re training health workers and supporting existing health facilities to identify and isolate Ebola cases. We’re also making sure children and their families have the right information about Ebola, as we know that misinformation is one of the main barriers to effectively treating this illness. Our teams are working within communities, to help people understand how to protect themselves and ensure people who feel unwell seek medical treatment immediately.
We dont want to keep counting deaths. The international community must release new funds to help prevent the virus from spreading further in the region and causing more casualties. We must continue to work with communities to unlock the key to ending this epidemic. The Government of DRC must also ensure there are sufficient doses of the Merck vaccine to last for at least one more year and increase the number of vaccines authorized to counter the Ebola outbreak.”
The Director of Save the Children also calls on the Government of DR Congo to ensure that throughout this crisis, children’s education is not disrupted, making sure that schools are not closed due to the Ebola outbreak, and that quality emergency education is accessible to children.
However, like the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is termed as Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus unveiled that their commitment to the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is that they will work alongside them to stop the Ebola outbreak.
“Our commitment also means strengthening the health systems to give them all the other things they need. Building strong systems is what will protect people, communities, and the world”.