Friday, 22 March, 2019

United States urged to send Ebola experts in as Congo outbreak worsens

Ebola outbreak kills 19 under one week in DR Congo DR Congo Ebola outbreak second largest in history: WHO
Johnnie Parks | 01 December, 2018, 23:32

Democratic Republic of Congo's Ebola outbreak has been deemed as the second largest in history, the World Health Organization disclosed Thursday, in connection with the deadly West Africa outbreak that killed thousands a few years ago, AP reported.

That includes 379 confirmed cases and 47 probable ones.

Rebel groups attacking health workers and open hostility by locals have been considered as serious challenges, Ebola experts have said, as per the report.

In 2013, the world witnessed the worst Ebola outbreak in Southern Guinea, from where it spread into neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone. "The dynamics of conflict (mean). a protracted outbreak is. likely, and the end is not in sight".

Starting on Wednesday, health workers planned to go door-to-door for four days in the town of Beni, delivering mosquito nets and anti-malarial drugs to 450,000 people, said the WHO. There is also a reluctance among some residents to seek care or allow health workers to vaccinate, conduct contact tracing and perform safe burials, according to health officials.

Last month, the WHO heeded the recommendation of an expert advisory committee to not declare the Democratic Republic of the Congo's latest Ebola epidemic a public health emergency of worldwide concern - a proclamation that would have mobilized more resources and garnered global attention.

Explaining the World Health Organization-backed initiative, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said "randomised control trial" in DR Congo was a "giant step" that would "bring clarity about what works best, and save many lives in years to come".

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"If the (U.S.) ban were not in place, the CDC would have a big and growing presence here", said Mearns, who worked closely with the CDC in West Africa's Ebola outbreak.

Health workers found these were children being treated for malaria in the unofficial health centres - they believe people are confusing the two diseases because early symptoms, including fever, weakness and vomiting, are the same.

The security situation in the region has at times limited the response efforts.

'No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are now experiencing, ' said Dr Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the DRC's health minister.

According to the ministry, nearly half of the 106 confirmed deaths were in the city of Beni which has a population of approximately 800,000 people. "Is there potential for requiring global response?"

In October, WHO convened a meeting of worldwide organisations, United Nations partners, countries at risk of Ebola, drug manufacturers and others to agree on a framework to continue trials in the next Ebola outbreak, whenever and wherever it occurs.

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