WHO sounds warning on Ebola outbreak in eastern DR Congo

07/18/2019 03:00 | 76

WHO sounds warning on Ebola outbreak in eastern DR Congo

"Countries should continue to map population movements and sociological patterns that can predict risk of disease spread".

A Congolese woman who died of Ebola this month vomited four times in a Ugandan market after crossing the border days earlier to sell fish, the World Health Organization said, fuelling fears that the virus may be spreading beyond Democratic Republic of Congo.

Goma has more than one million residents and is a key transport hub, so the virus's appearance has raised fears of an epidemic. More than 1,600 people have died since August in the second-worst outbreak of the disease in history.

The declaration followed a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for EVD in the DRC.

Mark Green, administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, said the U.S. has contributed almost $100 million to the fight and will keep up its efforts.

In a statement published on Wednesday, July 17, WHO announced that a Public Health Emergency of International Concern has been declared in the DR Congo Ebola outbreak.

The World Bank in May also pledged to release an additional $10 million from its Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility to help with response; the WHO has to-date received $6.5 million, officials said at the press conference Wednesday.

The WHO's director-general said the identification of a confirmed case in Goma shows a "concerning geographic expansion of the virus". In June, the virus had made its way into Uganda, prompting World Health Organization to convene an emergency committee to determine whether a formal PHEIC should be declared.

When bans are in place, people tend to cross borders anyway, he said, yet do it secretively and hinder the Ebola response. The Committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma, a city of nearly two million people on the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world. For such a declaration, an outbreak must constitute a risk to other countries and require a coordinated response.

The previous worldwide emergencies, under a system introduced after the 2004 Asian SARS epidemic, were the 2013-2016 West African Ebola epidemic that killed over 11,300 people, the 2009 flu pandemic, polio in 2014 and the Zika virus that caused a spate of birth defects across Latin America. They said at the time that "the cluster of cases in Uganda is not unexpected" and determined that it did not meet the necessary criteria.

Here's a look at Ebola and the unprecedented challenges health workers face in trying to contain what the WHO chief has called one of the world's most risky diseases in one of the world's most unsafe regions. The attacks have led to spikes in cases and hurt the painstaking work of tracing the thousands of people who have come into contact with those infected.

Dr. Maurice Kakule was one of the first people to survive the current outbreak after he fell ill while treating a woman last July, before the outbreak had even been declared.


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