Written by Shekinah Zaitun Salanje
1 August, marked one year since the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) declared an outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in North Kivu province of the DRC. It has now been declared a public health emergency of international concern. Dr Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus the Director General of WHO said, “It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts,” .He added that the government, its partners and communities need to work together in solidarity with DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system.
A recent record of another death in Goma due to Ebola has been recorded, the fourth case in the last few weeks.
Goma has a high population of 1 million people and the high population brings concerns as Ebola is a virus transmitted through close and direct physical contact with infected bodily fluids, the most infectious being blood, stool and vomit. The virus has also been found in breast milk, urine and semen.
Cases have been recorded in 2018 and more than 1,800 deaths in parts of Ituri and North Kivu provinces. It is even more disheartening as almost one in three of these ‘cases’ is a child.
The UN and WHO have since deployed its staff in the troubled districts.
The outbreak is a matter of great concern as the outbreak is occurring in an area where there is violence, which makes it not easy for them to reach certain communities and educate them on stopping further transmission and care for the affected.
Measures to control the situation are underway as over 170,000 people have been vaccinated, more than 10,000 hand washing sites installed in critical locations and about 440,000 patients and contacts provided with food assistance, so as to limit movement among people who could spread the disease. Much more still needs to be done and a plea has been made for more support by the UN.
No cases have been recorded outside the DRC. The Rwandan government has since tightened Ebola screening and security measures along its border so as to prevent the spread into the country.