Ebola Epidemic in DRC Reaches 1,000 Cases
Global organization Mercy Corps calls for increased efforts to stop spread of deadly disease
GOMA, Congo — As the Ebola epidemic in DRC reaches the tragic milestone of over 1,000 cases, the global organization Mercy Corps warns that without drastic action, there is no end in sight for this crisis.
In less than eight months, 629 people have died from the disease in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. It is the first time the disease has appeared in the conflict-affected areas, which has hampered relief efforts.
In recent weeks there has been a flare-up of Ebola in rural areas resulting in a recent surge of average daily cases to eight per day.
“We are a long way from being out of the woods with this epidemic,” says Jean Philippe Marcoux, Mercy Corps Country Director in DRC. “I would even say that we are potentially lost in the woods. We’re unable to get a handle on the spread of the disease, and every day more people are at risk.
“Furthermore, as the Ebola response increasingly requires more time and funds, it is sapping the already stretched resources needed to provide lifesaving aid to more than 13 million people following decades of war and conflict in DRC.”
Mercy Corps is repeating its call for urgent funds and investment into building community trust and engagement so there is a clear understanding of the disease, and how it is spread. This is crucial to preventing further cases as well as violence against medical responders and treatment facilities.
An uptick in violence against treatment facilities and health professionals threatens the medical response, putting more people in danger. Communities suspicious of the health response have already attacked three health centers, some more than once.
“At the heart of the epidemic in Beni and Butembo we need to be proactive and coordinated – both medical and prevention efforts together. There is little point in papering over the cracks if we don’t treat the cause. We must bring the communities on board as partners to help us stop the spread of Ebola, and quickly,” says Marcoux.
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