The World Health Organization is once again pleading to the International Community to step up support to contain the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through filling the funding gap that threatens to slow down the Ebola response.
Only half of the currently requested funds have been received, which could lead to WHO and partners rolling back some activities precisely when they are most needed.
Most Ebola response activities, including community engagement, vaccination, and case investigation, have been re-launched following a slowdown in the wake of the attack that left WHO’s epidemiologist Dr. Richard Mouzoko dead and two people injured.
The current Ebola outbreak in DRC is primarily in the North Kivu and Ituri Provinces, in the east of the country and as of 31 March 2019, a total of 1069 people were reported to have contracted the virus and 665 dead.
The outbreak is a major concern as it is centered in the two cities of Beni and Butembo, which are major trading hubs for the region. Local attacks that have been taking place in the affected areas leading to loss of lives have forced some humanitarian groups to pulled out of the area after attacks on health facilities.
Tackling Ebola in DRCtends to come with a number of risks given that some members of the local community are skeptical and are very hostile to those working to stop the spread of the disease. There are also a number of armed groups who remain active in the areas affected and pose a threat to the population, as well as those working there.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti during their recent visit to DRC expressed their gratitude to WHO staff and partners for their dedication in ensuring that they work to see Ebola response bears fruit.
Dr. Tedros and Dr. Moeti also assessed the next steps needed to strengthen both security and the Ebola response effort. They also met with local political, business and religious leaders, and called on them to accelerate their efforts to stabilize the surrounding environment.
“My pride and respect for my extraordinary colleagues have only grown,” said Dr. Moeti. “They have been through something unimaginable and yet are willing to continue this vital work. We need the security situation to be under control for them and for the local people. During our mission, we had fruitful discussions with the partners who provide security cover to see what more could be done. Meanwhile, we will continue to work with various groups and embed our response at the community level.”
“We are entering a phase where we will need major shifts in the response,” said Dr. Tedros. WHO and partners cannot tackle these challenges without the international community stepping in to fill the sizeable funding gap.”