Published: Thu, September 27, 2018
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

World Health Organization suspends Ebola work in Congo amid militant attacks

World Health Organization suspends Ebola work in Congo amid militant attacks

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) faces a unsafe culmination of negative circumstances as a result of the ongoing Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in the country, World Health Organization (WHO) Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response Dr. Peter Salama said at a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

Health officials said it could hinder the response there to Ebola, a serious, often-fatal disease that is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads from human to human through the bodily fluids of people who exhibit symptoms.

The health ministry says 100 people have died in the current outbreak in the east of the country.

A previous outbreak in a remote part of northwestern part of the country near the Congo River was stamped out after a massive response, yet the ongoing outbreak was discovered a week later, at the start of August.

"We call on the worldwide community to continue to fund the response", he said, "both in North Kivu, but also, and this is increasingly important, in the neighbouring provinces of the Kivus and Ituri, and in surrounding countries".

One of the world's most feared viruses, Ebola in extreme cases causes fatal bleeding from internal organs, the mouth, eyes or ears.

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"If WHO and its partners had to leave North Kivu ... we would have grave concerns that this outbreak would not be able to be well controlled in the coming weeks or months". Together, the two provinces, which are among the most populated in the nation, border Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.

The ADF rebels have killed more than 1,500 people in the Beni region since October 2014.

Spokesman Mak Hazukay confirmed the civilian death toll of 14, but said six civilians and four military personnel had been wounded - lower figures than estimated by the civil society leader.

Some residents of Beni have taken to the streets to protest against the security problems.

The attack underscores the challenges the government and health organisations face in tackling Ebola in an area where years of instability has undermined locals' confidence in the authorities.

Teams of health care personnel in areas outside Beni are continuing to conduct field work, including providing vaccinations, according to WHO. More than 10,000 people have since been vaccinated.

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