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Published On: Thu, Sep 27th, 2018

WHO concerned over possible regression in Ebola response

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The World Health Organisation has expressed concern over possible regression in progress made so far in the fight against Ebola Virus Disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The organisation in a statement released on its website on Wednesday, said that response to the outbreak had reached critical state as it was being threatened by worsening insecurity and mistrust from affected communities in DRC.
WHO said that the organisation, UN partners, NGO’s and Civil Society Organisations supporting the response were also facing an extension of the virus into previously unaffected areas.
It stated that although strong government-led response with the support of these organisations in the past weeks led to reduction in number of cases, there was risk that hard-worn gains may be lost.
The world body noted that as at September 25, 2018, the disease had affected 151 people and killed about 101 persons.
It, therefore, called on relevant parties, government and groups that had influence over the situation and parties involved, to help in protecting responders and civilians.
The health organisation stated that “the response to the outbreak of Ebola in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is at critical juncture, threatened by worsening insecurity, mistrust from affected communities and extension into previously unaffected areas.
“In recent weeks, a strong government-led response, supported by WHO, other UN partners, NGOs and CSOs resulted in steady week-by-week reduction in cases but there is a risk now that hard-won gains may be lost.
“There has been an increase in frequency and severity of attacks by armed opposition groups.
Attacks by armed opposition groups on Beni town in North Kivu, where the Ministry of Health and partners based their response occurred with alarming frequency.
“Most recently, a deadly attack on September 22 left 21 people dead, including 17 civilians as a result, WHO and its UN partners were asked to halt operations in Beni, while the city mourns its dead.
“Presently, some operations have begun to resume, but a two-day gap has resulted in health workers not being able to reach contacts of Ebola patients to monitor their health or investigate alerts of potential cases.
“Meanwhile, some families have chosen to care for sick relatives at home often because they have been misinformed and because a natural fear of the disease is now being exploited by local politicians.”
WHO said other individuals who were sick from the virus have had to travel widely to seek alternative care, putting themselves, their families and health workers at risk.
It added that the trend had caused the virus to spread to new locations where medical teams could not provide the needed access to treatment or provide protective vaccines to those affected.
The organisation noted that the new locations included the security red zones and areas bordering Uganda.
It called on governments in countries surrounding DRC to accelerate preparedness activities to face the challenge. (NAN)

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