The Ebola epidemic that was declared on August 1 in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) it reaches 829 cases and 521 people died, with a mortality rate of 63%. For now, the outbreak continues to affect the provinces of North Kivu, where the outbreak arose, and Ituri and, in particular, in recent weeks is very focused on the health areas of Katwa and Butembo. The World Health Organization (WHO) was convinced on Friday to end the epidemic, something that will take "several months", and said that it is an outbreak of "moderate intensity" but with a risk "very high "Of national and regional expansion, that is, bordering countries.
The complications derived from the presence of Ebola in an area where dozens of armed groups operate, such as existence of prohibited areas for access by health personnel, remains one of the great challenges facing the device launched to end this outbreak. The Congolese government has activated phase three response to the epidemic this week, according to the WHO, for which needs about 131 million euros that will be used mainly to stop transmission in the two affected provinces and prevent its expansion to Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda.
During the last month of January the ratio of new infections doubled, from 20 to 40, a clear sign that the epidemic is still out of control. The director of Save the Children in the DRC, Heather Kerr, attributed this increase to the presence of armed groups, but also to the persistence of "misinformation" among the population, that comes to interrupt safe burials threatening the Red Cross volunteers to take the body and practice a traditional burial.
Attempts to contain the outbreak have led WHO to extend its efforts to bordering countries, launching vaccination campaigns in Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda, focused mainly on the health workers and personnel who carry out the controls at the border posts. However, the WHO has so far rejected the epidemic as an international public health emergency, considering that the risk of it spreading beyond this region of Africa is low.
This week, a team of international experts called on WHO to reconsider its decision, taking into account that it is the second worst outbreak in history, the most serious in the DRC, and that "shows no signs of diminishing," said Dr. Eccleston-Turner, of Keele University and member of this group . In his view, a global emergency declaration would be a wake-up call to the international community before it spreads to border nations.
The United Nations mission in the DRC has recalled that, in addition to Ebola, this country is currently suffering two other serious epidemics, one of measles, with 7,175 cases in January alone, of which 137 have died (80% of children five years), and another one of cholera, with 1,936 affected since the beginning of the year.