Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) "is spreading faster" as the population's distrust of the medical response to the epidemic grows, the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) warned today.
The warning came after the confirmation of 18 new cases of Ebola on Tuesday, "the highest figure in a single day in the eight-month outbreak," the IFRC said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
The Ministry of Health of the DRC also reported that ten people died of Ebola on Tuesday, including eight who died in their communities for not receiving treatment or support.
The epidemic, declared on August 1 in the northeastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, has caused 751 deaths (685 confirmed in the laboratory) and 1,186 infections (1120 confirmed), according to the latest official data as of April 9.
"These are very worrying facts," stressed the Director of Health and Care of the IFRC, Emanuele Capobianco.
"The bottom line is that Ebola is now spreading faster and many people are no longer seeking attention, it is clear that some vulnerable communities do not trust those who respond to Ebola," Capobianco said.
In his opinion, "trust can be built by going from community to community, working with local leaders and villagers, listening to their concerns with empathy and incorporating their comments and preferences into the way we work."
Some 26% of those interviewed in the cities of Butembo and Beni, epicenters of the current Ebola outbreak in the DRC, do not believe in the existence of this virus, according to a study by the medical journal The Lancet published last month.
This research, based on almost one thousand interviews, revealed a deep distrust among the population in response to Ebola, which makes them more reluctant to seek treatment or to be vaccinated, slowing down the containment of the disease.
33% considered that it is an epidemic manufactured to obtain financial gains and 36% believed that it seeks to destabilize the region.
The Ebola outbreak is the most lethal to the DRC and the second worst in history, after the declaration in March 2014 in West Africa, with cases dating back to December 2013 in Guinea-Conakry, the country from which it expanded to Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The World Health Organization (WHO) will evaluate this Friday if the current outbreak constitutes an international public health emergency, which implies the issuance of a formal alert addressed to the government and helps to mobilize resources.
The Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with blood and contaminated body fluids, causes hemorrhagic fever and can reach a mortality rate of 90% if not treated in time.