DRC health workers brave political tensions to continue fight against Ebola

A health worker wearing protective equipment at a hospital in DRC's Bikoro, the rural region where the Ebola outbreak was first reported. UNICEF/AFP/File/MARK NAFTALIN

A health worker wearing protective equipment at a hospital in DRC's Bikoro, the rural region where the Ebola outbreak was first reported. UNICEF/AFP/File/MARK NAFTALIN

In December, the fight against the spread of the disease was crippled as civil unrest continued in Beni.

As political tensions over the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) stalled presidential election results continue, and rebel groups in the east of the country show no signs of giving up their fight. Dedicated health workers are once again accessing Ebola-affected areas in North Kivu Province.

However, they warned their fight against the epidemic could be hampered if there were further disruptions and security issues

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported on Tuesday that all Ebola-affected areas in the province were accessible to health workers.

From December 31 to January 2, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus travelled to Ebola-affected areas in the DRC, where he said that “Ebola responders are sacrificing a lot to combat one of the world’s deadliest viruses in a risky environment”.

Last month, the fight against the spread of Ebola was crippled as civil unrest continued in Beni, the epicentre of the epidemic. But WHO said that, under government leadership and in collaboration with partner agencies, the Ebola response had resumed in force.

The main challenges to the response are the hazardous security situation and the inability to prevent and control infection in many public and private health facilities.

WHO revealed some 577 confirmed cases and 377 deaths had been recorded since the outbreak was declared in August last year. The UN agency also said 220 people had recovered and more than 56,500 had been vaccinated.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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