Health Care

Congo's Ebola outbreak surpasses 900 cases: 3 updates

Congo's Ebola outbreak surpasses 900 cases: 3 updates”

Unidentified attackers last week torched two of MSF's treatment facilities at the focal point of the epidemic, in the towns of Butembo and Katwa in North Kivu, prompting the charity to suspend its operations in the area.

Regarding the attacks on the two ETCs, MSF said it doesn't know the motives or identities of the attackers, but the violence follows escalating tensions in the outbreak area that have also included dozens of security incidents against response efforts in February.

Congo's Ebola epidemic has killed almost 600 people, making it the second deadliest in the world.

The epidemic is in a region of Congo prey to armed groups and violence where officials see threats through a security lens and use force.

A range of issues, including the fact that elections were postponed due to the Ebola outbreak and that police and armed forces have been used to force people to comply with health measures have contributed to the distrust. "The communities are not the enemy".

Doctors Without Borders is warning that the effort to control Congo's Ebola outbreak is hampered by a "toxic" security situation including a series of attacks on its treatment centres.

A spokeswoman for Congo's Health Ministry said there appeared to be confusion about the security forces' role.

"The police and the army are not involved in Ebola response activities and their role has never been to enforce sanitary measures", Jessica Ilunga said.

Seven months since the beginning of the current Ebola outbreak in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, there have been 907 cases of Ebola cases (841 confirmed and 66 probable) and 569 people have died.

MSF was insisting on security before it returned to its damaged facilities, she said.

The failure to overcome the ongoing epidemic has seen it evolve into the second largest ever breakout of its kind, trailing an epidemic between 2013-2016 which killed about 11,300 people in West Africa as it surged through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

"Contrary to global agents, local health workers don't have the privilege of being evacuated when security conditions worsen".

Forty percent of deaths were outside medical centres, meaning patients had not sought care, and 35% of new patients were not linked to existing cases, meaning the spread of the disease was not being tracked.

Liu said Ebola is a brutal disease that breeds fear and isolation to patients, families, and health providers.

"There is a big contradiction: On the one hand, the possibilities for a rapid and comprehensive for the fight against Ebola with the latest medical means, such as vaccination".



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