Health Care

United Nations decries Poor Response to Ebola Crisis in DR Congo

United Nations decries Poor Response to Ebola Crisis in DR Congo”

Jamaica's health authorities have again been placed on alert for the Ebola virus, with the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring last week that the current outbreak in The Democratic Republic of Congo constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. But, she adds that the decision was overdue considering that the outbreak has raged since last August and infected at least 2,500 people and killed almost 1,700.

Ilunga, who had been health minister for two years, said his resignation was in reaction to the announcement Saturday by President Felix Tshisekedi that he would take over direct supervision of the response to the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo, which has lasted for almost a year and has killed more than 1,600 people.

In his resignation letter, the minister criticized pressure by unnamed "actors" to deploy the second vaccine, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and backed by the WHO.

President Felix Tshisekedi on Saturday appointed a team led by Jean-Jacques Muyembe, the head of Congo's biomedical research institute, to co-ordinate the government's response in Ilunga's place.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Ebola as Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Ilunga has said the J&J vaccine has not been proved effective and that deploying a second one would confuse people in eastern Congo, where health workers are struggling to overcome widespread misinformation about the haemorrhagic fever as well as sporadic hostility. The company has said the vaccine, which has gone through Phase 1 trials, is safe.

The health minister had issued guidance against the use of new vaccines against Ebola, stating that the Merck vaccine now in use is the only one that has proven to be effective.

Earlier this month, the health ministry said in a statement that there wasn't sufficient evidence regarding the efficacy of other vaccines, and that introducing another one risked "confusing the population".

Since August past year, Ebola has infected more than 2,500 people in DR Congo, killing more than 1,700 of them, in the second-biggest epidemic since more than 11,300 people died in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone between 2014-2016.

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