Health Care

Ebola outbreak declared over in DR Congo

Ebola outbreak declared over in DR Congo”

It was the first time that Democratic Republic of Congo was free of Ebola in about two and a half years.

"I am happy to solemnly declare the end of the 11th epidemic of the Ebola virus in Equateur province", Health Minister Eteni Longondo told journalists, AFP reported. Find out how the deadly virus was brought under control.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) joins the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in celebrating the end of the country's 11 Ebola outbreak.

World Health Organization says the response to the 11th Ebola outbreak had to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, which strained resources and created difficulties around the movement of experts and supplies; and there were also challenges around a large number of cases in remote communities which were often only accessible by boat or helicopter and at times community resistance hampered response efforts.

"There remains a high risk of a resurgence", Longondo said.

The epidemic was said to have ended after 42 days since the last patient tested negative and no new positive cases have appeared since then, fulfilling the criteria for declaring the completion of that type of an outbreak.

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Guyguy Manangama, responsible for MSF in responding to the Ebola epidemic in Équateur province, explained that this lower lethality may be due to the existence of some type of natural immunity among people in the province, as this region has previously experienced outbreaks of Ebola.

The Equateur outbreak posed a massive logistical challenge for health and aid workers from WHO, local groups, and government agencies. The ARKTEK freezers they used can keep vaccines in the field for up to a week and make it possible to vaccinate people in locations without electricity.

"Overcoming one of the world's most risky pathogens in remote and hard to access communities demonstrates what is possible when science and solidarity come together", said Moeti.

The 11th outbreak to hit the DRC since 1976, this is also the second outbreak in the province in less than two years. "Tackling Ebola in parallel with Covid-19 hasn't been easy, but much of the expertise we've built in one disease is transferrable to another and underlines the importance of investing in emergency preparedness and building local capacity", she added.

Jacques Katshishi, secretary general of Congo's Red Cross, said the country's communities must continue to receive support from the global community.

"Bringing Ebola to zero is a huge achievement, but now we are faced with our next challenge: keeping it there". Our teams within the DRC Red Cross are facing COVID-19 within a complex humanitarian and security environment, making the ongoing support of donors' and partners' vital to ensuring that the positive gains communities have made are not reversed. "This is the time to prepare".



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