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WHO confirms first Ebola case in goma, over 161,000 immunized along calls for increased preparedness in the region

Written by: George Kalisa
Monday, July 15th, 2019, 1:18

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed one Ebola case in Goma, a city found in the Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after a pastor who arrived from Butembo tested Ebola positive on Sunday.


Butembo and Beni are some of the cities in North Kivu Province that have battled the dreadful disease since the current outbreak was declared in DRC close to a year ago. WHO says about 2,500 have been infected with Ebola virus while 1,665 have so far succumbed to the disease.  


Despite WHO’s health response to the Ebola outbreak, the second largest since the West Africa’s Ebola outbreak happened, its end cannot be ascertained and the situation in DRC has sparked growing concerns by WHO on the likelihood of the troubled mineral rich country hosting the third Ebola outbreak, citing the persistence of the root causes ‘thriving’ on the ground.  


To this effect, WHO has echoed a call on the international community to invest more in addressing the root causes of Ebola violence and insecurity, poor health systems that apparently undermine the response.   


“Now it’s time for the international community to redouble its efforts, in solidarity with the people of DRC. Now is the time to demonstrate the political leadership needed to end this outbreak,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General today.


Two Ebola responders were murdered in their home in Beni during attacks by marauding armed groups. Attacks on health facilities are common in areas infested with Ebola and they help the virus spread faster.  


“We are dealing with one of the world’s most dangerous viruses in one of the world’s most dangerous areas. Since January, WHO has recorded 198 attacks on health facilities and health workers, killing seven people including the two responders murdered yesterday and, in April, a WHO epidemiologist, Dr Richard Mouzoko,”said Tedros.


“Every attack sets us back. Every attack makes it more difficult to trace contacts, vaccinate and perform safe burials. Every attack gives Ebola an opportunity to spread. Ebola gets a free ride in each and every attack,” he added.


Tedros said: “Together, we will end this outbreak. But unless we address its root causes – the weak health system, the insecurity and the political instability – there will be another outbreak”.


He blamed the delay to reach an end of the outbreak on “community mistrust, political instability and the spread of myths and misinformation” describing them “significant barriers”.


WHO Chief lauded neighbouring countries like Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan for massive investment in preparedness but he warned, “the risk of spread in DRC and the region remains very high”.


More than 10,000 people have been vaccinated in Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda but WHO says the urgency to manage end the outbreak prevails over their all successes in the Ebola fight.


WHO praises the tireless efforts of hundreds of responders from the Ministry of Health, WHO and many partners and the world’s health body describes their work as “heroic”.


“More than 161,000 people have been vaccinated, 140,000 contacts have been traced and 71 million travelers have been screened. Let’s be clear: these efforts have saved lives and prevented a much larger emergency,” Tedros said.

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