World Health Organization suspends work on Ebola in Congo amid militant attacks

Henrietta Brewer
September 27, 2018

The epidemic is believed to have killed 85 people since July and infected another 39.

At least 100 people have died in the outbreak, out of 150 cases in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

Speaking to journalists at the United Nations in Geneva, Dr Salama noted that the global response to the major public health threat had been excellent and that donors have responded "very quickly and generously" to this latest outbreak, which is DRC's tenth since the 1970s.

WHO's Emergency Response Chief and Australian epidemiologist, Peter Salama, told a news conference in Geneva that Ebola had claimed 100 lives since the deadly virus outbreak almost two months ago in North Kivu.

Ebola, which causes fever, severe headache and in some cases hemorrhaging, most commonly affects people and nonhuman primates, such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees.

Congo's 10th outbreak was declared on august 1.

"We will not yet consider the need to evacuate but we are developing a range of contingency plans to see where our staff are best located", he said.

"If WHO and its partners had to leave North Kivu ... we would have grave concerns that this outbreak would not be able to be well controlled in the coming weeks or months". Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi also border the region. More than 1 million internally displaced people are in North Kivu and Ituri, according to World Health Organization; the movement of refugees through and out of the provinces is a potential risk factor for spread of Ebola.

"Many inhabitants of the town of Beni took to the streets this Sunday to protest against the growing insecurity in the zone".

Teams of health care personnel in areas outside Beni are continuing to conduct field work, including providing vaccinations, according to WHO. Since that date, 11,563 people, including medical staff, have been vaccinated, according to the Ministry of Health, which is leading the vaccination program with support from WHO and worldwide partners, including Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

Health officials say they have made progress slowing the virus's spread with experimental vaccines and treatments.

"Despite the unfortunate events of the last few days, the Ministry of Health remains fully committed to your community", he said.

Other reports by iNewsToday