WHO Says Ebola Outbreak Not Yet Global Emergency

Henrietta Brewer
June 18, 2019

The WHO, in a statement overnight, said that given all three confirmed cases in Uganda belong to a single family cluster, the level of preparedness and experience of Ugandan authorities to manage previous Ebola outbreaks, and their rapid detection of cases in a limited geographical area, "the overall level of risk at national level is assessed as moderate". Internal WHO documents later showed the agency feared the declaration would have economic and social implications for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Those who died had crossed over form the Democratic Republic of Congo, where almost 1,400 people have died from Ebola.

The additional funding comes ahead of Friday's World Health Organisation meeting to discuss whether the Ebola outbreak in DR Congo should be declared a public health emergency of global concern.

The decision to convene the meeting came from WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations, the standards for which were used to determine whether a PHEIC declaration should be made.

People coming from Congo have their temperature measured to screen for symptoms of Ebola, at the Mpondwe border crossing with Congo, in western Uganda Friday, June 14, 2019.

Dr. Preben Aavitsland, acting chair of the WHO's Emergency Committee, also told reporters that the group was "deeply disappointed that countries didn't receive more funding for the outbreak", asking worldwide countries help pay for the disease control. Uganda, which has fought five previous Ebola outbreaks, has vaccinated almost 5,000 health and front-line workers at about 165 health facilities located near the border; it has also built nine Ebola treatment centers near its western border.

"The fact that it has taken this long [for Ebola to spread to Uganda] is a testament to the incredible work of all partners on both sides of the border". "WHO and partners can not tackle these challenges without the global community stepping in to fill the sizeable funding gap", Ghebreyesus said.

But the danger of it spreading into Rwanda and South Sudan is limited. Uganda's Health Ministry said they voluntarily agreed to return - and that five more of their relatives in the DRC have tested positive for Ebola.

World Health Organization officials added that, since Nov 7, Uganda has vaccinated 4,699 healthcare and frontline workers as part of its Ebola preparedness activities and noted that nine Ebola treatment units are in place in districts that border the DRC's Ituri and North Kivu provinces.

Ebola spreads through contact with the blood, body fluids, or organs of someone who is infected.

Experts say people are still dying outside of Ebola treatment centres, exposing their families to the disease, and many do not appear on lists of known contacts being monitored.

Contingency plans had always been put in place in Uganda for possible imported Ebola cases, according to WHO.

Earlier on Thursday, the DRC's neighbor Uganda said that it had registered new Ebola deaths.

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Also, the WHO said cases continue to rise among health workers, with 118 infected so far.

Other reports by iNewsToday