DR Congo: Health Minister resigns following Ebola epidemic

Henrietta Brewer
July 24, 2019

The health minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Oly Ilunga, has resigned in protest over the handling of the Ebola outbreak in the east of the country.

"As in any war, because that is what this is, there can not be several centres of decision-making for risk of creating confusion", he said.

The AU, following the WHO's categorization of the Ebola virus outbreak as PHEIC, also on Saturday revealed its decision to deploy more healthcare experts to respond to the Ebola virus outbreak in the DRC.

He also condemned "strong pressure exercised in recent months" to use a new Ebola vaccine advocated by some aid agencies and donors.

The urgent call was made by the AU's Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the WHO Regional Office for Africa in a statement issued Tuesday, as they reiterated the need for all AU member countries to adhere to recommendations, emphasizing against possible restrictions on travel and trade with the Ebola-affected countries.

Evidence that the disease had reached a key border town in the Democratic Republic of the Congo prompted the declaration by the World Health Organisation.

The announcement follows the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the current outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Delivering a statement in Parliament this afternoon, Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, explained that the declaration signals that there is an extraordinary event which has been determined, to constitute a public health risk to other States through the global spread of disease; and to potentially require a coordinated worldwide response.

This is not the first time an Ebola epidemic would be transmitted across borders.

While the vaccine is in fact 97% effective, it is important to note that not everybody is vaccinated.

Two of the newly confirmed cases involve health workers, one of them unvaccinated and from Beni and the other from Oicha, with an unknown vaccination status.

More than 1,600 people have died since last August in the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, which is unfolding in a region that has been described as a health war zone.

"There should be no requirement of certificates of Ebola vaccination for any movement across borders or for issuance of visas, as there is now no licensed vaccine against Ebola", the joint statement read.

Other reports by iNewsToday