Ebola Doctors In Congo Are Threatening A Strike At The Worst Possible Time
The threat comes after a Cameroon national that was working for the World Health Organization was killed last week. Dr. Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung of Cameroon was killed on Friday during an attack on an Ebola response command center in the eastern Congo.
Dr. Kalima Nzanzu urged authorities to provide greater security for the Ebola response and said that he wanted residents to understand that doctors and other medical staff are there to help fight the outbreak.
Politically, eastern Congo is a volatile area where many armed groups operate. Lack of trust in government has subverted efforts to contain Ebola since the outbreak began late last summer. Some residents falsely accuse foreigners of bringing Ebola to the area.
Just days ago, we reported that the Ebola outbreak in the Congo was close to “becoming a global emergency”. Two weeks ago, the World Health Organization issued a statement on the ongoing Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The recent spike of cases increases the threat that the deadly virus will spread to other countries and efforts must be redoubled to stop it, the WHO said last Friday after a meeting of its expert committee.
On April 12, the WHO claimed that while the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo is of “deep concern” the situation does not yet warrant being declared a global emergency.
Here are a few concerning excerpts from the statement:
However, the Committee wished to express their deep concern about the recent increase in transmission in specific areas, and therefore the potential risk of spread to neighbouring countries.
Special emphasis should be placed on addressing the rise in case numbers in the remaining epicentres, notably Butembo, Katwa, Vuhovi, and Mandima.
Because there is a very high risk of regional spread, neighbouring countries should continue to accelerate current preparedness and surveillance efforts, including vaccination of health care workers and front-line workers in surrounding countries.
Cross-border collaboration should continue to be strengthened, including timely sharing of data and alerts, cross-border community engagement and awareness raising. In addition, work should be done to better map population movements and understand social networks bridging national boundaries.
The Committee maintains its previous advice that it is particularly important that no international travel or trade restrictions should be applied. Exit screening, including at airports, ports, and land crossings, is of great importance; however, entry screening, particularly in distant airports, is not considered to be of any public health or cost-benefit value. (source)
The outbreak has become the second-deadliest in history, behind the West African one from 2014-16 that killed more than 11,300 people. As of April 15, the outbreak has claimed 821 lives. The total case number is 1273. Unfortunately, both numbers are soaring, and experts say it is not even close to ending.