Ebola virus mass GLOBAL outbreak : ‘Perfect storm’ for worldwide epidemic brewing in Congo

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
By Paul Martin

THE ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is being exacerbated by a deteriorating political situation which has seen warring militias fighting pitched battles, coupled with widespread ignorance, creating the potential for a “perfect storm” which could see the fatal illness spiral out of control, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

Tue, Sep 25, 2018

Speaking at a press conference at the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr Peter Salama said ongoing violent disputed between armed groups, community resistance to the advice of public health officials, and the geographic spread of the disease were making a bad situation worse.

He said: “We are now extremely concerned that several factors may be coming together over the next weeks and months to create a perfect storm.

“A perfect storm active conflict limiting our ability to access civilians, distrust by segments of the community already traumatised by decades of conflict and of murder, driven by a fear of a terrifying disease, but also exploited and manipulated by local politicians prior to an election.

“The response is facing a series of grave obstacles.

“The first is insecurity. We have seen an increased frequency and increased severity of attacks by armed opposition groups own recent weeks, particularly attacks by the Alliance for Democratic Forces, but also other armed opposition groups in the picture as well.”

Recent weeks had been characterised by attacks which “indiscriminately” targeted civilians, including one which resulted in the deaths of at least 21 people.”

To complicate matters, a period of mourning had forced the temporary shutdown of WHO operations in the area.

Problems were being made worse by ignorance about the illness in some areas.

Dr Salama said most of the community was engaging with health workers but said: “We do see really difficult pockets of community reluctance, refusal and resistance.

“Particularly there has been one in and around Beni in a small village called NDingi which has been responsible for a large proportion of cases in the last few weeks.

“That resistance driven by quite natural fear of this terrifying disease is starting to be exploited by local politicians and we are very concerned in the run-up to the elections projected for December, that that exploitation of this very natural fear will gather momentum and make it even more difficult to root out the last cases of Ebola.”

Small numbers of people refusing active-follow-up, refusing to be cared for in the Ebola treatment unit and actively fleeing from the responders into the forests, for hundreds of kilometres in some cases, he said.

He added: “We now have wide geographical spread of Ebola also into red zones from a security perspective and also into broader areas with surrounding countries such as Uganda.”

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