Ebola survivors fight disease as DR Congo outbreak rages on

Thursday, January 24, 2019
By Paul Martin

DR Congo confirmed a record number of Ebola cases in one day on Wednesday, as stigma continues to surround survivors.


Dozens of Congolese Ebola survivors are dispelling rumours and caring for patients and lone children in the world’s second deadliest outbreak, health workers said on Thursday.

The virus is spreading fast in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with 713 confirmed and probable cases and 439 deaths. It is surpassed only by the 2014 to 2016 outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, in which more than 11,000 people died.

Nearly 250 patients in the DRC have recovered since the outbreak began in July. Research has shown the disease gives survivors immunity.

“I like this work very much,” said Lydie Besolo, an 18-year-old in the town of Beni who survived Ebolaand now spends her afternoons after school working as a nurse in a health centre run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

“I tell (the patients) my story. It helps them,” she said, adding that she hopes to be a doctor someday.

Health workers say one of the biggest challenges in this outbreak has been dispelling rumours about the disease. Suspicious of foreign intervention and political plots, locals have attacked volunteers and refused vaccines.

Ebola struck during a politically tense period in Congo, ahead of December’s election to end President Joseph Kabila’s 17-year rule.

The electoral commission at the last minute cancelled voting in Beni and other Ebola-stricken areas, which are opposition strongholds.

“I tell them that it’s not politics, it’s a real disease,” said Modeste Kasereka Kikopo, 26, a survivor who works in the MSF centre as an electrician and helps spread awareness.

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