DRC Ebola Outbreak: Setbacks as disease spreads quickly

Friday, April 5, 2019
By Paul Martin

05 Apr 2019

Record numbers of new cases reported two weeks running – 57 followed by 72

The number of cases now reached 1,100

More than 100 children killed by Ebola

Conflict and escalating tensions set back fight against the disease

More than half of the Ebola deaths last week occurred outside treatment centres significantly increasing the chance of the disease being passed on

The spike in cases comes shortly after reports of four attacks on Ebola treatment or transit facilities in just two weeks

Save the Children is helping to overcome misinformation and hostility by training nearly 1,200 health workers and 1,000 community leaders.

More than one million people reached by Save the Children with information about Ebola. This work includes:

setting up screening facilities;

tracing people who have been in contact with the virus to keep it from spreading further.

The aid agency’s team in North Kivu say that as widespread mistrust of efforts to curb the disease erupts into attacks on the response, it is becoming more difficult to fight the outbreak and reach children who need support.

Children speak of misconceptions around the disease: “People used to think Ebola was brought by bad spirits.”

Heather Kerr, Save the Children’s Country Director in the DRC, said:

“The challenges facing efforts to stamp out the disease are enormous. Progress was being made, but this spike in cases shows any gains could be unravelling. With the wrong approach, fear and suspicion could still overwhelm the fight against the disease.”

“Save the Children has been working round the clock to help communities fight the disease. We work within and alongside communities to ensure they know how to protect themselves and feel supported through the terrible experience of having a strange and deadly disease on their doorstep.”

Ms. Kerr said that longstanding conflict in the area is combining with Ebola to leave children living in constant fear.

“Children are sacred and angry about what is happening to them. For years they’ve had neighbours, friends and loved ones killed brutally in the conflict while working in their fields or walking in the streets. And now Ebola is not only taking more lives – it’s also destroying the much needed connection children have with their family and friends, because they cannot touch or comfort each other. They live in constant fear of contracting the disease but also of being attacked by armed groups.”

Save the Children has spoken to children and families trying to deal with the dual threat of conflict and Ebola, who have shed light on the fears and misconceptions around the disease.

The Rest…HERE

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