Inside the Battle to Save Congo From the Ebola Crisis

Wednesday, June 19, 2019
By Paul Martin


Outside a brown cement house in the eastern city of Beni in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, a government-employed psychologist is telling 19-year-old Merveille Mwenze that her husband has tested positive for Ebola. She’s seven months pregnant and nine months married, with so few possessions she doesn’t even own a chair to sit on and digest the news. Mwenze sways, processing the information, before she wonders aloud if the baby could have the virus too.

Mwenze and her 23-year-old husband, a pastor and community leader, share this home with another family, who watch in concern as a hygienist in protective gear begins the process of decontaminating everything in sight. “He was feeling bad,” Mwenze recalls. “I thought it was malaria. I knew about Ebola but I didn’t think about it in relation to my husband.”

The pastor suffered a fever for several days in early June before going to hospital, where he was immediately isolated. Mwenze still has no idea how he contracted the virus and she hasn’t been tested, though she swears she doesn’t feel ill. Ebola’s incubation period is 21 days: there’s still time for symptoms to show.

Mwenze’s husband is the third pastor in Beni, a city of more than 200,000, to test positive for Ebola in recent weeks. Aime Fatal Wabenga, a hygienist and public health promoter for the World Health Organisation, says some religious leaders have been rejecting Ebola vaccinations as a sign of faith. “They say ‘we believe in Jesus, Jesus will save us’,” he tells TIME. Roughly 135,000 people in the DRC have now been vaccinated against Ebola, a prevention measure that wasn’t widely available during the West African Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016.

The DRC is currently experiencing the second-largest Ebola outbreak in recorded history, and the response has been critically slowed by violence and insecurity. Between January and mid-May this year, there were 130 attacks on healthcare facilities, according to E.U. figures, during which dozens of medics and civilians were injured, and some killed.

In the affected provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, a large number of armed groups are active. Since August 2018, at least 2,087 people have contracted Ebola and 1,359 people have died — meaning a survival rate of around one third. The deadly disease, formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, was originally passed to humans by animals. It causes a high temperature, vomiting, headaches and muscle pain, and progresses to internal and external bleeding, severe dehydration and organ failure.

The Rest…HERE

Comments are closed.

Join the revolution in 2018. Revolution Radio is 100% volunteer ran. Any contributions are greatly appreciated. God bless!

Follow us on Twitter