Ebola in DR Congo: Fear and mistrust stalk battle to halt outbreak

Tuesday, July 9, 2019
By Paul Martin

By James Landale
9 July 2019

There can be few greater challenges than tackling a lethal epidemic.

But imagine trying to do so in a conflict zone ravaged by extreme poverty, insecurity and poor communications amid a population where health workers are feared and distrusted.

Yet that is the reality of Ebola in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than 1,500 people have lost their lives from the virus in the past year.

In the city of Butembo, in North Kivu province, I see how local and international medical staff and charities are trying to combat the disease.

Essentially, it is a gruesome game of whack-a-mole that appears all but impossible to win. It works like this:

The morning I was there, news came through that a woman had died of Ebola.

Staff from the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN-funded agency, rushed to the scene and set up a pop-up vaccination centre. What this means in practice is a few trestle tables under a number of tents.

Then, members of the dead woman’s family, her friends, her neighbours are identified and are asked to be vaccinated. Afterwards, their wider contact group are vaccinated too in the hope this double ring of protection will stop the virus in its tracks.

The Rest…HERE

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