WHO considering global health emergency over Congo’s Ebola outbreak

Leslie Hanson
October 18, 2018

The World Health Organization will meet on Wednesday to decide whether to declare the outbreak a "public health emergency of global concern".

The organisation noted in a statement in Geneva that the meeting, which would involve committee of independent experts, may make recommendations on how best to manage the outbreak.

Aid workers on the frontline of the Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are being met with significant suspicion in many communities in North Kivu - contributing to the 33 new confirmed cases of the disease last week, the worst on record since this most recent outbreak began in August.

More cases are being confirmed by health officials in the central African country, with death toll rising.

"In this DRC outbreak of Ebola, there are security risks to public health responders in the field that have not been present in past outbreaks", Tom Inglesby, MD, director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said in an interview with Contagion®.

Nevertheless, by the information now available, World Health Organization is still advising against any travel or trade restrictions with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The organization on September 28 elevated the national and regional risk of the outbreak from "high" to "very high", although the global outbreak risk is still low.

Working alongside the Ministry of Health, Save the Children has recruited and trained 230 Community Health Workers who travel door-to-door and inform families on how to prevent the spread of the disease through simple steps like handwashing.

It said this raised the risk that the virus would continue to spread.

No fewer than 20 civilians in Beni were killed in the incident that provoked the suspension, which came on the heels of multiple attacks in previous weeks. Neighbouring Uganda has stepped up border controls in response to the outbreak, yet people in the region are wary of authority after years of war, which makes disease control measures hard. The region has surpassed the Mangina Health Zone to become the epicenter of the outbreak.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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