Does DRC’s Ebola outbreak constitute worldwide public health emergency?

Leslie Hanson
October 20, 2018

Committee Chairman Robert Steffan said the global response to the outbreak had been very good. It said this posed problems for health workers who need to move around freely and track people who are infected with the virus and need treatment. The WHO's emergency response chief, Peter Salama, previously told HuffPost that this has been the "most hard context" for dealing with an Ebola outbreak ― ever.

Health workers have been trained to manage safely any suspected or confirmed case of Ebola.

Robert Steffen, Chair of the Emergency Committee, also voiced "some optimism" that the outbreak would be brought under control within a "reasonable time".

Declaring a PHEIC, the first since the Latin American Zika virus outbreak in February 2016, might have ramped up the pace of the response, but Steffen said there were also disadvantages, such as travel and transport restrictions.

Ebola has claimed 139 lives in DR Congo since an outbreak started almost two months ago in North Kivu, a border region where numerous militia are fighting over the central African country's rich natural resources. "We still have more than 250 people working in DRC to end this outbreak", Tedros tweeted.


The four drugs used during the outbreak are ZMapp, developed by San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc.; remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences Inc.in collaboration with the USA government; REGN3470-3471-3479, developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; and favipiravir, developed by Toyama Chemical of Japan.

"I think the vaccine is helping", Tedros said. He added that they believe they have the experts to cover any "gaps" that would arise from the CDC pulling staff.

Lawrence O. Gostin, a professor and faculty director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law, wrote in an email that the WHO committee "should have declared a public health emergency of worldwide concern due to the high level of risk to the Congo and neighboring countries". They concluded that Uganda is "well-prepared", with strengthened surveillance and "a lot of very detailed contact tracing".

Salama and Steffen also said that ongoing security challenges are the biggest issue facing the response efforts. Yesterday on Twitter Salama said the World Health Organization had been successful in tracing 78% of at-risk people and known contacts in Beni, calling the situation "improving but still a challenge".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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