DRC: Ebola Epidemic On The Rise

The outbreak has claimed more than 200 lives since it started last August.

Health authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC over the weekend warned that the country was in the throes of its worst Ebola epidemic since the deadly disease was first discovered in Yambuku, Equateur Province in 1976, agency reports said. Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga on November 9, 2018 said 319 confirmed and probable Ebola cases have been reported in North Kivu and Ituri Provinces since the outbreak was declared last August.

The figure exceeds the 318 cases documented in 1976 when the diseases was first identified. More than 200 people have now died in the latest Ebola outbreak – the country’s tenth - the BBC quoted DRC health officials as disclosing. About half the victims were from Beni, a city of 800,000 people in North Kivu Province. The vaccination programme in the area has so far inoculated about 27,000 people.

However, there is concern that the situation of the epidemic could deteriorate because of attacks by armed groups and community resistance in the affected areas in the east of the country. Oly Ilunga said rebels continue to harass medical teams. Last September, vaccination was suspended in Beni after a rebel attack. Health officials have also reported incidents of community resistance.

“No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are experiencing,” Kalenga said. According to him, the teams responding to the Ebola outbreak are attacked on average three or four times a week, in an unprecedented level of violence. Meanwhile, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organization, WHO, last week also said the main challenges in the current Ebola epidemic were insecurity and community mistrust. 

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