citation

"DRC Ebola News (6/17/19)." CSIS Commission on Strengthening America's Health Security, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 17, 2019. Accessed October 11, 2019. https://healthsecurity.csis.org/articles/drc-ebole-news-6-17-19/

Daily update for June 17th, 2019 on the Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

Photo Credit: Mike Stone/Getty Images

There were 14 new Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as of June 16th, 2019.

A female patient in Kenya with Ebola-like symptoms is in isolation after visiting her spouse at the Uganda-Kenya border. Three other family members are also under observation.

The greatest concern still lies in eastern DRC, and money, vaccines, and peace are the three requirements needed to bring the crisis under control in the country.

Informal crossings are common in many African borders, which complicates the outbreak. The need for more strategic interventions from health authorities is explained by a global health scientist.

WHO AFRO Dashboard/DRC MoH Stats

DRC MoH Statistics

Total cases in DRC: 2,148

  • Confirmed cases: 2,054
  • Probable cases: 94
  • Suspected cases: 319

Confirmed deaths in DRC: 1,440

Vaccinated in DRC: 135,395

Kenya tests woman for Ebola, as Congo, Uganda fight outbreak

AP

By Tom Odula, 6/17/19

“The rapid surveillance and response team, which has been sent to examine the patient who is in stable condition, has confirmed that she does not fit the case definition of Ebola. Allow me to repeat to Kenyans that the patient does not meet the case definition of Ebola,” said Sicily Kariuki, Kenya’s Health Minister, as she downplayed the threat while touring the Nairobi international airport to assess passenger screenings. If the Kenyan patient is confirmed as having Ebola, it would be the East African country’s first ever case of the virus and represent a worrying spread of the disease from eastern Congo. Kenya has never experienced an Ebola outbreak, and some Kenyan doctors have expressed concern about the country’s preparedness to manage the deadly virus. Meanwhile, health officials in eastern Congo have begun offering vaccinations to all residents in the hotspot of Mabalako although previous efforts had only targeted known contacts or those considered to be at high risk.

Ebola outbreak demands more urgent attention

Financial Times

6/16/19

WHO has asked for $98 million to fight the epidemic. However, only $44 million has been received. A scarcity of the Merck vaccine has led health authorities to halve the dose to prolong supplies. Fortunately, Merck has agreed to make more, and another vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson should also be rapidly employed. To ensure peace within the region, everything possible should be done to organize some sort of truce with militias, which continue to destabilize eastern DRC. The root cause of the violence is the poverty that stalks much of Congo. If something cannot be done to tackle the violence, then even if this epidemic is brought under control, sooner or later Ebola will be back.

Africa’s porous and informal borders make it difficult to contain Ebola

Quartz

Natasha Joseph, 6/17/19

In an interview, Mosoka Fallah, Deputy Director General at National Public Health Institute of Liberia and Visiting Scientist at Harvard Medical School explained the porosity of many African borders. “In the case of the family of 14 that travelled from the DR Congo to Uganda, most of them crossed at the formal border, but five evaded the main port of entry and instead they crossed over informally” he said. Those five eventually arrived with Ebola-like symptoms, which implies a period of illness in the DRC and that they were most likely symptomatic while travelling. The surveillance system for scanning people who are crossing into Uganda are at formal border crossings, which are not always foolproof. Fallah stated that “people across geographical boundaries don’t have any physical boundaries in their minds. When they are in the DRC and fall ill, they will do what anyone would: seek support from their relatives and friends, some of whom are in border towns” and went on to recommend some intervention strategies that were implemented during the west African Ebola outbreak between 2014 and 2016. “The surveillance team has to enter the mind of a typical villager from the DR Congo who knows they’re infected and is trying to escape to relatives in Uganda.”

Twitter

Tweet by Helen Branswell

@HelenBranswell

Yes, Uganda established an #Ebola treatment center at Bwera, near the CRC border. (Kudos for this.) But staff there say they don’t have many supplies on hand, @AssociatedPress reports.

Tweet by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

@DrTedros

I met this brave pregnant woman who came to the #Ebola treatment centre in #Katwa in critical condition but thankfully her health has stabilized after receiving care. The CUBE care unit at the Treatment Centre allows patients to be visited by their loved ones & still protected

Tweet by Jeremy Farrar

@JeremyFarrar

I respect advice of Emergency Committee but do believe a PHEIC would have been justified. It would have raised the levels of international political support which has been lacking to date, enhanced diplomatic, public health, security & logistic efforts.

Tweet by Mark Eccleston-Turner

@MarkRTurner

Beyond this, and the fact that not declaring could actually hamper the outbreak response in the DRC, the way the WHO and EC are interpreting and using the IHR has long term implications for the authority and normative weight of the treaty, and WHO.

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