Published: Sat, March 09, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Violence in Congo Threatens Fight Against Ebola

Violence in Congo Threatens Fight Against Ebola

MSF recently pulled its staff from Kawta and Butembo following violent attacks on its Ebola treatment centers (ETCs), but it has maintained its operations in other parts of North Kivu province and in neighboring Ituri province.

Regarding the attacks on the two ETCs, MSF said it doesn't know the motives or identities of the attackers, but the violence follows escalating tensions in the outbreak area that have also included dozens of security incidents against response efforts in February. "The Ebola response needs to become patient- and community-centered".

Congo's Ebola epidemic has killed almost 600 people, making it the second deadliest in the world. It said there's a misunderstanding about the role of law enforcement in the outbreak areas and that police and military are not involved in response activities and their role has never been to force compliance with sanitary measures.

Authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) need to reframe their approach to the ongoing Ebola epidemic in the country as an issue of managing an infectious disease rather than a security problem, giving patients more control over their treatment, Joanne Liu, the global president of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) charity, said during a press conference on Thursday. "Communities are not the enemy".

A spokesperson for Congo's health ministry said there appeared to be confusion about the security forces' role.

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Doctors Without Borders was insisting on security before it returned to its damaged facilities, Ilunga said.

According to a new report, there are more than 900 cases of Ebola in the Congo, causing lots of uncertainty in the region as health officials sluggishly meet people's needs despite newer treatment options that should be available across the nation, according to AXIOS.

Liu said there were still signs the outbreak - the second worst ever - was not being brought under control.

"Contrary to worldwide agents, local health workers don't have the privilege of being evacuated when security conditions worsen". Moreover, she adds, 35 percent of new cases of Ebola couldn't be tracked to existing cases, meaning researchers do not have a good handle on how the disease is spreading.

At a press conference, Dr Liu described how local people view Ebola response initiatives. A myriad of armed groups operate in eastern Congo, complicating efforts for the teams that go out into the communities to identify suspected cases of the disease. Many people thought the government had used the disease as an excuse to keep them from voting, and some of their anger turned against the outside groups that had drawn so much attention to Ebola.

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