Published: Thu, July 18, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

WHO declares 5th Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

WHO declares 5th Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

The declaration followed a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for Ebola virus disease in the DRC, the fourth of its kind since the outbreak was declared on August 1 of 2018.

According to a WHO statement, the Committee "cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma, a city of nearly two million people on the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world".

The WHO says the virus is likely spread over tens of kilometers and poses a high regional risk given its proximity to borders.

With the first anniversary of the complex outbreak in the volatile eastern part of the country looming, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that it was time to "work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system", for its people.

The woman, a fishmonger who vomited multiple times at a market in Uganda on July 11 before dying of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. For example, for the West African epidemic, the US Congress had offered US$ 5.4 billion right after WHO's emergency declaration.

FILE PHOTO: Ugandan business people are seen at a market with their merchandises for sale at Mpondwe border that separates Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Mpondwe, Uganda, June 14, 2019.

WHO declares outbreak an worldwide health emergency.

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The Ebola virus was first identified in 1976 when 2 simultaneous outbreaks occurred, one in Yambuku, a village not far from the Ebola River in the DRC and the other in a remote area of Sudan.

WHO workers and their partners are also conducting health screenings on roadways, particularly on the DRC's borders, to try to prevent the spread of the virus.

The current outbreak of the epidemic has been all but confined to Congo, killing 1,673 people there - more than two-thirds of those who contracted it - over the past year, and three in Uganda last month.

However, besides recommending a PHEIC and making specific recommendations related to this outbreak, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for Ebola virus disease in the DRC on Wednesday also expressed disappointment about delays in funding which have constrained the response.

"The reality check is that a year into the epidemic, it's still not under control, and we are not where we should be", she said.

Health workers wearing yellow high-visibility jackets took the temperature of people crossing the border, in both directions. "At the core of this are communities and individual tragedies", said Dr. Tedros. He also accepted suggestions that no restrictions should be placed on travel, or trade, and that travellers need not be screened at the entry point at ports or airports.

"Those restrictions would actually restrict the flow of goods and health care workers into affected countries, so they are counterproductive", she said.

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