Published: Tue, November 05, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Ebola: Attackers kill DR Congo journalist shining light on virus

Ebola: Attackers kill DR Congo journalist shining light on virus

The national and regional risk levels of Ebola situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remain very high, while global risk levels remain low, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

In many areas of rural Africa, local communities fear Western-style medical practices and have been known to attack healthcare workers; DRC in particular has experienced a growing sense of distrust and rejection of Ebola treatment among poorer communities.

The unnamed journalist, who was also serving as a community health worker, was attacked at his home in the northeast town of Lwemba in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The reporter, who the BBC has identified as Papy Mumbere Mahamba, and his wife were both attacked at their home in Lwemba.

OLPA has called for the authorities to conduct a "serious investigation" into the murder.

The DR Congo in August a year ago declared an Ebola epidemic in the conflict-wracked eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, bordering Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

According to figures from the WHO, over 2,000 people have died as a result of 3,000 confirmed Ebola cases in the current outbreak, with the organization in July declaring it a "public health emergency of worldwide concern".

Efforts to roll back the epidemic have been hampered not only by fighting but also by resistance within communities to preventative measures, care facilities and safe burials.

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With the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak ever recorded still ongoing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the nation has opened itself to a second, large-scale vaccine trial backed by a global consortium.

In the past year, about 200 attacks on health workers, ambulances and health centers have occurred.

A Cameroonian doctor from the WHO, Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, was shot dead in April in an attack on a hospital in North Kivu.

The DRC Minister of Public Health, Dr Eteni Longondo, recently announced the country's decision to introduce Janssen's investigational vaccine alongside other tools as part of an expanded public health response to fight the Ebola outbreak. Some people even feel Ebola is a hoax created by medics to get well-paid jobs.

On Saturday, the authorities said they had received 11,000 doses of a second anti-Ebola vaccine from Belgium, the DRC's former colonial power. The vaccine, an experimental product developed by US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, will be implemented on those living outside Ebola transmission zones in order to protect them against future contagion.

The vaccine developed by United States pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson will be administered only to those who want it, the ministry said.

Since the start of the vaccination campaign on August 8, 2018, a total 245,999 people have been vaccinated.

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