Published: Sat, February 15, 2020
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

World Health Organization encouraged by fight against DRC EBOLA outbreak

World Health Organization encouraged by fight against DRC EBOLA outbreak

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus plans to meet with President Felix Tshisekedi and his senior advisers to discuss management of Ebola, which remains a public health emergency of global concern (PHEIC) following the decision to extend that status during Wednesday's meeting in Geneva.

The WHO declared the DRC's Ebola outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in mid-July after the first confirmed case was discovered in Goma, a city of almost 2 million people on the border with Rwanda and a gateway to the rest of the country as the capital of North Kivu province.

"As long as there is a single case of Ebola in an area as insecure and unstable as eastern DRC, the potential remains for a much larger epidemic", WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists in Geneva on Wednesday.

The WHO recommends other at-risk countries to continue preparedness for detecting and managing imported or locally acquired cases, and to strengthen risk communications and community engagement, especially at points of entry.

Bats serves as natural host for numerous viruses including Ebola virus, Nipah virus, coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the 2019 novel coronovirus.

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More than 2300 people have died since the outbreak started in August 2018.

Major concerns from the World Health Organization is that withdrawing the PHEIC now might have adverse consequences for the response efforts through diminishing focus, let alone the serious ongoing outbreaks of other diseases, including measles and cholera, in the country.

The WHO, however, said it was downgrading the national and regional risk of the disease from very high to high, while it kept the global risk at low. Last week, it reported only three new cases of the disease in North Kivu's Beni Health Zone.

"Nonetheless, the signs are extremely positive, and I hope that by the time the (WHO) Emergency Committee reconvenes, we will be able to declare an end to the Ebola outbreak".

The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 per cent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

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