Medicine

Medics losing the battle against Ebola

Medics losing the battle against Ebola

The DRC's current Ebola outbreak, its tenth to date, has killed at least 569 people.

The outbreak emerged in North Kivu last August and then spread to neighbouring Ituri province.

According to the World Health Organization, 569 people have died since the outbreak began seven months ago.

The use of police and armed forces to compel people to comply with health measures against Ebola is leading to further alienation of the community and is counterproductive to controlling the epidemic.

Dr. Joanne Liu, a Canadian who is the global president of Doctors Without Borders, said the outbreak would not be beaten unless the community trusted the authorities and were treated humanely.

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) held a press conference on Thursday explaining the long-term implications if the outbreak isn't brought under control.

Liu said Ebola is a brutal disease that breeds fear and isolation to patients, families, and health providers.

DRC health officials have stepped up community talks in Butembo to better understand the gap between health workers and community members, and Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga, MD, has acknowledged that using response teams accompanied by police in less secure areas has been perceived with suspicion.

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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.

"The existing atmosphere can only be described as toxic", Liu said.

Even after almost seven months, she says more than 40% of the deaths are still taking place in communities rather than at Ebola treatment centres.

An attack by gunmen on one of the centres last week in Butembo forced its temporary closure, but the health ministry said on Monday that the centre would reopen. "The police and the army are not involved in Ebola response activities and their role has never been to enforce sanitary measures".

And others were angered by the obvious influx of worldwide money to help halt the spread of Ebola as people continue to die from common diseases like malaria due to lack of treatment. This means we have not reached them ...

They "feel that Ebola has been used as an excuse for political manoeuvres", she said.

The second largest Ebola outbreak in history is now taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Health workers treating patients in the current epidemic have had far more tools at their disposal than they did back in 2014-2016 when more than 11,000 people died of Ebola in West Africa.