Medicine

Efforts to contain Ebola epidemic in Congo are faltering, aid leader warns

Efforts to contain Ebola epidemic in Congo are faltering, aid leader warns

Historically poor access to government-run health facilities has made care by traditional healers or self-medication the preferred health care option for many in the region, meaning a government-backed vaccination programme has often met local opposition. Another 304 people have been cured, and 223 suspected cases are still under investigation.

At a press conference in Geneva yesterday, Doctors Without Borders (MSF)-a group with a long history of treating hundreds of patients in Ebola outbreaks-warned that the response in the DRC is losing the upper hand owing to deepening community mistrust.

Seven months into the largest ever outbreak of the deadly virus in the DRC, "various political, social and economic grievances" and an overly militarised response are impeding efforts to combat its spread, MSF said in a statement on Thursday.

3. On March 6, the nonprofit research charity Wellcome Trust shared plans to allocate $2.65 million for vaccine research in the Congo.

This follows attacks on two of its treatment centers last week.

The centre in Butembo, the epicentre of DR Congo's latest Ebola outbreak, is now run by the health ministry in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations children's organisation Unicef, the authorities said.

Although citizens in Congo maybe rushing to treatment centers, more than 40 percent of people who have contracted Ebola are dying at home rather than in hospitals.

Liu tells VOA the government is painting the Ebola epidemic as a security emergency.

"The existing atmosphere can only be described as toxic", MSF International President Dr. Joanne Liu said.

Ebola responders were increasingly seen as the enemy, with more than 30 attacks and incidents against the Ebola response in the past month alone, she said.

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The medical aid group has temporarily suspended its operations at two of its centres after attackers set fire to them.

MSF was insisting on security before it returned to its damaged facilities, she said.

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.

"We can share the right messages but if you have counter messages that makes it hard", Ilunga said.

"We have tools and innovations that previously we only dreamed of. and yet, despite all of this, the signs are that Ebola is not under control", Lieu said.

"We have a striking contradiction", said Liu. "Ebola is a common enemy".

The use of security forces in the area is also complicating efforts, Ms Liu said.

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

The worst-ever outbreak, which was centred in West Africa from 2013 to 2016, killed more than more than 11,000 people.