Wednesday, 16 January, 2019


To stop Ebola, DR Congo takes aim at malaria

To stop Ebola, DR Congo takes aim at malaria To stop Ebola, DR Congo takes aim at malaria
Patty Aguilar | 01 December, 2018, 23:32

Global health experts are urging the Donald Trump administration to allow USA government disease specialists - "some of the world's most experienced" - to return to northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo to help fight the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history.

According to the Health Ministry, among the 426 cases of reported hemorrhagic fever, 379 of them were confirmed to be Ebola cases.

The announcement came after a devastating week, when 13 cases were confirmed on Wednesday - a one-day record - and officials confirmed even newborn babies are catching the virus.

The town of Beni in North Kivu province, now battling the worst Ebola outbreak in Congo's history, has also seen an eight-fold increase in malaria cases since past year.

"The good is we have a vaccine now".

The Ebola outbreak in DRC began in August and, since, is believed to have infected 412 people and killed 236.

It will form part of a multi-outbreak, multi-country study that was agreed to by partners last month under a World Health Organization initiative. More than 37 000 people have received Ebola vaccinations, and DRC has begun the first-ever trial to test the effectiveness and safety of four experimental Ebola drugs. But it has drawn concern to areas that are virtually inaccessible because of the threat of rebel groups. There is also a reluctance among some residents to seek care or allow health workers to vaccinate, conduct contact tracing and perform safe burials, according to health officials. Many new cases have been unrelated to known infections, alarming evidence that gaps in tracking remain.

"This tragic milestone clearly demonstrates the complexity and severity of the outbreak", Michelle Gayer, Senior Director of Emergency Health at the International Rescue Committee said in a statement.

There are also concerns regarding the high number of young children affected with the virus, according to the WHO.

As the need for help in containing the outbreak grows, two of the world's most prominent medical journals this week published statements by global health experts urging the Trump administration to do more.

"It is in U.S. national interests to control outbreaks before they escalate into a crisis", one group of global health experts said in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It is spread in human through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of someone who is sick with Ebola or has recently died.

The DRC is in the throes of a major campaign ahead of a 23 December election to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the vast central African country since 2001.

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