Red Cross calls for swift, extensive response to the new Ebola outbreak in DR Congo
More than 150 trained Red Cross volunteers have been deployed as part of a first wave of response to the latest Ebola outbreak in the Équateur Province, in the western part of Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Dr Simon Missiri, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) Regional Director for Africa said: ''The resurgence of the virus in Équateur province comes at the worst possible time, when we are already facing a double outbreak – COVID-19 and Ebola in East and West DR Congo – in one of the most complex and dangerous environments in the world. The health, economic and social impact has the potential to be huge for millions of people who have limited capacity to cope, as their access to healthcare, food security and safety nets is continuously being eroded by humanitarian emergencies and the ongoing conflict.''
The 11th Ebola outbreak in Mbandaka, the capital of Équateur Province, was officially declared by the DR Congo Ministry of Health on 31 May 2020. This area was previously affected by an outbreak between May and July 2018. It adds an additional layer of suffering for a population that is already struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DR Congo Red Cross has been on the frontline of all previous Ebola outbreaks in the country and has developed a strong in-country capacity with 1,600 trained and highly skilled volunteers. Crucially, these have successfully built trust with communities. During the most recent outbreak in the eastern DR Congo, these volunteers provided information on prevention to almost 3 million people and conducted over 28,000 successful safe and dignified burials for confirmed or suspected Ebola cases as part of the 10th outbreak.
Robert Ghosn, Ebola Operations Manager for the IFRC said: ''When it comes to containing epidemics before these turn into large-scale humanitarian disasters you need not only to act local, with local responders taking ownership of the response, but also to act fast. As the global pandemic of COVID-19 has brought the world to its knees, we at the Red Cross have lost no time in scaling up activities in DR Congo. This is not the time to look away from the dire suffering of Congolese people or the consequences for millions of them would be unimaginable.''