Fighting the Ebola outbreak in DRC

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More than a year into the ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we are supporting Médecins Sans Frontières with emergency funding to provide quality care free of charge for confirmed and suspected ebola patients, to strengthen the disease surveillance system and to support existing health structures, ensuring they remain functional during the outbreak.

Duration
2019-2020
challenge
Emergency Response
country
Democratic Republic of Congo
partner
Médecins Sans Frontières

CONTEXT

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared its tenth ebola outbreak in 40 years on 1 August 2018. On 17 July 2019, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

More than a year into the epidemic, with the number of cases exceeding 3,100 and the number of deaths reported over 2,100, this epidemic is by far the country’s largest ever ebola outbreak. It is also the second-largest ebola epidemic ever recorded, only eclipsed by the one that struck West Africa in 2014-2016.

The outbreak is centred in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the northeast of the country and appears to be spreading gradually towards the south, following continuous movements of the population. Many people are still dying in the community – either at home or in general healthcare facilities – and two thirds of new confirmed cases cannot be traced to an existing contact with ebola.

High levels of insecurity are continuing to hamper efforts to control the epidemic and negatively impacting its evolution: the violence further discourages people from seeking care in treatment centres, resulting in an increased likelihood of the virus spreading across the country.

Emergency response

MSF has been involved in the outbreak response, working with the Ministry of Health, from the moment the epidemic was declared in August 2018. More than 600 MSF staff have been dedicated to the DRC response until late August 2019.

We are supporting MSF with emergency funding to provide quality care free of charge for confirmed ebola patients in the Ebola Treatment Centre in Bunia, Ituri Province.

MSF is currently present in six sites in Ituri province: Bunia, Mambasa, and Biakato, as well as Mayuano, Some, and Lwemba (north of Biakato) The funds will also help MSF to strengthen the disease surveillance system in every area where it is present, providing quality care for suspected cases and managing Transit Centres for suspected Ebola patients.

Driven by the belief that ebola-related activities should be integrated into the existing health care system to ensure it remains functional during the outbreak, MSF continues to support existing health structures where common illnesses are treated. MSF teams provide free primary healthcare for malaria, diarrhoea and measles, improve water and sanitation, build transit units within existing facilities, and implement and strengthen triage and infection prevention and control activities.

MSF is also stepping up health promotion and community engagement, and strengthening the disease surveillance system in all the areas it is present to build trust between the response teams and affected populations.

Expected results

Provide essential medical care to the local and displaced population in Bunia (666,000 inhabitants), Biakato (95,000 inhabitants) and Mambasa (112,000).