Democratic Republic of The Congo Faces Ebola Outbreak
International Medical Corps Is Helping To Respond to New Cases of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
On August 1, 2018, an outbreak of Ebola in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) began that has since grown to become the second-largest ever, exceeded in size only by the 2014 outbreak in West Africa. On July 17, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, which heightens international focus on stopping the spread of the deadly virus. In mid-August of 2019, the government confirmed that cases had emerged in a third province, South Kivu. Tragically, on April 10, 2020, after 52 days without a new confirmed case and just days before the epidemic was to be officially declared over, a new case was confirmed by health authorities.
On June 1, 2020, the government announced a second outbreak, near Mbandaka in Équateur Province, roughly 750 miles west of the outbreak on the country’s eastern edge. International Medical Corps is deploying a rapid response team to support response efforts by the DRC Ministry of Health and the WHO, and will focus on case management, infection prevention and control, and capacity-building.
Throughout the outbreaks, International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team (ERT) has continued to work with the DRC Ministry of Health to help with treatment, infection prevention, screening and training.
As part of our efforts to build local response capacity in the east, we built, opened and operated an Ebola Treatment Center (ETC) in Makeke (now transitioned to a hospital for the community); operated an Ebola Transit Center in Beni and currently operate one in Mambassa; and we are operating an ETC in Mangina, the initial epicentre of the outbreak and currently where most cases are being treated. In addition to providing treatment, vaccination and contact tracing, International Medical Corps has constructed nearly 100 screening-and-referral units throughout the region. We remain in close contact with the Ministry of Health, local health officials and the international community to identify any additional support we can provide.
International Medical Corps has extensive experience and expertise in stopping the spread of Ebola, having responded in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali and Guinea-Bissau in the wake of the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic. We served as a key implementation partner for the World Health Organization, fielding a team of more than 1,500 and treating nearly 460 Ebola-positive patients in our five treatment centres. We helped host governments prevent further transmission of the virus, provided critical training to frontline health workers—and, importantly, stayed after the outbreak to continue to build local health systems and provide mental health and psychosocial counselling to those affected by the deadly disease.
We will build on our breadth and depth of experience in DRC, where we’ve provided vital health services since 1999, as we continue to support the Ministry of Health’s efforts to contain the Ebola virus.
What’s happening now?
In early August 2018, one week after an earlier Ebola outbreak was officially declared over, new cases of the Ebola virus were confirmed in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by the DRC’s Ministry of Health. Since then, the outbreak has grown to be the second-largest in history, leading to a declaration by the World Health Organization of the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
What are the potential consequences?
Though the end of one Ebola epidemic was declared, flare-ups are still possible. These new cases are in North Kivu, a province more than 1,500 miles from the earlier outbreak.
North Kivu province, located in northeastern DRC, sits along the border with Uganda and Rwanda. Insecurity will likely further complicate efforts to contain the deadly virus, as the province has been plagued by ongoing conflict for the last 20 years.
How is International Medical Corps responding?
International Medical Corps’ team in DRC is ramping up disease surveillance and infection prevention activities in North Kivu. We remain in close contact with the Ministry of Health, local health officials and the international community to identify any additional support we can provide.
In response to the previous Ebola outbreak, International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team has deployed to North Kivu and are working in alignment with the World Health Organization and the DRC’s Ministry of Health, with ongoing assessments in Beni and Mangina to help increase infection prevention, step up monitoring and surveillance, and build local response capacity. Other International Medical Corps staff remain on standby in Kinshasa and Mbandaka to deploy as necessary
Does International Medical Corps have experience with Ebola?
We have extensive experience and expertise in stopping the spread of Ebola, having responded in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali and Guinea-Bissau in the wake of the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic. With a team of more than 1,500 staff, we treated a total of nearly 460 Ebola-positive patients in our five treatment units, helped host governments prevent further transmission of the virus, provided critical training to frontline health workers—and, importantly, stayed after the outbreak to continue to build local health systems as well as provide mental health and psychosocial counselling to those affected by the deadly disease.
- According to WHO and DRC Ministry of Health figures, as of June 1st, 3,463 cases have been reported in this Ebola outbreak, including 3,317 confirmed and 146 probable cases, with 2,268 deaths and 1,170 survivors.
- A new outbreak, near Mbandaka in Équateur Province, has sickened nine people and killed five.
- This outbreak—now the second-largest ever—is some 750 miles from the previous Ebola epidemic in DRC, which was declared over at the end of July 2018.
- We currently operate an Ebola Treatment Center in Mangina, in North Kivu province.
- We have drilled boreholes across the region to provide health centres with access to clean water, and rehabilitated waste management systems, including incinerators, sharps pits, burn pits and waste zones.
- We have constructed 95 screening-and-referral units (SRUs), and are preparing to construct more.
- Since August 21, 2018, SRUs supported by International Medical Corps has conducted more than 1.2 million screenings, and we have trained 1,711 health staff in infection prevention and control.
Ebola Developments In DRC
CEO Nancy Aossey on Ebola in the DRC on PBS Newshour
Visit www.internationalmedicalcorps.org for more information on the Ebola outbreak in the DRC.
19th December 2018