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 grew 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.
After almost two years, thanks to the persistence and skill of our staff and other healthcare workers in the region, the end of the outbreak in this region was officially declared over on June 25, 2020.
On June 1, 2020, the government announced an 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?
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 the DRC is conducting disease-treatment, surveillance and infection-prevention activities in the provinces, as well as providing training to healthcare staff. International Medical Corps also is distributing essential infection-prevention and hygiene supplies to health facilities—including handwashing stations, personal protective equipment (PPE), water basins, liquid soap and jerry cans—to ensure that trained staff have the resources they need to prevent the transmission of disease. 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. Additional International Medical Corps team members 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 the DRC Ministry of Health and World Health Organization data, the outbreak in Équateur Province has sickened 128 people (119 confirmed and nine probable) and killed 53
- When the outbreak in the east was officially declared over on June 25, 3,470 cases had been reported (including 3,324 confirmed and 153 probable cases), with 2,287 deaths and 1,171 survivors
- We currently operate the sole Ebola Treatment Center in Équateur Province
- We have drilled boreholes across the regions 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 2018, SRUs supported by International Medical Corps have conducted more than 1.2 million screenings, and we have trained 1,711 health staff in infection prevention and control
Ebola Developments In DRC
International Medical Corps Ebola Response
We're transporting crucial health equipment and supplies to the Democratic Republic of Congo where an urban outbreak of Ebola has reached Mbandaka, a city of 1.2 million people.
6th June 2018