On August 1st of this year, Ebola returned for a tenth time to the Democratic Republic of Congo. 444 cases have been reported and the virus has already taken 260 lives in North Kivu province. This marks only a slight improvement to the mortality rate from the 2014 Africa wide epidemic which killed 70% of those who contracted the Ebola.
Relief efforts may prove to be more successful in those who are yet to contract the disease. Since August 8th the World Health Organization has permitted the deployment of an experimental Ebola vaccine and over 20 000 people have been vaccinated to date. Developed in Canada in 2014, the vaccine still has a long way to go before being adopted world wide but early research done in Guinea and Sierra Leone suggested a 95-100% efficacy rate.
Yet, the situation in Norh Kivu province, DRC remains in a state of emergency. In Beni, a city at the epicentre of the outbreak, there are persistent security threats from multiple rebel factions in the area. The high risk posed to medical staff greatly increases costs and slows down crucial medical aid. The threat is real. In October a rebel militia killed fifteen people including two medical staffers. In September, a similar attack killed 20 and resulted in a temporary suspension of containment efforts. This interference presents a significant danger when any disruption in containment or vaccination could allow for the outbreak to spread further.
That the affected northern provinces sit close to the border with Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda make that spread particularly worrying. Thin border controls, a highly mobile population, and many displaced citizens in the region means the outbreak could very quickly become international. At present it seems as if the situation remains localized within DRC. An October 17th meeting of the emergency committee tasked with monitoring the outbreak has declined to declare an international public emergency.
No cases of ebola have been reported in South Kivu where Nyantende is situated. Nyantende Foundation continues to monitor containment efforts. Interested readers can follow the crisis directly at:
The World This Week. (2018, October 26). The Economist, 7.
Molteni, M. (2018, October 25). An Ebola Outbreak in a War Zone Is About as Bad as It Gets. Wired. Retrieved October 28, 2018, from https://www.wired.com/story/an-ebola-outbreak-in-a-war-zone-is-about-as-bad-as-it-gets/
Ebola virus disease – Democratic Republic of the Congo. (2018, October 25). World Health Organization. Retrieved October 28, 2018, from https://www.who.int/csr/don/25-october-2018-ebola-drc/en/
Ebola situation reports: Democratic Republic of the Congo. (2018, October 26). World Health Organization. Retrieved October 28, 2018, from https://www.who.int/ebola/situation-reports/drc-2018/en/
Henao-Restrepo, A. M., Camacho, A., Longini, I. M., & Watson, C. (2017). Efficacy and effectiveness of an rVSV-vectored vaccine in preventing Ebola virus disease: Final results from the Guinea ring vaccination, open-label, cluster-randomised trial. The Lancet, 389(10068). doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(16)32621-6
Images: dispatch.ug, http://hellolumbini.com/dr-congo-ebola-outbreak-beni-attack-halts-outreach-work/