DR CONGO – After being announced as Global Health Emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week, the people of Goma are afraid of the deadly illness being spread in the region.
The Global Health Emergency is the highest level of health concern that can be given by the WHO. The Emergency has only been announced 4 times in Africa yet. In the earlier instances in West Africa between 2014- 2016, the emergency ended up killing 11,000 people.
Since the last outbreak of Ebola in DR in August 2018, 1,600 people have died of the disease. However, earlier Ebola was seen in more remote areas like Beni and Butembo.
Goma is the capital of North Kivu. Along with North Kivu, another province named Ituri is also being affected by the virus.
A priest died of Ebola earlier in July in Goma, which was termed as “a game changer” by WHO. On the contrary, there were no more confirmed cases of Ebola in the city, which is fortunate.
The main cause of concern is that the city Goma is a transport hub, and it is relatively hard to isolate the patients and trace the contacts. Goma is a major city with a high population density and high mobility which is another cause of the concern. As Goma adjoins with Gisenyi in Rwanda, there are doubts whether the illness may spread in Rwanda too.
Rwanda on the other hand is prepared for the virus, with over 20 isolation centres for any kind of infections. Director General of WHO also said,” Rwanda has made a significant investment in Ebola preparedness.” He further mentioned,” But as long as the outbreak continues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there is a very real risk of spread to neighbouring countries.”
The World Health Organisation announced that it does not have enough funds to fight the problem of Ebola a few months ago. It needed an estimated amount of $100 million but is falling short by around $55 million.
However, there is a vaccination for Ebola that is effective 99% of the times. It has been given to more than 160,000 people till date. But it has only been given to people who have been in indirect contact with Ebola patients. But sadly, there is still not enough awareness on the vaccination and some people deny to taking them for multiple reasons, including the hesitation of external liquids in their body. The vaccine was developed by Merck during the West African epidemics and have been available since the last outbreak.