WHO Director-General: DR Congo will eradicate Ebola outbreak in six months

Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Ghebreyesus Adhanom declared on Thursday that the Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo has been sufficiently restricted. The Ebola outbreak has now been restricted in two areas of the country and could be eradicated by September 2019.

The outbreak is the second worst infectious diseases ever appeared in the country. So far the virus has resulted in 587 casualties.  A concerted international effort managed to halt the spread of the disease into neighbouring countries. International medical intervention diminished the appearance of new Ebola victims to 25 patients per week since early January.

The virus is currently located in the regions near Butembo and Katwa, situated in the north-eastern part of the country, near the borders with Uganda. Nonetheless, effective combat of Ebola outbreak is restricted given several operational difficulties present in the ground. These entail distrust of local communities to foreign medical treatments, and periodic assaults by armed militia groups on international convoys.

The most recent incident occurred on Thursday when a militia group attacked an Ebola treatment centre near Butembo for the fifth time in March. The assault occurred minutes after doctors collected sample from the corpse of a man suspected of dying of the Ebola outbreak. Police intervention subsided the hostilities in the Biena health zone, established in the western part of Butembo. From the exchange of fire one civilian lost his life and another is injured.

The WHO Director-General argued that the organisation will remain in place when the Ebola virus will be eradicated to help local civilians improve the quality of existing health services. More specifically, the WHO chief argued that the organisation would aid locals in the battle against malaria and cholera, two inherent diseases in the region, largely neglected so far from the international medical missions in the country.

Further, Director-General Tedros invited donors to sponsor a $148 million contingency plan set up by WHO to eradicate the outbreak within the next six months. This sum may seem large at first sight but is perennial compared to the potential costs of treating another outbreak. The last Ebola outbreak in the region, which hit West Africa from 2013 until 2016, resulted approximately in 11.300 casualties and medical costs of $53 billion.