“Declared on Sunday August 24, 2014 in accordance with the International Health Regulations, the epidemic was controlled in 40 days and we continued monitoring for a security period on 42 additional days without any new confirmed positive case is recorded“, declared Felix Kabange Numbi Mukwampa, Minister of Public Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), at the press conference he held today, to declare the end of the Ebola epidemic in the country. The Ebola outbreak in DRC lead to 66 confirmed or suspected cases and 49 deaths.
The Ebola epidemic broke out in the territory of Boende in Equateur province, more specifically in the area of Djera, more than 1,200 km from the capital Kinshasa. The outbreak occurred in a particular context at a time when West Africa was already facing an Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. In its response to the crisis the DRC therefore faced two major challenges. First avoid the import of a case of Ebola from West Africa while fighting at the same time against the epidemic which had just declared in Djera.
Thanks to the rapid and coordinated response there was no Ebola case imported from West Africa and the epidemic in Djera could be controlled. To respond to the epidemic the DRC government with the support of its partners acted on three fronts. First, the community approach which involves the appropriation of the struggle by grassroots communities through campaigns as “village by village” and “not one household without disinfectant”. Then the medical response including free health services for all and qualitative care in Ebola treatment centers. Finally, secured funerals during the period of the epidemic in order to avoid any contamination.
The Minister of Health thanked his teams for their commitment. He also thanked all the technical and financial partners for their strong support throughout the response that was put in place to fight the disease. In its fight against Ebola DRC could count on trained Congolese experts and their teams, who were quickly deployed in the affected area thanks to the support of MONUSCO, UNHAS (WFP) and Aviation Sans Frontières (ASF-F), under the supervision of the Committee of Technical and Scientific Coordination.
UNICEF with its partners has supported the response by sending more than 40 tons of medical equipment and hygiene. Sylvie Fouet, the Deputy Representative of the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF), said: “Moreover, we have invested heavily with our partners in community awareness. This communication effort must continue.‘
The WFP Representative in the DRC, Pablo Recalde, said he was “proud of the strong contribution of WFP in the national effort to stop the epidemic” and congratulating the Government, he hopes that “we will not forget that even though the food support, logistics and air transport has been critical in the answer that was put in place, it is ultimately the excellent leadership of the Congolese government that has made all the difference.”
Thanks to the experience gained during the previous 6 Ebola outbreaks since 1976, the Congolese health professionals have proven expertise in the field. They were put to work to contain the disease and are able to share their knowledge and expertise in the affected countries of West Africa. It is in this context that multidisciplinary teams were formed with the support of UNICEF and WHO to be able to respond to any future outbreaks in DRC and to be deployed in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
It is important to note that in the response against Ebola and other diseases, community involvement is crucial. Indeed, families have been actively involved in controlling the disease by putting in practice effective behavior on hand washing with clean water and soap thanks to the messages that were communicated through mass media and local radio. Three hotlines have also been set by mobile operators (Tigo, Vodacom and Airtel) to address all the concerns of the population. It is thanks to the close collaboration with the communities and their appropriation of the response that the fight against Ebola in DRC was successful.
Yves Willemot, Chief Communication/UNICEF RDC, +243 81 88 46746, [email protected]
Bibiane Ambongo, Communication Specialist/UNICEF Kinshasa, +243 81 8803007, [email protected]
Dr Lomamy Shodu, Medical Advisor/Ministry of Health, [email protected]
Olivier Le Blanc, External Relations, Reports and Communication Officer/WFP, +243 81 701 1465, [email protected]
Claude Kalinga, Public Information Officer/WFP, +243 81 700 6714, [email protected]
To know more on how the DRC fought against Ebola :
Bibiane Ambongo is a Communications Specialist at UNICEF Kinshasa, where she has worked for many years. She is particularly concerned with presenting the DRC as a country which is moving forward and finding its feet. And if children are at the heart of it all, they just have to be taken by the hand so they can reveal their talents. And Heaven knows, they have plenty!
Bibiane Ambongo est Spécialiste communication à l’UNICEF Kinshasa où elle travaille depuis de nombreuses années. Donner l’image d’une RDC qui se cherche et qui avance la préoccupe. Alors, si les enfants sont au centre de cette dynamique, il faut absolument les prendre par la main pour qu’ils révèlent leurs talents. Et Dieu sait s’ils en ont !
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