Minister of Public Health visits Ebola virus-affected Likati region with WHO and UNICEF

Ebola VirusJOINT PRESS RELEASE –KINSHASA/LIKATI, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 18 May 2017- The Minister of Public Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dr Oly Ilunga Kalenga, visited the Likati health zone yesterday, to coordinate the response following confirmation of an outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the region.

Ebola epidemic officially declared in the DRC

The outbreak, which occurred in the Bas-Uélé Province, 1300 kilometres from Kinshasa, in the north of the country, was officially declared by the Minister of Public Health on May 11, 2017, after confirmation by the National Institute for Biomedical Research (NIRB) analysis of blood samples taken from suspected cases. To date, there have been 20 suspected cases, 3 deaths and 2 confirmed cases.

“The Government of the DRC has put in place a response plan estimated at US$14 million. A crisis management team, led by the Minister of Public Health, has been set up to coordinate the response, working in close collaboration with its technical partners, including WHO and UNICEF” said Dr Kalenga.

Dr Allarangar Yokouide, WHO Representative, and Dr Tajudeen Oyewale, the UNICEF Representative a.i., accompanied the Minister of Health during the visit.

“We are conducting this first field visit as a sign of solidarity and compassion with the affected population of Likati. This is eighth episode of the Ebola virus disease in the DRC. We are calling for urgent support from the international community to help the DRC to contain this epidemic” said Dr Yokouidé.

The response to the Ebola virus epidemic

The response is organized on the basis of seven technical commissions responsible for surveillance and investigations, medical care, laboratory and research, communication and social mobilization, water, hygiene, sanitation and biosecurity, psychosocial care and logistics.

Access to the remote Likati Health Zone is one of the major challenges in responding in the area affected by the epidemic. Government teams have been deployed to affected areas and begun sampling all suspected cases. Teams are actively investigating cases in health centres and within the community, and organising the follow-up of people that have been in touch with the suspected cases. Community leaders raise awareness in their communities about ways to prevent the spread of the disease.

“UNICEF welcomes the Government’s leadership in responding to the outbreak and is committed to support its efforts. As part of UNICEF’s response, we will focus on organizing local community awareness activities, which should be at the heart of all interventions, as well as the provision of water and sanitation services, “said Dr Oyewale.

 About Ebola virus in the DRC

For more information, please contact:

Jonathan Simba Kai, Ministry of Public Health, +243 (0)81 85 44 846, [email protected]; Yves Willemot, Chief Communication, UNICEF DRC, + 243 (0) 81 88 46 746, [email protected]; Eugene Kabambi, Communication officer, WHO RDC, + 243 817151697, [email protected].

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Yves Willemot

Yves Willemot est le chef de l’Équipe InfoCom de l’UNICEF RDC. Il fait partie de la grande équipe UNICEF depuis longtemps maintenant puisqu’après avoir été leur conseiller régional en communication pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest et l’Afrique Centrale à Dakar, il a dirigé l’UNICEF Belgique pendant 7 ans. Plus que tout, ce qui est important pour lui c'est d'être "tous ensemble pour les enfants".

Yves Willemot is Head of the UNICEF DRC InfoCom Team. He has been part of the large UNICEF team for a long time now since after being their regional communication advisor for the West Africa and Central Africa in Dakar, he led UNICEF Belgium for 7 years.More than anything, he believes that the most important is to "be together for the children".

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