World Health Organization WHO and aid organization MSF-Holland want extra money to fight the Ebola epidemic in Congo. Since the summer of 2018, more than 1,600 people have died as a result of the disease.
“Up to now, the WHO mission has put us in the red for fifty million dollars,” says Peter Graaff of the WHO. “For the next six months we will need at least one hundred million dollars. That will allow us to send more people into the field and solve the problem faster, saving human lives.”
International health crisis
This week, the WHO labeled the Ebola outbreak in the Congo as an international health crisis. “The committee that deals with declaring the public health emergency said this time: we are going the extra mile, “says Graaff, who was recently appointed by the WHO as special envoy in Congo, responsible for coordinating the fight against the epidemic.
The immediate cause of the state of emergency was the spread of the disease to Goma, near the border with Rwanda. A priest who helped Ebola patients in a church elsewhere took the disease to the metropolis. He died last week.
“The case in Goma is important,” says Graaff. “The fact that the epidemic has been going on for almost a year without the end really in sight and the fact that the area in which Ebola is located have been the reasons for the state of emergency.”
Kate White, emergency medical coordinator at Doctors without Borders, agrees. She is leaving for Congo next week. “The number of patients has increased dramatically in recent months. We have also seen an infection across the border in Uganda. The epidemic is spreading and is not completely under control.”
Vaccine makes the difference
In the Congo, 600 people from the WHO are currently busy vaccinating and treating Ebola patients, says Graaff. “If there is a possible case, then that person must be isolated and tested, and admitted to a clinic. A team will investigate who the people they have been in contact with. We will continue to check whether those people might become ill.”
White: “We are now vaccinating everyone who has been in contact with patients and the contacts of their contacts. This is how you create a ring around the patient who has to stop the spread of the disease.”