Response to the Ebola crisis in DRC
Published 3rd September 2019
Currently, our teams are training medical staff on the front line in prevention and control of the infection. We have started with the 51 most at-risk structures, to ensure early identification of suspected Ebola cases, and will carry it out in 130 facilities.
Thanks to our experience working with survivors of sexual violence treated at Dr. Mukwege’s Panzi Hospital, we are providing specialist support to families affected by the virus and supporting the integration of cured patients into their families and communities
Olivier van Eyll, desk officer for DRC, said:
“This response is complicated by several factors: several Ebola outbreaks locations are situated in eastern DRC (some in conflict zones), there is a lack of trust from the population and finally, Ebola is added to other health problems such as measles, malaria, and malnutrition. It is therefore essential to stay engaged and work with communities. ”
More than 2,000 people have died since the Ebola outbreak a year ago in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Medical professionals there have to work hard to contain the virus, and they face daily adversity due to the presence of armed groups, widespread violence, and in an environment of mistrust towards health workers. There are about 120 armed groups in the region, who regularly harass and attack Ebola treatment centres. Political friction and socio-economic degradation have been exasperated by a sharp increase in violence and tension between different communities.
Butembo and Katwa are the epicentres of the crisis and where our emergency response team have set up. They have begun to work in healthcare centres to add strength to the response, while educating the community about the disease, to try to prevent further spread.
Supporting the work with the local healthcare system is fundamental to contain the epidemic. The priority activity is to run training courses with health personnel so that they can quickly identify the virus and therefore reduce the risk of contagion, which can be lifesaving for themselves and other patients. They can then make referrals to help those infected get treatment. In the first week of August, 36 staff members in five health centres attended training on the best practices to reduce the spread of Ebola, and treat patients who have caught it.
Following that, further training in psychosocial care focusses on the skills needed to help people who are dealing with loss of loved family members and traumatised by the devastating impact of the disease on family and community. This is a key step to reconstruct social support networks, which have otherwise been destroyed by violence, poverty, social exclusion and conflict.
The emergency teams work to improve the communication, mediation, and negotiation skills of healthcare staff, to help them rebuild trust and gain the confidence of the communities affected.
Overall, more than 10,000 people will benefit from this initial response and we remain alert to the risk of a further spread of the epidemic.
We continue to work to provide care for all those affected and to contain further outbreaks. Please consider making a donation today to ensure our work can continue.