Ebola Outbreak Continues In The Democratic Republic Of Congo

As the violence continues in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), so has the Ebola outbreak. Since the beginning of August 2018, the outbreak has been ravaging the Eastern provinces of Mambasa, Beni, Mandima, and Komanda. Since the outbreak, Doctors Without Borders has reported a total of 3318 cases, and 2207 fatalities. These statistics alone culminate the crisis the worst ever Ebola outbreak in DRC history, as to fatality rate continues to increase throughout 2019. In light of the gravity of the outbreak, the WHO announced the ebola outbreak as a “public health emergency of international concern” in July 17th, 2019.  The rollout of two experimental treatments in August of this year raised hopes for a potential turning point in the outbreak. The success of the two treatments, REGN-EB3 and mAb-114 were showcased in early testing of 113 patients in which 90% of them were cured. In addition, the ebola transmission rates seem to be on a decline, as 70 cases were reported in October compared to 157 in September. In addition, although statistics for this month have yet to be released, Doctors Without Borders’ most recent report suggests that this trend has continued into November. However, recent efforts to mitigate the spread of Ebola have been significantly curtailed by unyielding violence amongst Mai Mai rebel groups and the military. Health care providers are finding it next to impossible to provide adequate healthcare to those in need. The key organizations include Doctors Without Borders, Alima and the International Medical Corps. However, throughout the years, these organizations have been forced to close a number of Ebola treatments centers after being targets of attack. With more than 100 armed groups in the DRC it is difficult to know assign responsibility for the attacks. In addition the heightened levels of violence and impunity perpetuate mistrust between local communities and health providers. Mistrust has proved fatal in the case of the Ebola outbreak as people refrain from seeking proper treatment out of fear and misunderstanding of the treatment centre’s themselves.

The crisis in the DRC entangles a number of factors creating the perfect humanitarian disaster. As well as violence and Ebola breakouts, is a number of other severe concerns. The focus on ebola, although warranted has directed attention away from the many other fatal health needs which Congolese people have. Doctors Without Borders reports that, of the people who come in showing Ebola symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and fever, only 4% of them have Ebola. This shows that there is a plethora of other health issues which are failing to be addressed in the DRC. With the limited resources of health organizations, paralyzed government, and the inaction of the UN, the ebola outbreak will continue to threaten the lives of thousands, as well the progress made throughout the past year. On December 4th 2019, Doctors Without Borders withdrew the entirety of it’s medical staff from Biakato, in Eastern Congo. Such a decision was made due to a culmination of events involving the threatened security of foreign staff by armed groups. Furthermore, as the outbreak rages on, the international community has grown silent due to the seemingly insoluble nature of the conflict. Further efforts must be made to ensure adequate resources, and security for the return of Doctors Without Borders to Biakato. A revival of international, regional, and domestic commitments to the cessation of both conflict and outbreak is essential to ensuring the long term peace in the DRC.